Route suggestions - Northern France

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Cunninp
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Route suggestions - Northern France

Postby Cunninp » 24 May 2019, 1:51pm

I'm looking at doing a cycle trip around Northern France - The idea is to get the ferry/tunnel over, then drive for up to 2 hrs and find somewhere to park up. We'd then leave the car and do a circular route for 3 nights coming back to the same place and then drive home. Probably looking for around 150 miles on the bike in total. Any route suggestions gratefully received!

Bez
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Re: Route suggestions - Northern France

Postby Bez » 24 May 2019, 2:42pm

Why take the car? There’s good riding to be had near most of the ports—and bikes normally roll off first on arrival, plus it’s cheaper and (IMO) less hassle. Where are you sailing from?

Edit: Just noticed you mention the tunnel; I guess that implies Dover/Folkestone… I tend to only think about the western ports. Not sure what there is round Calais :)

nirakaro
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Re: Route suggestions - Northern France

Postby nirakaro » 24 May 2019, 3:47pm

Bez wrote:Why take the car? There’s good riding to be had near most of the ports

+1. And from Dieppe, Ouistreham or le Havre, there's nice riding straight off the ferry. Calais, not so sure.

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Morzedec
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Re: Route suggestions - Northern France

Postby Morzedec » 24 May 2019, 4:04pm

Hello, go to St Malo. Down one side of the River Rance, and then back up the other side to Dinard on the VV (search af3v.com).

Lots of inexpensive Municipal campsites in the area.

PM me for more info - but quickly, cos' I'm off to France myself on Tuesday, and we don't have an internet connection there (or much else, either, except a corkscrew).

Happy days,
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Vorpal
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Re: Route suggestions - Northern France

Postby Vorpal » 24 May 2019, 4:12pm

Calais - Saint Omer - Neufchatel hardelot (or Boulogne sur Mer) - Calais

Boulogne sur Mer - Nordausques - Berck or Etaples - Boulogne sur mer

Lille - Conde sur l'Escaut - Douchy les Mines - Lens - Lille

Does it have to be France? IMO, the cycling is a bit better in Belgium.

You could do Bruges - Gent - Lille - Bruges

or Bruges - Antwerp - Gent - Bruges

or Bruges - Gent - Terneuzen - Breskens - Eurovelo 4 & 12 (as far as you want to go along the coast) - Bruges

Otherwise, look for routes on https://cycle.travel/ ? Have you used it before? You can put a town in, ask it for a suggested route, then move the length bar over until it's the sort of length route you want.
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Psamathe
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Re: Route suggestions - Northern France

Postby Psamathe » 24 May 2019, 5:15pm

Nothing worse that people asking "I want to go to <x>" and everybody chirping and saying "better to go to <y>" - but I'm going to do the same. Last year cycling NW France round north of Paris, up through Lille into Belgium (and beyond) I found the people in NW France great (friendly, helpful), good campsites, pothole free roads and cycle tracks, restaurants great, etc. NE France was quite different, people more dismissive and disinterested, roads pretty rough in places, campsites pretty rubbish, restaurants serving supermarket pizza, etc.

The change from smooth, well maintained roads to pothole and bumpy roads was quite sudden at Chartres (then on north and east round top of Paris and up to Lille).

Of course there are some great bits and pleasant people, some OK campsites, not completely black and white but I found it much nicer in NW France (and further N into Belgium and Netherlands).

But, only my personal experience from a month in France last year and everybody has different experiences different expectations, different interests, etc. And sorry for doing the "better to go to <y>".

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ubert767
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Re: Route suggestions - Northern France

Postby ubert767 » 24 May 2019, 5:41pm

May I suggest you head westwards to the D-Day landing beaches. I've just returned from a bit of a pilgrimage to Pegasus Bridge to visit where my dad landed with the 22nd Independant Parachute Company in 1944. Due to the 75th anniversary, the French are showing their appreciation and putting on a good show. Everywhere is being tarted up and looks really good. The Commonwealth War Graves cemetaries (Ranville and Bayeaux) are immaculate and quite stunning.
We particularly enjoyed the wildlife on the marshes just east of Ouistreham.

BrightonRock
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Re: Route suggestions - Northern France

Postby BrightonRock » 25 May 2019, 8:52am

St Malo down towards Quimper is stunning, mostky small villages and quiet little roads, with the odd chateau thrown in. I did it maybe 25 years ago when it was very cheap (pre euro). We spent about 10 quid a day between two of us for restaurants. I would imagine eating out in France is a lot more costly now...

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mjr
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Re: Route suggestions - Northern France

Postby mjr » 25 May 2019, 9:30am

Bez wrote:Why take the car? There’s good riding to be had near most of the ports—and bikes normally roll off first on arrival, plus it’s cheaper and (IMO) less hassle. Where are you sailing from?

Edit: Just noticed you mention the tunnel; I guess that implies Dover/Folkestone… I tend to only think about the western ports. Not sure what there is round Calais :)

Bizarrely, taking bikes in an estate car can be cheaper than travelling as cyclists from Dover, depending on the offers. Definitely easier to drive to Dover than do battle with the limited cycle space and times and bad connections on Southeastern, much to my disappointment.

Two hours driving from Calais and Dunkerque would put much of Flanders and half of Wallonia in range, along with Brussels. I agree with Vorpal that the riding in Belgium tends to be better, so I'd head there. Lille-Ypres-Bruges-Gent-Oudenaarde-Lille or something based on it might work.

