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tæt på Fontenay-aux-Roses, Île-de-France (France)
This cycling trip takes you into the heart of Paris and Versailles, along the banks of the Seine, between the skyscrapers of the La Défense district, into forests and the Bois de Boulogne, on green cycling routes, and into quiet countryside away from the city. Paris is changing more and more into a city accommodating cyclists, and for example the cycling paths directly on the north bank in the center of Paris taking you past the Eiffel tower, the Louvre, and the Île de la Cité are enjoyable. The trip includes quite a lot of mixed cycling and pedestrian paths, so watch your speed. I did this trip on a road bike. There are several semi-paved tracks, the most of which are not too bad. There is one deteriorated asphalt road of about 3 km in the Forêt de Marly le Roi, which is less suited for a road bike, but if you reduce speed it is doable. There is one bridge (Passerelle du Port de Nanterre) for which you have to get off your bike. I did this trip on a Sunday which helps with the traffic…
I started the trip on the green cycling route Coulée Verte in Fontenay-aux-Roses, as this was close to my holiday home. There is a parking lot close to the start. You follow the winding mixed cycling/pedestrian path through the parklike strip of land between built-up area south. You pass by a viewpoint of the Château de Sceaux on your left and continue south to Massy until you get to the Bièvre valley. Here you go west, first along a larger road, and then on smaller roads on the edge of the valley. You follow this valley all the way to the Aqueduc de Buc at Buc. Here you cycle out of the valley to Versailles. In Versailles you go to the famous palace where you have a view of Louis XIV on his horse, and through the gates towards the palace. You cycle around the palace grounds along the Route de Saint-Cyr to Saint-Cyr-l'École, and then on the D7 towards Bailly. Where the mid-line from the Versailles castle and the Grand Canal crosses the D7 you shortly have a look towards the castle, and then continue on the Avenue de Villepreux west. Below the A12 there is a short stretch semi-paved, the rest of this road is nicely paved amidst endless fields. At the end of the avenue you turn right and descend into the valley of the Gally river. You follow this valley further west until you get to the D30. Here you go north to Feucherolles. You cycle through this town to the edge of the Forêt de Marly le Roi. Here is the 3 km deteriorated forest road (no cars) through dense forest (see waypoint ‘Route de la Mare à la Bonde - Bad forest road’ for more information). Apart from the bad pavement it is a nice route, and after 3 km the road improves and you continue to the Route Forestière des Princesses, which you descend/follow north. After passing the N13, there is a short stretch of semi-paved cycling path through another forest. A paved cycling path takes you across a disused railway track. You follow the D190 to Saint-Germain-en-Laye. In the center, at Place Charles de Gaulle you have a look at the castle. You cycle on and descend to the Seine river which you cross on the Pont Georges Pompidou. From here you follow the north bank on roads and semi-paved cycling paths (ok for racing bike) until you get to the Pont de Chatou. Here you change to the other side of the river, which you follow on more semi-paved cyling paths to the bridge across Nanterre harbour (bridge with steps, called Passerelle du Port de Nanterre). Shortly after you leave the river in order to cycle towards La Défense via the Boulevard de Pesaro. In the center of this area is the Grande Arche and the area is surrounded by modern high-rises. After the Boulevard de Pesaro, you continue on a mixed pedestrian/cycling area (mainly pedestrian) past the the Grande Arche, and then further down on the Esplanade towards the Pont de Neuilly. After you cross the Seine again, you cycle towards the Bois de Boulogne. You cycle through this large park, and around the popular Lac Inférieur, and then past the Hippodrome d'Auteuil. At the end of the cycle path, you continue on the Boulevard Exelmans to the Seine. Here you find a nice cycling path directly on the river, which takes you to the Eiffel tower, and then on to the Place de la Concorde. Here you cycle past the Tuileries gardens, and go through the Tuileries tunnel. At the end of the tunnel you are directly on the river again, and you cycle past the Île de la Cité until you cross the river via the Île Saint Louis and the Île de la Cité, along the back of the Notre Dame. The roof of the Notre Dame was just destroyed by the infamous fire, and the roads directly surrounding the cathedral were not accessible on my trip. On the south bank you turn west again, past the Notre Dame, the Île de la Cité, the Louvre, and the Musée d’Orsay until you get to the Pont Alexandre III. On this part the cycling routes were not ready yet, so there was a bit mixed traffic. However, I expect the cycling paths here to be ready soon. At the Pont Alexandre you turn left towards the Hôtel National des Invalides. You cycle past this and continue towards Montparnasse. You cycle around the Tour Montparnasse, a grey sky scraper. Soon after you are back on the Coulée Verte, the green cycling path taking you south and out of the city. Past Châtillon-Montrouge, the cycling path gets more park-like, with winding stretches and little hills. Soon you are back to where you started.
