Route Planning

Here are some planning notes that I made prior to setting off;

Stage 1: Reading to East London

Stage 2: East London to Canterbury

Stage 3: Canterbury to Boulogne-sur-Mer

Stage 4: Boulogne-sur-Mer to Lille

Stages 5-7: Lille to Luxembourg

“This is another pilgrim route, also called Via Romea Francigena leading from Canterbury to Rome, used in the past by thousands of pilgrims heading for Rome and probably back again. Pilgrims going to Rome carried the symbolic key of Saint Peter, like the pilgrims to Santiago de Compostella had the shell as a symbol.The route to Rome is 2,100 km and now the route has been prolonged to Brindisi with a ferry connection to Greece, because the pilgrims also came to Rome this way. EV5 passes 6 countries:England (180 km), Northern France (140 km), Belgium (260 km), Luxembourg (75 km), East France (400 km), Switzerland (360 km) and finally Italy (2500 km).In this way, important cities of Europe, like London, Brussels, Strasbourg, Basel, Milano and Rome have been connected. Starting in London provides you with an opportunity to experience famous landmarks such as the Tower of London, Tower Bridge the Millennium Dome and the fascinating pubs, galleries and museums, before the trip continues through southern England with its blossoming orchards – if you go in the spring. Of course, Canterbury with its cathedral is a compulsory stop. Here Anselm came up with the tricky ontological argument about the existence of God. It will keep you busy until Rome. In Dover the white cliffs wait for you.Channel crossing by train or ferry to France at Calais. Then you follow Canal de Calais to Saint Omer signed as LF1 and continue through Lile / Roubaix into Belgium. Here you follow the river / canal Escaut, which is the border between Fanders and Wallonia and then through Ronse and into Brussels. Leaving again, the route bends down through the hilly landscape of Wallonia passing Namur with fortress and an old centre.Then head towards Luxembourg. In this small country, several cycle routes have been signed, and you can use PC18, PC17, PC12 and PC13 from Martelange leading through the pleasant countryside to the North into the capital with its old centre. Then south to Schengen on the Mosell, where the 3 countries meet (F, L, D) use PC1 to Hesperange, roads to Ellange-Gare and finally PC7 to Remich and PC3 to Schengen. More info and the guidebook, VeloTour Luxembourg.Next stage leads via Moselle cycle path back to France, this time the eastern art with very nice, landscape, towns and wine (Alsace). Strasbourghas many nice cyclist facilities and Colmar invites you in with beautiful old houses and nice cafes.Basel is an international city between 3 counties and also the entrance to the well signed national cycle routes of Switzerland. The landscape is amazing and sometimes a bit hard to cycle, but the service, with friendly hotels (Velotels), and trains with easy access for bikes etc. makes it a dream come true to cycle in this country. We pass Aarau with a nice lake, and Lucerne with the famous Kapell-brucke (bridge) from 1300.Italy is reached through the Sankt Gotthard Pass. Continue to Chiasso and Como to Lombardy. Northern Italy have several initiatives to build cyclists facilities. Last stage to Rome you follow the national cycle route of “Ciclopista del Sole”. It is not signed yet, but maps and guidebooks are available.”

Here is a detailed breakdown of the route. It is a jpeg file so you will have to click on the image to get a readable version. I’ll keep updating the route as I add more information (latest version 15th April);

I will be guided along my way by a set of 1:200,000 maps from Michelin. I think I have the whole route covered although there may be a slight gap somewhere in Switzerland! Here is how they fit together.

Update: 16th May 2010

I posted yesterday that I was thinking of removing part of the route and avoiding Brussels and most of Belgium. It does make sense on all levels apart from the one that wants me to tick the box of having followed the route of the Eurovelo 5. George Jemmott comments as follows;

Best reason I can think of to go to Brussels is that the ECF office is there. Then again, talking to them didn’t enlighten anything about the route other than just how little they know about it. Also, as you read and re-posted earlier, there is no bike path through France between Luxembourg and Strasbourg.

George’s first point might be worth pondering over if the ECF (the European Cyclists Federation, based in Brussels and responsable for the Eurovelo network of routes) had taken any time in showing the slightest interest in what I and others are doing. I’m sure they are very nice people and very good at getting funds to produce glossy brochures and development plans but until they start engaging with the grass routes, they will always fall short of what they purport to be in their name. Sorry folks, it’s the impression I get (and if you read this and want a right to reply, I’d love you to do so!). I think, when originally considering the route think that a trip to Brussels would include at least a cycle past their office and brief hello through the window but my enthusiasm for doing that now has waned somewhat.

George’s second point is worth pondering over as he speaks from experience (he cycled from Milan to Calais just a few weeks ago and wrote about it on his blog). However, as George himself was happy to point out at the time, he didn’t prepare the route in advance in sufficient detail to know where he would be cycling each day (again, correct me if I am wrong George!). He is right in saying that there is no cycle route through France between Luxembourg and Strasbourg but this is further south than the “kink” and I am happy to meander the border towns between France and Belgium, then Luxembourg, then Germany before arriving in Strasbourg. The picture, from the French Voies Vertes site shows the official routes that currently exist in France; certainly far short of a continuous line from Calais to Strasbourg that I might wish for.

