Posts

Dieppe Channel Hopper

Four of us from Cycle Seahaven hopped across the Channel with three other cyclists last Friday to take part in a cycling trip organised by Phoenix-CTC, a member group of Cycling UK. We stayed at the Hotel de la Plage, a hotel I’ve used many times on cycling trips. There’s always a warm welcome, the staff are friendly and helpful, good rooms, excellent buffet breakfast and there’s a garage for the bikes. Also, it’s in a good location, being on the boulevard along the seafront and close to the town centre; the marina is nearby where there are cafés and restaurants aplenty.

We stayed at this superb hotel for three nights which gave us three full days of cycling through the countryside of Seine-Maritime. It’s a great place for cycling as the country roads are very quiet and in excellent condition; potholes are a rarity! Also, the French drivers are very considerate towards cyclists and allow plenty of room when passing. The only time a car came close to me turned out to be British. I have to say that much as I enjoy cycling through the countryside of Sussex, cycling in Seine-Maritime is bliss!

Cycle Seahaven members will be aware of the Avenue Verte, the London to Paris cycle route which includes the Cuckoo Trail and, of course, comes through Seaford and Newhaven and, includes the ferry crossing to Dieppe. Lesser known, I suspect, is the Veloroute du Lin which starts just outside Dieppe and follows a disused railway line for about 15 miles to St-Pierre-le-Viger, just a few miles short of St-Valery-en-Caux. It’s well worth cycling along. We cycled along it on our way to St-Valery. Fantastic!

Most of the surface is virtually billiard table smooth so the bikes just roll effortlessly along it; the surrounding fields were full of pale blue linseed wafting in the wind and the hedgerows and banks were full of wild flowers. Great cycling! The Veloroute du Lin will eventually be extended to Fécamp making it a 50 mile shared use cycle path.

Of course, no trip to Dieppe would be complete without a short spin along the Avenue Verte so we rode along it from Neufchatel-en-Bray back to Dieppe, about 23 miles. There’s a very gradual descent for most of the way so it made for easy cycling.

All in all this was a great three days of cycling not to mention the highly convivial evenings in the local restaurants.

If you like touring through the countryside then I can recommend channel hopping to Dieppe.

Bon voyage,

Clive

Ferry Saved

Since posting an item on the blog a week ago ‘Last Chance to Channel Hop to Dieppe’ it’s been announced this week that the Newhaven – Dieppe crossing will continue after the end of this year. That’s good news for Newhaven and the people who work on the ferry; also it maintains the vital sea link in the Avenue Verte cycle route between London and Paris.

The Syndicat Mixte de Promotion de l’Activité Transmanche (SMPAT) will run the service from 1 January 2016. (The SMPAT is comprised of the Departement de Seine-Maritime, the city authorities in Dieppe and Dieppe Chamber of Commerce). It says that it will continue to subsidise the route, but in the long-term is seeking to reduce the cost to the French taxpayer by attracting more investment from external partners.

The two vessels serving the route will be rebranded, but DFDS will continue to handle bookings and marketing until the end of March 2016, to ensure a smooth transition.

So, although there may not be the same urgency to hop across the Channel, an Autumn cycling break based in Dieppe still sounds like a good idea.

Happy sailing,

Clive

Last Chance to Channel Hop to Dieppe

We’re lucky to have a ferry Port on our doorstep, so to speak, as France is only a four hour ferry trip away. Dieppe is arguably the most attractive of all the French channel ports and the surrounding countryside is ideal for cycling. The country roads tend to be quieter than on this side of the Channel, road surfaces are better (potholes are a rarity) and cycle paths are in far better condition.

Unfortunately, there’s uncertainty over whether the ferry crossing will continue after this year. However, DFDS have two ferries on this route at present; there was only one until May. Presumably DFDS are trying to stimulate more business to make it worth continuing next year.

Therefore, it’s a good time to take your bike across the channel. There are three sailings to Dieppe each day and the price is usually only £35 return with your bike. Those over 60 years of age get a 20% discount if they buy their ferry ticket at the ferry terminal in Newhaven. This offer is not available online.

