Oh the excitement! IGN has released a new version of a map showing all designated véloroutes and voies vertes for cycling in France. Here's how to get your hands on a copy.
If there's anything to get the travel bug itching, it's the thought of spreading out a nice old-fashioned map on the floor and dreaming of where the little coloured lines might take you.
IGN – that's the Institut Géographique National – are the official French mapping gurus responsible for making sure we all get to where we want to be going (they are the French equivalent of the UK's Ordnance Survey).
And they have just released a new version of their Véloroutes et voies vertes de France map.
You can get it:
Here for the UK and worldwide (£9.50) – this is the link for the excellent Stanfords travel bookshop and they ship worldwide for those of you living elsewhere.
The map – number 924 in IGN's extensive catalogue if you're ever needing to seearch for it – features all current official long-distance bike routes and green way paths in the country, including all the EuroVelo routes in France and the many smaller greenway routes that criss-cross the country.
The map shows the official number of each bike route and how it interacts with main roads. It also marks the type of surface the route uses.
It's also interactive in that it includes reference codes so that maps for each of the individual sections can be downloaded in more detail from the IGN website. These codes are called QR codes.
IGN have essentially taken their ridiculously detailed road map of France and overlaid bike routes, railway stations, and brief descriptions of selected trails.
It's worth noting also that it's possible to download individual sections of regular IGN maps by going to the website, choosing the type of map you want and then zooming into the locality you're after.
You pay per download/section rather than having to buy the whole map, which is really handy for day rides as the downloads are more detailed than standard area maps (and they take up less space in your pocket).
This functionality is available from the 'carte à la carte' section of the IGN website.
Thanks to cyclist Gerry Wells for this 'carte à la carte' info. We met Gerry, Janet and their dog Harris on their tandem just outside of Domfront when we cycled La Velo Francette.