We decided not to cycle the British side of the traditional London to Paris route, thereby reducing the time and also in reality we were only ever interested in the ride in France.
We sought advice and information from both Mark Gladwyn and Peter Tiller, both of them came ‘up trumps’, and that was invaluable.
Firstly, we didn’t actually follow the Avenue Verte route, we did parts of it, crossed it and saw lots of signs for it but on Peter’s recommendation we followed the Donald Hirsh route from Dieppe to Paris.
An early morning drive to Newhaven and across the channel on the 09.00am ferry to Dieppe, 4-hour trip, and as we decided to take two days for the ride we had planned an overnight stay at the Hotel de la Plage in Dieppe, a good hotel to stay at, bike friendly. When we booked the hotel, we were not aware that it is the same hotel many Wayfarers stay at for the Dieppe Raid, a conversation with Tim C before we left gave us this information, so on checking in we mentioned the club and in particular Pam Jones to whom the owner sends her best wishes.
Starting the next morning in bright sunlight and warm conditions we followed the route to Forges les Eaux about 35 miles all along the Avenue Verte. Coffee in Neufchatel-en-Bray, a sandwich in Forges, this stretch is very safe but can become a little boring, all along a tarmac track, barriers every half K to keep the pace down.
Leaving Forges, the ride became more interesting, some hills, a lot of rolling countryside, just the type we would all be used to, very enjoyable!
Our stop that night was in Chaumont en Vexin, about 10K off route but, in this area, there are not too many places to stay. We stayed in the Hotel Saint Nicolas, adequate but not great, the first day was 74 miles to the hotel, the afternoon temperature maxed out at 34 degrees.
The second day, warm but cloudy, coffee was in Menucourt and lunch in Villennes, again rolling roads, good riding. After lunch, it was mainly in forests, along paved roads and tracks and then out at the outskirts of Versailles, where we arrived about 04:00pm. We stopped to visit the Palace but were only allowed to the outskirts of the Palace with cycles.
Back on the bikes after Versailles, apart from the stretch in the Bois de Boulogne it is all Urban cycling, a lot of stopping at lights etc.
We arrived in the suburbs Paris at around 07.00 pm, unfortunately rain starting to come down heavily, the wet cobbled streets of Paris are great if you like cycling in London, frightening if you don’t.
The hotel that night was near the Gare St. Lazare. With information from Mark I had booked tickets from the Gare in Paris to Dieppe, the train has spaces for cycles, every couple of coaches. There is of course also the Eurostar train that returns to London, but we had a car in Newhaven.
We caught the 08:52am train that arrived in Dieppe at 10:58, you change at Rouen, with only 8 mins between the scheduled arrival and the departure of the next train, and having to get from Platform 2 to 8 you need to run to make it, at least 15 mins would have been better. Both trains were comfortable, clean and very reasonably priced.
Back in Dieppe we caught the 12:30 ferry back to Newhaven.
Mark had said not to think about doing the ride, rather, we should do it, he could not have been more right! We would certainly endorse that.
We want to again thank Mark and Peter for their encouragement and also Pam who, when we mentioned her name at the hotel in Dieppe, we received a better rate on our room. Always welcome.
Total distance: 136.29 miles, total climb:5374 ft, highest altitude 716ft.
No photos of Jennie as she was the one taking them!
David and Jennie Jackson