France’s truly epic cross-country ride, this is part of the EuroVelo 3 Pilgrim Route.
The full tour runs from Trondheim to Santiago de Compostela, hence the ‘Scandibérique’ name. In France, this means a north-south tour from the Belgian border near Charleroi to the Pyrenees and Spain – a 1750km diagonale.
Where to start? This is a long route, not a tough one. Paris, Orléans and Bordeaux bring much interest to the party, but overall, this isn’t a route distinguished by scenic grandeur: it’s too low-lying for that. Rather, this is a route for the cycle tourist who wants to see France in a leisurely fashion and has a few weeks to do so.
From Belgium to Paris, it’s mostly rail trails and towpaths, with a few lanes to connect them. Quiet roads along the Loire and Vienne valleys head towards briefly hillier territory around Limoges, joining the V92 Charente route (La Flow Vélo) through Angoulême. A worthwhile swerve through Bordeaux maximises mileage on rail trails and the towpath of the Canal des Deux Mers before the final gradual ascent of the Pyrenees.