This month saw the launch of the first English Guide Book to Veloscenic the 280-mile itinerant cycleway linking Paris and Mont-Saint-Michel. Easily accessible from the UK and readily broken down into bite-sized chunks, the long-distance route is easier than ever to navigate.
The 130-page Veloscenic Guide Book provides detailed mapping and directions, with advice on how to access the route and where to hire bikes. The spiral bound format is easy to slip into a backpack or attach to handlebars. There are profiles of the 11 different sections indicating their relative difficulty and suggestions for what to see including ‘Don’t Miss’ tips for the best attractions.
Sixty brand new colour photographs bring the pages to life from the rambling castles to the languid rivers that make up the gorgeous countryside. The Guide has a comprehensive listing of places to stay including accommodation with an ‘Accueil Velo’ label, which are noted for their help with cycling know-how and services. Importantly, there are suggestions for where to refuel along the way.
Veloscenic opened in 2012 and is one of France’s most popular long-distance cycle-ways. With 115 miles of traffic-free greenways and 165 miles of shared paths (with very little traffic) there is something for all abilities, including seven family-friendly sections and two challenging stretches. It follows the traces of the original Paris to Mont-St-Michel pilgrimage route, encompassing four regions (Ile-de-France, Centre-Val de Loire, Pays de la Loire, Normandie) and eight departments, with a staggering five UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The route offers a rare opportunity to cycle through spectacular scenery and sample the essence of traditional French life, history and culture. Highlights include seeing Chartres Light Show, the largest light show in the world to showcase heritage, the Palace of Versailles, the impressive array of chateaux at Sceaux (and its gardens), Chevreuse, Rambouillet, Maintenon, Nogent-le-Rotrou, and Carrouges and the little-known, fine towns including stately Alenҫon, medieval Domfront and pretty Ducey.
Price: Veloscenic: Paris-Versailles-Mont Saint Michel by Richard Peace is published by Excellent Books and costs £12.95. It is available online and at good independent bookstores throughout the UK.
Getting here: Trains booked through Voyages SNCF (0844 848 5 848) from London-Paris and back from Pontorson (the nearest station to Mont Saint-Michel) to London (via Paris) start at £89.50 per person. Alternatively, Brittany Ferries (0871 244 1400) offers return channel crossings to Caen, Cherbourg and Saint Malo from £110pp for a car and two passengers.
For more information visit www.veloscenic.com. Photos c. Joël-Damase – CDT 61.