Way back in 2017, myself and a few friends decided that cycling London to Paris, unsupported, was the next adventure for us to work towards. At that time, the 24 hour London to Paris rides were super popular, however, we knew we wanted to take our time and enjoy the journey.
The 24hour version suits those who have limited time off as you can complete it over a weekend and be back at your desk 9am on Monday. But if you’re looking to take in the views, enjoy some French food and not just countdown the hours till you’re done, you can make a nice break out of it.
Why Ride From London to Paris?
At the time, I’d been gaining experience on my road bike and had tried pretty much everything except bikepacking. I’d done sportives and I was ready, and keen, to up the distance a little. I’m not a massive fan of rides over 50miles but breaking it down over a number of days seemed like a suitable challenge.
Personally, since my trip, I’ve loved hearing peoples “why” for doing the London to Paris cycle challenge. From the heart-breaking to the heart-warming, right through to the “because why not?!”.
“[I] turn 40 next year and have decided this is the challenge for me! Aiming to be in Paris for my birthday!”nicki
As much as London to Paris is a challenge, it’s also achievable for beginners if you plan and prepare well. It’s a route thats been well ridden so there will always be someone willing to share their experience and tips with you.
I guess that’s what I’m doing in this post!
Even though it’s been years since I took on cycling London to Paris, I regularly talk about it and am always sharing my posts so I figured it was time to update it all, and create an overarching post with the best tips and advice I have to share and can gather.
Read About My 2017 Ride to Paris:
You can read the highlights, lowlights and everything inbetween of our trip in these posts. The first one shares our story and our why, whilst the other two are my write ups after the trip.
- What inspired our London to Paris Ride, July ’17
- Our London to Paris Ride || Part 1 #3PTsToParis
- Our London to Paris Ride || Part 2 #3PTsToParis
I’ve shared lots of other posts from the blog later on, as and when they are relevant. I hope you enjoy and are inspired and excited for your own challenge!
Choosing Your London To Paris Itinerary
Before you start to think about your itinerary and everything that goes with that, this is probably the point where you need to decide if you want to do the ride supported or unsupported. If you opt for supported, then you can ask friends for recommendations of organised trips. If you’re up for the adventure of unsupported, keep reading…
Planning Your Route
The benefits or riding London to Paris unsupported is that it’s much cheaper and gives you more flexibility and freedom on dates, times, locations etc. My group decided we wanted to do the ride over 3 days, to give ourselves enough time to enjoy the ride, not have to start too early and to have the evenings to relax, get dinner, unwind and prepare for the following day.
“…enjoy the scenery rather than just keeping your head down pedalling; eat plenty, eat as you ride & stop for lunch; drink plenty, sip as you ride; & enjoy the experience.”Sally
After we researched routes, we chose to ride Newhaven – Dieppe – Beauvais – Paris, which from our starting point in Stratford, London was around 300km.
How long it takes to cycle from London to Paris therefore is highly dependent on your speed, route, the distance and how many stops you decide to make. Most people take between 2 and 5 days to cycle from London to Paris.
I think one of the best things our group did when we decided to take this on, was to agree on an average speed to aim for – 12mph. This meant we all knew what to train towards, what to expect and what sort of distance we would / could cover each day.
Choosing this route, we knew the first day over the South Downs would be the hardest (if you’ve ridden London to Brighton, then you’ll know!) along with the pressure to get to the ferry on time. Of course you could choose to stay the night in the UK to alleviate this stress, especially if you’ve travelled from further than London.
What Distance Is London to Paris?
I’ve seen people who’ve ridden routes that are 500km to Paris, whilst ours was 300km. There are various routes you can take, and that will determine the overall distance.
Some route options are:
- Dover -Calais-Amiens-Paris (3 days)
- Newhaven – Dieppe – Forges-les-Eaux – Chaussay – Paris
- Portsmouth – Le Havre – Gommecourt – Paris (3 days) – wildcamping
Travel Considerations For 2022
With the recent global events, so many things have changed when it comes to travel. Even thought you’re riding to Paris under your own steam, you will need to consider any restrictions imposed by the UK Government and the French Authorities.
For me, it was super simple to return to the UK by booking my bike to be brought back via Eurostar for 29Euros. However, at the time of writing this post, that courier service is not available.
I know one option that has been used is SendBike but there was a bit of an issue with getting the box in time at the hotel in order to pack up the bikes appropriately for being couriered.
Make sure you check the latest travel information and guidance when planning your trip, and regularly in the lead up to your departure.
Other things to consider when planning your trip include: time of year (colder / wetter months require more kit), choosing hotels that offer free cancellations incase of travel restrictions and restrictions for re-entering the UK.
Where To Stay On Your Ride
Once you’ve chose the route you’re going to use for cycling London to Paris, the next most important thing is probably to choose where you’re going to stay.
