EuroVelo in France

Discover the country by bike on these 10 incredible routes!

Trans Ardennes

Have you ever heard of “Vélodyssée” or “Vélomaritime”, a cycle route inaugurated in 2020 and which follows the coastline of Brittany, Normandy and Hauts-de-France regions ? These names actually correspond to the French sections of a larger European cycle network: the EuroVelo. The first French section of the European long-distance cycle route EuroVelo 12 was inaugurated in 2001 and has since led us through the country's fabulous landscapes. In the meantime, a lot has happened and France now boasts 10 long-distance EuroVelo cycle routes that continue to delight ecotourists from all over Europe.

This blog article summarises the essential information you need to know about EuroVelo. It is a truly promising and exciting topic that you can also discover on your own by following the links below.

Summary

Infographie Eurovelo

What exactly is EuroVelo?

EuroVelo is a network of long-distance cycle routes in Europe, initiated, coordinated and partly funded by the “European Cyclists' Federation (ECF)”:(European Cyclists Federation – ECF) in partnership with national and regional public and private stakeholders.

Created in 1983, the ECF is a federation of national cycling organisations (organisations that promote cycling for urban mobility) across Europe. The ECF later created the EuroVelo project, to increase the development of European cycling.

The EuroVelo long-distance cycle routes are made up of 'existing and planned cycle routes on a regional and national level. The ECF thus aims to provide very high quality cycling routes in all European countries, to exchange the best European practices and to harmonise cycling standards.

Currently (in 2021), the network is made up of 17 cycle routes accross Europe. When completed, the EuroVelo network's total length will almost be 90,000 km. 45,000 km of these routes are *fully developed cycle paths * and low-traffic roads.

Is EuroVelo new?

Not at all, considering that the idea for the project originated back in 1995 in a working group of the ECF and its Danish (Sustrans) and British (Frie Fugle) partners. At that time, a network of 12 routes, was designed, creating the first 12 EuroVelo routes!

In 1997, the association applied to the European Commission for funding for the EuroVelo project. In November of the same year, the project was already officially launched.
The first EuroVelo route was, not as one might expect, EuroVelo 1, but the “North Sea Coast Route” EuroVelo 12, inaugurated in 2001!

From the original 12 routes, the EuroVelo map has expanded over the years and now currently includes 17 cycling routes. The newest long-distance cycle route, EuroVelo 19, was inaugurated in 2019.

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Velodyssee panneaux

What is so special about EuroVelo ?

The EuroVelo requirements are extremely specific:

- using the national or regional cycle routes of the participating countries
- crossing at least two countries
- a minimum route length of 1,000 km
- a clearly recognisable and internationally marketable identity
- an effective implementation plan (partners, business plan, planning)
- the implementation of a standardised, complete signposting system corresponding to the countries/regions concerned;
- the use of specific EuroVelo signposting.

How to recognise a EuroVelo route?

Each EuroVelo cycle route has its own name, colour and number on a background of a European flag such as: EuroVelo 13 – Iron Curtain Cycle Route.
NB : It is also common for *national sections * to be specifically named and 'marketed' under an additional name. An example of this in France would be the “ViaRhôna” on the French section of EuroVelo 17 – Véloroute du Rhône.

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carte Eurovelo

The EuroVelo network at a glance

Here is the list of the 17 EuroVelo cycle routes and the link to their official website in English:
(Routes in bold indicate that they pass through France).

– EuroVelo 1Atlantic Coast Route
- EuroVelo 2 – Capitals route
– EuroVelo 3Pilgrims route
– EuroVelo 4Central Europe Route
– EuroVelo 5Via Romea
- EuroVelo 6Atlantic – Black Sea
- EuroVelo 7 – Sun Route
– EuroVelo 8Mediterranean Route
- EuroVelo 9 – Baltic-Adriatic
- EuroVelo 10 – Baltic Sea Cycle Route
- EuroVelo 11 – East Europe Route
– EuroVelo 12North Sea Cycle Route
- EuroVelo 13 – Iron Curtain Trail
- EuroVelo 14 -Waters of Central Europe
– EuroVelo 15Rhine Cycle Route
– EuroVelo 17Rhone Cycle Route
– EuroVelo 19Meuse Cycle Route

Why is there no EuroVelo 16 and 18?

