YesCycle: Paris to Amsterdam – Route Planning Part 1

Ahead of agreeing to this trip, we had done no kind of ‘route planning’. Nothing. Zilch. Nada.

The whole basis of the route had been that ‘Paris to Amsterdam’ sounded good. We now need to work out how we’re actually going to do this…

Our past experience of cycling across Germany a few years ago consisted of buying a single book (‘Europa-Radweg R1‘) which had extremely easy-to-follow maps which took us easily to Berlin. And our initial instinct was to follow the same logic – surely we can just buy a ‘Paris to Amsterdam’ cycle route map, right?

Wrong. Well, at least we haven’t found one. The ‘cycle route’ we’re trying to determine winds its way through three countries, with plenty of choice on how to go about it. If we were doing this the fast way, sans-toddler, then we would probably whack it into Google Maps and be done with it. But given we’re planning for slow and steady, we would rather have dedicated cycle paths or recommended quiet roads where possible.

Fortunately, there is a wealth of information out there. An incredible amount. Here’s what we’ve found as our new go-to references for cycle route information:

  • La Véloroute et Voies Vertes de France: Interactive maps, route descriptions (in French), photos of the cycle routes. The long distance French national cycle routes don’t seem quite as well defined as in Belgium and Netherlands, but this is a great resource.
  • Freewheeling France: An excellent independent run site (in English!) which has GPX downloads of routes. A ton of information on here (including accommodation recommendations) which we’ll no doubt be coming back to.
  • Grote Routepaden [Belgium]: Simple, well organised resource with all the long distance routes in Belgium with GPX downloads for all routes.
  • Holland Cycling Routes: One look at this map shows why this country is the daddy of all cycling destinations. An incredible network of long distance and local cycle routes. Not too worried about the planning for this stage given the abundance of excellent dedicated paved routes for cyclists.
  • EuroVelo: The official site for long distance European cycle routes, but perhaps not the most useful. Good for getting a high level idea on how to approach routes, though lacks detail.
  • Bicycle Routes & Tours: This has helped fill in some of the gaps as we’ve been planning, especially the part between France and Belgium. A huge number of routes covered here with GPX route downloads.

So, all things considered, this is currently what our route looks like:

  • EuroVelo 3 – Paris to Thuin (BE)
  • RV1 – Thuin to Halle
  • Flanders Route – Halle to Leuven
  • LF2 – Leuven to Boom
  • Flanders Route – Boom to BE/NL border
  • LF9 – BE/NL border to Utrecht
  • LF7 – Utrecht to Amsterdam

Simple, eh?

The next step will be to string together some GPX data to create a single route. But for now, that will have to wait until ‘Route Planning Part Deux’….