A straight(ish) line charge for Strasbourg it is then!

(End of update)

From Brussels to Aosta, Jean-Marie Vion has supplied the maps that he used and you can see them below. His route is, however, a very westerly route that doesn’t really follow the Eurovelo 5 route and ends at the Great St Bernard’s Pass;

Although part of the Rhine Cycle Route, the document below is useful as it shows the route of the Eurovelo 5 heading south from Strasbourg. The Rhine Cycle Route itself (see left) continues all the way to Basel which is very useful!

Nicolas Poulouin from Lorraine Voie Verte has written to George Jemmott with the following advice about routes in his area;

There’s no real way to go from Sarrebourg to Nancy, Metz and Luxembourg following the EV5. We’re trying to promote this route but it’s a hard job. The local authorities have projects but we’re waiting for realisations [action]. We push them as much as we can ! You can try another route along the Saar Canal from Sarrebourg to Sarreguemines, and then across SaarLand, in Germany : Saarbrucken, Saarlouis, Saarschleife, Saarburg. And then, either cross over the hills to the Mosel valley to reach the Luxembourg cycleways, or continue to Konz (meeting of Saar river and the Mosel), and come back to Luxembourg along the Mosel. Much better landscapes than crossing between Sarralbe to Metz. Especially for the Saarschleife.

The Swiss portion of the Eurovelo 5 follows the Swiss National Cycle Route 3. Lots of information online including the following profile;

In Italy, I will follow one of the national cycle routes although I have yet to decide whether this will be the Via dei Pellegrini all the way (which would keep me cycling along the route of the Via Francigena) or whether I will use the Ciclopista del Sole for a more coastal trip either (or just one) side of Rome, I have yet to decide.

Massimo’s routes in southern Italy;

Cassino – Benevento

Benevento – Sant’Agata di Puglia

Sant’Agata di Puglia – Venosa

Venosa – Matera

Matera – Alberobello

Alberobello – Brindisi

Update: 6th February

Iain Harper has recommended the Michelin website as it has a small box to check if you are travelling “By bike”. I like it! Here is the route from my front door in Reading to Dover. All 185 kms of it. Unfortunetly, the system doesn’t calculate bike routes over 200 kms otherwise I would just plug in “Reading to Brindisi”. I’d be interested in knowing how Michelin define “by bike” and whether any of the routes that they recommend include official cycle routes if available. For example, the route from Calais to Sait Omer, as you can see in this map from the Michelin site, doesn’t follow the Canal de Calais which is part of the Eurovelo 5 – see description above. Interesting. See below for more details.

Iain also recommends a couple of websites useful when in Switzerland and crossing the Alps.

Number crunching the route with Via Michelin “by bike” option, I have just come up with my first, tentative, detailed plan:

Cycling Day Date (w/e) From To Time Kms Cum.
1 18/7 Reading London 4h35 65 65
2 19/7 London Canterbury 6h41 94 159
3 20/7 Canterbury Dover 1h54 27 186
3 20/7 Calais Saint Omer 3h08 44 230
4 21/7 Saint Omer Lille 4h40 65 295
5 22/7 Lille Ronse 3h15 46 341
5 22/7 Ronse Brussels 4h22 61 402
23/7 Rest day (Brussels)
6 24/7 Brussels Namur 4h38 65 467
7/8 25-26/7 Namur Martelange 8h06 113 580
9 27/7 Martelange Luxembourg 3h21 47 627
10 28/7 Luxembourg Schengen 1h54 27 654
10/11 29-30/7 Schengen Strasbourg 12h15 172 826
31/7 Rest day (Strasbourg)
12 1/8 Strasbourg Colmar 5h16 74 900
13 2/8 Colmar Basel 4h49 68 968
14 3/8 Basel Aarau 3h34 50 1018
15 4/8 Aarau Lucerne 3h27 48 1066
5/8 Rest day (Lucerne)
16/17 6-7/8 Lucern Saint Gotthard Pass 7h12 101 1167
18/19 8-9/8 Saint Gotthard Pass Como 9h31 134 1301
20 10/8 Como Milano 3h14 45 1346
11/8 Rest day (Milano)
21/22/23 12-14/8 Milano Aulla 15h09 212 1558
24 15/8 Aulla Lucca 5h27 77 1635
16/8 Rest day (Lucca)
25 17/8 Lucca Siena 7h19 103 1738
26/27 18-19/8 Siena Capranica 11h32 162 1900
28 20/8 Capranica Roma 4h25 62 1962
21/8 Rest day (Roma)
29 22/8 Roma Fiuggi 5h18 74 2036
30/31 23-24/8 Fiuggi Benevento 12h54 181 2217
25/8 Rest day (Benevento)
32/33 26-27/8 Benevento Matera 13h46 193 2410
34 28/8 Matera Taranto 4h50 68 2478
35 29/8 Taranto Brindisi 4h57 69 2547

Sanoodi Mapping

Cick on the map for a real time update of where I am (from the 18th July!)

