Private bike tours outside Paris
Bike Tour from Laon to Chemin des Dames
If you are a lover of great cathedrals and perched medieval towns then you will be enchanted by the beautiful town of Laon. Its great gothic cathedral, with its ornate towers adorned by sculpted animals, was the inspiration for other famous cathedrals including Notre Dame in Paris and the great cathedrals in Chartres and Reims among others. Laon possesses a number of other architectural and art treasures and these along with its quaint cobbled streets, ancient buildings and medieval ramparts are among the aspects of its charm that led Victor Hugo to say ''Laon is full of beauty, its churches, its houses, its surroundings, everything...''.
From Laon we make our way into the picturesque countryside on designated scenic roads passing through small villages and hamlets, many of which are anchored by ancient churches. On our way we'll pass a historic abbey ruin with a beautiful park, bike along a voie verte (green bikeway) and visit a small church considered to be an art deco masterpiece.
At the mid point of our journey we arrive at a high ridge known as the Chemin des Dames (Path of the Ladies). Orignally named after daughters of Louis XV who used the road to travel to their courtiers it is most renowned as a place of battle. Napoléon fought famous battles here but it is mostly associated with heavy fighting in WWI. The battles were so bloody and the body count so high that a French poet of the day referred to them as ''the cutting edge of massacre''. ** We'll visit several sites associated with the battles along this trail of war before making our way back towards Laon. The countryside is so scenic and picturesque in this region that it's hard to believe the area was the setting for such horror and brutality. On the way back to Laon we'll ride through more beautiful countryside and quaint villages.
** There is a WWI museum on the Chemin des Dames known as La Caverne du Dragon (The Cave of the Dragon) that tour participants may wish to visit. The museum is housed in old quarries that during WWI were used by both the Allies and the Germans as bunkers. This will obviously extend the time duration of the tour but for those who have the time it is an option. **
Starting the Day: We start the day meeting at the bike rental store and then ride through Paris to the train station Gare du Nord. We take the bikes on the train to Laon and start the ride. At the end of the ride we take the train back from Laon to Garde du Nord and then ride to the rental store to return the bikes.
Tour Cost: 325€ This is the price for your group, not a per person cost. It includes my guiding fee and a picnic lunch for 3 participants (four including myself). I can't carry everything on my bike so we can stop along the way so additional participants can get picnic lunch supplies.
Additional Costs: Train Ticket – 45.60€pp Bike Rental – 30€pp
Times: Below are the estimated times to ride from the rental store to the train and back at the end of the day. You'll also find the estimated train travel times (from and back to Paris) and the time spent touring. The train time includes time spent upon entry to the train station, waiting for the train and time spent on the train. The time spent touring is inclusive of breaks, lunch and time to visit any scheduled sites.
Ride from the rental store to the train station and back: 15-20 minutes
Train time: 3 hours 15 minutes
Touring Time: 7-8 hours
Total Tour Time: 11-12 hours
Distance: 65km / 40 miles
Level of Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult. There are roughly half a dozen hills on this ride (including Laon itself) with ascent times of 7-13 minutes. This ride is for those who are fit and/or active bikers only.
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