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Route 60: Cycling around Europe. Stories about all of us.

Jean Dujardin, a Journalist living in Belgium decided for the 60th birthday of the European Union, to challenge himself and go on a cycle tour across Europe and Tunisia for several months. Read on to find out more about Jean's adventure on the EuroVelo 3, 4, 6, 7, 8 and 10.
Route 60: Cycling around Europe. Stories about all of us.

© Jean Dujardin

One year ago I decided to go on a several month cycle trip. One may think I have always been travelling with a bike, but I haven’t. I used to cycle to work every day in Brussels and I went on small cycle trips before. I have always loved the freedom that comes with cycling: a quick stop on the way to work to get a coffee. So why not leave it all behind for a while and have that cup of coffee in Stockholm or in Patras?

I have been living in Brussels for more than 15 years and I have always felt there was European identity. As the European Union celebrated its 60 years of existence in 2017, I decided to experience the freedom of travel brought by the region years ago. I wanted to see Europe and the Europeans with this in mind.

It took some months for me to be well prepared for the trip. I bought a bike in a kit, in a Brussels cycling Association and mounted it with the help of one its professional. My main concern for a hassle free trip was to have the right bike and enough skills so that I could face possible technical problems. The idea was to cycle around Europe…with no specific route in mind. So off I went in May 2017 for a cycle trip around mainland Europe and Tunisia.

© Jean Dujardin© Jean Dujardin

Netherlands - Sweden - Denmark

The « fietspunten » in the North of the Netherlands is a good start point for a short or a longer journey by bike. Those superb cycling lanes brought me where I wanted to be: Sweden and Denmark. They are perfect places for wild camping. I followed the EuroVelo 3 – Pilgrims Route in Denmark and the EuroVelo 10 – Baltic Sea Cycle Route to Stockholm. It was already June when I arrived. I was very lucky to be there on Saturday 24th of June as Scandinavia was celebrating « Midsommar » a Midsummer festival. During this weekend the city turned into one big festival!

In a densely populated country like Belgium it is hard to cycle in silence but it is easy to find a cycle path far enough from the main road to enjoy the ride. Scandinavia is the other way around:  I was often cycling on well signed EuroVelo Routes that followed asphalt roads. However, I only saw a few cars. A cyclist doesn’t need much time to adapt to the Northern light and huge horizons.

Finland - Lithuania

A shuttle brought me from Stockholm to Turku in Finland. From there I went to the South of the Baltic countries. I cycled from Tallinn to Kaliningrad via the EuroVelo 10 – Baltic Sea Cycle Route. The landscapes were stunning and the cities vibrant. The region is getting more and more popular amongst cycle tourists. I saw a lot of constructions under way, EuroVelo users will soon get to enjoy separate cycle lanes.

© Jean Dujardin© Jean Dujardin

Lithuania – Kaliningrad

Cycling from Lithuania to Kaliningrad was also a great experience. The beaches and the landscapes were amazing. To cross the border separating the two countries, I had to wait two hours. The route infrastructure was not fully developed in Russia, but it did not matter as I received a warm welcome from the Russians.

Poland

In Poland I followed the Greenvelo cycle path that crosses the country mainly from West to East. A rest areas that consist of a bench and a table (and sometimes toilets too) await cyclists every 20 km along the way. It is not easy to get lost as the roads are well sign posted. Without any map on my bike I reached the Ukrainian border to head to Kiev. It was late summer and Eastern Europe was still full of summer vibes.

Ukraine

EuroVelo 4 - Central Europe Route to Kiev is not developed yet but Ukraine’s capital is quite easy to reach as the roads are flat. The Ukrainians are very warm people always happy to welcome cyclists. Every village has a life of its own and some farmers offered me to put my bike on their horse-drawn carriage. However I preferred cycling…As summer was coming to an end it was time for me to head south, to Albania.

© Jean Dujardin© Jean Dujardin

Albania – Moldova – Romania – Serbia - Greece

I crossed Moldova and Northern Romania to end up on the EuroVelo 6 - Atlantic Black Sea in Southern Romania. The colours were changing and the temperatures were dropping in September. It was still perfect for cycling. My bike trip went on through the Balkans partially on the EuroVelo 6 to Belgrade and EuroVelo 8 – Mediterranean Route to Patras. Cycling in Eastern Europe doesn’t look is not the same like in Scandinavia. The latter is more adventurous but I wanted to explore both Northern and Southern Europe. It was full of great encounters and emotions!

Italy

An overnight boat trip to Southern Italy brought me on the sunny side of Europe, even in November. EuroVelo 7 - Sun Route is a superb cycle itinerary though the small villages and vineyards of Calabria. But I couldn’t help it, Tunisia was not so far away and was very appealing.

© Jean Dujardin© Jean Dujardin

Tunisia

I cycled there from its coastline to the first Sahara dunes. It was the perfect detour before cycling back to Europe.

France

I cycled home on the EuroVelo 4 - Central Europe Route which runs through Normandy. It was also a travel through time and history.  It was an amazing experience.

© Jean Dujardin© Jean Dujardin

EuroVelo is probably one of Europe’s best kept secret. It is perfect for a great and unforgettable trip whether it is only for a weekend or a trip of a lifetime like the one I did. I was surprised how the locals easily showed me the right way during my trip. A lot of Regions of Europe are promoting ‘their’ part of the EuroVelo network. It boosts local and cooperative economy along the way. The EuroVelo Network is a never ending project that brings people closer. I can only recommend it.

 

To find out more about Jean's cycle trips, take a look at his blog