French rivers
30,26 Km
2 h 01 min
I cycle often
Paris / Chatou
Paris
Chatou
The square in front of Paris’s Notre-Dame Cathedral counts as kilometre-zero in France; it’s where the Seine à Vélo cycle route officially begins. The way first leads you peacefully north out of the capital via the Canal Saint-Martin and its iconic, trendy quarter, offering a cliché of romantic Paris, before you branch off along the Canal Saint-Denis, with its startling Street Art Avenue outdoor art. Notre-Dame’s great sister church, the Basilica-Cathedral of Saint-Denis, holds the tombs of France’s royals. The route continues to Gennevilliers, a major river port for the Ile-de-France Region (around Paris), joining the Seine and its c.10km-long Promenade Bleue, using the river’s former towpaths. The Seine-side landscapes, partly industrial, partly rustic, inspired great Impressionist artists. Pause on the Ile des Impressionnistes at Chatou, at the terrace where Renoir painted Le Déjeuner des Canotiers, or at the iconic restaurant terrace of Les Rives de la Courtille, or then at the Hameau Fournaise. This first stage ends on the border between the counties of Hauts-de-Seine and Yvelines.
49 m 28 m

The route

Along this stage, the Seine à Vélo shares the way with the Avenue Verte London-Paris cycle route. Head north from the square in front of Notre-Dame to reach the Canal Saint-Martin by riding along Boulevard Sébastopol, then Rue de Turbigo, to République. Next, cycle beside the Canal Saint-Martin north up to the Bassin de la Villette, where you branch off along the Canal Saint-Denis, the path alternating between tarmacked and concrete surfaces. Take care crossing under the bridges along the way, as the path often narrows under these, and also passing the works under way to extend the métro network to these parts. You need to dismount to cross the footbridge, the Passerelle de la Darse.

Reaching the level of Saint-Denis Station (Gare Saint-Denis), pass beneath the station to reach the island, Ile Saint-Denis, and cross to the south bank of the Seine and Quai Alfred Sisley. Take care on the bridge and crossing the tramway lines.

The route then runs alongside the Seine, largely on paths adapted for cyclists, plus along a few stretches of road with traffic-calming measures. The route is either on tarmac or then compacted surfaces, along the Promenade Bleue. Take care at crossroads, especially in the area around the port of Gennevilliers.

SNCF train stations & RER

  • RER A: Châtelet Les Halles; La Défense (then T2 to Parc Pierre Lagravère station), Rueil Malmaison; Chatou-Croissy
  • RER B: Plain Stade de France
  • RER C: Gennevilliers station
  • RER C: Epinay-sur-Seine station (T 11 express)
  • RER D: Stade de France Saint-Denis; (Transilien H)
  • Transilien H: Saint-Denis station (RER D) Epinay-sur-Seine/ Villetaneuse station (T 11 Express)
  • T 11 Express: Epinay-sur-Seine station (RER C); Epinay-sur-Seine / Villetaneuse station (Transilien H)
  • Metro Line 13 Porte de Paris (WE only)

Don’t miss

  • The Hameau Fournaise on the island at Chatou now known as the Ile des Impressionnistes.
    Make the most of the varied atmospheres across the Hameau Fournaise, a gem of a hamlet on the Ile des Impressionnistes at Chatou. Visit the Musée Fournaise and try its immersive experience dedicated to the painter Renoir, as well as the Fournaise family, who set up the riverside inn, or guinguette, where great artists like Renoir, Maupassant and Caillebotte enjoyed coming regularly.
    Head to the Bessières Gallery to take in contemporary art, or make for Sequana to admire the work of the passionate, fascinating restorers of traditional boats based here. Do arrive before the end of the morning so as to have lunch at the restaurant Les Rives de la Courtille or opposite the Maison Fournaise, where Renoir painted that masterpiece, Le Déjeuner des Canotiers. In the afternoon, perhaps follow the Chemin des Impressionnistes hiking path.

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