Go on an adventure...3, 2, 1, ready? Pedal!
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The Seine by bike
There are “so many things to do between Paris and the sea“… To take full advantage of this, an itinerary “La Seine à Vélo” linking Paris to Deauville or Paris to Le Havre takes cyclists along the Seine, an iconic river. 100 kilometers cross the Rouen Normandy Metropolis and allow to (re)discover varied tourist landscapes but also to ride through Normandy off the beaten track.
Calm and undulating, iridescent by the coming and going of barges and hemmed in by bocages or majestic abbeys,the Seine splits the Norman landscape with its mythical curves. Touring it by bike is a lovely opportunity to discover it in its natural state.
What better way to follow the course of the river and explore its banks than to get on your bike. This is what the 300 or so kilometers of trails developed in the Rouen Metropolis offer, as part of La Seine à vélo, a project inaugurated in 2021. It allows to link Paris to the sea of Le Havre or Deauville on 400 km of route and to develop a soft and ecological tourism, at the rhythm of the water. Whether you are a seasoned cyclist or an amateur, the route is accessible and marked out and allows for contemplative stops. France is the world’s second largest destination for bicycle tourism, behind Germany. This new route, which crosses the Rouen Metropolis over a hundred kilometers and 22 municipalities, represents a strong axis of the scheme.
All in the saddle...
This new cycling route which will eventually cover 530 km along the banks of the Seine will be inaugurated in May 2021. Sometimes urban or more bucolic, the cycling route will cross eight departments from Paris to Le Havre. Along the water, freewheeling or dancing on your bike, on dedicated bike lanes or roadways shared with pedestrians or cars, the route offers many stages.
Sources of inspiration for impressionist painters, the stages on the river banks are sure to delight landscape and heritage lovers.From Paris to Giverny, stops are a must on France’s most famous river.
At the gates of the capital, Rueil-Malmaison offers a nature break in its many parks and green spaces. Guinguettes and canoeing have made the reputation of Chatou and Croissy. Immortalized by Claude Monet and Auguste Renoir, the famous Grenouillère is known to art lovers around the world. The town of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine is intimately linked to the riverboat industry. A remarkable museum tells the history and economic importance of river transport: models, objects and reconstructions evoke the navigation of barges and other cruise ships.
...for beautiful escapesin the Seine Valley
Then take advantage of a break in the shopping center of Mantes-la-Jolie to discover the Notre-Dame Collegiate Church with the help of a video guide available free of charge at the Tourist Office reception. Then a stop is required along the city’s Green Belt created in 2009 and marked out for pedestrians and cyclists.
Before reaching Normandy, the route invites you to stop at la Roche-Guyon, classified as one ofthe Most Beautiful Villages in France. A commune in the French Vexin Regional Nature Park, located on the right bank of the Seine, the village is overlooked by the Donjon du Château. Classified as a Historic Monument, the castle and its Potager can be visited every day from February to November.
The Seine hillsides, its natural environment classified Natura 2000 and the town center rich with its shops and art craftsmen make this village an essential stop on the Seine by bike.
Impressionismin the heart of Normandy
The bike route, also known as the impressionist bike route, does not skip the towns and cities of Vernon and Giverny, a mecca of impressionism in Normandy. Vernon has retained the charm of its medieval streets and still has many half-timbered houses. Emblem of the city, the Old Mill was painted in particular by Claude Monet who lived nearby in Giverny.The Vernon Museum known as the Alphonse-Georges-Poulain Museum has two paintings of the artist.
Founder of the Impressionist movement, Claude Monet acquired a house in Giverny where he settled to paint with his family. The painter then began his series, he then painted the same motif over several years, at different times of day. The series of the Cathedrals of Rouen, those of the millstones and of course those of Water Lilies are the most famous. Today, the House of Claude Monet welcomes visitors from all over the world who appreciate over the seasons the work of the gardeners who continue the work of the artist painter gardener. Nearby, the Musée des Impressionnismes continues the work begun by the former Musée d’Art Américain de Giverny on the knowledge of the movement and its history and offers two temporary exhibitions each year. The village is ideal for eating and staying before getting back on the bike.
The walk continues...
In the heart of the Norman Vexin, the white chalk cliffs along the Seine and Les Andelys are some of the highest on the route and are great for rock climbing and rock climbing. This commune of the Eure is famous for the ruins of its Château-Gaillard. At the end of the 12th century, William the Conqueror decided to build the castle to protect the valley and Normandy from French invasion. The cultural discovery of Les Andelys continues with a visit to the Nicolas Poussin Museum, an illustrious 17th century painter who was a native of the town, and the Notre-Dame Collegiate Church, a Gothic building with famous and magnificent stained glass windows.
