Monday, April 20, 2015

Avenue Verte - The Buildup

This is a "classic" in the making, 2 Brits and a Yank cycle from London to Paris - what possibly can go wrong. 

The idea for this adventure came about in 2014, after seeing "Avenue Vert" (AV) advertised on the UK Sustrans website. The Avenue Vert is a route that was created to open in time for the London 2012 Olympics. The route is a joint Anglo-French creation, that follows the UK's cycle network, and rail trails through Normandy in France. The route is approximately 250 miles, with a few variations and additional detours here and there.

Planning (aka an excuse for a pint or 2)

Planning began in earnest in January 2015, and logistics was the main item to nail down. The route requires crossing the English Channel (La Manche) between Newhaven and Dieppe (via an overnight ferry), and requires travelling back to London on Eurostar. These 2 bookings are what primarily governed our itinerary. 

All 3 of us cycle most days of the week, so are pretty comfortable on roads in traffic, and capable of travelling at a good pace (race pace more often than not). For this adventure however, we decided we'd mainly follow the published AV route and take our time a little more. We built in a good buffer each day to visit the local sights - you know, pubs, cafes, kebab vans, ok perhaps the odd Chateaux too. 

Having nailed down the timing for the entire trip, we then worked on the route/mileage for each day, and the accommodation. Now when there are 3 guys travelling together, finding accommodation at B&B's is not as easy as it sounds - well unless you don't mind very close sleeping quarters, and you stay away from the Curry houses and Kebab vans. The best options we found were booking one single room + one twin room (2 single beds), then splitting the entire cost into 3. We found 2 great B&B's, L'Abbaye at Saint-Germer-de-Fly and La Ferme Rose at Boisemont.

The Route (aka le Plan)

We raise a glass of England's finest Bitter at the London Eye, and toast a glass of French wine at Notre Dame.

Day 1: London to East Grinstead 39 miles

Day 2: East Grinstead to Newhaven 52 miles

Day 3: Dieppe to Saint-Germer-de-Fly 58 miles

Day 4: Saint-Germer-de-Fly to Boisemont 54 miles

Day 5: Boisemont to Paris 35 miles