Last Thursday was the Feast of the Ascension—a national holiday in France—and we therefore had a long weekend. With the small break and nicer Spring weather, I decided to take a solo bike trip from Paris to the sea.
This is something I’ve wanted to do for a few months. Being in Paris, one loses a sense of geography, only occasionally catching a glimpse of a forested ridge in the distance. Biking to the sea felt like a great way to get a sense of place, and get out of the city for a bit.
On Thursday I biked from Paris to Rouen. My route is pictured below. The distance biked was 147.5 km.
I left around six in the morning, hoping to dodge traffic in Paris and its suburbs. I reached Pontoise, on the edge of the suburbs, in time for breakfast.
Morning sun over the Oise.
A picture I took for our French class, which did an exercise about Pontoise.
After climbing out of the Oise river valley, one is suddenly in the country.
Fields of yellow flowers were everywhere.
The village of Chars.
I reached Gisors around ten, where I had an early lunch by a castle.
After taking a very long, very straight line across flat farmland, I veered back into the Seine river valley, stumbling onto this beautiful overlook where the Seine meets the Eure.
From there it was a relatively short way to Rouen, where I spend the night.
Rouen has lots of gothic architecture and colorful timbered buildings.
I left Rouen a little after seven, when the boulangeries opened and I could get some breakfast before leaving. My route for the day was somewhat improvised, but took me from the mouth to the headwaters of one stream (Le Cailly and La Clérette) and from the headwaters to the mouth of another (La Scie). You can see this from the relief map below.
This brought me from Rouen to the seaside village of Pourville-sur-Mer, which made up about 70 km. Dieppe, where I spend the night, was just over a hill. Biking in Dieppe and the surrounding villages added another 30 km to the day.
A monument and the Hôtel de Ville of Montville
The roads were beautiful and mostly empty.
The geography of stream valleys seems unsuitable to industrial agriculture, and so much of it was pasture for livestock.
I found a large bonfire.
These cows quickly approached me from across the field and posed.
The sea! I made it at around 11:30, and took a long break.
Cooling my sunburned feet.
The end of the Scie.
Cliffs stretch off to the west.
After a meal and a break I biked to Dieppe, where I found my hotel. But, they weren’t doing check-ins until 16:00, so I left my bags and biked around for another few hours.
The drawbridge in Dieppe.
Cliffs at Puys.
L’église Notre-Dame de Bonsecours de Dieppe.
Goats graze on the cliffs over Dieppe.
Inside the cathedral in Dieppe.
A bar at the end of the beachfront.
A ship pulls into harbor, with cliffs stretching out to the east until the horizon.
The massive jetty at Dieppe.
Sailboats in Dieppe harbor.
On Saturday I once again followed stream valleys, this time of La Béthune up and Le Thérain down. These brought me from Dieppe to Beauvais. The total distance for the day was 121.8 km.
Two thirds of the way was along old railways converted to paved bike trails, which gave me a nice break from traffic. These trails, and some of my route on the roads, was part of the London to Paris bike route, and I saw many cyclists going in the opposite direction.
I got up a little later, leaving town at around eight after a boulangerie breakfast and a grocery stop. I quickly found the paved trail, which started among a collection of marshy lakes.
It rained steadily all morning, and I got very wet and dirty.
I flew past in front of this snail, who was disturbed enough to retract his face.
Sheep hide from the rain under apple trees.
Eventually the sun came out.
In front of the Hôtel de Ville of Forges-les-Eaux.
After getting wet in the morning and then drying again, I started hiding when it looked like in would rain again. This bus stop is in Ménerval.
A mosaic in Gournay-en-Bray.
A monument in Gournay-en-Bray.
I hid from a short but heavy rain in this shelter for ten minutes.
I got to Beauvais around 16:20. The city seemed quite nice, and it has the cathedral with the tallest vaulted ceiling in the world.
The cathedral looms over the city. If you look closely, you can see a person next to the doors.
My knees started giving me a bad time on Saturday, and I didn’t want to push my luck. Also, biking back into Paris through the suburbs in the traffic after a holiday weekend was not appealing. So, I booked a 14€ TER ticket back to Paris.
The train station in Beauvais.
The bike hooks on the TER.
After a short (5.5 km) ride back from Gare du Nord, I was home! Roughly 375 km of cycling in a little more than three days.
Here are some high-quality tracks of the whole trip (including the train ride):