Great cycling in France, Belgium and the Netherlands.
A dream bike ride through Europe, from the Eifel tower of Paris to the canals of Amsterdam. These two European cities with big importance for history, world-famous buildings and museums are the start and the finish of this journey through 3 countries. In between you will explore famous and beautiful towns like Ghent, Antwerp and Gouda as you cycle through varied landscapes. You will start in France, beautiful France with it's very wide spectrum of food and wines. Then discover medieval cities and villages in Belgium with great food, beer and chocolate. And then of course European cycle paradise Holland with water, windmills and a perfect cycle paths system.
We also offer this tour in the reverse order: starting in Amsterdam and ending in Paris. For further imformation please consult our travel information.
Day 1: Arrival in Paris
Your holiday starts in Paris, ‘The City of Lights’. There is so much to see and do here: stroll along the river banks of the Seine or the Montmartre district or visit the famous attractions such as the Sacre Cœur Basilica, the Notre Dame cathedral, the Louvre museum with the Mona Lisa and of course the Eifel Tower. Bikes are not allowed on the train from Amsterdam to Paris (or vice versa). We therefore strongly recommend to book this trip with rental bikes, so you can leave the rental bikes at the hotel in Amsterdam at the end of the trip.
Day 2: Paris - Chantilly/Senlis, ~65 km
Today you start cycling! Exiting the capital along the Canal de l’Ourcq and Canal Saint-Martin really allows us to dive into a history book, an open-air museum. On the first 30 kilometers from Paris to Gressy, the route follows the nice cycle track of the Canal de l’Ourcq, a rural setting away from cars, for a safe exit out of Paris. As you get closer to Senlis you will encounter forests and true nature as you reach the region “Ile de France”: guaranteed change of scenery with these great pines and this sandy soil in the Landes, south west of France.
Day 3: Chantilly/Senlis - Compiègne, ~65 km
The program of the day: Prestigious castle, medieval towns and large forest area! Chantilly is world renowned for its castle (sometimes compared to a castle of the Loire), its Great Stables, its porcelain, its lace and its gastronomy (yes the famous cream Chantilly would have been invented here). An ancient foundation, a royal residence during the Middle Ages, the charming city of Senlis preserves its rich history and has several museums. Its protected environment of 40 ha is particularly appreciated by filmmakers. After crossing the forest of Halatte you cross the "plateau" of Nery but the slope is soft! You pass close to Béthisy-Saint-Pierre which is worth a detour. After going down the Automne river which gave its name to this valley, called the 35 bell-towers, today’s journey ends the in the forest of Compiègne. A large town bordering the forest, a palace opening towards wooded immensities, these are the first impressions that Compiègne leaves. The city, furrowed by charming and shopping streets, has museums with varied collections.
Day 4: Compiègne - Saint-Quentin, ~77 km
In the morning, we recommend to make the abbey of Ourscamp your first stop of the day. The route continues along the canal, toward Noyon. Noyon is listed as a city of Art and History: medieval atmosphere around the cathedral which saw the coronation of Hugues Capet in 987. Further along the route, you cross vast natural areas with more than 200 species of birds and cycle through the fertile valley of the Oise before you reach Saint Question. Discover its streets with Art Deco houses, the details of which deserve to be spotted. It is the style adopted during the rebuilding of the city, which was hardly destroyed during the Great War and once again became a dynamic city, the economic capital of Haute Picardie.
Day 5: Saint-Quentin - Cambrai, ~50 km
The route in the morning takes you towards the Touage Museum, through small hilly roads between villages devoted to agriculture and memorial sites of the Great War: cemeteries, memorials and vestiges of the Hindenburg line. A few pedaling strokes and you pass the sources of l’Escaut, the famous river that you follow for kilometers and whose course flows into the North Sea in Netherlands. In the Haute Vallée de l’Escaut lies a jewel: the abbey of Vaucelles (XII century). As it is presented to you today, the abbey remains an unusual construction both in its dimensions and the quality of its restoration. Passing through typical villages and hamlets, you reach the town of Cambrai, peaceful city of Art and History. Take advantage of it to discover its streets, where half-timbered houses, rich private mansions, Flemish mansions mingle with pleasure. And don't leave without having tasted the famous "Bétises de Cambrai" or other local specialties!
Day 6: Cambrai - Tournai, ~65 km
This day offers a pleasant ride through to the Parc Naturel Régional Scarpe-Escaut, the first French regional park. Here, Belgium and France link with the barges on Escaut River, between lands and waters where you pedal through to the forests, marshes and ponds populated with various species. You will discover the mining villages classified by UNESCO, the agricultural landscapes, but also the beautiful city of Saint-Amand-les-Eaux, thermal station, near Valenciennes.
