About the challenge
This is a classic challenge between two of the most famous capital cities in Europe: with long days in the saddle this will be an unforgettable achievement! Starting from central Paris, we head west out of this stunning city through the small villages and medieval market towns of Northern France. Arriving at the coast, we cross the Channel overnight before our final day riding through picturesque Hampshire and Surrey countryside and on to our finishing point in central London This is a classic challenge between two of the most famous capital cities in Europe: with long days in the saddle this will be an unforgettable achievement! Starting from central Paris, we head west out of this stunning city through the small villages and medieval market towns of Northern France.
Arriving at the coast, we cross the Channel overnight before our final day riding through picturesque Hampshire and Surrey countryside and on to our finishing point in central London.
Day 1: London –Paris
Meeting at St Pancras, we catch the Eurostar which within just three hours takes us straight to the centre of Paris. On arrival we make our way to our hotel, check in and relax! You are then free to explore and soak up the Parisian atmosphere until we meet again for dinner and a detailed trip briefing. Night hotel.
(Lunch not included)
Day 2: Paris - Evreux
Cycle approx 112km (70 miles)
We set off from the Eiffel Tower, a wonderful way to start our ride! The streets in Paris are busy, but we leave early to avoid as much traffic as possible, and enjoy riding past beautiful Paris buildings and landmarks as we head west out of the city. Riding through the prosperous suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt, which lies just to the south of the famous Bois de Boulogne, it is not long before the city’s roads are behind us and we are cycling on smaller, quieter roads. We now ride through open, agricultural landscapes, passing villages with squat Norman churches, colourful shuttered houses and tree-lined market squares – peaceful rural scenes which are as quintessentially French as the grandeur of Paris behind us. We cross the River Eure and head towards the cathedral town of Evreux, our destination for the night. Evreux dates back to the 5th Century AD, and its cathedral is one of the largest in France. Night hotel.
Day 3: Evreux - Caen
Cycle approx 138km (85 miles)
A longer day today, as we continue west on quiet roads. The cycling is mostly flat and takes us through agricultural lands into meandering valleys and traditional farming hamlets. Our route takes us along shady beech-tree-lined avenues which are typically French, and we pass some pockets of woodland. There are plenty of apple orchards in this region – the area produces lots of cider and calvados! As we approach the coast we head north, avoiding the busy streets of central Caen. Time permitting, we may be able to stop at Pegasus Bridge, where the first house to be liberated from the Germans in June 1944 still stands; it is now a café and museum. We ride the last few miles to Ouistreham, the city’s port on the coast, and have dinner before boarding our overnight ferry to Portsmouth. Night cabin on ferry
Day 4: Portsmouth – London
Cycle approx 125km (78 miles)
We dock early and set off, having eaten a good breakfast on the ferry. Our routes takes us across the beautiful, sweeping South Downs; these are the first steep hills to test our legs, but we’ll be spurred on by being back on British soil! We pass through Chawton, the lovely village of Jane Austen fame, and Alton, home to the steam trains of the Watercress Line. Now riding predominantly northeast as we pass through Surrey, our route undulates relatively steadily as we pass small towns and villages, though there are a few steeper climbs to tackle. After Guildford and the North Downs our roads start to get busier as we approach the outskirts of London. Skirting Chessington and Wimbledon, we ride towards Clapham, taking care on the city roads, and finally come to the River Thames, which we cross before finishing our ride at Trafalgar Square. After some refreshments we head home, with a huge feeling of well-deserved achievement.
(Dinner not included)
To book online for the Portsmouth to London leg please click here - registration fee £75, fundraising target £450
Discover Adventure reserves the right to change the route or itinerary for safety reasons should local conditions dictate.
All accommodation is included in 2-3* hotels on a twin-share basis (& 4-berth ferry cabins), as well as transport (by ferry and Eurostar) and all meals except two as specified. It also includes full trip support of experienced Discover Adventure leaders, drivers and mechanics.
The tour cost does not include personal travel insurance, meals as specified (allow £30-50), transport around Paris/London during free time, a bicycle, drinks, extra food, personal items or any optional tourist activities. 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 two 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. On the journey out to Paris, your bikes 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 further, or a soft bike bag. Hard case bike bags are not suitable as we do not have space to store them.
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 112 - 138km per day; you should make sure you are fit enough to manage these distances. The last 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. However Discover Adventure can provide hybrid or mountain bikes at an extra cost if you wish.
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 & 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.
We encourage all our customers to offset emissions connected with their trip. You can offset at any time in the lead-up to departure by visiting Climate Care via our website and making a donation to a worthwhile project supported by them.
Alternatively, if you wish to take more practical action in the UK you can volunteer for a day with TCV and work on an environmental project local to you. Work may include construction footpaths, dry stone walling, creating wildlife habitats or planting trees in your community. Volunteer today at www.tcv.org or call 01302 388883.