Cycling Eurovelo 6 From Switzerland To France

Eurovelo 6 is a 4,000km long bicycle route that runs from the Atlantic Ocean in France to the Black Sea and follows 3 of the largest rivers in Europe: the Loire, Rhine and Danube.

David Piper recently returned from a ride along part of Eurovelo 6. In this guest post, he describes the route and offers tips in case you want to cycle the same path.

Eurovelo 6
Photo by gregoriosz (Flickr).

***

Perhaps one of the most popular cycle routes in the world is that along the Danube river between Passau and Vienna. It’s so popular that the route now follows both sides of the river to ease the two-wheeled traffic congestion.

What isn’t always appreciated by the people cycling along the Danube is that this is just one section of the Eurovelo 6 (also known as EV6 or VR6) that stretches from the French Atlantic port of Nantes to Constanta on the Romanian Black Sea coast.

Eurovelo 6

Image courtesy of the Eurovelo 6 website

This Easter we rode a 1,000 km section of Eurovelo 6. We started in Basel, Switzerland and rode to Orleans in France. Here are a few key facts from our trip:

1. The route follows inland waterways. It runs along the Rhine-Rhone Canal, The Doubs, The Saone, The Canal du Centre and the River Loire. This means it’s easy to pick up the trail no matter what your starting point.

2. Following the water also means the route is flat. Although you won’t get any mountain top vistas, it does pass through some fabulous countryside and even traverses the Jura foothills of the Alps without any appreciable climbing.

3. The route is well marked with signs. Still, it’s probably a good idea to invest in a map, such as the EV6 map sold by Sustrans.

4. About 70% of the route is on dedicated traffic free cycle paths. The remainder is on quiet country lanes and 95% of the surface is super-smooth asphalt so you won’t need anything other than a standard road or touring bike.

A beautiful chateau on EV65. You’ll never be more than 10km from a town for food, accommodation and campsites. Usually there’s something to suit all budgets. Whilst France isn’t a cheap place to tour the larger towns on route will have the budget supermarkets such as Lidl and Aldi.

6. The French take their lunch-breaks and holidays seriously. Make sure to stock up on food outside these times. You can tour the route at any time of year as the climate is reasonably benign so it’s probably best to avoid August and the last two weeks of July as accommodation may be fully booked and the trail busy.

7. France is the spiritual home of le velo. Riding a bike is as much a way of life as it is a mode of transport or means of keeping fit. One thing is for sure; you won’t be seen as an eccentric hobo (as is the case in much of the world) when you roll into town clad in luminous spandex.

OtterIt’s hard to imagine a nicer ride really. We passed through thoughtfully preserved mediaeval villages, admired Gothic architecture, saw stunning chateaux and spotted swooping herons and romping otters. Large sections of the Loire valley are protected by UNESCO so are a haven for wildlife.

The food in France speaks for itself and you’ll be hard pressed to find a restaurant that doesn’t take care and pride in the presentation of its dishes. Then we have the wine, of course. The route flows through the wine regions of Alsace, Burgundy, Sancerre and Pouilly. We camped right next to some of the world’s most renowned vineyards on the Côte d’Or and overall, we were spoilt for choice when it came to wine.

Camping on the Côte d'Or

As I was cruising along enjoying the traffic-free bliss it did occur to me that this would be an ideal ‘first time tour’ or perfect for anyone wanting to get their family or even a reluctant partner involved in cycle touring. Perhaps the only downside is that once you’ve ridden it anything else will seem second rate.

***

Thanks to David Piper for his report on Eurovelo 6, and for contributing the photos.

Need more information?

Comments

  1. Philippe
    11th May 2011 at 12:08 pm #

    hello a good site about a part of EV6

    http://www.loireavelo.fr/

  2. James
    12th May 2011 at 10:08 pm #

    Nice. On my recent tour, I met a couple riding the Limes Route. I hadn’t heard of it, but it seems very similar to EV6. It follows the former Roman frontier, so instead of France it starts in the Netherlands and cuts diagonally down through Germany. From about Regensburg it seems very similar to EV6, all the way to the Black Sea.

  3. David Minett
    2nd July 2011 at 9:33 pm #

    Excellent article-all the main points covered. I have what you refer to as a “RELUCTANT PARTNER” so will point out your comments!!
    I am trying to find information on the route from Basel to the Danube but unsuccessfully. Do you have any ideas or can you point me in the right direction to get a map?
    many thanks
    Dave

  4. David Piper
    19th July 2011 at 10:51 pm #

    Yes that section is missed by the main guide books & maps, but here’s some basics on line:
    http://www.eurovelo6.org/rubriques/gauche/the-stages/rhine-valley

    Its very well sign posted so you could get to Basel, head to the river, and simply follow it upstream

  5. Philip Morris
    26th August 2011 at 4:43 pm #

    Hi and thanks to Arsene Lapin for publicising my blog.

    http://gerryotrickcyclist.blogspot.com/

    If anyone requires up-to-date information on any bit or all of the section of EV6 that I covered, I am happy to answer any questions sent through the blog or to my e-mail address.

    Phil

    • Terry
      1st July 2017 at 1:06 am #

      Hello Phil. I could not find your email address and I really would like to ask some specific questions about riding the EV6, which I plan to do on my 36″ unicycle. You can also email me at: [email protected] thanks! Terry “UniGeezer” Peterson

  6. Phil Somerville
    16th October 2011 at 10:31 pm #

    Hi Guys, just a comment on the benign weather front… I’ve regularly driven from the UK to Switzerland thru France for Christmas and have often seen temperatures down to minus 20 (down to minus 10 common)…

  7. Rik
    16th August 2012 at 11:06 am #

    Ahhh, fond memories. Thanks for this post, brings back really happy memories – my wife & I followed the EV6 from Basel to Orleans August 2011 and I’ve got to say we LOVED ALL OF IT despite the fact it rained nearly every day.

  8. Hans Howald
    19th August 2014 at 2:30 pm #

    The EV6 is a fantastic undertaking.
    At the age of 64, I have completed my personal challenge:
    Atlantic to Black Sea on 1Wheel
    4171km in 73 days (70 day riding the unicycle)
    more info and pics:
    https://picasaweb.google.com/117010431691768719149/AtlanticToBlackSeaOn1Wheel?authuser=0&feat=directlink

  9. Christine
    10th February 2015 at 5:07 pm #

    About 200 meters after crossing the Varadin bridge you will find a lovely hostel called Varad INN Hostel and Cafe located right at the foot of the Petrovaradin fortress. There’s a secure bike parking in the private garden and the rooms are new and comfortable. a great find!!!!!!

  10. Jill
    9th March 2016 at 3:00 am #

    We are leaving Australian soon to do the France part of Eurovelo 6 then 15 to Amsterdam. Do you have any tips about bike and pannier security while you visit the chateaux, please?

  11. Kelsey
    29th March 2016 at 5:39 pm #

    Hi David,

    I’m wondering how easy it is to meet people to bike with along this route. I am a 20 year old female and my bike partner is no longer able to go with me. I am hoping to meet some other young travelers to bike and camp with once I set out on the route. Is this likely?

    Thanks for the helpful information on this site!

  12. Sue Yuan
    18th November 2016 at 1:50 am #

    I’m finding lots of info on the route — thanks! One question — most of what I’ve seen assumes that you’re riding west to east, but in reading some blogs, lots of people are heading east to west — what is the prefered direction? And what is that based on (i.e. terrain, wind, etc.)

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