France’s new long-distance bike route is another of those waterside routes the country does so well. The Voie Bleue follows the Moselle and the Saône all the way from the border with Luxembourg to Lyon. (Add the Via Rhôna, and you could make this a true north-south route across the length of the country.)
Over half the 680km route is on traffic-free riverside paths. The rest is on minor lanes, often themselves running very close to the rivers. Even the watershed is crossed by means of a canal towpath, that of the Canal des Vosges. This takes you (almost) effortlessly up to a height of 370m in beautiful, quiet, often wooded countryside. There are then a few minor climbs in the upper Saône valley, but nothing to scare the horses.
As yet, the route is unimproved and unsignposted for its final section from Mâcon to Lyon. This part is rideable with a gravel or mountain bike, and navigation is hardly difficult – you’re essentially just following the towpath. But if you’re on a touring bike or with a family, you might want to give this section a miss.