If you're determined for France, I'd consider either visiting the Canadian war memorial at Vimy Ridge as part of some loop maybe including Arras, Amiens, St Quentin and Cambrai, or parking near Amiens and riding a flattened loop to/from the coast maybe using some of the Avenue Verte Paris-London route which I hear is quite good.
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Tregouet
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Re: Route suggestions - Northern France

Postby Tregouet » 12 Jun 2020, 2:32pm

I live in Saint Omer, about 25 miles from Calais or Dunkerque, and I would like to offer a few suggestions. My town is situated on the border of the Artois and Flandres. By going a bit south/west you can get some hills, in fact between here and Hardelot Plage it will be up and down the whole way. If you like it flat, then go east and north. There are plenty of cute B&B along the coast.

Vimy, and the Canadian memorial is about 45 miles, going towards Arras and mostly flat, as most of the path follows a road along the canal. Those roads are usually paved, not rough towpaths, by the way and very little car traffic. If you are headed that way, a nice place to stay would be Chateau du Moulin, in Aire sur la Lys.

Ypres is an easy 30 miles, but you can add a challenge by taking Mont Cassel, Mont des Cats and then Kemmelberg on the way ;-)

As for Saint Omer, several nice places, and there is a very cute and bike friendly B&B down by the canal / train station. On top of that, we have a phenomenal selection of excellent restaurants here.

If you would like any more info, just drop me a PM.

francovendee
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Re: Route suggestions - Northern France

Postby francovendee » 13 Jun 2020, 8:41am

Morzedec wrote:Hello, go to St Malo. Down one side of the River Rance, and then back up the other side to Dinard on the VV (search af3v.com).

Lots of inexpensive Municipal campsites in the area.

PM me for more info - but quickly, cos' I'm off to France myself on Tuesday, and we don't have an internet connection there (or much else, either, except a corkscrew).

Happy days,

What ferry route are you taking? Our friends still stuck in the UK and don't fancy the N-D route.

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simonineaston
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Re: Route suggestions - Northern France

Postby simonineaston » 13 Jun 2020, 9:02am

Pluses of taking car: take tons of kit, thrown rudely into back of car, move quickly and easily to a base camp away from arrival port. But, car adds a lot to the price of the trip over travelling as foot passengers.
Travel by bike only and you'll have to pack more carefully, but travel by ferry is much cheaper and you get to start your tour the instant you get off the ferry/tunnel. As described up-thread, there are lovely small tours, starting from pretty much every port along the French channel coast. I've done such from (starting from west, going east) Roscoff, St Malo, Cherbourg, Ouistreham and Le Havre... Personally, I can't see the advantage of taking the car, apart from the single benefit of using it as a sort of large, wheeled suitcase to fling all the gear in. Granted, doing the trip by bike alone will require more planning and discipline, (I'm not even going to mention getting to the ferry port...) but the car isn't really needed... unless you plan to do a tour starting miles away from point of arrival - and that in itself is unnecessary considering the nature of countryside adjacent to the northern ports, that is to say, Lovely!
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ANTONISH
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Re: Route suggestions - Northern France

Postby ANTONISH » 13 Jun 2020, 4:02pm

We frequently cross from Dover to Calais with a car (not lately :( )
Just taking the bikes is more time consuming.
The cost of two train tickets is more than the petrol cost. Same for the return. South Eastern bike policy is pretty liberal, you'll probably have to put the bikes in the vestibule and be aware what side the platform is going to be, there is a limited amount of dedicated disabled/cycle space.
We've done an assisted club run with no problem (about 10 people)
Two cyclist tickets on ferry.
The car option is usually cheaper.
If you are staying at a base ( +1 for Saint Omer) it is possible to carry much more kit and tools.

jacobean
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Re: Route suggestions - Northern France

Postby jacobean » 13 Jun 2020, 6:19pm

simonineaston wrote: there are lovely small tours, starting from pretty much every port along the French channel coast. I've done such from (starting from west, going east) Roscoff, St Malo, Cherbourg, Ouistreham and Le Havre... and that in itself is unnecessary considering the nature of countryside adjacent to the northern ports, that is to say, Lovely!


Yeah, Normandy actually makes a good cycling destination. Verdant green hills, fields with loads of cows in them. It's all very rustic. Better weather than Brittany. You can have it hilly or flat depending on route.


I've always found the French in this region very friendly too.

meejozzz
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Re: Route suggestions - Northern France

Postby meejozzz » 23 Jun 2020, 11:46am

I’ve done a fair amount of cycling in Normandy over the past 10 years (my mate lives in Pompey so we ditch the car there and off we go). We’ve sailed to Cherbourg, St Malo, Caen and Le Havre, all good places to start a tour. I’d suggest sailing to Ouistreham (Caen) and heading west to catch the ferry in Cherbourg, taking in the beaches as you go. A good 3 day trip and you can take the overnight ferry from Portsmouth to Caen which gives you an early-ish start. We found the roads to be excellent, pretty much connecting one small village to the next. There’s the Voie Verte cycle route which is pretty good too. All in all a relatively traffic free few days. We stayed in b and b’s the first few times but we’ve been camping the last few years and there’s plenty of options whichever way you decide. The only bit of advice I’d offer is avoid being there on a Sunday as pretty much everything is shut!