Articles and Photos by David "Q." May                   All rights reserved ©2001-2007
Cycled summer 2001

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Route 3: The Marne River Meander

How to Bicycle Southeast from Paris

Cycling the Marne River bike path to the Marne Meander

Maps: Paris map, suburban map for southeast of Paris
Nature of the Ride:

Starting from Notre Dame, this circuit of 39 kilometers provides a pleasant ride along the close-in Marne River and the Marne meander, in the suburbs of Paris. The close-in Marne, and the Marne meander, are, on the whole, quite attractive, but  cannot equal the beauty of the Marne east of Joinville-le-Pont in ride #2. The author does not rate this ride within the top four.

To close the circuit of the Marne Meander (that is, to return to Paris without backtracking the entire loop) it is necessary to ride a couple of kilometers in light traffic.

Cycle path along Marne near Paris


The initial 8 kilometers of the ride can be used as a high speed alternative (perhaps 30 minutes faster from Notre Dame) to the Marne bridge at Joinville, to join itinerary #2, or as a high speed return from that itinerary to Paris.


As the route is entirely within the inner suburbs of Paris, it does not serve as an escape route for a longer trip, except as it links up with Route 2.



To print itinerary, select the text below, and choose print selection.

Please follow this link for an explanation of the author's traffic ratings.

Reaching the bicycle path of the Seine:  

(1) From the place before Notre Dame Cathedral:  Ride your bike on the street along the left side of Notre Dame, and across the bridge ahead , to the Ile Saint Louis.  Turn right along the Quai d’Orleans, which curves left, to the second bridge crossing right to the left bank of the Seine.  Cross the bridge, turn right into the bike lane, heading back towards Notre Dame on the Quai de la Tournelle for 50 meters, then turn right again to into the driveway leading down to the lower level. At the bottom of the driveway make a u-turn, and follow the lower bank southeastward.

Notre Dame viewed looking back from the lower quai bike route along the Seine.
Notre Dame viewed from Seine Cycle Path

(2) An alternative from the Left Bank: Take the bicycle lane on Boulevard Saint-Germain (to the southeast) until it ends at the roadway along the Seine (or otherwise bike, to where Boulevard Saint-Germain intersects the Seine in the fifth arrondissement).  Dismount, cross Boulevard Saint-Germain and walk your bike 30 meters east along the riverside sidewalk of the Quai.  At the opening in the low wall, ride left, down to, the bike path on the river embankment, and continue southeastward).

For both (1) and (2) stay down (left) under the Austerlitz bridge (that is, don't take the more obvious bike route that goes up the ramp to this bridge). When the bike path emerges at the Charles de Gaulle bridge, beside the Austerlitz railway station, turn left and cross the bridge to the right bank, using the traffic-free bike path.  Turn right and follow the bike path (separated from the road) along the Seine, out of Paris.

Bike path along the Seine near southeast edge of Paris:
Bike Path along the Seine

(3)From the Bastille: From the Bastille, ride southeast (with the Opera of the Bastille on your left) on Rue de Lyon (bike-bus lane) for 250 m, past where the road forks left. At the traffic light, cross to the left following the bicycle markings, continue in the same direction as before besides a traffic island on your left, and then going left around the island and right onto Avenue Daumesnil. Your bike lane runs on the right side of the street (behind a little barrier), against traffic, with its own stoplights; use great care in crossing these intersections, where oncoming vehicles often turn accross your path  After the end of the Viaduc des Arts, the very long buildings on your left, bear right onto the street crossing at a sharp angle, the Rue de Charneton, passing in front of the Mairie (city hall) of the 12th Arrondissement. In about 500 meters turn right at rue Proudhon, pass under the tracks and in 700 meters (after several name changes) attain the main eastbound bike path along the Seine just before the Pont de Tolbiac. Follow the bike path (separated from the road) along the Seine, out of Paris.

Pipeline-pedestrian bridge east of Paris. Bypass the bridge. On Route 4 you will cross it.
Bridge over Seine east of Paris

Continuation for all starts: Pass by the pedestrian bridge that crosses the Seine (leads to Route #4). At the confluence of the Seine and the Marne, opposite the unusual Chinagora Hotel and Restaurant, you pass a socer field on your right; just ahead, there is a small stadium  (the lane you are on will end in 50 meters).  Turn right after the field down a lane closed to traffic. The lane turns left behind the stadium. Follow this bicycle-walking path along the Marne River for about 5 kilometers to its end at a little square called the Place de l'Écluse in the town of Saint-Maur-des-Fosses. The isolated little neighborhood near the square is worthy of attention.

Angle diagionally left across the open area with soccer fields and tennis courts (the road on the right dead-ends). With the tennis courts on your right , follow a walking-biking path until it turns sharply left along a canal.  (Ahead of you you will see this Marne canal passing into a tunnel, from which it emerges, in 500 meters, at the Marne again, after the Marne's meander13 kilometers upstream!)  You are forced to turn left again, away from the canal and to continue up the ramp that exits the parking area (walk your bike, as it is one way against you). Turn right at the main road and in one block come to a traffic circle.

