Donald Hirsch's cycle route to Paris from Dieppe (or London)

                  

Distances: Dieppe-Paris 129 miles.........Tower BRIDGE to EIFFEL Tower 202 miles

Key resources:  Full printable route guide    Accommodation guide    Itineraries    Top tips    Contact      


Finding your way

What kind of bike


How long does it take?

When should I go?

Where to stay en route

Does it need to be expensive?

Rider experiences and records

Donation
I have devised what I believe to be the  best low-traffic cycle route from the Channel to Paris with minimum mileage. It makes use of the Avenue Verte disused railway south of Dieppe and well-surfaced forest paths through the outskirts of Paris, using the Bois de Boulogne and arriving a mile from the Eiffel Tower before emerging onto city streets (with even the last mile through a quiet district). Joined to Chris Smith's well described route from London to Newhaven, it makes a 200-mile  low traffic cycle route from London to Paris.
THIS ROUTE was invented in 2007 when Donald Hirsch and JB Lim set out to lead a local group of cyclists from Guildford to Paris
THE OFFICIAL full Avenue Verte route from London to Paris is more circuitous, especially going into Paris. Here is my latest information on that route.

HERE IS A NICE CHARACTERISATION of my route posted by one of its fans:

"Donald Hirsch’s route is an inspiration. Riding through sun dappled tracks in forests for miles and yet being in the heart of Paris are some of the delights of the route. The journey begins following a tarmacked disused railway track for the first 35 miles, climbing up an imperceptible incline before rolling over gentle hills towards the capital. Whilst the middle sections follow roads, we will be cycling on the Sunday morning quietly passing through sleepy French villages. Closer to Paris the route once again picks up the cycle paths  until just a couple of miles from the Eiffel Tower we reach cobbled streets...  En route it is impossible to resist a quick whizz around the cycling hippodrome, like a moon orbiting a planet, before breaking free of the gravitational forces and sneaking through the backstreets and cycle paths of Paris."

Finding your way
  • My printable guide to the route gives detailed instructions and maps. Here's a suggested way of carrying it.
  • The route on  bikely.com shows it on Google Maps, allowing you to zoom in on detail.
  • For GPS users, these GPX files  plot the route more accurately than was possible at Bikely. They're also published as a my places map, and as a free app kindly made available by Brian Nightingale:  select >200k routes at Dieppe.
  • The hundreds of riders who have now done this route have particularly enjoyed the forests going into Paris. If you follow the directions through these forests carefully, you should not get lost, but just in case you do, there are some points listed that you can ask your way to in order to get back onto the route: this is preferable to trying to find your way into the city on very busy roads.
  • To use this route to get from London to Paris, you can get to Newhaven via either Sustrans routes or Chris Smith's route, which he reckons is the best combination of good scenery and surfaces and quiet roads, and which he describes in detail. Possibly the shortest low traffic route for the UK leg (58 miles) is shown in these GPX files provided by Dominic Irvine: it starts with a "cycle superhighway" (busy roads with substantial cycle lanes) and is very quiet after 15 miles. The relevant Sustrans routes are either route 20 via Brighton or route 21 near Eastbourne, as shown on this zoomable online map. Then take the Newhaven-Dieppe ferry.  Back from Paris on Eurostar (or for Dieppe, train from Gare St Lazare, changing at Rouen, which takes bikes)
  • If you plan to go in the reverse direction, here are some tips on doing the route backward
  • To continue on from Paris, check out this helpful website .  For the most ambitious, you can cycle "around the world in 25 years" (or rather to Australia in short annual hops) with this company which originated in a charity ride to Paris along my route. If heading towards Spain, you may be interested in this  route  developed by "Paulo". It is a very quiet route making the most of cycleways and minor roads.
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What kind of bike? This route can be done on pretty much any bike - there are a few tracks with some bumps, but the vast majority is paved or very smooth, and it's been done on a lightweight road bike without difficulty (though I prefer a hybrid or touring bike). In 2007 it was done by unicyclists! Numerous people have done it on tandems and other contraptions.

   

How long does it take? That's up to you. These itineraries give some ideas of stages from 1.5 to 3.5 days from Dieppe to Paris - a distance of 129 miles. London is a long day (60-70 miles) from Newhaven. From here, my preference is the morning ferry to Dieppe followed by a half day of about 40 miles, plus a full day of 50-60 plus a half day of 30 into Paris and back on Eurostar. A more leisurely pace allows an extra day or so. But there's lots to see along the way, and people who have made it into more of a holiday of anything up to a week have not regretteed it. You may especially want to explore the peaceful and scenic region of Bray - here are some pointers (including info about how you could buy a home here!!) . It's also been done as a family holiday with children.

At the other extreme, the route has been done all in one go by some fast riders - see records page

 

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Is there a best time to go?  It's rideable throughout the year. Arriving on a Sunday in Paris, there's the pleasure of using some of the embankment expressways when they're closed to traffic. On the other hand, I found one stretch of D-road  (the 15 miles north of Marines)  much quieter on a weekday than at the weekend. Supermarkets and shops are generally closed Sunday afternoon, and often on Mondays too, though I found useful ones open on Monday in St Germer de Fly (shop) and Menucourt (big supermarket). Wednesdays are also difficult for shops and cafes in the Bray region (but cafe and boulangerie open in Gournay). Things can also be difficult on public holidays  - especially 1 May and 15 August; also possibly 8 May, Easter Monday,  Pentecost (7 weeks after Easter Monday) and  Ascension  (the Thursday before six weeks after Easter).

   

Where should I stay on the way?  There are plenty of recommended places in my  accommodation guide (and if everyone who uses this route could send me a couple of lines on where they stayed and what they thought of it, I can keep the ratings up to date).

            

Does it need to be expensive?  NO! If you stay and eat at B+Bs and have picnic lunches and take 4 days from London, it'll cost of the order of 250-300 a head  including ferry and Eurostar back: not bad for a great four-day holiday, and a fraction of the cost of organised London-Paris bike tours.  Or if you're on a really tight budget and don't mind roughing it, you could do the same trip for roughly 100 a head! Here's how:

If you return by train, the travel cost is 20 for the ferry plus 40 for Eurostar if you book well in advance, plus 25 or 30 for your bike on the train  (see Eurostar page). You can camp at Forges les Eaux and Triel sur Seine for almost nothing, and on the UK side at Buckle Holiday Park, Seaford, just ten minutes from the Newhaven ferry.  (The sites at Triel and at Seaford are pretty basic, and for a slightly higher budget Versailles and Brighton have higher standard campsites.)  Take along a small camping gaz stove, a plate and a light pan and you can cook a simple meal in the evening, and have a picnic lunch. Buy food in supermarkets along the way: you'll probably spend less than feeding yourself at home, so I've not counted this in the cost. (I did all this recently, and if you're still reading this I'm probably twice as old as you are!)



 

FEEDBACK, RIDER EXPERIENCES AND COURSE RECORDS


I would be grateful for any feedback, especially about accommodation, at donaldhirschparis@gmail.com  

Here is a selection of interesting stories, blogs and tips from riders, supplementing the main guide, which I've started compiling in 2011. And for a bit more entertainment, take a look at my records page, with feats ranging from the immensely impressive to the highly bizarre...

AND FINALLY

I have produced this guide for free, but if you want to make a donation to a charity I'm involved with, promoting cycling, go to http://www.justgiving.com/Donald-Hirsch 

Happy cycling!

Donald Hirsch


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