About the challenge
A classic challenge in aid of Alzheimer's, and see the Tour De France arrive in Paris!
Cycling from London to Paris is one of the great cycle experiences in Europe. Passing through picturesque Kent countryside, we cross the Channel and continue through the small villages and medieval market towns of Northern France.
With long days in the saddle and some strenuous hill-climbs, the sight of the Eiffel Tower, our finishing point, will evoke a real sense of achievement.
Day 1: London – Dover – Dunkirk
Cycle approx 136km (85 miles)
An early start from London allows us to avoid the morning traffic as we pass through the outskirts of the city onto quieter roads. It is not long before we are among the rolling fields and villages of rural Kent, passing orchards and traditional oast houses where hops are stored. We follow country roads across the hills of the North Downs to Dover and the coast. Taking the ferry to Dunkirk, we have dinner on board and cycle the short distance to our hotel. Night hotel.
(Dinner on ferry not included)
Day 2: Dunkirk – Cambrai
Cycle approx 161km (100 miles)
We head south from Dunkirk, riding roughly parallel to the Belgian border. A long day in the saddle lies ahead, but the terrain is fairly flat as we pass through small villages and farmland, with some areas of shady woodland. There are some undulating roads mid-way through our morning, which stretch the legs a little! The area we pass through saw a great deal of action in WW1 and many road-names in towns and villages testify to the history. This region used to be part of Flanders; you will notice many place-names which are more Flemish than French. Our afternoon is predominantly flat as we ride southeast, though a few hills await us before Cambrai, a town which dates back to Roman times. Night hotel.
Day 3: Cambrai – Soissons
Cycle approx 111km (69 miles)
Today is shorter, but hillier as we cross beautiful rolling landscapes, where fields of crops stretch for miles. Narrow hedgerow-lined lanes take us through small villages, many of them with ancient crumbling buildings, and we follow wider boulevards through historic towns with striking churches and town halls. The last section of our route runs through an area involved in the WW1 Battles of the Aisne, and many of the villages have cemeteries and memorials to the fallen. With roughly ten miles to go, we tackle one of the day’s most challenging climbs, which winds through woodland out into open fields with wonderful views. A wonderful descent then takes us to Soissons, an ancient town which lies on the River Aisne. Night hotel.
Day 4: Soissons – Paris
Cycle approx 118km (74 miles)
Our final day’s cycling takes us southwest, on more undulating roads through small villages and farmland. There are a few short sharp hills in the morning, but the terrain then rolls gently along as we head towards busier roads. As we reach the suburbs of Paris we look out for the distinctive landmarks of the Eiffel Tower and the Sacré Coeur standing out on the skyline. Reaching the suburb of St. Denis we come to the River Seine; following its northern esplanade in the shadow of the Bois du Boulogne, we ride until we reach the Pont d’Iena and finish beneath the lofty arches of the Eiffel Tower. We check into our hotel and enjoy a great celebration to mark our achievements. Night hotel.
Day 5: Paris – London
After breakfast you are free to explore the city; popular attractions include the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Notre-Dame Cathedral and the Louvre. The Tour de France finishes on the 71m-wide Champs-Elysées, by far the best place to watch the sprinters in action as they circuit inner Paris for about an hour before the final lap. The atmosphere in Paris will be electric as spectators gather early to watch the world’s most famous cycling event arrive home, and if you want to get a good view you are advised to get there many hours before the peloton!
You are responsible for getting yourself and your bags to the Gare du Nord in good time for our Eurostar train back to St Pancras, where we meet the bikes. (Lunch & dinner not included)
Discover Adventure reserves the right to change the route or itinerary for safety reasons should local conditions dictate.
The cost includes all accommodation as well as transport (by ferry and Eurostar) and all meals except three as specified in the itinerary. It also includes full trip support of experienced Discover Adventure leaders, drivers and mechanics.
It does not include personal travel insurance, three meals as specified, transport around Paris on Day 5, a bicycle, drinks, extra food, personal items or entry to any optional tourist sites you may wish to visit. Remember to allow extra for drinks, snacks, souvenirs and other personal expenses. Please note that costs may fluctuate and we have no control over any changes. We strongly recommend you carry a credit card in case of personal emergency.
Accommodation is in 2-3* hotels, picked for their proximity to our route. The hotels are comfortable with en suite facilities; standards may vary between the hotels.
All food is included except three meals where specified. Lunches are generous buffet-style with plenty of energy food to keep you going! Dinners are generally eaten in the hotels.
Being vegetarian or having other dietary requirements is not usually a problem provided you let us know well in advance. Bear in mind that being vegetarian is not generally well-understood in France, so meals may not be as varied as you are used to. If you know there are plenty of foods you cannot eat you may wish to bring extra snacks from home so you can top up your energy supply. Any meals not included are listed in the itinerary and are generally when we are in towns or cities where you are free to explore and find something to suit your budget.
