Traversing three countries and almost 1,500 kilometres (932 miles), the Pan-European Cycle Route connects the pulsating metropolises of Paris and Prague. With straight canals, mountainous countryside, champagne, wine, spaetzle and dumplings, as well as fairytale castles and palaces and wild riverbanks, the route is a wonderful adventure. You ride through the regions of Champagne, the Vosges, and Alsace in France, Swabia, Franconia, and the Palatinate in Germany, and Pilsen and Bohemia in the Czech Republic. You are guaranteed a huge range of variety and lots of excitement as you realise how close together Europe really is.
Your journey starts in the city of love and continues along traffic-free canal cycle paths, through vineyards and over wooded hills to the bicycle-friendly border town of Strasbourg. Next, you encounter Gallo-Roman history, great French cuisine such as Brie and champagne, and interesting cultural activities in Nancy and Sarrebourg. In Germany, you cycle from the west to the east of the country, visiting many wonderful places such as the university town of Heidelberg. The Rhine, Neckar, and Waldnaab rivers accompany you as you ride through the cosiness of Swabia and experience Zoiglbier culture. Finally, in the Czech Republic, you ride through the Bohemian countryside and the beautiful city of Pilsen before reaching the capital, the crowning finale.
This Collection summarises the Pan-European Cycle Route in 22 stages. Based on the official GPS data, the stages vary between 50 and 88 kilometres (19 and 56 miles). You can also design great day trips and short cycling holidays using the stages if you don’t have time to ride the whole route in one go. The sections through the valley and along the canal are perfect for beginners, making the Tour suitable for both mile crunchers and relaxed riders.
All of the proposed stage destinations have plenty of accommodation, which you can find on the official tourism sites of each city. Of course, you can decide each day where you want to finish your ride. You can also use the komoot route planner to find nearby campsites. Wild camping is generally not allowed on the route, but the local people are often very nice and open and will allow you to stay overnight on their private property if you ask nicely. The Warmshowers network warmshowers.org also has many hosts listed in France, Germany and the Czech Republic, who can often give good local tips.
The trail varies from perfectly tarmacked to stony gravel roads. In rainy weather, there may be muddy sections that are more suitable for mountain bikes, particularly through the Bohemian Forest. I recommend checking the route types on the komoot route planner to avoid unpathed roads on your touring bike. The route is not always signposted in France, so it is best to ride with navigation on.
You can travel to the start of your adventure in Paris with the SNCF train which offers bike transport. You need to reserve a spot for your bike on the TGV trains and on TER and Intercité regional trains you can usually take your bike for free without a reservation. The Deutsche Bahn regional trains require a bike ticket if you are planning to ride some of the route by train. You can also book the train directly to Prague from the Deutsche Bahn website, although you may have to change several times depending on where you start your journey. Alternatively, there are direct long-distance bus connections in both cities that offer a bicycle transport service.
The first stage of your tour on the Paneuropean cycle path from Paris to Prague begins with a relaxed 48.8 kilometers. The starting point is Gare de l‘Est, one of the large terminal stations that is right next to Gare du Nord. Here you come to the canal bank, where your today's stage will lead.The Canal de l’Ourc takes you out of the city of love with a view of urban street art. On its banks you cycle for almost 40 kilometers through the north-eastern Parisian suburbs to the small community of Trilbardou. The route now takes you on dirt roads to Meaux, where you can end your tour with a piece of brie, because the world-famous soft cheese has been made here since the 13th century
Today, 58 kilometers to Château-Thierry are on the program. Along the course of the Marne you cycle out of Meaux and start your first ascent to Montceaux-lès-Meaux, from where you can enjoy a great view. Then you can look forward to a grand descent back to the banks of the Marne.Following the bank, the route takes you over small villages, dirt roads and forest paths, some of which are unpaved, to the municipality of Château-Thierry. The medieval castle walls invite you to take a tour and offer a magnificent view of the town.
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Another 56 kilometers further you reach the wonderful wine region of Champagne, where lively climbs and sparkling wines are waiting for you. You drive along the Marne and cross the river at Dormans. Here you can visit the Château de Dormans and the monument to the First World War. Otherwise, you simply cycle further around the castle park and into the vineyards.After about six kilometers, a lush descent to Troissy is waiting for you. You continue through the hilly landscape of the Champagne until your last descent before your stage destination Epernay, where you can simply let the bike roll. The city attracts with its location in the middle of the idyllic vineyards and its underground champagne labyrinths.
