As well as being a great destination in its own right, Charleville can be a start or end (or middle) point on a ride along EuroVelo Route 19, depending just how far you want to cycle!
The EuroVelo route 19 was launched in March 2019, and is the first new route to be added to EuroVelo in over 3 years. The full route stretches 1100km across three countries, France, Belgium and The Netherlands. The route follows the River Meuse from its source on the Langres Plateau, south east of Charleville in Northern France, to its mouth on the Dutch North Sea.
The route passes through Charleville and across the beautiful Ardennes Region. We did a short 20km section of the route from Bogny sur Meuse back into Charleville.
Our journey to Bogny sur Meuse on the Train
It was a drizzly start to our day on a crisp Autumn morning in September. Our hire bikes from Ardennes Roues Libres had been delivered to our hotel Le Dormeur du Val, along with helmets, so we grabbed our bikes and headed across the road to the train station.
Charleville-Mézières train station
We had bought our tickets in advance, but the train was very quiet, despite it being at what we thought would be a peak commuter time of 8am, but perhaps most people would be coming into the city at that time rather than leaving. You could easily purchase your ticket on the day too.
We hopped on the train with our bikes no problem and watched the green scenery roll past on our way to Bogny Sur Meuse. It was two stops out of Charleville and took around 15 minutes on the train.
We arrived in the rain and sat at the station to tuck into our first bakery treat, a delicious Gallete á suc, one of the few local Charleville and Ardennes delicacies we tried. The Gallete á suc was actually first created in Bogny Sur Meuse by a baker called Jean Dundin in the 1950s, so we were in a perfect spot to enjoy it!
The famous sugar tart
Breakfast in Bogny
We sat and enjoyed out breakfast at the station under cover from the rain before setting off on our 20km journey back to Charleville. We exited the station and walked the first few hundred yards with our bikes along the road and across the bridge before joining the riverside EuroVelo 19 route.
Even the bicycle is represented in the corner
Bogny Sur Meuse came into existence when the villages of Château-Regnault-Bogny, Braux and Levrézy merged in 1967. There are a few places to visit in the town, including a chateau, a museum of minerals and fossils and a number of boulangeries to stock up on pastries and cakes if you don’t have a chance to buy them ahead of time.
The EuroVelo Route 19 cycle path
We were on a tight schedule so headed straight to the cycling path. It is an easy bike ride running on the flat right by the river, with only a couple of very small gradients along the way. Even taken at a very leisurely pace the full route from Bogny sur Meuse back to Charleville wouldn’t take much more than 3-4 hours and that’s if you’re including a stop off for a Chocolate Chaud!
The Meuse River runs along the way.
We stopped a number of times en route, mainly to take photos of the river and its bird life on the water or the trees turning golden shades of orange and yellow for Autumn.
Our first stop was about 100 yards outside of Bogny (told you we stopped a lot ;)) when we spotted some outside exercise equipment.
There’s nothing to stop you from getting a little extra exercise
As if we weren’t doing enough leg exercises with 20km of cycling we hopped on for a quick go before moving swiftly on and focusing all our energy on our ride!
We only passed about 3 other people on our journey to Charleville until we got within about a mile of Charleville where a few people were walking along the river. I’d imagine in the middle of summer it might be a little busier, but it felt like a peaceful and beautiful place to be enjoying a morning stroll or cycle.
The route is great as you can cycle along as much or as little as you want. For a short round trip you could cycle to the village of Nouzonville and back which we passed through half way between Bogny and Charleville. You can also get the train one stop to Nouzonville and just cycle back from there (approximately 11km).
The route took us past wildlife and animals the whole way down the path and, other than when passing through the village of Nouzonville and arriving into Charleville, we didn’t see any cars and very few houses.
Cycling is a great way to be able to see all the wildlife close up while still keeping up a decent pace and covering a lot more ground in a day than walking. Being an animal lover I did have to keep stopping along the route to say hello to the donkeys and horses and deer we passed.
Even on our bikes we meet our animal friends.
We stopped opposite a small farm and near a couple of handsome horses for a snack break. Time to eat some more delicious local bakery items. This time a Gâteau Mollet and Le Petit Carolo. I barely got a look in on Le Petit Carolo as Olly had gobbled it down in seconds with murmurings ‘of mm this is delicious’!