Discover Adventure Crew
Your trip will be led by experienced Discover Adventure leaders. Our leaders are selected for their experience in harsh wilderness environments, knowledge of travel in remote areas, friendliness and approachability, sense of humour and ability to safely and effectively deal with any situation that arises. They are also trained in expedition first-aid. You are in very safe hands with a Discover Adventure leader.
All our leaders are from the UK or other English-speaking countries. Most work for us on an ad-hoc basis and have ‘real’ jobs in-between trips! We never send our leaders to the same destination for months on end – we want them to be as enthusiastic about your trip as you are. The number of crew and support vehicles looking after you will depend on the final size of your group, but the team will be looking after every aspect of your trip whether that’s transporting your luggage, ensuring your route is well-marked, making you lunch and sorting out any mechanical problems. At Discover Adventure we pride ourselves on our high leader: cyclist ratio and believe it leads to greater trip enjoyment as well as excellent trip safety.
Support vehicles are with the group all of the time. All luggage and spares will be carried in them. Space is limited and hard-sided luggage is not suitable, so it is essential that your kit is packed in a soft sailing bag, rucksack or expedition kitbag. Ask us about our specially-designed low-cost kitbags if you don’t have one already. You should also bring a small daypack or large waist-pack to carry items needed during the day as you will not have access to your main luggage until the evening. Your bikes will return in our vehicles in time to meet you at St Pancras. They will be well-packed and protected during transit in our vehicles, but if you have an expensive or delicate frame, you may prefer to bring extra lagging to protect it more, or a soft bike bag. Hard case bike bags are not suitable as we do not have space to store them. We offer a bike courier service for those who prefer not to collect their vehicle at the station; further details and costs will be sent to you nearer the time.
Your safety, and that of the rest of the group, is our highest priority. Our trips are designed and planned with safety in mind. Your crew will be equipped with radios and emergency mobile phones, first-aid kits and other safety apparatus where necessary. They always have access to our 24-hour emergency back-up in the UK. Our leaders are responsible for safety on the trip, and will make any changes to the itinerary they deem necessary should local conditions dictate. Pre-trip administration – such as compulsory medical questionnaires and travel insurance – is all done with your safety in mind.
Preparing for the challenge
The cycling is mainly undulating. Distances are fairly long, varying from 69 - 100 miles per day; you should make sure you are fit enough to manage these distances. The first day is particularly strenuous with some tough climbs. We ride mainly on small country roads. Traffic is light on most of the roads but when we pass through busy areas we may go through as a group. French drivers are generally far more considerate to cyclists than here in the UK.
We strongly recommend that you ride a road/racing bike (rather than a mountain bike) for this trip due to the long distances involved on well-surfaced roads.
There will be a range of spares in the vehicle along with a full tool kit. However it is impossible for us to carry spares for every eventuality so it is vital that when bringing your own bike it is in good order before departure. It is imperative that you supply your own helmet and wear it at all times while cycling, with the straps done up. We are always happy to talk through the trip in more detail with you if you are worried about your fitness at any stage.
Clothing and Equipment
We could be exposed to bad weather at any time so be prepared for quickly changing conditions and temperatures. We provide you with a detailed packing kit-list on registration, as well as details on useful discounts you are entitled to as a Discover Adventure customer.
The climate of northern France is very similar to that of southern England. Temperatures can vary widely, rain is always a possibility and it may be windy in flatter areas.
Our challenges attract people of all levels of experience and fitness, all ages and backgrounds. We expect all participants to train hard in advance to achieve this challenge, but we respect everyone’s limits. We design our challenges so that everyone can go at their own pace: this is not a race. For logistical and safety reasons we sometimes need to re-group, so the front-runners will find themselves waiting for the slower ones. Please relax, and remember that this is a team effort that enables people to achieve their personal goals and earn sponsorship.
Passport & Visa
A valid ten-year passport is essential; it must be valid for at least six months after entry into France. There is no visa requirement for UK citizens. Other nationalities should check entry requirements.
We insist that you have had a Tetanus injection in the last ten years, and highly recommend protection against Polio. You should always check with a GP or travel clinic for up-to-date travel health advice as it does change.
Worldwide Sustainable Tourism
Long before ‘Responsible Tourism’ became a recognised phrase, we designed and ran our trips to ensure they made minimum impact on the environment and a positive impact on the local communities we pass through.
Discover Adventure Projects
We are supporting a tree-planting project in Peru and a children’s home in Tanzania on a long-term basis. If you would like to ‘give something back’ please consider donating £5 to our projects when you sign up. Please see our website for more details.