Your fourth stage is a little longer at 72 kilometers, but it runs dead straight along the Marne Lateral Canal. Halfway through the route you cycle through the city of Châlons-en-Champagne, which looks back on an exciting history back to Roman times.
We continue on the Marne Canal, lined with the wild and romantic embankment and idyllic towns. On this route you will experience pure deceleration. You will soon reach your stage destination Vitry-le-François. The lovely town is criss-crossed by three different canals and you can end your tour on the canal bank or the central Place d’Armes.
The next stage leads 47 kilometers into the former Lorraine region to the pretty Renaissance town of Bar-le-Duc. Known for its quiche Lorraine, sun-ripened plums and of course its quality wines, this region will also pamper your palate. Behind Vitry-le-François, the Marne Lateral Canal joins the Rhine-Marne Canal, which connects the Moselle near Nancy and the Rhine near Strasbourg. On the straight stretch on the bank you can let your thoughts wander and let the peace, water and nature work on you.
After 14 kilometers, you can take a historical detour across the canal to the neoclassical castle of Bignicourt-sur-Saulx. You continue along the canal until you see a wooded area on your right and the tranquil municipality of Revigny-sur-Ornain on your left. After another 15 kilometers you will reach your stage destination Bar-le-Duc, where history, art and culinary excursions await you.
On today's stage, you can look forward to 74 kilometers along the canal and through the wooded hilly landscape of the Maas department. The stage destination is the city of Toul, which was founded by the Gauls in prehistoric times.
The first 24 kilometers you follow the banks of the Rhine-Marne Canal. Now you can expect a gentle, constant ascent through wide fields and forests to the 140-soul town of Bovée-sur-Baboure. Then you slide down the hill to the small, enchanted castle ruins in Void-Vacon. The last 25 kilometers lead you over small hills past the winding course of the Maas. After a short detour to the pretty harbor, the stage ends in front of the late Gothic St. Etienne Cathedral in the center of Toul.
After you made a good stretch yesterday, today you will follow a relaxed 42 kilometers with little incline to just before the city limits of the architecturally magnificent city of Nancy. The city of Toul leads you out on waterways and leads you to the banks of the Moselle (French: Moselle). On paved bike paths you follow the gentle Moselle loops and can enjoy your tour completely car-free.
Before Port-Saint-Vincent you cross the Moselle and cycle between the Vosges Canal, quarry ponds and the Moselle to the outskirts of Nancy. Along a small connecting canal you get to Laneuveville-devant-Nancy. The official Paneuropean cycle path leads past Nancy, but you can follow the Rhine-Marne Canal to the right and marvel at the exciting city with its Place Stanislas, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the many Art Nouveau buildings and magnificent gardens. Here it is definitely worth taking a day off from cycling to linger in the city.
After you have recharged your batteries in Nancy, it is now 74 kilometers to Saarburg (French: Sarrebourg) on the edge of Alsace. The 390 vertical meters are distributed over the entire route, so that you don't have any longer climbs and a lot of variety in front of you. Your tour begins along the Rhine-Marne Canal. The official GPS route leads a bit away from the canal, you can also choose the path on the other side directly along the canal.
After 40 kilometers at the small municipality of Lagarde, turn off the canal and cycle through shady forests, wide fields and small towns on the Véloroute 52 until you come across the Saar, which already announces your stage destination Saarburg. The Chagall Parcour takes you into the world of the famous French-Russian artist.
On your ninth stage you will already reach the French-German border near Strasbourg (French: Strasbourg) and you can eat your fill of delicious Alsatian tarte flambée as a reward. At almost 80 kilometers, the tour is the longest so far, but today you can look forward to more descents than climbs, because after the first ten kilometers it's almost all downhill. The Rhine-Marne Canal will accompany you along your entire tour. The Véloroute 52 ensures the well-developed and car-free cycle paths.
Along old lock houses and through forests you will reach the city of Saverne after 28 kilometers, where you can strengthen yourself for the onward journey. Another 40 kilometers along the Canal de la Marne au Rhin you have already arrived in the outer areas of Strasbourg. Now you come to the point where the canal finally flows into the Rhine. Exploring Strasbourg by bike is a dream. In 2018, the city was even ranked fourth among the most bicycle-friendly cities in the world. The tour ends at the Rhine bridge in the direction of Kehl, but you can also turn off on your own beforehand and cycle through Strasbourg's great cycling network.
Your tenth stage of 80 kilometers begins with crossing the border from France and Germany over the Beatus-Rhenanus Bridge. The drive over the Passerelle des Deux Rives, which connects the two parks, is no less rewarding. Now the path leads to the Kinzig and directly afterwards to the Rhine, on whose idyllic banks you will cycle for the next 45 kilometers with one or the other bathing place. There are also numerous quarry ponds next to the Rhine, which entice you to cool off.
At Wintersdorf you leave the banks of the Rhine and cycle inland via Rastatt and through the boggy nature reserve Federbachbruch. From here, not much is missing to your stage destination Ettlingen, which awaits you with a pretty old town around the baroque castle.
In the meantime you have cycled yourself well and will master the upcoming stage of 83 kilometers to the beautiful city of Heidelberg with fantastic views and imposing castles. You cycle through forests, fields, small towns and past crystal-clear quarry ponds and nature reserves.
After 60 kilometers, the Paneuropean cycle path continues through the forest in a curve to Schwetzingen Castle with its magnificent castle garden. If you miss out on this magnificent highlight and want to save some distance, you can also take the Odenwald-Madonnen-Radweg and drive directly towards Heidelberg. The tour ends with a grandiose route along the Neckar and a great view of Heidelberg Castle. The university city, steeped in history, is definitely worth planning a stay here.
If you are ready to turn your back on Heidelberg, look forward to 88.8 kilometers along the banks of the Neckar to the Swabian wine town of Heilbronn. On the way through the hilly Neckar valley, you can expect several short, sometimes steeper climbs, which are well distributed over the whole route and thus provide variety and beautiful views. The route is mainly paved and paved and therefore easy to master.On the way you can enjoy the view of numerous castles, palaces and sandstone quarries that make your tour look like something out of a fairy tale book. You cross several small places on the Neckar, where you can get breaks and provisions. In Heilbronn you can expect Swabian cosiness paired with urban flair and you can end your tour with a regional wine or grape juice on the banks of the Neckar.
Today you say goodbye to the Neckar and it goes 60 kilometers through the Heilbronn and Waldenburger Bergland with no less fairy-tale castles, palaces and views of the valley. Small communities such as Bretzfeld, which you cross after 25 kilometers, offer you shopping opportunities for provisions. On the route you will find fantastic resting places with a view.
After another 15 kilometers you will reach the magnificent Neuenstein Castle. Here begins a longer ascent up to over 500 meters, where the climatic health resort of Waldenburg is located. Then you whiz the remaining ten kilometers down into the valley and your stage destination Schwäbisch Hall welcomes you with medieval flair and one of the most beautiful marketplaces in southern Germany.
Today's stage is best rested well rested and in good shape, because you cycle 72 kilometers at over 500 meters up through the Hohenlohe plain with a fabulous view of the Kocher valley. After 16 kilometers your first and longest climb begins, on which the view gets better and better. At Nesselbach you can look forward to a grand descent to the banks of the Jagst, where you can even hop into the water. Then it goes uphill again and through the shady Brüchlinger forest. Behind Billingsbach there is another bathing lake to cool off.Now you have almost 30 varied kilometers ahead of you, which will take you on forest and field paths through small villages and with extensive descents to the medieval old town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber. With half-timbered romance and a view of the Taubertal, you can end your tour in the Middle Franconian pearl and delight the hungry stomach with dumplings or spaetzle.
If you started from Paris, you will break the thousand mark today. Hats off! It continues for 83 kilometers with many descents to the happy city of Fürth. After you've climbed the "Lug ins Land", you can enjoy the view of the Tauber plain and continue cycling down the gentle slopes of the Middle Franconian region. Then it goes up a bit and you have the opportunity to stock up on your provisions in Flachslanden.
