I love a good bike path, whether it is the Waterford or the Great Western Greenways in Ireland, the West Orange Trail or the C&O canal in the USA, I’ve always enjoyed the exhilaration of being out in nature and getting to experience it in the relative safety of an off road bike path. But since traveling in France and Germany I have been blown away by the extensive network of bike paths and trails, in, around and between towns and villages, along canals and rivers, around lakes and into the hills, bike paths are everywhere. These paths are a wonderful amenity, busy with local commuters, leisure cyclists and bike packers, roller-bladers and joggers, families out for a walk or serious athletes on a training run.
So how do I find these hidden gems, I hear you ask. My secret weapon is an app called Komoot (not sponsored). When we arrive to a new area I use the app to search for local routes. There are setting options for bike touring, hiking, road cycling, mountain biking and running. I select my starting point and I am given a list of options, with a breakdown of distance, elevation profile, type of path and surface, along with highlights to see along the way, with a bit of background or history. I can take a route in its entirety or mix and match parts of different routes. And once I hit start the app gives my step by step, audible cues of the upcoming turns. It has been a game changer and I have found some wonderful hidden gems I may not have come across without the benefit of local knowledge.
Case in point, on our way back from Lake Annecy last week, we drove through the beautiful Jura Mountains to the small town of Mandeure, where we spent two nights. On the first evening we used the Komoot app to plot a short bike ride to the local Roman Theatre ruins and then uphill to a lookout point with views over the countryside, to the mountains.
The next day our plan was to do a longer ride to explore the region. With the help of the app we found the perfect route. It brought us through woodlands until we reached the bike paths along the Doubs and l’Allan rivers. We got to experience a beautiful stretch of the Canal du Rhône au Rhin from Voujeaucourt to Exincourt, to a beach area on a lake. After a ‘sos beag’ (a little break) for a snack and some water we continued, along the riverbank and via a former railway line back to Tigín. Part of this route was along the EV6.
The EV6 or EuroVelo 6 is one of number or long distance cycle routes throughout the whole of Europe. I would definitely recommend you click on the link and check out the wonderful world of EuroVelo. The EV6 stretches all the way from the Atlantic coast west of Nantes, France to Constanta, Romania on the Dead Sea, along over 1,300km of mostly designated, marked cycle paths. You may not want to tackle the entirety of an EV route but I’d definitely recommend checking out a section if you happen to be near one. They are a perfect way to explore the natural beauty of any region.