Then head to the regional base of Plein Air et de Loisirs de Léry-Poses, near Val-de-Reuil, for a day of relaxation and leisure! With family or friends, all activities are possible around the lake: mini-golf, swimming, sailing and even water skiing… Birdwatching enthusiasts will also enjoy observing the many birds that have taken up residence on the lake. The Biotropica greenhouse has settled on the shores of the lake and welcomes visitors year-round at 28°. The visit to the animal gardens created by the owners of the Zoo de Cerza is punctuated by numerous animations to discover more than 130 animal species: otters, kangaroos, alligators, meerkats and farm animals will delight children and parents. The accommodation offer on the base is complete and proposes a 3*** campsite, cottages, lodges and even trailers for rent with a breathtaking view of the water.
Discover the Rouen metropolis on two wheels
Rouen is undoubtedly the beautiful stage of the route with its cathedral and France’s tallest spire looming in the distance. Set off in the wheels of Rouen’s most famous cyclist Jacques Anquetil, five-time winner of the Tour de France to discover the remarkable heritage of the Norman capital. Then enjoy the recently developed quaysides as leisure and relaxation areas where rollerbladers, walkers and cyclists share the bike paths in complete safety. Well installed along the banks, on the picnic tables, enjoy the atmosphere of the Grand Port Maritime de Rouen, 5th French port and 1st European port for cereals. The ballet of barges, cargo ships and cruise ships is captivating.
The fruit road
Entering the Boucles de la Seine Regional Nature Park, a variety of landscapes are presented along the towpaths. Chalk cliffs, Norman pastures, shades of colors, we understand the attraction of impressionist painters for these atmospheres. They put their easels there and reading tables are installed on the same sites. A few paintings are actually on display at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Rouen, which houses France’s second-largest impressionist collection after the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. A few pedal strokes, and you pass the charming town of La Bouille so dear to Hector Malot, author of the novel Sans famille. Further on, Duclair, Jumièges and the fruit route while enjoying the passage of the ferries.
It is in the hollow of the river’s tight and embedded meanders and thanks to the climate so specific to its valley that the Norman orchards give the best of their fruit. Touring this mythical fruit route on foot or by bike, between Duclair and Heurteauville, is a great idea for those who love natural and tasty walks. For some producers offer their fruit for sale at the gate. You can’t get any shorter and more local! It is also an opportunity to learn more about the arboricultural know-how, passed down from generation to generation. Apple and pear trees have been planted here since the 17th century thanks to the monks who lived in the abbeys dotting the banks. Plum and cherry trees came later and today strawberry, black currant, red currant and raspberry trees flourish along the paths. The area’s low rainfall and the reverberation of heat by the presence of the white chalk cliffs create an unsuspected oceanic climate that allows for splendid spring blooms from March to May and the blossoming of juicy fruit.
The abbeys of Saint-Martin-de-Boscherville and Jumièges are worth the detour. In the first, you’ll take time to walk through the reconstructed 17th century abbey gardens. In Jumièges, you will go back in time thanks to a 3D app that can be downloaded for free on the App Store and Google Play to see the abbey as it was before its destruction.
It is possible to rent bicycles especially electrically assisted on the fruit road at the office of the Office of Tourism in Jumièges and at the Maison du Parc.
Cycling in Normandy...
Before reaching the sea, in Villequier, it is the unfortunate memory of the tragic death of Victor Hugo’s daughter, Léopoldine who drowned in the Seine. A museum is dedicated to the author in the house of the Vacquerie family where the writer stayed several times.
Still a few pedal strokes to Le Havre, located on the estuary of the Seine, 2nd French port,the heritage of the ocean city is listed as a world heritage site by UNESCO.
Accueil Vélo label
This national mark guarantees a welcome and quality services to cyclists along cycling routes.
Provision of connecting cycling routes between the tourist office and the route, access signage indicating the most secure and pleasant access to get to the tourist office, bike parking, drinking water point and sanitary facilities available to tourists on bicycles, so many criteria met by the Tourist Office to best welcome tourists on bicycles.
The Rouen and Jumièges Information Offices have the Accueil Vélo label.
Service providers are labeled on the territory of the metropolis. Find them thanks to the picto!
Accueil Vélo is a national brand that guarantees a quality welcome and services along cycling routes for cyclists on the move.
Find more information at:
- Website of La Seine à Vélo