From here you ride up to the Hôtel National des Invalides, the French war museum, with the golden-domed cupola.
Here you ride up the mixed pedestrian/bike/step zone surrounding the Grande Arche, with shops, restaurants, and high-rises.
Bassin at the start of the esplanade going up to la Grande Arche
From here you ride on mostly small roads along the valley of the river Bièvre
Here you start your route around the Lac-Inférieur, popular with joggers. The whole park is popular with people. Some pictures were taken earlier on in the park
Boulevard de Pesaro is along the axis going up from the Louvre past the Arc de Triomphe and the Grande Arche. It is surrounded by peculiar flats. It has separate bicycle lanes.
Cycle path taking you across a bridge over a disused railway in the middle of the forest
From here you follow semi-paved cycling routes along the banks of the Seine. They are no problem for a road bike, but watch the pedestrians and joggers who have right of way.
Mostly straight road through large field. If you look east you can still see Versailles castle occasionally.
Castle in the middle Saint-Germain-en-Laye
From the gates you have a view of the front of the Château de Versailles, sometimes with long lines of visitors.
The Coulée Verte continues past the Châtillon-Montrouge station, and becomes more park-like with winding stretches, little hills etc. Again watch out for pedestrians, as it is a mixed pedestrian/cyclist path.
From Trocadero, the cycle path continues between lanes of trees along the bank of the Seine. Watch out for tourists walking or using steps on the paths.
Cycle path on what used to be a car lane. Excellent approach towards the Eiffel tower.
On the south side, the cycling paths were not ready during my trip, but mixed bus lane and bicycle strips were being created. Now you had to cycle between cars and buses (which was not too bad either). You have great views of the Louvre, and the Musée d'Orsay, among others.
An esplanade (along the axis Louvre-Arc de Triomphe-Grande Arche) carries you between high-rises and restaurants, green zones, and water down towards the Seine. Watch out for pedestrians and steps (if you follow the track, you do not need to dismount).
From behind the fence you have a view towards the Versailles castle along the Grand Canal.
The valley of the river Gally consists of quiet countryside, but was used by quite a large number of cyclists on this Sunday morning...
This green cycle/pedestrian path within a narrow green zone takes you from Montparnasse south out of Paris center.
La Grande Arche is the 'grand travail' of president Mitterrand. La Grande Arche de la Défense, "The Great Arc of the Defense" is a monument and building in the business district of La Défense . A 110-metre-high cube, La Grande Arche is part of the perspective from the Louvre to Arc de Triomphe. The distance from La Grande Arche to Arc de Triomphe is 4 km.
The Sun King on his horse in front of the Château de Versailles
The grand cathedral Notre-Dame was severely damaged on April 15, 2019, only two weeks before my cycling trip. You could not get close to the building. The roof and exterior were severely damaged, but the outside structure still looked quite ok.
The Voie Georges Pompidou continues on a nice stretch along the Seine with good views of the Île Saint Louis and the Île de la Cité.
Bridge with steps across the harbour acces of Port de Nanterre. You have to dismount from your bike here.
Place Charles de Gaulle in front of the castle and the Eglise Saint-Germain.
Famous traffic square with obelisk at the start of the Champs-Élysées towards the Arc de Triomphe. The Tuileries gardens are between the Louvre and the square.
Pont Alexandre III in front of the Hôtel National des Invalides
Bridge across the Seine at the start of La Défense.
Pont Georges Pompidou across the Seine below Saint-Germain-en-Laye
Road behind the Notre-Dame.
Road along the Seine across from the Notre-Dame.
This forest road, once asphalt, is deteriorating fast. The road is not accessible for cars. They should re-pave it for cyclists, as it is a nice route through the forests and away from busier roads. For a road bike it is a bit tricky: slow down for about 3 km until a little bit past the motorway underpass. Giving this stretch a miss involves cycling from Feucherolles to Saint-Nom-la-Bretèche (Route de Sainte-Gemme) and then on to Saint-Germain-en-Laye (D98) along busier roads and through built-up area.
Road around the Versailles castle park
This forest road is paved and quiet.
About 300 m of semi-paved road below the A12 before you get back to smooth asphalt
About 700 m of semi-paved cycling path. Not ideal for road bikes, not too difficult either.
Statue de la Liberté on Île des Cygnes. Two bridges cross the little island.
High-rise/skyscraper at the Montparnasse station
The Tunnel des Tuilleries (used to be a car lane) takes you from the Tuileries to the Parc Rives de Seine - Georges Pompidou
Viewpoint towards Château de Sceaux from the Coulée Verte