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Three Great Bike Touring Routes In Europe

February 4th, 2013 14 comments


Every February, thousands of cyclists come to Amsterdam for the Fietsenwandelbeurs. It’s a gigantic fair centred on everything of interest for bike tourists, hikers, campers and anyone who enjoys the outdoors.

As part of the event, 3 bike routes are nominated for ‘best bike route of the year’. Here are the 2013 selections.

1. Velodyssey – The Atlantic Cycling Route
The top choice of this year’s judges is Velodyssey: a 1,200km bike route that starts in Britain and runs all the way down the western coast of France to the Spanish border. It’s France’s longest waymarked bike path and connects up neatly with the Eurovelo 6 and Eurovelo 4 routes.

2. Burgundy By Bike (Tour De Bourgogne)
The Tour De Bourgogne sounds like a food-loving cyclists’ dream. It’s a 580km bike route (soon to be expanded to 800km) that passes through the gastronomic capital of Dijon and famous wine regions around Mâcon. The route is set partly along voie vertes, canals and disused railway lines, where no motorised traffic is allowed. Detailed route descriptions and a GPS track are available from the website.

Tour De Bourgogne

#3. The Vennbahn
At just 125km in length, the Vennbahn is the shortest of the three nominated routes. Unless you live nearby, it’s not likely to be a destination in its own right but could make a nice addition to a longer tour. It traces the path of an old railway line through Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg. The website has some good information about the route and the area, including intriguing stories about the coffee smugglers that roamed the border areas of Germany and Belgium after World War II.

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14 Responses to “Three Great Bike Touring Routes In Europe”

  1. Jeff Jones says:

    Wow,thanks for info on the Velodyssey. I’d never heard of it before but looks like it would make a great trip.
    Cheers
    Jeff

  2. Lysanne says:

    We have cycled a part of the velodyssey, from La Rochelle to the border of Spain. It was amazing. You cycle most of the time near the coast and in the pine tree forest. We did it in september and beside having wonderful weather, we where most of the time alone on the path. And, wild camping is very easy. Check out our blog for more details.
    on-roule-la-boule.blogspot.com/

    • Rich says:

      I found some of those woods to be questionable, North of Lacanau. Not the best route through the forest, if you ask me. From your tiny map, it seems you followed the river into Bordeaux from Royan. I’d love to get your routes from you.

      Cheers

      • Lysanne says:

        Good morning Rich,
        If you click on the ”ou sommes-nous?” map, it will enlarge the map. Let me download the route we took on Wikiloc so you can go and get them.

      • Rich says:

        So what was your favourite route? I’m running out of ideas.

  3. Andrea says:

    Do these routes really only satisfy a europeans needs. I’m going to France next year from Australia and it is going to be a once in a lifetime chance for me to cycle in France. I’m wondering if these routes are still the best in my circumstances. My route as i figured to day is from paris to normandy, down across the loire, into the dordogne and then into the pyranees. (If i’ve got enough time for all that in 8 weeks) Is the coastal route of france more interesting than the inland option i’ve chosen or is it just nicer in that you can get away from it all? What advice?

  4. Ant McLean says:

    Andrea, just wondering what will be your final route, my wife and i are planning to go to Europe next year as a first time o/s tour, we will be spending about 6-8 weeks, but were thinking a North – South route out of Netherlands. I am interested to find out your plans to get your bikes to your start point. We live in South Australia and plan to pack our touring luggage into bike cartons and carry our panniers. Finally, i am also interested in what type / brand of bike you have. Regards, Anthony McLean

    • Andrea says:

      Hi Ant, I just got home a few days ago so i can reply with certainty now. I found using trains to get to the start less than ideal in some ways but if money is not a particular issue for you then its not so terrible. Bike tourists pay more than others – that’s the bottom line. You cannot buy your ticket online if you are travelling with a bike. You need to go to a station or phone up. You will pay full price. You will have to pay an extra 10 euro for your bike on TGV trains and some others. for international travel, check out the link that the man in seat 61 gives on his website of the same name. You do not box your bike for the train, you hang it on a hook at the end of your train compartment and lock it up there. The buy a bike option, i do not think is worthwhile for foreign travellers but it is an option even though it renders you on a par with all other travellers for ticket pricing purposes. A bike bag costs at least 50 euros and its not a small or light object so where will you put it after your journey?

