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.
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
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
As always it will be possible to stay on the boat and enjoy the boat ride.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
Oudenaarde – Tournai
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.
Tournai – Arleux 34 Miles // 55 km
Straight through the national park regional scarpe – escaut we cycle
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
Thus forests, hills small towns and rivers will accompany your trip this
In the town of Creil we wil spend the night
11) Wednesday Creil – Auvers sur l’oise
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
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
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
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
Friday Bougival – Versailles – Paris
// 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
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
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
Your visit to Paris will never be the same.
15) Sunday Paris
We take leave of you after breakfast.