Thanks to direct train services via the Channel Tunnel from London cycling holidays to continental Europe are just as easy to arrange as trips here in the UK. Train operator Eurostar has a very cyclist friendly section of its website explaining the options available for transporting your bike to Paris, Lille or Brussels, either folded up or fully assembled.
Of course one of the big draws of taking two wheels to the continent is the opportunity for cycling enthusiasts to follow in their heroes’ tracks by experiencing first-hand the routes associated with the legendary Tour de France. Here are just some of the locations for the 2014 Tour that you can access easily by hopping on a train at St Pancras…
2014’s stage 4 concludes in Lille – no stranger to the event having played its part in the Tour 16 times. Situated in French Flanders, it is a large and historic city with attractions including the gothic Palais Rihour, the 17th Century Vieille Bourse (old stock exchange, regarded as the city’s finest building) and the town hall, whose 104 metre tall belfry is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Stage 4 starts meanwhile at the coastal resort of Le Touquet. Le Touquet has a rich sporting and its huge beaches and windy conditions inspired the creation of the sand yacht by local man Henry Demoury.
Less than a couple of hours from both Lille and Brussels is the Belgian town of Ypres – making its Tour de France debut in 2014 as the starting point for stage 5, which finishes back in France at Arenberg. A pretty town, Ypres has a sombre past as the centre of sustained and intense battles between Allied and German forces in the First World War. Many war graves can be found in the landscape surrounding Ypres and in 2014 as well as being in the Tour de France, the town will be a focus point for commemorations surrounding the 100th anniversary of the First World War commencing.
France’s capital city Paris needs little introduction – one of the world’s most iconic cities, one is only scratching the surface when they think of the Eiffel Tower, high fashion and first class cuisine. There is so much to discover here, from quaint little backstreets with shuttered windows to the glittering office blocks of La Défense. While you won’t get the opportunity to sprint up a traffic-free Champs Élysées cheered on by crowds of thousands, make sure you visit the legendary thoroughfare to see where cycling history has been made so many times.
What are you waiting for? Start your cycle in London, hop on the train at St. Pancras and within a couple of hours you will be in the heart of cycling country.