Paris to Prague 2019 Daily Itinerary

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Day 1 - Arrive in Paris

After your arrival in Paris, we’ll gather together to celebrate our arrival in the “City of Light” and give you an early evening orientation to our exciting bike tour together.

 

Day 2 - Extra day in Paris

You’ll have the whole day to explore Paris!  Our hotel is conveniently located near the Eiffel Tower.

 

Day 3 - Paris to La Ferte sous Jouarre - 52 miles / 1,600 ft.

We’ll take a very short ride to the Eiffel Tower for the official start of tour photographed with an iconic background.  The route out of Paris is surprisingly simple, initially following the banks of the River Seine.  We then have just 1.5 miles of city riding before joining the Canals St Martin and de L'Ourcq which carry us for some 15 largely traffic-free miles to the very edge of the city.  Later in the day we begin to shadow the River Marne and its sister Canal du Marne which we will cross and re-cross many times.  Our only major conurbation for the day is Meaux.  Our destination, La Ferte sous Jouarre, sits on the River Marne which is on the very edge of the Champagne region.

 

Day 4 - La Ferte sous Jouarre to Chalons-en-Champagne - 73 miles / 3,700 ft.

Champagne country!  We continue to track the River Marne, rising and falling along the gently sloping valley walls which provide the perfect environment for the grapes.   Throughout the day you will seldom be far from the grapes themselves or the many Champagne Houses that line the valley.  Many offer 'degustations' (tastings) but remember that there is a bike to ride!  In the afternoon there are a couple of stiffer climbs as we get away from the main highway and follow the scenic 'Champagne Trail'.  Our overnight stop is in the very capital of the Champagne region - Chalons en Champgne - maybe finally the right time for a tasting.

 

Day 5 - Choice Day in Chalons-en-Champagne

The town has preserved much evidence of its past as shown by its timber-framed facades and its religious buildings.  The Saint-Etienne cathedral of Gothic architecture is adorned with beautiful ancient stained glass windows.  From the canal footbridge linking the Grand Jard and Jard Anglais walkways, the view of the cathedral is magnificent.  Right in the heart of the city, the Jard park is composed of three gardens, and is a lovely green space to wander around.   To discover Châlons-en-Champagne and its heritage from a different angle, there is nothing like a boat tour on the Nau and Mau rivers.

 

Day 6 - Chalons-en-Champagne to Bar-le-Duc - 53 miles / 1,500 ft.

For much of our remaining time in France we will be following the excellent canal system which offers flat, traffic free cycling.  Our day starts along the banks of the Canal Lateral A la Marne, initially on the cycle path and then on the road which parallels it, before cutting away at La Chaussee-Sur-Marne.  Later we meet the Canal de la Marne Au Rhin which we track gently upstream all the way to our overnight stay in Bar-Le-Duc.

 

Day 7 - Bar-le-Duc to Nancy - 63 miles / 2,000 ft.

Our day starts back on the tranquil towpath beside the Canal de la Marne Au Rhin which we follow for some dozen miles.  Later in the day we reach Toul, a city with over 1,500 years of history and a fine cathedral, and our route now picks up the River Moselle, a tributary of the Rhine.  Our day ends in the famous and exciting city of Nancy.

 

Day 8 - Choice Day in Nancy

Nancy is a beautiful town with so much to offer.  Capital of the Dukes of Lorraine, Nancy is known throughout the world for its array of eighteenth century architecture in place Stanislas, place de la Carrière and place d’Alliance - listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites since 1983.  Even more than being a town dedicated to art (which it is), Nancy has turned to “live” culture, with a national opera, a ballet, a symphony and opera orchestra, a national drama centre and 6 museums, among which is the unique, genre-transcending École de Nancy (School of Nancy museum).

 

Day 9 - Nancy to Lutzelbourg - 67 miles / 2,500 ft.

Leaving Nancy our exploration of the French river network continues.  Starting with another superb cycle path along the Canal de Jonction we then track the River Meurthe before returning to the Canal de la Marne Au Rhin in Dombasle.  From now we are seldom far from the canal until we meet the mighty Rhine.  Late in the day we enjoy the odd sensation of a surprisingly steep downhill beside a long flight of locks. 

 

Day 10 - Lutzelbourg to Rastatt - 62 miles / 1,100 ft.

The first half of our day is spent with a final tranquil 25 miles along the canal before heading cross-country to Drusenheim.  You could be forgiven for thinking we are now in Germany as the many place names and the predominant architecture are German, reflecting a turbulent history and redrawn national boundaries following the first World War.  After a very pleasant dozen miles following the Rhine cycle route north, we cross the Rhine into Germany where we stay in Rastatt which has a charming old center.

