Cycling from Paris to Mont Saint-Michel
The cycling route Véloscénie connects two important monuments from the rich history of France over 454 kilometers: the sadly recently hit Notre-Dame and Mont Saint-Michel. But along the way, you’ll find more icons of French heritage, including 5 monuments inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The name Véloscénie is well chosen: a contraction of vélo (bicycle) and scénie (picturesque decor). The route follows rustic back roads and voies vertes, the ‘green roads’ for slow traffic that often run over former railway lines.
This exceptional trail crosses the Chevreuse Valley, the hills of Perche and Maine, it Loire Valley and the characteristic Normandy Countryside. A large part is quite flat, but there are also stages with slopes. The route is suitable for all cycling levels and consists of long sections of car-free “voie verte” cycle paths, which are connected by country roads with little traffic. The many special places and sights make this route one of the most beautiful bike rides from Paris. For more information, go to www.veloscenic.com.
Véloscénie: departing from Notre-Dame
On the square in front of Notre-Dame – Place du Parvis-Notre-Dame – it is “point zero des routes de France“, to find the “zero point of the roads in France”. All distances between Paris and other cities are measured from this point. The square in front of the cathedral is therefore the starting point of the Véloscénie.
The impressive cycling tour starts here along the banks of the Seine. You cycle along the world famous Hôtel de Ville and the always lively square, the Louvre, the Tuileries Garden, the place de la Concorde and much more. Also in the eastern part of Paris, there is plenty to discover along the Seine, such as the park of Bercy, opposite the four glass towers of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. A truly wonderful start to your Véloscénie!
The banks of the Seine in Paris are a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of the fantastic sights that line it.
Cycling along Versailles
Now that you’re on your bike, this is the perfect way to huge gardens of Versailles (the largest palace garden in Europe). This way you won’t miss anything of the castle of Sun King Louis XIV and you can explore the corners of the park. The total area of the park, gardens and châteaux de Trianon (Grand Trianon, Petit Trianon and le Hameau de la Reine) of Queen Marie-Antoinette extends over 800 hectares. Since 1979, the Palace of Versailles and its park have been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
First cycle past the ‘village market’ of Versailles and buy your ingredients for a picnic under the trees or in the grass by the Grand Canal. It’s nice that you can take everything with you on the bike.
Off to Chartres
Leaving Paris you will soon cycle into the French countryside. On to Chartres, about 100 km by bike from Paris. Before you get to Chartres is Chateau de Maintenon definitely worth a visit. Château de Maintenon is an impressive castle located in the northeast of Eure-et-Loir, on the banks of the River Eure.
This is where Madame de Maintenon, friend of and later secretly married to Louis XIV, the Sun King, lived, one of the reasons why the castle still looks so beautiful today. The castle is located on the river Eure. Let yourself be guided by a guide to discover the history of this castle in the beautiful rooms and the lush garden. The evening viewing takes the cake, because then you will be welcomed by guides in 17th-century costumes and candles are burning everywhere. An experience that takes you back to the time of Louis XIV!
It doesn’t end with all the beautiful historic buildings along the Véloscénie. The Notre-Dame de Chartres cathedral was also declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site 40 years ago. The cathedral was built in the 18th century and is an important place for pilgrims. Chartres Cathedral stands imposingly on a hill. You can’t miss it when you cycle towards Chartres.
And then there’s the spectacle Chartres and Lumieres, where the walls of Chartres Cathedral come to life thanks to spectacular light projections. You really don’t want to miss this if you’re cycling around here!
Perche . Natural Park
Leaving Chartres, Véloscénie passes through the Natural Park of Perche. Le Perche was a (small) province before the French Revolution. It is an ancient region consisting of gently rolling hills, green valleys and beautiful ancient beech and oak forests around Bellême and the Réno Valdieu massif. It Natural Park of the Perche extends over two departments, the Orne in the Normandy region and the Eure-et-Loir in the Centre-Val de Loire region. It is a quiet area where you can cycle peacefully. You will find several rivers and lakes where you can stop for a picnic and some cooling.
The name Perche is derived from the Indo-European word “Perk” and from “Pertica” in Latin. The word means: big trees.
Nogent-le-Rotrou is the largest city of the Perche and also the capital. You should definitely visit this place during your cycling holiday.
The Bay of Mont Saint-Michel beckons in the distance. But first you cycle on fiets Normandy-Maine Nature Park. It Normandy-Maine Regional Nature Park covers an area of about 257,000 hectares and is located on the border of the land of the Loire and Lower Normandy. The park has many different faces: from the high vantage points in Normandie-Maine to the green, rolling bocage landscape with hedges and hedges around Domfront.
The vast nature reserve was established in 1975 and consists of 25% majestic oak-beech forests. The rest of the park mainly consists of a small-scale cultural landscape, with a maze of meadows and orchards surrounded by species-rich hedges.
Alençon, the sleeping beauty
From Normandie Maine you cycle through the green countryside to the charming town of Alençon. Alençon is known for its unique production of handmade needlepoint lace registered as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. From the fifteenth to the early twentieth century, Alençon lace was known and sought after worldwide. It Musée des beaux-arts et de la dentelle still reminds of this industry, which also brought wealth to the city. Along the route you will find the impressive castle of Carrouges. The gardens of this castle can be a good opportunity for a picnic break.
The sleeping beauty, that’s how Alençon is also known in France. And if you walk around there, you can imagine where that name comes from. There is peace, there is beauty, the ingredients for a pleasant stay. And maybe that name also has something to do with the lace past that the city has.
Véloscénie: finish at Mont Saint-Michel
The last stage on the route of Véloscénie is also the most beautiful. You cycle in a straight line 14 kilometers through Northern Normandy along the Roche Torin to Mont Saint-Michel. Everyone knows the images of Mont St-Michel rising majestically from a huge bay. It is all the more beautiful to see the Mont Saint-Michel come closer and closer while cycling. The abbey and the surrounding bay are the end point of this beautiful, 454 kilometer long cycle route.
The Véloscénie in brief
- The Véloscénie is a 454 km cycle route between Paris and Mont Saint-Michel.
- It passes through four regions and eight departments.
- You cycle past no fewer than five sights that are on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
- You cross various natural parks, such as Perche, Normandie-Maine and la Haute Vallée de Chevreuse.
- The route is suitable for all levels.
- Continuous, signposted cycle route.
- The average duration of the Véloscénie is +/- 8 days.
More information about the Véloscénie
- Plan your cycling route between Paris and Normandy on the Veloscenie.
- read here more about the sights along the route.
- View the larger version of the here road map of the Veloscenie.