Day 7: Tournai - Ghent, ~72 km
While leaving the 5 bell-towers of Tournai behind you, today you will leave Wallonia and enter the province of Flanders. Down the road do try one of the most famous Belgian local products "Geraardsbergse mattentaart", a pie with an ancient history of making. The river Scheldt is still your guide as you cycle to the old town of Oudenaarde (AD 974). Also center of the famous classic cycle race "Ronde van Vlaanderen". The former towing paths along the banks have been transformed to smooth cycle paths, occasionally leafy and then through the open fields of Flanders. At the end of the day the sparkling cultural city of Ghent is waiting for you. The Belgians call Ghent their most beautiful city and the city will undoubtedly charm you.
Day 8: Ghent - Antwerp, ~78 km
Cycling north, along the banks of the river Scheldt you will start on the LF5 as you leave Ghent and cycle towards Dendermonde. The bushes and polders show the wild and pure nature here. The wide Schelde is not only a natural, but also a tourist attraction. By switching to the LF2 Cities Cycle Route you head towards Antwerp. It’s the largest town in Flanders and Belgium’s most important port city. After viewing the historical town center, you might like to venture to the hip and trendy parts of the city: ‘t Zuid and Het Eilandje. Have you worked up a thirst for Belgian beer? Consider visiting De Koninck beer brewery. It has been going strong since 1833 and has a new visitors center welcoming guests wishing to look around and do some tasting. This brewery is best known for its ‘Bollekes’.
Day 9: Antwerp - Breda, ~74 km
The landscape along today’s cycling route is predominantly woody. On the border between the Netherlands and Belgium, catch your breath in De Zoom - Kalmthoutse Heide, a lovely cross-border nature reserve. Upon crossing the border, you will find yourself in the south of the Netherlands. In village after village, Brabant hospitality will entice you to stop for a cup of coffee and big slice of fruit tart. Today’s destination is Breda, the main city of Nassau in Holland, boasting many imposing monuments. The ancestors of our royal family converted Breda to a beautiful city with richly decorated buildings.
Day 10: Breda - Gouda, ~79 km
The route today will take you right past one of the few remaining fresh-water tidal areas in Europe: Biesbosch National Park. You will cycle through Dordrecht, one of the Netherlands’ oldest towns and a great place to stop for a lunch break. A visit to the scenic harbor quarter with its wonderful historical buildings should not be missed. Today’s highlight is one of the Netherlands’ most popular tourist attractions: Kinderdijk, a world-famous complex of windmills. Nineteen historical windmills reach to the skies in the epitome of classical Dutch countryside. You can visit an authentic workshop and find out how these mills were built and how they work. Have you always wanted to be a miller? This is where you can still learn the trade! End the day in medieval Gouda. Amble through the beautifully preserved town center and visit the old town hall and St. John’s church. Stop off at a bakery to buy fresh syrup waffles (Gouda is the hometown of syrup waffles) and Gouda cheese - perhaps the world’s most famous type of cheese.
Day 11: Gouda - Amsterdam, ~80 km
Today’s route takes you through the Green Heart of Holland, abounding in water. It is a true cycling paradise, with characteristic peat and polder landscapes, small farming communities and picturesque historical towns. Your cycling holiday ends in Amsterdam, one of the crown-jewels of Europe. With so much to see and do, you couldn’t wish for a more exciting way to end your holiday. Make sure to go for a walk to marvel at the townhouses in the 17th-century canal district (listed as World Heritage). Have you got time and energy left? Opt to saunter down the infamous red-light district which attracts millions of curious tourists every year; or enjoy the street performers on friendly Rembrandtplein.
Day 12: Departure from Amsterdam
End of your trip after breakfast. We advise you to extend your stay in order to take the time to visit the beautiful city of Amsterdam.
11 nights in 3*** and 4**** hotels
luggage transfer to each hotel
detailed tour description with maps and information
GPS tracks on request
self-guided tour - 12 days / 11 nights
arrival on Thursday in Amsterdam
20.06., 27.06., 11.07., 25.07., 01.08., 15.08. and 29.08.2019
arrival on Sunday in Paris
07.07., 21.07., 04.08. and 11.08.2019
route (2): ~700 km
flat and sometimes hilly on bike paths and small roads, long stages
how to get there
by car: motorway to Amsterdam or Paris
by train: station Amsterdam or Paris
by plane: airport Amsterdam Schiphol or Paris Orly/Charles de Gaules
back to Amsterdam or Paris by train (Thalys), ~3 h, bookable 3 month in advance, from 39 €/person for one way, every 2 hours on weekdays, no bike transport possible (we take care of the rental bikes)
if you choose half board, dinner is not included in Antwerp, Ghent and Paris
Departures on 27.06., 07.07., 01.08. and 11.08.2019 are with support vehicule and Meet & Greet in Paris or Amsterdam. The supplement for these dates is 260 €/person.
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