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A friend and I are potentially interested in doing a bicycle tour across parts of western Europe, which parts specifically we're not sure of yet. We would be starting in London and from there we would likely go to France.

We aren't really sure of how to go about planning any routes however. Google maps seems to have little to no cycle routes or information on the continent, following the given car route may not be entirely suitable either.

Are there any good resources for planning bicycle friendly routes?

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Do you want to follow long-distance cycle routes, or just bike friendly normal routes? –  Gagravarr Feb 18 '13 at 15:36
    
Are you looking for a "continent level planning tool" or local resources will be enough? you will have to put the partial paths together afterwords. –  nsn Feb 18 '13 at 15:45
    
Likely a bit of both, we're wanting to be pedal powered only, but on stops along the way good scenic rides will always be a plus. Probably more of an emphasis on the former though getting from stop to stop safely and efficiently. –  Ben Feb 18 '13 at 15:50
    
Seems to me Google Maps has quite a bit? –  gerrit Feb 18 '13 at 21:13
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I can only access car and walking directions on Google Maps in France? –  Ben Feb 19 '13 at 0:58
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4 Answers 4

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Within England, the answer is The Cycle Streets site which will generate much more accurate and helpful cycling routes than Google, and could certainly be used to get you from London to the coast. It also generates astonishingly traffic-free routes through London itself.

Outside England, I can only suggest using the Open Cycle Map, which covers most of Europe. I don't know with what accuracy, but would tend to trust it at least in France, Germany, and Benelux, where there are strong cycling traditions. It shows the main national cycle routes in red, and local ones in blue. The Dutch network is very clearly signposted. You can use it with ViewRanger on a smartphone, though you'll need a data connection most of the time (it is possible to cache particular areas in advance)

Viewranger and RidewithGPS do bicycle route planning but neither, in my experience, are as good as the cyclestreets site. Sorry. I don't have the reputation points to post links to either of those two programs. Google is your friend.

There is also an established "route verte" from London to Paris, but I know nothing aobut it except the name and that it exists.

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You can use several resources. Some of them were already pointed here.

Google Maps contains routes for specific countrys like the Netherlans

Another way might be using some routes for the "Camino de Santiago". Even if you're not going there the "camino" is spreaded all over europe, coming from several places. You can cycle in most of the paths and there are even specific variants when it become hard for bikes. The paths allways avoid major roads, and try to go as most as possible through scenic routes. The camino is allways marked with arrows and you can find plenty information on the internet (this might be specially important if you are following the oposite way)

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There are different online bicycle route planners:

Most of these routeplanners will just guide you through any route disregarding the beauty/ugliness of the route.

An alternative would be the so called "knooppuntenroutes". This is an extensive bicyclepath network in the Benelux and bordering regions of Germany. Here the different cyclepaths are connected with numbers. The numbers are visible at the different nodes as signs similar to the picture below.

Fietsknooppunt netwerk (Source: Wiki commons)

Its working is simple. You either buy the maps (NL/DE) showing the networks where the nodes are numbered. You note all the nodes on the trip you want to take and you can actually cycle the route by just following the numbers. Using the paper maps is by far the best option.

There is also an online maps to generate your sequence of nodes or numbers to follow, but the website is in dutch only and quite clumsy built. So technologicallywise, I would not recommend their online resource. The quality of the cycle paths and the way the signs are maintained on the other hand, is quite high and definitely worth considering if you want to travel in the Benelux and the region just over the border in Germany.

For accomodation you might want to check: Friends on the bycicle

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http://www.eurovelo.org/routes/

This would be a good start. According to the site, they have 14 major routes you may follow.

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It looks promising however on closer inspection of the routes they seem to just be straight routes not placed over any roads? eurovelo.org/routes/overview-route-database –  Ben Feb 19 '13 at 13:03
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