With the growing demand for cycling getaways, there is good news for cycling enthusiasts heading for France this year: the regional tourist board of the Champagne & Ardenne regions has just released a new free cycling guide covering over 1000km of long distance cycle paths.
Britons are getting on their bikes and a record two million of us now cycle at least once a week, whether to get to work, keep fit, or socialise, according to British Cycling.
Sporting success has fuelled this large growth: Sir Bradley Wiggins’ and Chris Froome’s wins in the Tour de France and 2012 Olympics has helped make cycling the third most popular sport in the UK.
These new routes in France are suitable for all abilities and cover a range of stunning landscapes such as river valleys, canals, vineyards, rural villages, historic cities and spa towns.
There is 68-page guide with practical information about cycling in these areas, including detailed maps and lists of services and accommodation with helpful suggestions of where to eat and sleep along the way.
All recommendations are under the quality label ‘La Champagne à Vélo’ and ‘Les Ardennes à Vélo’ with over 150 partners offering accommodation, bike rentals and other services. Members offer a warm welcome to cyclists and provide special facilities such as having a safe place to store bikes overnight, a place where bikes can be cleaned and repaired, plus additional services such as providing picnic lunches, and even transporting luggage to the next hotel.
The guide covers six main itineraries:
- The Meuse by bike
- From the Ardenne to the Marne Valley
- The Marne Valley
- The canal between Champagne and Burgundy
- The Seine Valley
- The valley of the Aube and the Côte des Bar
Guides can be ordered by sending an e-mail request to: firstname.lastname@example.org
A new internet portal dedicated to cycling in the Champagne & Ardenne regions is under development. It is already accessible at rando-champagne-ardenne.com and information should be fully updated by the end of March 2016.
New cycling paths in the Ardenne
The ‘Trans-Ardennes’ cycling path, following the river Meuse south from Givet, has been extended by 40km, with the Charleville-Mézières to Remilly-Aillecourt section, passing through Sedan, opening last year. This cycling path now covers a distance of 120 km between Givet and Remilly-Aillecourt.
The final 10km of this ‘voie verte’, from Remilly-Aillecourt to Mouzon, will be completed in 2017. At Mouzon, the cycle path will link up with a network of country roads along the riverside which will take the cyclist 250km to the Source of the Meuse: to the west of the spa town Bourbonne-les-Bains in the Haute-Marne. A project to signpost the cycle paths will continue during 2016, so that the full route, ‘la Meuse à vélo’, from the source to the mouth of the Meuse will be completed in 2017.
New cycling paths in Champagne
1. The lateral canal to the Marne
The latest section of the towpath along the Marne canal, between Condé-sur-Marne (east of Epernay) and Cumières (just north of Reims) was transformed into a properly surfaced ‘voie verte’ in 2015, creating an additional 23 km to the cycling path along the canal. This crosses the heart of the champagne landscape that in July 2015 was listed as a UNESCO world heritage site. The cycle path will eventually continue to the town of Dormans, 23 km to the west of Cumières.
2. The ‘voie verte’ of Troyes
The two cycling paths of the Haute-Seine Canal and the Orient Lakes Forest were linked by a third cycling path in 2015 that passes through the centre of the medieval town of Troyes. This new cycling path now links the 10 km between Barberey-St-Sulpice, to the north of the town centre, and St-Julien-les-Villas, just to the south.
You can visit the Champagne & Ardenne tourist board at www.champagne-ardenne-tourism.co.uk for more information on the region, downloadable brochures, maps and ideas of what to do and see.