Cycling doesn't get better-Avenue Verte Update & Trip Report

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groberts
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Cycling doesn't get better-Avenue Verte Update & Trip Report

Postby groberts » 25 Jul 2009, 4:59pm

Just a short ferry hop across the English Channel is some of the best cycling I have ever done and I thought it might be of interest to anyone considering cycling in France; even if you are not – you should. I am just back from a week’s cycling in the area just south of Dieppe which incorporates the Avenue Verte (AV); a 40 mile beautifully paved, state-of-the art cycle track along an old railway track = flat. I was impressed by the AV in May when I passed through on my way to Paris and this time, with more time to explore the region, my enthusiasm has gone from strength to strength.

The area is very easily accessible using the Newhaven – Dieppe ferry (which I did last time) – but this time my wife and I took our bikes through Eurotunnel, after which it was no more than 2 hours by autoroute (turning off at Neufchatel); or you can wander down the coast road which we did on the way out and is very pleasant too. Of course if you just have your bike then the ferry is probably better and costs just £20 one-way, after which it’s about a six mile ride to the AV start.

We camped at the municipal campsite at Martigny, just outside Arques la-Bataille (off the D154 – itself a great ride), on one of the best sites I have ever experienced. Located on the banks of clear running rivers and lakes, facilities were very good and clean, while the location meant we were just 3 or 4 minutes from the new AV extension (more later).

This area is known as the Pays de Bray and covers the region to the southeast of Dieppe. It is a chalk plateau cut in a northwest - southeast direction by a series of geological faults (originating in the UK!), that are now occupied by a series of rivers along sandstone and clay filled valleys (Bethune, Varenne, Eaulene and Scie), along which includes the Avenue Verte also runs. I appreciate you might be thinking this guy’s got rocks for brains (I am a geologist) but the importance is that it determines the best cycling choices - really. Essentially the main riding is best along the valleys or along the axis of the tops i.e. parallel to the valleys (which is basically what the minor roads do e.g. D1, D154, D56, D920 etc, which are all excellent), insofar as possible avoiding any major roads such as the D915. By combining these elements together with cross-connecting roads over the tops it is then possible to make any number of great routes + minimize the hills, which aren’t too bad anyhow. In addition, at the northern end you can include in the coastal roads and have a swim too if it’s hot!

Taking this as a basic guideline we found many excellent routes across the region, using the AV more often as a link route out or back from each excursion. All the valleys were quiet and very beautiful, while the plateau tops consisted either of attractive agricultural vistas or forests. In this category we found the Foret de d’Eawy (Europe’s largest beech forest over 1000 yrs old!) to be particularly attractive and made a nice shady link on a hot day between the River Varenne and the AV. Most surprisingly within this forest we found the site of a WW2 V1 rocket launching site at Val-Ygot, together with a rocket on the launch pad! It turns out there were 117 such sites in the area; obviously things turned out OK but worrying nonetheless.

We visited a number of war cemeteries en route, including the Canadian one near Dieppe from the failed 1942 landing and one just on the outskirts of Arques la-Bataille, towards Martin Eglise, which turned out to be particularly interesting. Though marked ‘British’ it is actually almost entirely South African, with about 325 graves from the South African Native SA Corp i.e. mostly Africans and a few Chinese from the first World War. While we were there (July 16) a whole entourage of South African military personnel and government VIPs turned up for a commemoration ceremony, which was particularly moving as one of the African military chiefs discovered one of his relations buried there.

Since I was there in May they have just opened a new section of the AV towards Dieppe, which now goes as far as Arques la-Bataille town along the southern perimeter of the Arques River and lakes where we were camping. And on Monday 20 July we saw them starting to dig up the old railway lines at Arques la-Bataille on their way to Dieppe!

I hope this will inspire others to travel over from the UK for what is a great cycling experience (and the food’s good too!) – it’s really just next door, you will not be disappointed. Happy to provide any further information if you are thinking of going.

jake
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Re: Cycling doesn't get better-Avenue Verte Update & Trip Report

Postby jake » 25 Jul 2009, 8:37pm

Well done on the excellent report. This whole area is a real gem which is just begging to be discovered by cycle tourists. The more "high profile" areas such as Normandy and Brittany are "well trod" by cyclists so it's good to flag up a part of France that is very under-rated.

Bernard
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Re: Cycling doesn't get better-Avenue Verte Update & Trip Report

Postby Bernard » 28 Jul 2009, 4:15pm

I completely agree. May I add that there are many little roads in Pays de Bray without any traffic. If you are not very “fluent” with French maps you can get maps from www.seine-maritime-tourisme.com/fr/circ ... rub_id=117

There are many many little trips, signed, of about 30 to 40 km from Neufchatel, Forges, Gournay, Argueil, La Feuillie. If you have any question about this country, don’t hesitate to contact me. Bernard.
In cyclo veritas

chrisgw3
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Re: Cycling doesn't get better-Avenue Verte Update & Trip Report

Postby chrisgw3 » 28 Jul 2009, 8:41pm

You have inpsired us anyway - we are starting our tour from Dieppe/Martigny next week so will give the AV a try.

Is it possible to access the start of the AV from within the campsite? It isn't very clear from google maps - there seems to be a quarry there.

groberts
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Re: Cycling doesn't get better-Avenue Verte Update & Trip Report

Postby groberts » 29 Jul 2009, 9:11am

Assuming you are in the municipal campsite, just past the second services block (wash rooms etc) there is a metal fence with a gate through to a private campsite / activity centre and about 200 metres (or less) further on is the Avenue Verte; there was no problem going through this area and so the AV is only a couple of minutes from the municpal campsite. If you are not on the campsite then alternatively you can now get on to the AV (which has just been extened) from the lower end of Arques la-Bataille, where the old railway line (now being pulled up!) crosses the road. As I said on my original post, the AV is great but we found linking it with other roads and valleys worked even better. Hope you have a good time - like anywhere the weather makes a big difference and, like anywhere it can even rain in France - we, however, had great weather. Would be interested to know how you get on. Regards, Graham

chrisgw3
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Re: Cycling doesn't get better-Avenue Verte Update & Trip Report

Postby chrisgw3 » 29 Jul 2009, 9:38am

Thanks Graham.

We are heading down to the Loire by tandem and will be staying at the Martigny campsite. I'd originally plotted a road route from Martigny to Forges-les-Eaux so the AV seems ideal for us. The stoker will appreciate a reasonably flat route for day 1!

Here's a map for anyone else interested.

http://www.mapmyride.com/ride/france/dieppe/563521765


Chris

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braz
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Re: Cycling doesn't get better-Avenue Verte Update & Trip Report

Postby braz » 29 Jul 2009, 11:24am

http://www.af3v.org

Might help all of you heading towards France!

regards, Braz.

nuttershome
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Re: Cycling doesn't get better-Avenue Verte Update & Trip Re

Postby nuttershome » 4 Dec 2011, 7:23pm

Hi - I am looking at organising at charity ride in September 2012 from Paris to London and will be looking at the Avuenue Verte - Have you ridden it recently and do you know whether there is a 'sole' map that covers the route?