The EuroVelo routes have not been opened in chronological order – as already mentioned, EuroVelo 1 was not the first route to be created. So what do the numbers mean and, incidentally, why is there no EuroVelo 16 and 18?

The routes are actually numbered according to whether they cross Europe on a north-south or east-west axis. There are currently ten north-south routes (odd numbers 1-19) and seven east-west routes (including two circular routes) (even numbers 2-14). Easy!

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schéma etat eurovelo

Current state and development of the network

Of the more than 90,000 km of cycle routes in the EuroVelo network, 45,000 km are already in place.

The ECF is constantly working with its national EuroVelo coordination centres to develop the network, but it is still in various stages of completion (sometimes even between sections of the same route). To help cyclists getting prepared, the ECF has produced interactive maps showing the current conditions of the routes that cycle tourists are likely to encounter. For this purpose, the cycle routes have been divided into five different categories, the highest category representing a fully developed, signposted AND certified route.

You will find examples of the different categories in the following illustration.

In the next decade, the main focus of the development of the EuroVelo network will be on improving the quality, not expanding the network.

What is a certified EuroVelo route?

As you have probably already noticed, the ECF greatly values quality. Therefore, only routes certified by the ECF can call themselves EuroVelo. It therefore represents an important seal of quality for both the cyclist and the route developer.

EuroVelo 15: the first certified route

During the summer of 2019, the entire EuroVelo 15 – Rhine Cycle Route was assessed by ECF-approved route inspectors, based on the ECS (European Certification Standard) method, which takes into account the infrastructure, the services, the marketing and the promotion of the route.

The ECF EuroVelo team then carried out a detailed analysis of the collected data and concluded that the section between Tavanasa in Switzerland and Gorinchem in the Netherlands met the required criteria.

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Eurovelo 3

EuroVelo in France

France has invested massively in the development of its cycling network in recent years, so that in 2020 the country became the second most popular destination for European cycle tourism, just behind Germany.(1)

This is extremely fortunate, as the country is crossed by 10 EuroVelo routes, covering more than 9000 km ! Of different length and orientation, the routes follow the coastline, cross the country diagonally, or focus on a specific region or theme… Following the EuroVelo in France will guarantee you to make great discoveries!

The French regions and their partners are very committed to these long-distance cycling routes, as they represent a great opportunity to discover some unknown parts of France! The regional partners arrange cycle-friendly accommodation, provide tourist, cultural and environmental information, offer assistance in preparing the stay and organise transport by train, etc.

You will find the official EuroVelo logos and their French equivalent along the entire route in France. It is almost impossible to get lost!

France écotours would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the incredible teamwork being carried out at European, national and interregional level!

(1) Study by the French Ministry of the Economy “Economic impact and development potential of bicycle use in France” – April 2020

The 10 French EuroVelo-Routes:

  • - EuroVelo 1 – The Vélodyssée, 1200 km
    - EuroVelo 3 – La Scandibérique (1700 km)
  • - EuroVelo 4 – The Vélomaritime, 1518 km
    - EuroVelo 5 – Via Romea Francigena (669 km)
    - EuroVelo 6 – La Loire à vélo (1300 km)
    - EuroVelo 8- The Mediterranean Route (850 km)
    - Eurovelo 12 – North Sea Cycle Route (77 km)
    - EuroVelo 15 – The Rhine Cycle Route (180 km)
    - Eurovelo 17 – The Via Rhôna (815 km)
    - EuroVelo 19 – Meuse Cycle Route (443 km)

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EuroVelo 1

EV 1 – The Vélodyssée

Starting in Roscoff, Brittany, the EuroVelo1 / Vélodyssée cycle route crosses the Nantes-Brest Canal before following the Atlantic coast until reaching the Basque region. Cycling along the ocean means being able to go for some refreshing swims and enjoying some delicious gastronomic seafood specialities, whenever you feel like it!