Last September, six of us from Cycle Seahaven hoped across the channel to Dieppe and had a very pleasant weekend of cycling in the Seine-Maritime department, see Channel Hopping to Dieppe. Recently, I stayed in Dieppe on a Phoenix-CTC event and visited some different places such as Mers-les-Bains (Art-Nouveau buildings along the seafront), St Valery-en-Caux (an attractive place with a fishing port and marina) and cycled along a new cycle path, Veloroute du Lin. It was opened earlier this year and starts at Pourville-sur-Mer, a few kilometres west of Dieppe, and continues for about 25 kms to Saint-Pierre-le-Viger which is about 10 kms from St Valery-en-Caux. Eventually, the cycle path will be extended to Fecamp.

There are certainly plenty of interesting places to visit in the Seine-Maritime area of France, not to mention cycling along the Avenue Verte! It’s well worth a visit.

There’s a good choice of accommodation in Dieppe; I usually stay in the Hotel de la Plage which is cycle friendly and has a garage for bikes. Also, there’s no shortage of bars and restaurants in the town; many are by the marina. It’s a great place to be based for a cycling break.

Hopefully the ferry crossing will continue but, in case it doesn’t, it may be worth hopping across the Channel with your bike within the next two or three months.

Happy Channel Hopping,

Clive

Cycle Touring in France

Some Cycle Seahaven cyclists on the Avenue Verte near Dieppe last September

Some Cycle Seahaven cyclists on the Avenue Verte near Dieppe last September

Fancy some cycle touring in France?

If you’re a member of the CTC then you have the opportunity to do this with Phoenix-CTC, as explained in my previous post on this subject ‘Cycle Touring in France with Phoenix-CTC’.

There will be three cycle events in France this year, starting with a channel hopper to Dieppe in early May. You can find more details of these events at www.phoenix-ctc.org.uk. If you’d like to enter any of them then you’ll need to be quick as the closing date for entries is Thursday, 15th January.

If you have any queries then don’t hesitate to contact me at clive.aberdour@phoenix-ctc.org.uk

Bon Cyclisme,

Clive

The Avenue Verte: An Update

The Avenue Verte, a route between London and Paris for cyclists and walkers was signposted along it’s entire length just over 12 months ago. Ideally, you should now be able to jump on your bike in London or Seaford/Newhaven and just follow the signs to Paris but the signposting seems patchy so you could well get lost. However, help is now available in the form of the official guide to the Avenue Verte which has recently been published by Sustrans. It’s a good little book and has a wealth of useful information including maps, directions and accommodation addresses so would be an essential purchase if you’re going to cycle to Paris, especially if you’re doing it for the first time.

Avenue Verte signpost on National Cycle Route 2

Avenue Verte signpost on National Cycle Route 2

The route is still being developed and, at present, only about 40% is traffic-free although this proportion should increase over the next few years, albeit gradually. Some of the route is on quiet country roads which is fine but, some is on of bridle paths which are not suitable for road bikes, especially if loaded with panniers. I haven’t yet read the book cover to cover but is seems that alternatives to these bridle paths aren’t always suggested which is a shame as cyclists may either have to walk or spend time trying to devise detours.

The start/end points in the capital cities are the London Eye and Notre Dame Cathedral. The route from London to Newhaven makes use of National Cycle Routes 4, 20, 21 and 2 and includes the Wandle Trail, Worth Way, Forest Way and the Cuckoo Trail. The total distance is 99 miles. Then it’s a ferry across the English Channel from Newhaven to Dieppe and a further 148 or 188 miles to Paris depending on which way you go.

The route from Dieppe to Paris is in three sections. The first, from Dieppe to Gournay is 51 miles and includes the superb 27 mile traffic-free stretch between Arques-la-Bataille and Forges-les-Eaux. The second starts just south of Gournay where the Avenue Verte splits into two. There is a 74 mile option which takes a westerly approach to Paris or a 114 mile option which goes eastwards for quite a long way before turning south westerly towards Paris. The two routes join at St Germain on the outskirts of Paris. The third section, from St Germain to Notre Dame Cathedral is 23 miles.

Having the choice of two routes could be an advantage in that you can cycle to Paris on one route and return using the alternative. This could appeal to those of us living in the Seahaven area who just want to cycle from Dieppe to Paris and back.

You can buy the Avenue Verte guide book from Sustrans. The link is: http://shop.sustrans.org.uk/products/6353-avenue-verte–london-to-paris-by-bike

Bonne chance!

Clive Aberdour