“Does anyone fancy cycling to Paris?”
Cycling to Paris had been on my list of things to do for a while so when I found myself sitting down with Georgie of G Who Dares for a cup of tea after she asked me for some advice — and she mentioned this would be one of her challenges for the year, we decided it made sense to join forces. Before the pot of tea had even finished, we’d flicked through our diaries to set a date. The next day I set up a group on Facebook called “Pedalling for Patisserie” and invited anyone I thought who might be keen. Eventually, there would be 11 of us. It’s a hugely popular challenge and one I would happily do again. To help you plan your own London to Paris, here’s some more info…
We were aiming to tick off the challenge in 24 hours so we opted for the 200 mile route of London — Newhaven — Dieppe — Paris. I tracked our ride with my Suunto watch and you can find the route on my Strava.
We set off from London (Greenwhich Observatory) at 4pm.
This way we limited our time of cycling in the dark and maximised our time on the other side. The ferry leaves Newhaven at 11pm and you need to be there no later than 10pm to check in
The next few hours are all about cramming in some calories and trying to sleep. By 4:30am French Time (3:30am UK time) we were getting ready to hit the road once more. Nothing will be open this early in the morning so it’s important to make sure you have food for breakfast before you can make your first stop (about 30 miles from the ferry).
We stopped for breakfast in a town called Forges-Les-Eaux — the bakeries were just opening and we gladly all gorged ourselves on freshly baked pastries here!
Back on the road, the key is to just keep the legs spinning and it’s crucial to keep stopping time to a minimum. Unfortunately, we struggled a bit in this respect — an emergency milkshake stop may have contributed to our delay...
This meant that by the time we’d reached our second actual planned stop for the day we were behind schedule and, more upsettingly, the food establishments were closing for the afternoon and actually unable to cater for so many of us. With a running adventure coming so soon after this trip, I’ll confess that I focussed most of my training around running and neglected to rack up enough cycling miles in preparation for the ride. Accordingly, I spent a great deal of Saturday in my pain cave.
The final 30k to Paris was done by cramming in spare energy bars, gels and some chips that we shared between us (they ran out!). Already pressed for time, the many traffic lights on the way into Paris did nothing to help our progress. We also got stuck at a cross-road for a rather frustrating 15 minutes whilst multiple freight trains went past!
We arrived into Paris for 5pm — just missing our 24 hour deadline!
It would have been great to make the cut off, but it was still a gigantic cause for celebration when we first spotted the Eiffel Tower!
Check out the quick edit I made below and just shout if you have any questions about planning your own London to Paris adventure!