The best way to cycle through Northern France

by Brett Seychell on August 21, 2012

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Northern France is arguably one of the best parts of the world to cycle through. And it is definitely the best introduction to a world cycle trip. It’s relatively flat (except for Du Donan!), the roads are safe and quiet, there is an abundance of help if you need it and camping wild is easy depending on how brazen you are. We absolutely loved it and highly recommend it, even if you just have two or three weeks to get away for a while.

Below are some pretty basic step by step guides as to how we did it. It might not be the best for you, but it certainly worked for us! Hope this helps and if you have any feedback, please feel free to let us know!


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What we loved the most:

  • So hard to pick, but would have to say the fairy tale type villages of Ribeauville, Thaan and Bart. That stretch is absolutely amazing. If you have a couple of weeks only, do that alone. It is the Alsace wine region but if you’re not a fan of the sweeter wines, don’t worry, because you will be after this.
  • Wild camping. Complete and utter freedom. Don’t worry about what anybody thinks if they see you. Nobody cares. And there’s nothing to be afraid of. The French are like spiders: much more afraid of you, than you should be of them.
  • The food. The French have their own classic pub grub and Nuit-St-George has some great bistros to try. The menu de jour lets you feast your wat through three courses for some reasonably priced special treats.

What was as much fun as a puncture:

  • Picking up an allergy from something in the woods whilst wild camping. After this, we decided to wild camp in public parks, on the side of paths and in picnic areas. An allergy is person specific, so if you’re the ‘it won’t happen to me’ type of traveller, then you’ve nothing to worry about.

What we didn’t, but should’ve done:

  • Spent more time in Ribeauville and stayed in some nice B&B or equivalent. Stayed for a few days and drank more wine. Also wish we bought a magnum of an Alsacian riesling .

What’s it worth:

  • We spent £62.86 per day on average. It sounds a little steep considering how often we wild camped. And we also cooked over a camping stove most nights also. So where did the money go? I don’t know. It just goes, so expect to spend it. I don’t think it can be done for less than £40, especially if you want to try and do anything French. Don’t worry, you should make it up in Asia.

What’s worth sending home in a box:

  • Wine, wine and more wine. As much as you can afford in magnum size as it’s difficult to find magnums of Alsacian wine anywhere else, including other regions of France.


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TownKm'sNightsWhere we slept
London01Strand Palace for something special, but it wasn't
Greatstone-on-Sea, Kent1102At a mates place, on the UK coast
Calais701Wild camp, just outside of town
Le Tannay551Wild Camp
Ostricourt701Wild Camp
Marchipoint, Belgium671Wild Camp
Chimay, Belgium681Wild Camp
Charleville, France851Hotel
Luxembourg1252Stayed with friends
Perl,Germany351Wild Camp
Saar Loius, Germany601Wild Camp
Zetting, Germany501Wild Camp
Ferange, France651Wild Camp
Du Donan National Park651Wild Camp
Ribeauville221Wild Camp
Thaan671Wild Camp
Bart801Wild Camp
St-Vit1071Wild Camp

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