How we cycled from London to Paris in 24 hours


Inspired by my rapidly approaching 40th birthday, I managed to persuade five cycling friends to join me on this mini-adventure. Thanks to Neil, Jen B, Jen T, Jamie and Dave for humouring me and being a great team of cycling buddies.


The challenge: to get from London to Paris by bike in under 24 hours.

Leaving London St Pancras at 3.30pm on Friday, 10th June 2016, we made it to Paris within 24 hours and had a great time along the way.


185.3 miles

9,353 ft climbed

12h 40m riding time

London to Paris team

The basics

We rode from London to Paris via Newhaven and Dieppe.

Our stats

  • Day 1 – 66.5 miles / 4,531 ft
  • Day 2 – 118.8 miles / 4,822 ft
  • 1 puncture and 1 mechanical

Routes

Our routes included a lovely forest section in East Sussex’s Ashdown Forest and a superb 30 mile traffic-free, almost flat cycle track called the Avenue Verte from Dieppe.


Arc de Triomphe finish
Here’s a bit more detail about how we did it.

Day 1


The first leg of this mini-adventure is from London to Newhaven on the south coast. This was a 4h15m ride for us, plus a short stop at the top of the Ashdown Forest in East Sussex.

Once we reached Newhaven we had dinner at the Ark before checking in at the ferry terminal.

Having checked in at the ferry terminal, it was a good job we’d eaten as the cafe at the terminal didn’t have much to offer. There were 48 cyclists on our crossing and we soon spotted the experienced Newhaven to Dieppe-ers were laden with Lidl and Sainsburys carrier bags full of food for the night.

Overnight


Having got on-board, all the cyclists were directed to an area at the front of the ship where we left our bikes. No need for locks as it all felt quite secure. We were glad we’d booked cabins as by the time the cyclists got up onto the passenger deck, most of the reclining seats had been taken.

My Fitbit tells me that after 3h 41m sleep, we got up again. After a quick wash we headed down to the bikes to get off the ferry again and head to Paris.

Day 2


Once we were released from the ferry it was a quick sprint to get ahead of the rest of the cyclists and clear French customs. Then it was out of the port and turn right through Dieppe to head up to the start of the Avenue Verte.

Thirty miles of traffic-free cycling and one puncture later, we hit Forges-les-Eaux for breakfast. We found a great little patisserie on the right before we reached the town square. We had patisseries, baguettes, coffee and sweets, as well as a water refill before heading onwards.

Our next coffee stop was mid-morning in Gisors where we took over a tabac for espressos and water refills before pushing on towards Paris.

We hit Cergy – the start of the built-up conurbation of Paris – at lunchtime and ended up eating Vietnamese food outside at the Pixel Bar.

After Cergy it all got a bit interesting – our original route took us down some paths with metal pedestrian barriers that made progress slow, so we went into Garmin satnav mode for a bit. Then it started raining and we ended up on some busy dual carriageways – so much for Garmin’s cycle-friendly route settings. I’ve rerouted this section in the downloads below so you don’t have that experience if you follow in our tracks.

Luckily the rain stopped and we found our way back onto the planned route which led us, via a flight of stairs, to La Defense and the final run into central Paris along some iconic routes in glorious sunshine.

Then it was photos at the Arc de Triomphe and then heading to Gard du Nord to disassemble and check-in the bikes. A quick pizza and beer and then we were on the Eurostar at 8.15pm and back in London by 9.40pm UK time for a celebratory drink at Vinoteca.

Costs


  • Connector.

    Newhaven to Dieppe ferry

    £28 per person and bike. Approx £17 pp for the cabin (minimum 4 people).

  • Connector.

    Food and drink

    Around £30 per person.

  • Connector.

    Eurostar back to London

    £63 per person. £30 per bike when booked in advance.

Planet X RT-58 with L2P kit

Our equipment list


We reckoned travelling light was the key to achieving the pace we wanted. We shared as much equipment as possible and managed to squeeze everything into saddle bags and top bar food pouches.

Shared kit
  • Spare inner tubes
  • Mini-torque wrench
  • Pedal spanner
  • Spare folding tyre
  • Gear cable set
  • Brake cable set
  • Gaffer tape / cable ties
  • Multi-tool
  • Mini-pump and CO2 adaptor
  • 12 x CO2s
  • Small first aid kit
Personal kit
  • Passport / EHIC card
  • Credit card / £ / Euros
  • Fully charged bike lights
  • Sunglasses
  • Cycling waterproof
  • Mini toothbrush/paste
  • Mini sun cream
  • Gels and Shotblox
  • 2 x water bottles
  • Garmin with GPX loaded
  • Mobile & charger
  • French plug socket adapter
  • Power stick
A few of our pictures
Breakfast at Forges-les-Eaux
Newhaven
St Pancras
French country roads
Steps up to La Defense
Newhaven
Puncture on the Avenue Verte
Navigation
French villages
Placeholder

Detailed routes


Our routes were based on the GPX files shared by Sean Conway. We tweaked them to make the section coming out of London a bit more friendly and to get us all the way to Gare du Nord for the return Eurostar.

We had three or four sections in France where the route ran down a lane that became a farm track. We diverted around these so I’ve tweaked the route to include the diversions, so these routes are fully suitable for road bikes and are tarmac road surface all the way.

Day 1
London to Newhaven


A ride of two halves – getting out of London means urban roads, hopping traffic jams and smelly fumes. Then suddenly the rolling Kent and East Sussex hills lead to historic Lewes and a gentle roll down to dinner at Newhaven.


Day 2
Dieppe to Paris


The 30 miles of traffic-free Avenue Verte leads to breakfast at Forges-les-Eaux. Then it’s 70 miles of classic northern France country cycling before Cergy and the Paris suburbs lead to La Defense and onto the Champs-Élysées.


Useful resources and links


We wouldn’t have done the London to Paris in 24 hours cycle adventure without inspiration, routes and guidance from these great websites: