Strasbourg, France to Arnhem, the Netherlands

On Friday (September 21) we arrived in Arnhem, Netherlands after riding a little over 700 km from Strasbourg. It is the best and most varied riding we have enjoyed on this trip. Our route took us from France through much of Luxembourg and through parts of Belgium and Germany. Most of the way we were on quiet secondary roads and in small towns rather than large cities. The terrain has varied from open rolling farmland with big skies to the hilly and forested Ardennes. The weather has been mostly warm and dry, but Friday, the last day of summer, we had rain with strong, gusty winds and temperatures have dropped by 10º. Fall is here!

Of the things we enjoyed about this ride, two stood out. First, the country of Luxembourg. It is scenic and has both good cycling and hiking. A prosperous country, it is clean, orderly and things work. The country is trilingual (French, German, and Luxembourgish) which makes life fun sometimes—you never know what language a native will use, even different staff members in the same restaurant will use the language of their own choice. But unlike Belgium where the linguistic groups have difficulty getting along, Luxembourg works and feels very comfortable.

The second memorable thing is the Vennbhan cycle route, a 125 km rail trail from Aachen, Germany to Troisvierges near the city of Luxembourg. We cycled about 100 km of it from a small town in Luxembourg to the city of Aachen. It runs through lovely small villages, farmland and forest, and is mostly paved. Quiet, fast, easy cycling and best of all, no motorcycles. Luxembourg, with its rolling hills and windy roads, is a favourite for motocycle tourists who always seem to travel in packs. I don’t mind most of them, but I wish the Harley owners would stay home.

Now that we are in the Netherlands, we are visiting friends and family. We began by spending two nights with some friends just outside Maastricht who have a small vineyard, then carried on to Arnhem where are staying for a few days with another friend.

Strasbourg Nighttime view of the covered bridge in Strasbourg. Cycling (another!) canal heading North from Strasbourg. Cloudy morning in French farmland. View of French farmland from a chambre d’hôte in France. Chateau and vineyard on the Mosel River. Rocky cliffs in a Luxembourg river valley. It is hilly in the Ardennes.

Old rails and locomotive beside the Vennbhan trail.

Inge on the Vennbhan making train noises and pulling cord for the whistle. A country lane near Maastricht.

Heading to the vineyard with our friends.

Cheers! Learning about winemaking. Ferry across the Mass River, loaded with cyclists. Belgium on one bank, the Netherlands on the other. A Netherlands sky near Arnhem.

Rhône Cycle Route – 3

We are in Saint Gilles at the end of our Rhône River ride.

From Avignon we rode South to Arles, then continued South into the Camargue (the large delta where the Rhône flows into the Mediterranean Sea). We spent two nights in the Camargue in the small town of Salin de Giraud, then did a long ride through the Camargue yesterday, passing through the town of Les Saintes Maries de la Mer, to end our Rhône River ride here in Saint Gilles, an old pilgrimage town. Tomorrow we’ll do a short ride back to Arles where we’ll catch the TGV to Strasbourg early Monday morning.

While Arles is a tourist destination with an ancient Roman coliseum and theatre, famous as the place where Van Gogh painted, it didn’t really click for us. Busy, touristy, rough and run-down. What I found interesting is that Arles is a centre for photography—it has the national photography school plus numerous galleries and exhibits.

The Camargue did click for us. It is a vast area of lakes and marshes with salt and rice production, farming, some vineyards, and a large part of the land and water protected as fish and wildlife habitat. It is famous for wild horses (now domesticated but still running free) and birds. We enjoyed the open space and solitude, even though some of the riding was on rough and muddy gravel roads. We also enjoyed a dip in the Mediterranean Sea on a sandy beach.

Today we are loafing in Saint Gilles, a town with an abbey founded in the seventh century, a pilgrimage destination in its own right and the first stop on the pilgrimage route from Arles to Santiago. It is an odd feeling to see pilgrims, pilgrim hostels and scallop shell emblems when we are cycling, not walking.

It has been a good ride.

Bridge near Arles, the subject of several Van Gogh paintings.


Salt pile in the Camargue.


Old building in the Camargue by a salt evaporation pond.
Camargue horse.


At the sea.


Protected Camargue wetlands.


Flamingos in the Camargue.


Muddy road into the Camargue.


Riding atop a Camargue dike.


Lighthouse built in 1882, still operating.


Saint Iago statue in the Saint Gilles Abbey.


Door to the Saint Gilles Abbey. Exquisite exterior stone carvings.

Rhône Cycle Route 1

We are on day two of the Rhône Cycle Route, riding from the source of the Rhône in Switzerland to the Camargue in Southern France where the Rhône flows in to the Mediterranean Sea. The Swiss portion is Swiss Cycle Route 1, the full route through Switzerland and France is the EuroVelo Route 17:

On Tuesday we traveled from Basel to Andermatt by train—three trains actually. The first, an intercity train to Erstfeld, not far from Lucerne. The second, another intercity, carried us up 500 m to the small town of Göschenen at 1111 m elevation. The third, a narrow-gauge cog rail train took us up the short but steep 300 m climb to Andermatt, a small ski village at 1447 m elevation where we spent the night.

Wednesday morning we took the Post Bus from Andermatt up a steep narrow road to the Furkapass at 2436 m, near the Rhône Glacier, the source of the Rhône River and the start of our EV17 ride. The scenery was spectacular. It was cold at the pass and daunting to look down at the steep descent ahead. We went only a short distance before stoping to bundle up in warmer clothing.

The first part of the descent was exhilarating! In 40 minutes, including time to take some photos, we descended 700 m in elevation just hanging on to the brake levers, no need to turn the cranks.

The rest of the day was good cycling but not quite as exciting. We continued the descent to the town of Brig at 691 m elevation where we spent the night. Although we were descending, we had some stiff climbs as the valley is narrow and sometimes the trail had to ascend high above the river.

Today, day two on the Rhône route, the valley is wider, full of industry and agriculture. Vineyards on the slopes. The river is flowing fast from the snowmelt in the recent hot weather. It is a dirty gray colour from the alpine sediment it carries. Not attractive, but powerful.

Tomorrow we follow it to Lac Léman (Lake Geneva).

Bikes on the Post Bus


Looking down from the pass.
Happy me after the first part of the descent.
The Rhône with the Rhône Glacier above.
Old buildings in Brig.
Crossing an avalanche on the trail. That’s snow under the debris.
Industry in the Rhône valley.
A small town against the valley wall.
Castles on valley hill tops.

Crossing France on the EV6 route – 3

Yesterday we finished our ride across France, crossed the Rhine, spent a few minutes in Germany, then rode into Switzerland and spent the night in Basel.

After leaving the Loire a week ago, we continued riding beside waterways: the Saône River, the Doubs River, the Canal du Rhône au Rhin and others. On the canal, we’ve ridden past more than 100 locks. It is an amazing system of rivers and canals that once carried goods all over France. It has carried us through vinyards, farms, forests and  major cities for about 1100 km of mostly easy riding on quiet roads and old tow paths in hot, sunny weather.

Tomorrow we begin the second part of our trip—riding the Rhône river from its source in Switzerland to its end at the Mediterranean Sea.


Old canal towpath, now a cycle path.


Bikes get dirty.


Moving East into Burgundy and beyond, colourful tile roofs adorn church and public towers.


At Bésançon, a long tunnel carries the canal and the bike path under the fortress above.


An abandonded paper mill. Canals were once thriving with industry.
Sign over a doorway.


Fence that’s an artwork. Montbéliard.


Classy bike storage!


Series of locks descending to the Rhine.


On the EV6 route near the Rhine.


Line at the bakery on Sunday.






Swimmers floating on the Rhine.


Feet in the Rhine.


Crossing France on the EV6 route – 2

Monday Aug 13. We are in le Creusot tonight, not on the planned route, but we felt the need for a rest day and took the train here yesterday. It is as near the original route as we could find for a way to hop ahead by train so that we can have a day off and keep the ongoing accommodation reservations.

Sunday morning we said goodbye to Joanne as she headed off to return her bike and fly to Paris to spend a few days with friends before heading back to Canada. We’ll miss her; it was fun to have her along.

The heat wave has passed, at least for the time being. We are back to normal August temperatures of mid twenties to low thirties with some thunderstoms. Only one rainy day so far.

Following the Loire, we have ridden a lot of dikes and canals in the last few days, mostly through agricultual land. We’ve now left the Loire, heading north-east toward Basel Switzerland. So far we’ve ridden about 650 km.

A few photos:

New Crops


Riding out of Gien after lunch by the river.




Fishing in the canal.


Discussing the route.


Flowers alomg the bike path.


Trees in a farm field.


Inge on a fence by the canal.


Joanne also on a fence.


L’Allier river, just before it flows into la Loire.


Crossing a canal aqueduct over l’Allier.


Alley in Nevers.


Solar powered phone charging station in Nevers.


Roy helping the lock keeper by cranking a manual canal lock.


Cycling on a canal towpath.


Bikes on a local train.