Pedal Your Way To Paris
Early autumn is one of the most pleasant times to enjoy the wonders of Paris. A short hop on the Eurostar or a quick leap to Charles de Gaulle, and within a matter of hours you’ll find yourself sauntering along the banks of the Seine, admiring the impressionist masterpieces of the Musée D’Orsay or scaling the heights of the Eiffel Tower.
But if time is on your side there is another way to travel. By bike.
Yes, you did read that correctly. Serious cyclists and recreational riders alike can enjoy the challenge of riding the 200-plus miles that separate London from Paris.
Committed cyclists can make the gruelling journey in as little as 24 hours with the right itinerary planning. Leaving London at dawn, ride the 75 miles through the garden of England to Dover, where you can rest and refuel on the short ferry trip across the channel. Head through the rolling French countryside to Amiens and then on to Paris, riding through the night before hitting the streets of the romantic French capital in the morning, with 240 miles under your belt and a huge sense of achievement.
Two, three and four-day itineraries are also popular, with the four-day trip appealing to recreational cyclists in search of a not-too-punishing schedule. Portsmouth to Le Havre is a popular crossing for this option, providing a more direct route through attractive northern-French countryside and covering just 203 miles – nearly 40 fewer than in the hard-core Dover-Calais option.
Whichever route you choose, be sure to allow plenty of time for rest, relaxation and sightseeing once you make it to your destination. Having saved your one-way fare, why not push the boat out and check in at one of Paris’s most luxurious hotels? Try Le Royal Monceau Raffles, complete with art gallery, specialist bookshop and its own art concierge, all complemented by plush décor, the largest spa in Paris and a guitar in every room. Or La Belle Juliette in central Saint-Germain, where antique furniture combines to perfection with the brightly coloured contemporary styling and lush silk fabrics. The Hotel Particulier Montmartre is another quirky but luxurious option, with its artist-designed bedrooms, marble bathtubs and hidden courtyard garden, perfect for a spot of quiet contemplation and recuperation after the exertions of your travels.
Having already indulged your inner fitness fanatic, be sure to indulge your taste buds with some of France’s finest offerings. Escargots, chateaubriand, tarte au citron and lashings of Bordeaux are sure to go down a treat, and after all that exercise the chances are that when you hop on the Eurostar back home it won’t just be your wallet that’s a few pounds lighter.