Articles and Photos by David "Q." May                   All rights reserved ©2001-2003
This page last updated on: February 16, 2012
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Paris Region:
Maps, Lodging, Tourist Sights

for Bicycle Trips

 

On this page:

Maps you will need
Lodging
Tourist Sight Information Sources

Related pages:

Tips on French Pronunciation, French Bicycle Names,French Road Signs and Their Observance, French Biking Vocabulary, Helmets.
Renting Bicycles in Paris,Bicycles on Regional Trains – Subways,Cycling in Paris, From Airport to Paris, Cycling Out of Paris.
Six Bicycle Routes and Tours Out of Paris, Avoiding Most Traffic.

 

Maps you will need:

Good maps are essential to bike in and around Paris.  Start with a good map of Paris. Mark on this map bike paths, streets with bike lanes, and your trip routes.

Paris bike lane maps — too crude to use as your basic map — are available in some Paris bike stores, or on the web at: http://www.paris.fr/portail/viewmultimediadocument?multimediadocument-id=18436. On this bike route map, the red lines indicate roads which are closed to auto traffic on weekends. (Along the Seine river, the closure is in force only from March to November.) The solid green lines show bike paths or bike lanes. For many outings, you may need to ride on streets without bike lanes.

If biking out of Paris, you need detailed maps of the suburbs.  For the near suburbs, the relevant Michelin maps (1:15,000) are: #17 (NW),, #19 (NE), #21 (SW) and #23 (SE).

Unless you are staying within a suburban map, you need also the relevant IGN regional maps (1:100,000):  #8 (NW), #9 (NE), #20 (SW) or #21 (SE). In the descriptions of the Best Cycling Routes out of Paris indicate which maps are required for each itinerary.

If you are starting a long bike trip that will take you off the IGN Paris regional maps, or biking elsewhere in France, I recommend that you use Michelin 1:200,000 maps. These are more compact and cheaper than the IGN maps, and — away from Paris — I find them sufficiently detailed.

All of these Maps are carried by Le Vieux Campeur bookstore (one of their several shops) (closed all day Sunday and Monday mornings), on the corner of Rue de Latran and Rue Jean de Beauvais, near the Maubert-Mutualité subway stop in the fifth arrondissement. This store also carries all 1:25000 and 1:50000 topographical maps of France, detailed maps of other European nations, and books containing French hiking and mountain biking itineraries.  Paris region maps are also available from the FNAC chain, and many other bookstores.

An out of print, and partially outdated, gold mine of directions and itineraries was the book La France à Vélo – Île-De-France, a guide Franck Cyclotourisme, which served as the original French source, ten years ago, for my excursions out of Paris.  It contained directions for 90 rides in the greater Paris region (Île-de-France).  Perhaps this will updated and reprinted one day.

Map your trip out:

Before you set out, draw your route onto your maps.  The process will help fix the route in your mind, make it easier to find your way, and make it less likely that you will become lost.   Also, it is more fun to follow a trace on a map, than to consult directions.

The Six Best Bike Routes out of Paris provides detailed directions only within the Paris agglomeration. Outside of Paris, you can easily plan your own way.  Choose among many quiet roads, preferably less frequented routes that do not run directly between major towns.  National roads - or the important regional roads - can be smoother, straighter, and thus much faster; but they may lack a wide shoulder; they are less charming; and, cars and trucks do`rush by at high speeds.  On the other hand, most trucks are not out on the weekends, while both cars and trucks prefer nearby super highways.  The author rarely rides on the national roads.


How to Find Lodging outside Paris:

The author usually use one of the following methods to find lodging outside Paris: 

     1) Look in the Michelin Red Hotel Guide (available in bookstores in France and the USA) and call ahead.  The Red Guide lists a selection of hotels, usually one-third to one-half of all the hotels in each area. A free web service is available: http://www.viamichelin.com. Enter the country and city and receive the list of hotels or restaurants in the Red Guides for Europe. If you then click on the map function, the map shows the location of the hotel.

     2) If all these hotels are full or too expensive, call the town Tourist Office .  The Michelin Red Guide lists their phone numbers for each larger town, or he finds them on the Internet at the following URL, which is the French Yellow Pages, searching with the town name and "Office de Tourisme" or sometimes "Syndicat d’Initiative": (wfa.pagesjaunes.fr/pj.cgi?Lang=en).  The tourist offices will usually give me a list of phone numbers.  Or they can mail a complete listing of hotels.

     3) More and more towns, and their hotels, are listed on the web. Search under the name of the town and the word "hôtel". Or, try the yellow pages URL above, with the town name and the word "hôtel".

     4)  If am playing it by ear, and need last minute reservations, stop by a nice-looking hotel and ask to see a room, or, if they are full, ask for help; or stop personally at a local tourist office, or even a tabac or bar, and use their yellow pages.

Occasionally, all hotels and lodgings in a town may be fully booked; thus you will be forced to change your itinerary. Consequently, unless you enjoy surprises after a day of cycling, plan ahead, or at least, inquire at one or two hotels, asking if they will be fully occupied.

There are also rooms available for rent through the French countryside, called Chambres d’Hôtes. Some owners, by request, will prepare dinner (called a Table d'Hôtes) or breakfast.  As with hotels, they are ranked by amenities.  You can find listings of these through local Tourist Offices, or in a catalogue found at most big French bookstores, put out by their association— and also now listed on the web at: http://www.hotes-en-france.com. Also available are several English- and French-language books, containing selections of "charming" Chambre d'Hôtes.

Bicycle camping is beyond the author's personal experience. There are many inexpensive campgrounds, with various levels of amenities, as well as the possibility of camping, with permission, in the yards or fields of farms. The "bible" for French camping is the Guide Officiel Camping Caravaning, which describes and ranks 9000 campgrounds and 1900 farms that welcome campers. A map of campgrounds, from "Motorpresse", is also available. The "official" French Internet Site for Camping is: http://www.campingfrance.com. It provides information on campgrounds throughout France.

Tourist Sight Information Sources

Paris and its region, the Île de France, have a great concentration of magnificent tourist sights. This is widely accepted, and I concur.

Over the years I find that, again and again, I prefer to use the Michelin Green Guides as my basic source of information on which sights to see. They use a ranking system, in which the very best sights are given three stars ***, extraordinary sights two stars **, and interesting sights one star *. Although I generally agree with their rankings, occasionally there are sights that I feel should have been given one star and weren't, and vice-versa.

When, in these itineraries, I mention tourist sights, I also give the Michelin stars. I describe tourist sights only cursorily; thus,I highly recommend that you carry the Green Guides along with you, or other fine Guide Books such as the Hachette Blue Guides (which suffer the advantage and disadvantage of being in French, thicker, heavier, and much more complete).

Except when an itinerary leaving Paris passes by a Michelin starred sight, this web site does not cover, at all, the monuments, museums, and architecture of Paris, nor, for that matter, its food, drink, and night life.

For many Americans, and certainly for myself, the charm of Paris, and its region goes beyond the best tourist sights, to a love of the urban landscape, the shops, the parks, and the countryside. Bon Voyage!

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