A long descent begins behind Neunstetten, so that you can almost let it roll to your destination. On the route you cycle over forest, meadow and field paths and you can discover a lot along the way. Your stage destination Fürth is home to the first German railroad that ran between Nuremberg and Fürth. The city also offers an exciting Jewish history and many green oases where you can rest your tired legs and end the stage.
Today you cycle 77 kilometers through the Upper Franconian country. Your tour begins along the Pegnitz and you drive through the picturesque city of Nuremberg and the Pegnitztal Ost nature reserve behind it. The first part of the route is largely flat with small elevations.After 45 kilometers, it slowly goes up again and you cycle up to the Schergenbuck with Neidstein Castle enthroned on it. Then a steep descent awaits you and you will soon reach the stage destination Sulzbach-Rosenberg, a ducal town with a long history and charming flair.
Your tour continues through the Palatinate. You cycle 68 kilometers to Neustadt an der Waldnaab, from where the Czech border is no longer far. It starts over forests, fields and cute communities of the Upper Palatinate. On great gravel forest paths, the whisper of the trees and the crunch of the tires become your background music.After 50 kilometers you will reach a castle restaurant with beer garden, where you can treat yourself to refreshments in a rustic atmosphere. You continue cycling along dream bike paths on the Waldnaab Valley bike route. The wild and romantic river will bring you to your destination, which awaits you with home-brewed Zoigl beer and hearty snacks.
Today the 56.7 kilometer stage takes you to the border between Germany and the Czech Republic, and you can decide on which side you want to end your tour. Let's go on the pretty Bocklradweg, which leads you for the next 40 kilometers in gentle curves through the wooded and hilly landscape. It is best to get your provisions in Neustadt, as the restaurants on the Bocklradweg are not open all the time.
Then you will be redirected from the no less beautiful Grünes Dach cycle path. This takes you to Eslarn, where you can experience the Zoigl beer culture again. It's a stone's throw from here to the border, and after six more kilometers you are already on Czech soil.
Your first tour through the Czech Republic begins today and you can look forward to an exciting route of 51 kilometers through the Upper Palatinate Forest to Kladrau. After about 20 kilometers through the mountainous forests you will reach the pretty town of Weißensulz (Bělá nad Radbuzou), where you can take a break and strengthen yourself.
We continue through wide meadows and forests. After a few kilometers you will reach a beautiful lake where you can cool off. After 25 kilometers, the Paneuropean cycle path takes you through Kladrau to the gates of the magnificent monastery, which can be visited by the public.
Today one of the most beautiful market places in Bohemia and the exciting cultural city of Pilsen are waiting for you. With an easy 48.8 kilometers you will have enough time for detours and exploring tours to where you like it best.
After you have climbed the mountain peak of Pořízek, you go back down to Mies, where the beautiful market square beckons for a first coffee break. We continue along the Mies river and over hills and valleys. You will soon reach your destination, Pilsen, which is not only the brewery for the famous Pilsner Urquell beer, but also the place of origin of the term “Pils”. But not only that, the city was European Capital of Culture in 2015 and as a university city has a lot to offer.
Today it's 61.8 kilometers up into the Brdy-Bergland and back down to the small community of Lochowitz in the valley. On the way out of Pilsen you can admire the Pilsner Urquell Brewery from the outside again. Behind the town the first small ascent begins with a descent past the Eipowitz dam.
Your 20-kilometer ascent begins behind Rokitzan, so you should get enough water and provisions here. On the descent you will encounter a short stretch of unpaved ground, which will shortly be reconciled with a great lake. Now you are about 20 kilometers into the valley to Lochowitz an der Littawa with a small castle that was converted from a late Gothic fortress in the Renaissance style.
It is hard to believe that you have already covered almost 1,500 kilometers through three countries and today you are starting your last 56.4 kilometers to Prague. But the time flies by on the bike and so today you will be rewarded with a lush descent into the valley. After 20 kilometers you will reach the town of Rewnitz and continue cycling along the picturesque banks of the Berounka.
About ten kilometers further you turn off the bank and cycle to the next river bank, the Vltava (Vltava). Here you will meet the Vltava cycle path, which will take you safely to the center of the capital Prague. The tour ends on the Bridge of the Legions, where you can enjoy a beautiful view of Prague. But your own tour of discovery through the exciting city is only just beginning!