Three of us, all members of Cycle Seahaven, recently cycled to Paris along the Avenue Verte. We were part of a group of nine cyclists from the Phoenix Cycling Club whose aim was to follow this signposted route between the British and French capital cities. The signposting had been completed in 2012, just in time for the London Olympics.
A few of us started in London, at the London Eye and were joined two days later by the others at Newhaven. The distance was 99 miles.
In France we took three days to cycle from Dieppe to Paris, a distance of 148 miles which included overnight stops in Dieppe, Gournay-en-Bray and Cergy. The finishing point in Paris was Notre Dame. We could have done it in two days but decided to take a more leisurely pace, ie our usual touring pace with lengthy café stops.
I would like to have said that the entire Avenue Verte from the London Eye to Notre Dame had proved to be a good cycle route but that would have been untrue. Certainly, the first 90 miles in France, between Dieppe and Chaussy were great. The route was well signposted, there were no busy roads and the scenery was superb.
In sharp contrast the first 40 miles in England, between the London Eye and the start of Worth Way, just outside Crawley, left much to be desired. Sometimes we were on busy roads, at other times on dirt tracks and much of the route was poorly signposted. I won’t go into detail here but suffice to say that I’ll never do that part of the Avenue Verte again!
The section from Worth Way to Newhaven was much better with the Cuckoo Trail being the best part of the route that day. However, it fell a long way short of the first 90 miles in France.
After a rest day in Paris we cycled back to Dieppe on a largely different route with overnight stops at Chantilly and Gournay-en-Bray.
Each cyclist had a copy of the Official Guide to the Avenue Verte which I reviewed in March. It proved to be a great help, especially when we found ourselves off-route which was on numerous occasions when leaving London and also on the entry to Paris.
It had been a largely enjoyable ride and although some parts of the Avenue Verte couldn’t be described as cycling friendly, we had had some great times, both on and off the bikes. And, of course, a ‘chill out’ day in Paris was a bonus.
I’ll be writing a review of the Avenue Verte which will be posted to the Cycle Seahaven Blog soon. It should make for interesting reading for anyone contemplating cycling to Paris.