These days wild camping is a popular option but it does have its drawbacks too. For example, I started my period on day two of our ride so it was much more comfortable to be staying in a hotel.
Choosing the right hotel with facilities you need is important. First and foremost, you want to know that they are bike friendly and either have a secure location for you to store your bike overnight or allow you to keep your bike in your room.
After this, check they have a decent breakfast and that the timings work for your departure. You can also opt to buy your breakfast in a supermarket if there is one locally.
One lesson we learnt the hard way was booking a hotel in Beauvais on a Saturday night, on a main road, with revellers! We couldn’t even keep the windows shut as it was hot and there was no air conditioning!
We booked our hotels through Booking.com which at the time provided referral discounts and mostly have options with free cancellations.
- Bikepacking for Beginners – Lessons to Ride By
- Best Bikepacking Kit & Essentials For Beginners
- How To Choose The Best Bike Insurance Policy
London to Paris Gallery:
I reached out the Vixens in the Velovixen chat group on Facebook and to my friends on Instagram, to see if they’d be up for featuring in this gallery so I could showcase a range of women who’ve done this ride!
Training Plan For Cycling London To Paris
Back in 2017, I didn’t have a coach written training plan to follow. We kinda just did our own thing knowing that we had to build up the mileage and get used to consecutive days in the saddle.
At the time, one of the most important milestones was riding 100km. Other than that, it was just a matter of getting as many miles under our belts as we could and testing out our kit, equipment and nutrition plans.
I did a mixture of riding to events / anywhere I could, Breeze rides (riding to and from them when I needed to build distance, and long rides on weekends with my friends from the trip.
One good thing is that nowadays, turbo trainers are much more popular to in bad weather (or if you’re short on time) you can use a turbo for some of your training.
This eight-week Sofa to 50km training plan from British Cycling would be a good place to start if you’re completely new to cycling.
MOre Tips For Training:
- Day 1 is the hilliest, so get your hill training in.
- Easiest way to up your mileage is cycling to work.
- Practice back to back days of cycling.
- Keep fuelled and well hydrated – find out what works for you in training.
The Best Bike For Riding L2P
Really, the best answer for this is that the bike you have will be the best bike for riding to London to Paris. When I did my ride, I was on an entry level road bike and it served me well. I managed to find kit that fit my bike and served the purpose I needed.
Looking back, I guess a lighter bike would have made the job a bit easier, but a heavier bike will just get you fitter!
And don’t overlook comfort! You’re gonna be on the bike for some time, so if budget allows, get yourself a bike fit to ensure your position is optimal.
Whichever bike you choose to ride London to Paris on, just make sure you spend time getting acquainted with it. Do you know how to fix a puncture? Do you have spare parts to take with you?
If not, maybe do a recce and find out if there are any bike shops on the route and make a note of where they are. Otherwise, get yourself booked onto a bike maintenance course or spend some time on YouTube geeking out over bikes.
What Kit You Need For L2P
You’ve chosen your route, started your training and now it’s time to get kitted up for cycling London to Paris. Here are the main categories of items and kit you’ll need for your trip:
- What you’ll wear on the bike
- Other kit (e.g gloves, arm warmers etc)
- Bike stuff and gadgets
- Off the bike outfits
- Personal items
I covered these items in more detail in my What I’m Packing To Ride From London To Paris post.
I saw someone ask: “I’m doing [London to Paris] along the Avenue Verte (the Newhaven-Dieppe route) and am curious about how everyone navigates?”
This L2P trip was actually pivotal for me – it was when I decided to invest in a cycling computer (GPS) and also learnt the basics of route planning.
The GPS unit was probably the best cycling thing I’ve ever purchased! It lasted me years and I sold it onto another rider who’s starting to explore more. I currently use the Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM GPS and can’t recommend it enough!
“…you will have a fantastic time, and make sure you have a bike fit before, great shorts and lots of chamois cream!”Mandy
Anything I Would Have Done Differently?
We all know that hindsight is a wonderful thing… but I’m not sure there is much I would change about the trip as that would change the memories. If I really had to nitpick, I’d probably do some more research and find a better hotel for the end of day 2.
I’ve loved reading my posts detailing the trip, over and over again and also loved sharing it to inspire others! Here’s a quote from Debbie after she completed her ride to Paris and wrote up her own experience…
“When I was thinking about an adventure ride I saw a blog by a fellow Vixen Elle Linton – my hubby and I used her routes and ideas and did it this week . Here’s our little amateur blog – if it inspires anyone as much as I was by Elle’s then that’s a good thing x”Debbie – September 2021
What made you take on the London to Paris ride?! When are you going?!
If you’ve already completed it and have tips to share, feel free to drop them in the comments below!