      My route in the end was Paris to Thivier by train. Cycling to Brantome in the dordogne and then across dordogne through all the most interesting tourist sites of castles and caves all the way to the Gorge du Tarn via the Lot River. I followed that down to Millau then followed the Tarn river to Albi. Turned south to Carcassone. Bussed to a small town of quillan (which was easy and no extra cost for the bike) rode on to Lapradelle (this was just to save me a little time). A side trip by bus to Collioure on the med to wash my feet and it was cheap and totally wonderful. Then i faced back West and confronted the Pyrenees. Col de Puilhiers, Col d’Aspet, Col de Mente and finally Col de Peyresourde before i had had enough of the Pyreenees and took a medicinal train back up to the flat country of the loire. However That train trip was rough. From Tours i turned West for a bit before turning back East to visit all the best castles and sights of this area. I took the train Back to Paris. Stopped one night, a train to Vernon to see Monet’s garden. Stopped one night there because paris is so expensive and then back to Paris for one more day of shopping.

      Leaving Paris with the bike was tricky. I reserved a bike box at decathlon the day before. At the shop next morning, I folded it up, and balanced it on top of my handlebars and pushed the thing uphill to the metro/rer station. Rode the RER to Gare du Nord then bought a 10.50 euro ticket to the airport. The alternatives are box your bike then take a taxi to Gare du nord but this is very expensive. Or try to ride to the airport but then i’m not sure how you’d box your bike. I dont think you can find a box at the airport. I never asked people how they negotiate this problem. There are lifts in all paris train stations called ascensceurs. This is what you must use to get around and out of stations and the airport. Its time consuming and tricky but it works. Putting your bike on an escalator is nowhere as difficult as i thought it would be either. Stairs are not easy though.

      For packing, i don’t understandy why your method of putting your touring luggage into bike cartons. If you have a limit of 23kg then you can only have one item of check in luggage and that would be your bike in a box. PUt your tools and any other prohibited on board stuff in there too and check the weight. I suspect you will end up giving in and paying for an extra bag. If you take this option, buy yourself a secondhand suitcase from an op shop and pack your panniers and all your stuff in there. It is much easier to lug a suitcase with wheels about than small panniers not to mention boxes.

      Some airports, eg melbore are tiresome and you may have to hang about in them for a while waiting for your connection and you are not allowed to leave you gear alone so having a lot of bags and a bike is tough then – especially when you are on your own. I was so pissed off with the airports as a result of this trip that i am thinking of starting a campaign to persuade airlines and airports to allow assembled bikes to travel rather than the boxed version. I missed a connection as a result of the delays caused by this method.

      • Andrea says:

        CORRECTION : The buy a bike BAG option, i do not think is worthwhile for foreign travellers …

      • Rich says:

        Hi Andrea. You can package up your bag for shipping and send it regular mail to a destination hotel or something. Contact them or make some arrangements. Also, major airports have lockers. You can contact them and arrange they put it into storage for you.

        Or, make a bag like me, and fold it up and take it along. Voila.

        Anyway, some options.

  5. Rich says:

    Hi folks. With regards to French cycling routes, there are national routes. Check out http://www.eurovelo.org/routes/ as it’s a beginning for a lot of routes.

  6. Graeme Cox says:

    Hi. I am trying to find a second hand touring bike on eBay in Germany. My problem is that I don’t read German and the I can’t find bicycles on their site. When I type in a brand like Koga Miyata I do get them or I can get bike companies selling new! My question: what word should I type in on the eBay finder to get their list of used (German – usually of a very high standard) bikes for sale?

    Final question: if I do find a bike there – what companies ‘ship’ it to my temporary home in NW Italy?

    Hope someone can help. Grazie, Graeme

  7. WAYNE says:

    I can’t speak for every country, but in Czech Republic and Germany you CAN book your train trip online at substantial discount. You then only have to buy the bike ticket at the station.
    I’m an Aussie living in Prague. There is no way I’d bring a bike from Australia. Buying a bike here is much more sensible and hey, it doesn’t have to be the super bike you have at home. A cheapie from the equivalent of Kmart will get you to the places you need to go. I have a seriously expensive Kalkhoff electric bike but when I go to cities for a few days I just hire a bike there. Just about every single hostel I’ve ever stayed at in Europe has bike for hire and for sale. I’ve taken my own bike everywhere as well but I’m nearly 70 and the electric bike is heavy so getting onto trains that are only at the platform for a minute (honestly – 60 seconds and they’re gone) can be very stressful. That aside, biking and using trains in Europe is a dream come true. I got a flat tyre in a tiny town in Germany and the major of the town put my bike in his Mercedes, took me home, fed me, fixed the bike and sent me on my way. Not quite sure that’d happen in Oz.

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