Right, finally I'm back some thoughts on the experience....
Was looking forward to this trip but have to say it didn't quite live up to expectations. The official London Eye route to Newhaven meanders into a large amount to extra miles and so decided to take a more direct route via East Grinstead and Lewes i.e. straight down. Although I knew about it the ferry schedule really is hugely inconvenient either getting you to Dieppe at 5:30am or 3pm. I chose the 11pm departure for arrival at 5:30am. The reclining seat was surprisingly comfortable coupled with a calm crossing I slept like a baby till a very loud announcement 45 minutes before arrival at Dieppe. Was still very dark and cold so locked bike up at the Dieppe ferry terminal and dozed in a chair till I got thrown out as it was closing. Still felt sleepy so found a chair outside and slept a bit there till on of the cleaners woke me up as she couldn't open the door with me in front. So at about 9am I rode into Dieppe had a couple of coffee's and baked goods for breakfast!
Avenue Vert proper.... the weather was fantastic, blue sky and so hot I only wore shorts and T-shirt. The sections past the lakes outside Dieppe were pure cycling heaven. I read in a review of the AV that this section was a bit monotonous which I can understand but still it was fantastic riding. Had lunch in Neufchatel (also found a McD's with free WiFi) then pushed on to Forges-les-Eaux for my first nights camp (only 38 odd miles but still feeling a bit tired. This is where things started to go pear shaped. Coming off the cycle track I was directed left then.... nothing no more AV signs that I could see. My AV book was a bit hard to decipher so I headed in to town and the Tourist Information (1 hours free WiFi plus you can charge all your electronics for free). Got directed to the municipal campsite Miniere. First class campsite I can definitely recommend it and all for £4/night!.
Then the problems.... Left the site and followed the AV signs in conjunction with my AV book right till the outskirts of Forges and either there was a missing AV sign or I missed it but ended up at the roundabout with the D915. Consulted my book backtracked a bit spent some time scratching my head and thought sod it and charged up the D915 to Gournay. Picked up the AV there and cycled 10ish miles back toward Forges as I had plenty of time. To be honest I just didn't like it. Cycling on tiny country lanes which were like a roller coaster up and down with loads of gravel/muck/mud etc on them and blind corners with tractors and cars coming the other way. Found navigating a pain. Got back to Gournay and decided to take the main road (E46) to Beauvais. AV book said there was a municipal campsite but turned out it was closed to campers (no toilets/showers). Owner very annoyed as people kept turning up "bloody book". Pleaded with him and he let me stay if I left early and promised to never come back and tell everyone the campsite was PERMANENTLY closed. He was a nice bloke as he could have kicked me off... didn't even charge me! Checked out the route of the AV on Google maps (McD's Beauvais) and just simply didn't fancy it so took the D1001 towards Paris. Got to Gare du Nord at around 5pm having not had any issues.
Yes, I know people would be horrified at cycling on a fast main road BUT the tiny country lanes didn't seem that safe either. Will be doing a London Paris again but would go via Dover.
Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
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One useful tip for anyone getting lost on the French section of the Avenue Verte is that there are stickers as well as signs - well, there were last summer, at any rate. They're little round black stickers with an arrow made out of (usually) red dots. I suspect these were temporary route stickers dating from before the installation of permanent signs, but they're a useful fallback in any case.
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Richard Fairhurst wrote:One useful tip for anyone getting lost on the French section of the Avenue Verte is that there are stickers as well as signs - well, there were last summer, at any rate.
Thanks Richard. Don't want it to come across that I'm moaning as this cycle route is a hugely ambitious undertaking that should be applauded.
For those that know it you pass through a village called Dampierre on past a cemetary you then get to a junction with Dieu De Pite. I spent a good while looking for signs (inc. my AV book) to say if I should turn left or right or go straight on but found nothing. I guessed (correctly) that it was left but that was the point for me where the AV lost its appeal.