Our Must Do Rides series features some of the best routes around the world. This ride comes from Paris, France. It was written and photographed by Anthony Richelot.
I came to Paris six years ago, to finish my training as an architect. It was thanks to my bicycle that I got to know this eternal city – this diverse, surprising, magic, sometimes secretive capital – and its cosmopolitan neighborhoods.
Paris is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I was seduced by its exceptional architectural and cultural heritage. It’s also the capital of gastronomy and fashion. A city where there is always something happening.
I discovered this route thanks to Dada, a typographer and infographics designer who I met a few years ago at Steel Coffee Shop, in the 11th arrondissement. He’s a real explorer, always riding in search of new routes, and a cycling philosopher who rides by the principle that ‘You’ve got to get lost to find new roads!'
We leave at dawn to get to the rendezvous point at the Longchamps racetrack, and then up towards Saint Cloud park, now classed as a national historic monument. This is the end of the city, our gateway to nature. After a magnificent cobbled climb that winds up a hill, we take a trail, like a red carpet that leads to the Saint Cucufa woods.
The Malmaison forest covers 201 hectares. With its lake and its woods, it is a perfect setting for nature lovers. It is here that we make our first stop, under little wooden shelters, to eat some snacks.
Then we set off again for one of our favorite activities: “gravel 23” – which simply means riding on 23mm or 25mm tires on gravel tracks. This is how we cross the forest to get to Versailles. The palace and gardens are a UNESCO World Heritage site, and globally renowned; the town was created by architect Jules Hardouin Mansart and landscape gardener André le Nôtre at the behest of King Louis XIV. Did you know that Versailles inspired the urban planning of London, Saint Petersburg and Washington D.C., to name just the most famous?
There’s no better place for a feed stop than the Notre Dame market – which has been named the ‘most beautiful’ in the Île-de-France region – a meeting place of tastes, colors, and smells, where we avail ourselves of the stalls to buy fruit.
With our bar bags full of produce, we cross the Versailles regional forest and the villages of Buc, Chateaufort and Magny les Hameaux, in a little loop that brings us back to Saint Cloud, to close the door on nature before plunging back into the urban jungle.
We end our ride at Asnières sur Seine, at the Rosa Bonheur barge, to be more precise. Moored on the banks of the Seine, it serves a range of tapas and pizzas on its open deck. The terrace boasts one of the biggest pizza ovens in the world. What a spot!