Cycle Route along the Via Fancigena

This is the route that was taken by William, chair of the Confraternity of Pilgrims to Rome when he decided to cycle rather than walk the pilgrimage route. It is only relevant to the Eurovelo 5 route when the two join up in northern Italy and it passes over the Alps at the St Bernards Pass.

Pour les francophones…

Pour l’EV5, effectivement, elle est pour l’essentiel en projet. Mais on y travaille au niveau associatif dans le Nord-Est de la France avec nos collègues luxembourgeois et wallons.
Pour ce qui existe :
Du départ du Nord de la France, il y a possibilité de prendre le réseau RAVEL belge vers NAMUR.
Ensuite, il faut passer le massif des Ardennes ! Pour l’instant, il n’y a pas de voies aménagées en dehors de la voie verte vers Rochefort. Il faut ensuite prendre de petites routes pour atteindre Bastogne.
De là, il y a une ancienne voie ferrée aménagée en voie verte qui passe au Luxembourg vers Wiltz. Voir le réseau cyclable du Luxembourg pour arriver à la vallée de la Moselle. Il y a une option (en travaux et en projet) de passer par Martelange.

Il faut prendre ensuite la vallée de la Sarre dans le Land de Sarre en Allemagne. Aménagée sur toute sa longueur au Land de Sarre, elle se poursuit en France de Sarreguemines à Gondrexange par le canal de la Sarre. Voir la fiche descriptive sur le site de l’association Lorraine3V.
Ensuite, il faut prendre qq petites routes pour arriver à la voie verte des Eclusiers sur le canal de la Marne au Rhin.
Et aprés la piste cyclable qui longe le canal jusqu’à Strasbourg.
Autre option, rejoindre Wasselone depuis Saverne et prendre ensuite la voie verte du Piémont Vosgien (Wasselone-Molsheim) et le canal de la Bruche jusqu’à Strasbourg.

D’autres infos sur l’EV5 : un parcours London-Brindisi en 2010

C’est tout ce que j’ai … mais c’est déjà pas mal !

Bonne préparation.


14 replies »

  1. Please can you help me find a way to put the below 5 route into my garmin etrex 30x and posibly missing out the cities and the fastest route please ?

  2. Do you find the 1:200,000 maps from Michelin are the best for cycling in Europe? I’m off to France next month for a fortnight – a week alone and a week with my wife in the Loire Valley. Looking to get a decent map for cycling. Cheers

    • Hi!
      Thanks for the comment.
      I sed the 1:200,000 maps as they were a good compromise between sufficient detail and portability. I needed about 10 for the length of the whole trip from the UK to southern Italy. I thought they suited my needs very well indeed. If you are doing something a bit shorther, you might want to take something a little more detailed but then again, I think half the fun of the cycling is just finding out where you end up by being a little bit ignorant of your route. Getting lost is not necessarily a bad thing (as long as it doesn’t happen too often!).
      The Loire Valley should be straightforward in terms of route planning as most of the major places are along the route of the Loire itself. I used to live in Tours and also spent 6 months working on the campsite on the island in Saumur and it’s a great place to be on the saddle!
      Bon voyage
      PS Nice bathroom! How much do you charge?

  3. Hi, brilliant information. Do you know of a cycle route from Calais through France to Nice/Monaco?


    • Hey,
      Some friends and I want to cycle from London to Rome on the Euro 5 route, the checkpoints are great (i.e London to Canterbury) however, is there a more detailed route planned out that we can follow, that tells us roads to go on etc…?
      Many Thanks

  4. Hi Andrew, Good luck with your ride. Unfortunately I live in Denmark so you won`t be passing my way. I used to be a police officer in Reading. I have spent many happy hours in winter trudging up and down the Oxford Road.
    Will you be calling in at Lucca in Italy? It is much nicer and cycle friendly than Pisa but often gets missed. We cycled around Pisa and Lucca last year and Lucca really is a good place.
    If you leave your bike how do you secure your panniers, do they lock? I am making some hard panniers from 2 very light plastic toolboxes that lock. I got the idea from my motorbike boxes. I am just fabricating them as I go along and it is panning out pretty well.
    Kind regards

    • Hi Steve, thanks for getting in touch. I have never been arrested in Reading (or anywhere else come to think of it) so our paths probably never met although I would imagine that you would have come across many of the students that I used to teach when I worked at Prospect College!
      Anyway, Lucca? Probably, yes! It is on the route 3 in Italy – the pilgrim route – which will guide me all the way from the Alps to Brindisi. I went to Pisa, very briefly in the mid 90s (I had a couple of hours waiting for a train connection). I don’t actually remember much about it and I am even wondering if I saw the tower itself for example (just looked on Google Maps and nothing is familiar!!). I’ll make sure that I do more than simply cyle through Lucca at high speed (or at any speed at that point in the journey).
      Your pannier idea sounds interesting – send me a photo and I’ll post it in the “equipment” section!
      I hear Denmark is very bike friendly – there was even a report this week that cycle routes took precedence over the roads when it came to gritting the roads in Copenhagen. Now that will never happen in Reading I fear…
      Best wishes

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