The foliage, and nothing but the foliage, for well over 25 kms from Paris to La Rosée in Claye Souilly along this tarred track running parallel to the "Canal de l'Ourcq" and built specially for cyclists. A real treat for nature-lovers! If you want to go another 25 kilometres further you can continue from Claye Souilly to Meaux (it's an unforgettable experience) make sure you bring along your little rubber patches for any "eventualities" as the trail is no longer tarred but quite rugged. This stretch is, however, not recommended for everybody due to the toughness of the terrain. And don't forget that if you intend to return to Paris the same day you'll have to multiply the distance (and time!) by 2!
This bike path leaves Paris at Porte de la Villette. Take the side of the canal opposite "La Geode", go in the direction of the overhead bridge ("Cabaret Sauvage"), enter the tunnel at the very end (Pont de la rue Delizy, Pantin) and you are on the right track!
At Pantin, you will have to gather momentum to cross a bridge that takes you to the other side of the Canal de l'Ourcq. You will soon be in Bobigny and at times you will be cycling next to the subway ("métro" in French) as it flashes by. But don't worry there is a wired fence protecting you from it! Soon you will be passing by the huge public park of Bobigny (Parc départemental de la Bergère) before entering Noisy Le Sec and Bondy. Next comes Les Pavillons-sous-Bois and if you continue you will arrive at the little town of Sevran with its quiet railway station. You are now deep in the green countryside - and yet hardly an hour ago you were still in heavily-polluted Paris! A most spectacular scenery awaits you from here to the entrance of the "Parc Forestier de Sevran" (If you are not able to return to Paris on your bicycle for whatever reason there is a RER station "Vert-Galant" near this forest park). Make sure you turn left before the end of the long track that cuts across this forest park (the small signboard is hardly visible). The next town you will pass by on your way to Claye Souilly is Villeparisis. This is really a quaint little town with a charming and colourful Sunday market.
If you are prepared to spend the whole day on your cycling promenade and you have forgotten to bring along your picnic lunch then you must make a stop here. There is a stand that sells the paella and another stall nearby where you can buy roasted chicken and French fries. If you don't get your supply of food and drinks here you will not be able to buy anything further on the way, not even a can of coke. (Note: There is a McDonald's opposite the Hopital J. Verdier near Les Pavillons-sous-Bois, but that is already way behind you!)
Up to now you have been cycling on the right side of the canal. But when you reach the Villeparisis open market you have to cross over to the left side of the canal as from here on the right side is no longer tarred.
If you are not used to cycling for more than an hour or if you suffer from dizziness, you are not advised to go further than the Parc Forestier de Sevran. This is because from there to Villeparisis there are sharp corners and lots of steep and tortuous slopes (both uphill and downhill) that can play havoc with your thighs and tax your sense of equilibrium. However if you are adventurous enough don't let this deter you as I have seen children with their parents as well as frail women on bicycles along this stretch.
All along this bike path do keep an eye on joggers and people on rollers. Don't run into them please! Also remember that here in France you keep to your right, not your left!
If you speak French you might like to visit this site which will give you further information about the Canal de l'Ourcq.
Map No. 1 Map No. 2 For earlier photos