Recently I had the pleasure of experiencing my very first, proper cycling trip. I do cycle short distances regularly, however this amazing 2-day cycle route in France has opened my eyes to another type of long-distance traveling: traveling by bike.
For anyone interested in cycling, France or new experiences in general, I do recommend trying out this cycle route from Marlenheim to Thann. Vineyards, the French countryside and good southern weather – what else do you need?
The Cycle Route
This cycle route is a part of the EuroVelo 5. Stories tell that a thousand years ago pilgrims used to travel between England and Rome. The EuroVelo 5 route (3300km long) allows us to follow the pilgrim footsteps from London, England, all the way down to Brindisi city in Italy.
The amazing 2-day cycle route I mentioned above is the part of the route that goes through France.
We started the route from Strasbourg and followed it through as per the picture below. From Strasbourg to Marlenheim the cycling path goes mainly through streets. However, once you reach Marlenheim, the amazing route through vineyards starts. As long as you follow this sign , it is hard to lose the track.
The Wine Route goes around the eastern slopes of the Vosges Mountains and passes through many small wine producing villages. The most exciting thing about this cycle route is that it crosses various vineyards where you can stop and try local grapes.
On the first day we cycled around 86 kilometres in total. The route took us mainly along peaceful side paths which wound and danced through the vineyards. We also passed several ‘flowered villages’: a sign by the entrance to the village marks each town and village that has participated in the bloom competition (concours des villes et villages fleuris). The more flowers on the sign , the more beautiful the village is supposed to be.
We had lunch in the vineyard of the small town Barr which is around 34 kilometres away from Marlenheim. Because we started our cycle route in Strasbourg (and also took wrong turns on a few occasions 😊), by the time we reached Barr we had completed around 45-50 kilometres. Our last point for the day was a small town called Saint-Hyppolyte (62 kilometres away from Marlenheim). We stayed in a fantastic B&B called “Hupsa Pfannala” (which is also the name for a local Alsatian potato and cheese dish). The food in this place was delicious and properly set us up for the remainder of the cycle route.
Overall, the cycle route on the Day 1 was quite flat, though there were a few climbs that required a little more effort (see the picture below).
Our average cycling speed was around 18 kilometres per hour (thanks to my injured knee). It took us around 6 hours to reach Saint-Hyppolyte: around 4.5 hours of cycling and 1.5 hours for lunch/photos/bathroom stops.
On the second day we cycled around 80 kilometres until we finally reached our final destination: Thann. The route took us mainly through villages memorable for their small stone houses, cobbled streets (that made filming of the trip quote difficult) and old churches. Besides picturesque villages, the route also offered fantastic vineyard and mountain views.
The cycle from Saint-Hyppolyte to Thann (around 76 kilometres if you do not get lost on the way) was more difficult than the route on the day before. The maximum altitude reached was around 330 m and, in general, there were more steep hills on the way.
Just a note for those planning to cycle on a Sunday: restaurants work very short hours or don’t work at all, therefore get your pre-packed lunch ready before the trip! Once we reached Thann, we took a train back to Strasbourg and, headed back home. Those interested in longer cycle routes could continue further down to Switzerland which I am sure would offer equally amazing cycle route.
Our average cycling speed was around 20 kilometres per hour (this time thanks to strong wind in few segments of the route). It took us around 6 hours to reach Saint-Hyppolyte: around 4 hours of actual cycling and nearly 2 hours of stops, looking for a restaurant for lunch (which we did not find) 😊
Gear used: This is the gear I used on this trip.
- Cycle shorts or trousers (a must) + long leggings;
- A wind-proof jacket;
- Neck wrap/warmer (for your neck or, alternatively, to cover your ears from the wind);
- Sunglasses (for protection from the sun as well as from grit getting blown into your eyes);
- Camera mount for the bike;
- Bike lights;
- Bicycle pannier;
- Because of a persistent knee injury, I also used a knee support which helped a lot during the cycle.
I found this cycle route truly amazing. The views are absolutely fabulous and the infrastructure setup for cycling is great. Only very rarely the cycle path takes you onto the main roads as the majority of it is separated. This allows one to enjoy the ride without the fear of being hit by a driver. There are a few rather steep hills on the cycle route, however nothing too extreme or too difficult. All in all, it is a beautiful 2-day cycle route in France which can be enjoyed by ‘beginner’ cyclists as well as more trained fellows.