Have fun following this invigorating 1,200 km bike ride through beautiful wild natural landscapes along the Atlantic coast. The Vélodyssée is an easy, well-maintained long-distance cycle route with no particular difficulties. The route is ideally suited for families and for those who are embarking on a cycling tour for the first time.

In addition, the Vélodyssée connects to the EV 4 (Roscoff), the EV 6 (Nantes) and the EV 3 (Bayonne).

Ready for an adventure ?

- Self-guided bike tour along the Atlantic

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EV4

EV 4 – The Vélomaritime

From Roscoff in Brittany, to Dunkerque on the Belgian border, this 1,400 km French section follows the English Channel and the North Sea and takes you alonside numerous mythical places, such as the Côte de Granit Rose (Pink Granite Coast), the Mont Saint-Michel and its bay, the D-Day landing beaches, the cliffs of Etretat, the Somme Bay or the Côte d'Opal (Opal Coast).

The EV 4 is an exciting and varied route, very well signposted, but with significant differences in altitude, especially in Normandy and Brittany. The route runs mainly on roads shared with motorised vehicles. Therefore, the “Vélomaritime” appeals to both experienced cyclists and families looking for adventure, cultural discoveries and culinary highlights.

In addition, the Vélodyssée connects to the EV 1 (Roscoff) and the EV 5 (Dunkerque).

Ready for an adventure?

- 5-day bike tour from Bayeux to Caen following the Vélomaritime cycle way

Useful information, itinerary suggestions and more on the Vélomaritime website

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mobilite velo ECF

EuroVelo and soft mobility

EuroVelo links existing and planned national and regional cycle routes and makes them accessible to both cycle tourists and the local population.

All initiatives that promote the use of non-polluting modes of transport and encourage cooperation between stakeholders and local economies are definitely a step in the right direction.

The ECF's activities are not limited to EuroVelo. We encourage you the learn more about the various European projects of the ECF, especially the initiatives launched to promote cycling as a mode of transport.

In the following figure (from 2014 – things have certainly changed since, especially in France) you can see how often the bicycle is used in the different European countries. There is definitely a lot of progress to make, and there are still considerable differences from one country to another!

ECF's objectives for the EuroVelo project are:

- To provide high quality cycle routes in all European countries
- Share the best European practice and harmonise standards
- Communicate about the existence of these routes to decision-makers and potential users, promote and market their use and promote cycling in Europe
- Encourage a large number of European citizens to try out cycling, and thus promote a transition to healthy and sustainable travel.

EuroVelo actively contributes not only to sustainable tourism but also to the development of soft mobility and thus to sustainable development!

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Eurovelo 3

Cycle tourism: a booming industry ?

Cycle tourism is not only good for the environment: it also helps to strengthen the local economy and indirectly creates jobs.

According to a 2012 study commissioned by the European Parliament, 2.3 billion cycle trips take place in Europe every year, of which 20.4 million include at least one overnight stay. Cycle tourists spend on average 440 euros per person during their trip.

EuroVelo generated 63 billion euros in turnover in 2016, of which 44 billion euros were generated by cycle tourism (source: ECF), which even exceeds the turnover of cruise ships in Europe!

Who finances these bike paths by the way?

In ten years, the investment in cycle paths in the French regions has increased by 40%: The budget has increased from €328 million to €468 million! (1)

However, there are many different types of funding available at local, regional, national and European level.

(1) Study by the French Ministry of Economy, April 2020.

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Resources

Useful links

- EuroVelo
- ECF
- Velo & Territoires
- France vélo tourisme
- Fédération Française de Cyclotourisme

Glossary

- Veloroute
- Voie Verte

Enjoy EuroVelo in absolute freedom

France écotours regularly develops new trips following the EuroVelo cycle routes.

Advantages : We take care of organising luggage transport, booking the desired accommodation and customising your trip. Thanks to our “Mhikes mobile application, you can ride carefree and safely..

Nos séjours vélo en famille
Nos séjours vélo en France

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