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Bruges - Paris 

 

or for Paris Bruges click here:

 Paris Bruges

 

The bike ride

The bike ride to Paris or Bruges will take you along (small) country roads, towpaths, paved forest trails and occasionally a cobblestone road. While entering cities and towns you will meet more traffic.

In Belgium we will cycle through relatively flat country and a large part of the tour will take place along tow paths that were best described by Dan Gamber on his website:

“If you like to ride on good pavement but away from car traffic, the towpaths of Belgium offer some of the best cycling in the world. Much of the way is through pleasant farmlands or nature reserves, with the loudest noise bird songs or the engine of a barge.”

In the French countryside we will follow the country roads and the occasional bike path. Towards Paris the terrain will get more hilly and there can be more traffic.

 

The mileage

Our Bruges – Paris program was made for experienced bike riders that can keep up with an average speed of 8 to 9 miles p/h under normal circumstances (flat terrain and no wind) and have no problem with some hills.

This way it is possible to complete the whole tour leaving enough room for stopovers and visiting points of interest.

On some days there is the opportunity to hop off later to shorten the tour. It is also possible to make your tour program more physically challenging by doing more miles in an individual program.

As always it will be possible to stay on the boat and enjoy the boat ride.

 

The region

The tour will take you through Belgium and France and curiously to say also through Holland as Belgium and the French part above the river Somme once belonged to Holland. This can be seen in the flags of Belgian and French provinces that still carry the Dutch national symbol (the lion).

 

Picardie, as the northern province of France is called, once was the cradle of the Gothic period which can be seen in the various places we will visit.

Picardie and especially the area around the river Somme carries the scars of the great war. In almost every little town we pass there are Memorial statues that commemorate the soldiers and civilians that have died in this war.

If you are interested in this part of history you will have the opportunity to visit the war museum at Peronne where we will spend a whole day. You can also take a tour around the area and pass along the big memorials for the soldiers of France,  Great Britain, Australia, America and South Africa. 

  

The tour

 

 

1)    Sunday

Bruges   10 Miles // 16 km

Arrival on board the Elodie in Bruges where the crew will welcome you with a nice cup of coffee or tea. Introduction to the crew, explanation of the rules on board, information on the program. After the introduction we will make a short tour to Damme, a small historical town in the area of Bruges. Now you can get comfortable with your bike and make the necessary adjustments. Bruges can be considered an open air museum in every aspect. An evening stroll through this beautiful town is worthwhile.   

 

 

2)    Monday

Bruges – Gent 28 Miles // 45 km

 

Your first tour day begins along towpaths, green pastures and picturesque little towns of the Flemish countryside. An excellent track to warm up the muscles for the days to come. It is also part of the Santiago the Compostela pilgrims route that we will more or less follow all the way to Compiegne where this route takes another course.

Gent, also called the pride of Belgium honors, and its title walking through the medley of intimate and grotesque architecture. A university town with a great atmosphere!

 

    3)  Tuesday

Gent – Oudenaarde 25 Miles  // 40 km

 

From Gent we will continue upstream on the Schelde/Escaut to the south and southwest With the exception of Gent and Oudenaarde, the river towpaths that we follow lead us through farmland with the occasional nature preserve or harbor. The route is essentially flat the whole distance, with the occasional lock (there are six in all) having in most cases a rise of only about a meter. The route is mostly a well paved towpath, with short sections of street riding in Gent and Oudenaarde

Oudenaarde is the capital of the Flemish Ardennen. Centuries old it is famous for its beer breweries and wall carpets.

 

    4) Wednesday

Oudenaarde – Tournai  

13 or 29 Miles  // 20 or 46 km 

The cycle path to Tournai follows for a large part the tow paths that we are already used to. We will now enter Wallonie, the French speaking part of Belgium. The difference in culture will be  immediately noticeable. The Wallonians not only speak the French language but have also adopted the French culture.

Tournai, the oldest city in Belgium is considered to be one of the most important cultural sites in Belgium. The mixed Romanesque- and Gothic-style cathedral of Notre Dame de Tournai and the belfry, the oldest in Belgium, have been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Inside the cathedral, that can be visited until 6 pm, the Châsse de Notre-Dame flamande, a beautifully ornated 12th-century reliquary, gives witness to Tournai's wealth in the Middle Ages.

 

   5) Thursday

Tournai – Arleux  34 Miles  // 55 km

Straight through the national park regional scarpe – escaut we cycle towards Denaing.

The park was created in an old coal mine area. Cycling through this park it is hard to realize that after WWI this was a black and desolated country with no tree left.

We are passing the famous cycle race tracks of Paris – Roubaix and the notorious

Wallers – Arenberg trench. This tour is called “the hell of the north” because of the extremely bad conditions of the road the race was held on. Of course we will let our wheels touch the grounds of this famous race but we will not follow the paths that gave the name to this tour. A little bit further down the river at Arleux we will find the Elodie.

 

 

  6) Friday

Arleux - Peronne  22 Miles // 35 km

Early in the morning the Elodie will start heading for the locks and as you are ejoying your breakfast the first locks will be passed. The small and narrow locks at the "canal du nord" are a special experience.

This day the Elodie will pass 12 locks and a 3.5 mile tunnel to get to Peronne. Each lock will take the Elodie about 11 meter higher.  At one of the locks you will cycle away from the river and head for Peronne the town where we will spend a whole day.