 

Day 11 - Choice Day in Rastatt

The charming old city center of Rastatt has two remarkable palaces, several museums and a historical walking trail of the city to tour.  Keeping the past alive, many of the historical buildings are preserved with great care.  The Rastatt Favorite Palace (Schloss Favorite Rastatt) is the oldest German “porcelain palace” and the only one to survive almost unchanged to this day.  Its opulent interiors, extensive collections and idyllic setting lend it Europe-wide significance.

 

Day 12 - Rastatt to Heilbronn - 63 miles / 3,000 ft.

The scenery and riding change noticeably as we head into Germany.   We no longer have waterside cycle paths but many roads include dedicated provisions for cycling and it is possible to ride for hours at a time without sharing the highway with motor vehicles. Our route takes us across open countryside, passing from village to village on our way to the sizeable town of Heilbronn on the River Neckar.

 

Day 13 - Heilbronn to Rothenburg o.d.T. - 63 miles / 4,000 ft.

A hillier day as we cross the wine-growing region of Baden-Württemberg.  Our destination is the magnificant town of Rothenburg on the River Tauber, with an incredibaly well-preserved walled old city center.

 

Day 14 - Choice Day in Rothenburg o.d.T.

The famous German town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber is probably one of the most popular and quaint German towns you will ever see, and for good reason.  This small walled city is oozing with medieval charm.  From the half-timbered houses, to the uneven cobbled stone streets, to the ancient walls that surround this city, there is so much to explore. Around every corner is a new sight or alley to explore!

 

Day 15 - Rothenburg o.d.T. to Nürnberg - 55 miles / 2,200 ft.

Our morning is spent riding cross-country in undulating terrain but from mile 23 we start a long gentle downhill along the River Bibert valley.  Most of the second half of the day is on cycle paths that carry us through Furth and right into the heart of Nuremburg. 

 

Day 16 - Choice Day in Nürnberg

The city of Nürnberg, is famous for its medieval walls and ancient castle, gingerbread cookies, toy manufacturing, Gothic churches, Nürnberger bratwurst and the Christmas market.  The city dates back to the year 1050 and for around 500 years, it was the unofficial capital of the Holy Roman Empire.  While the famous Nürnberg Castle and the city wall were damaged during the war bombing raids, they have been wonderfully restored to their historical significance.

Day 17 - Nürnberg to Weiden - 65 miles / 3,100 ft.

For our last full day in Germany we leave Nürnberg as we arrived, on excellent cycle paths, this time following the River Pegnitz.  Eventually we leave the valley and the scenery is almost Alpine, though with considerably easier grades!  We descend out of the hills to Bavarian Weiden, just 20 miles from the Czech border.

 

Day 18 - Weiden to Pilsen - 71 miles / 3,900 ft.

Our day starts with a climb out of Weiden and it is generally a hillier day.  Our last German town is passed at mile 20 and we are then soon across the border into the Czech Republic.  The border itself is unattractive, with duty-free outlets and billboards for casinos and clubs, but we are soon out into open countryside.   The small town of Bor (mile 37) is the first opportunity to change some money and a chance to experience the dramatically lower cost of living.  We reach Stribro at mile 48, after which the road becomes busier as we approach Pilsen, but our trip has been timetabled to exploit the much lower weekend traffic volumes.  Pilsen is the home of 'Pilsner' lager and the original owner of the name Budweiser.

 

Day 19 - Pilsen to Prague - 69 miles / 3,000 ft.

We take a somewhat convoluted route out of Pilsen, past the brewery and avoiding the busy main traffic arteries.  We are soon into very quiet rural Czech countryside before joining the River Vltava for a traffic-free final few miles into the heart of Prague.

 

Day 20 - Extra Day in Prague

Prague, capital city of the Czech Republic, is bisected by the Vltava River.  Nicknamed “the City of a Hundred Spires,” it's known for its Old Town Square which is a UNESCO site.  The heart of its historic core includes colorful baroque buildings, Gothic churches and the medieval Astronomical Clock, which gives an animated hourly show.  Completed in 1402, the pedestrian Charles Bridge is often called on of the most romantic locations in Europe.  It is lined with a gallery of Baroque statues on both sides and has the powerful silhouette of the Prague Castle in the background.

 

Day 21 - Departure Day in Prague

After three weeks together, we say “goodbye” to Europe and the new friends we’ve made.

It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best.
Ernest Hemingway