Here you can easily join Itinerary #2 in either direction, towards towards the the countryside or back to central Paris: 

(1)  To follow Ininerary #2 towards the countryside (east) along the Marne, take the first exit from the traffic circle, almost back in the direction you came from. In one block,just after the bridge over the canal turn left and ride up the long hill in light traffic (atop the tunnel that contains the canal).  Use the sidewalk if you are bothered by the traffic. When the road descends, at the Y, bear left, follow the curve to the left, and then turn right onto the bridge, “Pont de Joinville”.  Cross and follow the directions in Itinerary #2.

(2) To follow Itinerary #2 back to central Paris (west)take the third exit from the traffic circle, D214, Rue du Marçhal Leclerc.  Follow this under as it passes under the Autoroute, and immediately turn right onto the Route des Barrières.. Continue with the directions for returning to Paris in "Alternative 2" below.

  The Marne Meander:

Bike-pedestrian path along the Marne Meander.
Along the Marne Meander

From the traffic circle, take the first exit, almost back in the direction you came from. In one block, just after the bridge over the canal, immediately turn right onto Avenue Pierre Mendes France In about one long block turn right again onto a bike-pedestrian path which briefly parallels the road.  This  path turns left under the road bridge, passes over a little wooden footbridge (take note for your return trip), and emerges onto the "quai", or waterside road, now in the community of Saint-Maur-Des-Fossés. Follow the Marne meander for approximately 13 kilometers (note your odometer).

Roundpoint along the Marne Meander.

The first section of the road is rough, but bearable, with frequent raised traffic-bumps (sleeping policemen, the older French call them). When this section ends, for most of the ride, you will have a choice between a deliberately-curved road with light-traffic; or a paved, wide, pretty, bike-pedestrian sidewalk. In either case, your view is of charming small houses, of the Marne, and of some parks across the river.  You pass a few small restaurants, but no other commerce.

Return to Paris:

After you have passed under two rail bridges in St.-Maur, the next automobile bridge (route D45) and a "maison de retraite" (retirement home), continue for about 500 meters.  The road turns left and climbs atop the tunnel of the canal that bypasses the Marne Meandre.

At the traffic light, walk your bike across to the sidewalk on the far side, and push it up the hill on the sidewalk (the traffic is one way downhill).  At the top of the hill at a traffic light, cross the street, and ride downhill in the right lane of the now two-way street. At the next light pass by Avenue Saint-Maurice-du-Valais, then immediately turn right into the Rue of Maréchal Leclerc. (You were here before.) Pass through the traffic circle.

Alternative 1: To return the way you came out along the Marne, Take the second permitted left turn, which is one block before the huge highway overpass (sign: "Saint-Agnès-Gardien"). This brings you to the little square, the Place de l'Écluse, from which, at the back right (northwest), the Marne bike path returns to Paris.

Alternative 2: To return via the Bois de Vincennes and the Promenade Planté (which is the reverse of the exit from Paris described in Route 2) takes much longer but passes by scenic woods and lakes, and along a Paris greenway, the Promenade Plantée:

After the traffic circle of the rue de Maréchal Leclerc, continue on under the huge highway bridge.  Immediately turn right, cross behind the barrier, and ride uphill on the Route des Barrières, closed to motor traffic.  This comes to a path which parallels the Route de Gravelle.  Cross at the light, and follow the path until the Route de la Tourelle, closed here to traffic by a barrier on your right.Turn left. Check your trip computer. The route curves right.  After 1.8 km, turn left onto the Route Des Tribunes (gravel), and after 600 m, at a complex intersection bear left onto the paved Route Des Batteries. (To avoid the gravel by a longer trip, you can continue on the Route de la Torelle until it intersects with the Route des Batteries, where you make a u-turn to the left.)

Near the end of the Route des Batteries, angle right on a dirt path that arrives at the main street at a traffic light. Cross in the crosswalks and continue to the lake. Circle the lake counter-clockwise on the lakeside path, or just stay on the adjacent road, the Route de la Ceinture du Lac Daumesnil.  At the traffic lights just before the elevated highway, turn right.  Cross and follow the bike path along Avenue de Guyane.  These soon lead left under the highway, then right up a hill, and then left into the bicycle path of the Promenade Plantée.  Follow the bike path onto the allée Vivaldi, and then left and right onto Avenue Daumesnil.  The bike lanes along Avenue Daumesnil lead to the Bastille, from which you can attain the Seine, or other parts of Paris.

If it's nighttime, the gates leading into the Promenade Plantée will probably be closed.  In that case, simply follow the bike lanes of Avenue Daumesnil to the Rue de Lyon and the Bastille.

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