 

 

  7) Saturday  – Peronne   

       0 Miles

Today is the perfect day to make you own plan as the Elodie will stay at the nice and interesting town of Peronne. Peronne has a lovely town centre, a big park and a very interesting museum.

Situated in a 12th century castle you will find the museum of the Great War right in the middle of town. Together with cities like Albert en Bapaume , Peronne formed the triangle in which the  battle of the Somme took place. Peronne and its museum have therefore been appointed by the French government as a historical monument in the military history of France.

 

On this day there will be no dinner at the boat so there is no need to go back to the Elodie. If you want to stay a little bit longer in another town and enjoy a French meal in one of the local restaurants you will not miss one of our chef’s meals.

 

  8) Sunday

Peronne – Pont l'eveque

19 or 35 Miles // 30 or 55 km

 

Today a cycle trip along the canal du Nord and the country side towards Noyonne, the French capital of the red fruit. We will follow the valley and the towpaths as the country around us gets more hilly.

Noyonne has also been the birth place of Calvijn, a clergyman that has been of great influence particularly in Holland

Picardie has been the cradle for Gothic art and architecture. In Noyon you can find a beautiful example of this period in the form of a Gothic Cathedral that can be admired and visited.

 

  9) Monday

Pont l'eveque – Compiegne     23 Miles  // 36 km

Through the forest of Dom D'ourscam and dom de Laigue we will continue through a more hilly terrain. Our first goal is the railway carriage where the first world war was ended and Nazi Germany forced France into an armistice treaty during the second world war. The Armistice site was demolished by the Germans on Hitler's orders and the carriage was taken to Berlin and destroyed by SS troops. A replica of the carriage can be seen together with the restored site.

From here it is not very far to our second and final goal for this day, the interesting town of Compiegne. This town is famous for its horse races and its Castle, a preferred summer residence for French monarchs, built for Louis XV, and restored by Napoleon.

We will spend the night in this town.

 

  10) Tuesday Compiegne  – Creil  

10 or 33 Miles  // 16 or 53 km

 

In the morning we will start cycling towards Chateaux Pierrefonds to pay a visit to this remarkable Castle.Continuing our tour we will cycle through the park regions Pays de France we will cycle to Creil. This park belongs to a “community” of 45 parks all over France. The parks are a mixture of natural and cultural sites combined with local community life. This way you will not be clearly entering a park in the traditional way but more so a green inhabited region that is particularly beautiful and pleasant to pass through.

Thus forests, hills small towns and rivers will accompany your trip this day.

In the town of Creil we wil spend the night

   

  11) Wednesday Creil –  Auvers sur l’oise    

         34 Miles  // 55 km

“A hilly day” lies ahead of us but the reward will be great. Chateaux de Chantilly is one of the most beautiful castles we will encounter on our tour. The castle as well as its surrounding terrains are very scenic and sometimes even breath taking.

We will spend the night in Auvers-sur-l’Oise. Throughout the 19th century a number of painters lived and worked in Auvers-sur-Oise, including Paul Cézanne, Charles-François Daubigny, Camille Pissarro, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot and of course, Vincent van Gogh. Vincent made a number of his famous paintings here and spent the last days of his life in this town. After his death he was buried in the local graveyard that can be visited.

 

  12) Thursday Auvers sur l’oise – Bougival    

         23 miles  // 36 km

Today we will ride through the banlieux of Paris. Unexpectedly close to Paris you will find a “green” path that will lead us to our next stop in Bougival.

Along the way we will pass St Germain en Laye, the birth place of the famous composer, Debussy.

A glimpse of the great city that lies ahead of us can be seen from a terrace near the chateaux de St Germain en Laye (the national museum of archeology)

A nice panoramic view over Paris with its remarkable Eiffel tower before we get back to the river and the little town of Bougival where we will spend the night.

 

 

  13)  Friday Bougival – Versailles – Paris    

          13 Miles  // 20 km

On our last cycle track before we reach the centre of Paris we will visit Versailles. This day we will cycle up hill to one of the biggest palaces in the world.

This unbelievable Palace ,once inhabited by French kings, is now a museum with a free admissible tremendously impressive garden.

After Versailles we will “descend” to the river Seine to embark on the Elodie for a boat tour to the centre of Paris an absolute highlight of the tour.

 

  14) Saturday  Paris    0 miles

The cycle tour has come to an end and you can now enjoy the wonderful city of Paris.

You can be sure that you belong to the very few that came to visit this city on a bicycle. An experience normally reserved for the Tour the France riders only!.

Your visit to Paris will never be the same.

 

 15) Sunday Paris

We take leave of you after breakfast.

 

On some day's a shorter tour is optional.

This means that you possibly miss some of that day's Highlight's. All distances mentioned are approximate and are subject to change due to weather, road or water situations or other circumstances that might occur during the tour and where not foreseen at the moment of offering this tour

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Top of the page

 

Paris

 

 

Bruges

 

 

Tournai

 

 

One of the old lock's

 

 

Museum of the Great War

 

 

Chateaux the Chantilly

 

 

The cycling clochard

 

 

The tunnel

 

For the glory of France

 

 

A day at the races

 

 

 

The mooring place at Noyonne

 

 

St. Germain en Laye

 

 

The road to Versailles

 

 

At Versailles

 

The royal gardens

 

 

Paris center cycle path