The famous calf cake
A little break
Le Petit Carolo is a much sweeter dessert with a creamy praline filling, compared to the Gâteau Mollet which is more of a cakey bread and I can imagine would be extra good with a dollop of cream or dipped into a chocolate chaud. Sadly we weren’t anywhere near a café and hadn’t packed a flask, so had to make do with our water bottles and cake. We weren’t complaining though, the sun had come out and we enjoyed tucking into our Ardennes treats!
After our break we continued on, passing a canal lock and a couple of cute cottages by the water’s edge and a few more deer in a field to our right.
The final stretch of our trip took us through Charleville before returning to our hotel to drop off the bikes. We met a couple of fellow British cyclists who were starting their journey in Charleville and had got a bit lost going round in circles in the town.
Up to arriving in Charleville the route was very easy to navigate, simply following the path along the river, but it can get a bit confusing when you reach the city, but we managed to get back to our hotel ok. Hopefully the people we met found their way too!
Just before we returned to the hotel we passed by four beautiful Arthur Rimbaud murals on the large walls of a housing estate. There are a number of murals around the town each by a different street artist inspired by a one of Arthur Rimbaud’s poems. They are all unique and colourful and are a great way to inspire others to read his poetry or learn about Arthur’s short but interesting life.
You can find art in the city
We thoroughly enjoyed our bike ride and it felt a good amount of exercise without being too strenuous on holiday. It’s great that there are so many options for cycling around Charleville so whatever your ability there is something for you, whether it is continuing further along the EuroVelo route or around the Ardennes.
Useful information about our cycling route
- Route: EuroVelo Route 19 Bogny sur Meuse to Charleville
- Route length: approximately 20km
- Ability: Easy
- Access: get a train from Charleville to Bogny sur Meuse or cycle there and back
- Train info: about 14 trains a day run from Charleville to Bogny sur Meuse, you can book on the day or ahead of time via Trainline. Trains cost approximately £3
- Interesting stops: Bogny sur Meuse Chateau, Nousonville Town, The four peaks symbolising the Four Sons of Aymon.
Where else does the EuroVelo route 19 take you?
The full EuroVelo route takes you through some magical parts of the Ardennes, Northern France and across Belgium and the Netherlands. If you wanted a bigger cycling adventure to the one we did there is any number of combinations you could do.
Start at the source
The EuroVelo 19 route starts at the source of the river Meuse in village of Pouilly-en-Bassigny in Haute-Marne. You will cycle along the river through a range of architecture heritage sites, including the birth place of Joan of Arc. You will also ride by a number of fortifications and if you have time could head off the path to the Verdun battlefield.
If you continue on towards Charleville you will pass along country roads. Make sure you make time to stop at the European Museum of Beer at Stenay, which would make a change from all the wineries nearby.
Charleville to Sedan
If you are after a slightly bigger cycling adventure when staying in Charleville, cycling to Sedan and back could be an ever so slightly more strenuous bike ride. The route passes along the old towpath where there is no motorised traffic and you will see a range of different landscapes.
It’s about 50km there and back so you could easily do it in a day with time to visit Sedan’s Castle, the largest fortified castle in Europe.
If you prefer a more leisurely trip you could do a small detour to Pont á-Bar, a popular spot with boaters and then head on to Sedan to spend the night before returning back to Charleville the next day.
The hotel restaurant does excellent food and if you’re visiting on a Saturday you could head to the Sedan Indoor Market to stock up on fresh food for your return journey.
Through the French and Belgium Ardennes
The word Ardennes means ‘dense forest’ in Celtic, so if it’s more forest cycling that interests you the journey from Charleville and all the way through both the French and Belgium Ardennes could be perfect. Especially during a hot week in summer, the forest will add some shade from the midday sunshine.
You will pass through Givet, the ‘gateway to France’, a busy village dominated by the huge Charlemont Citadel. The river continues to meander through the Belgium Ardennes until you reach Namur.
The route is over 100km so you would probably want to break it up with a stay somewhere en route too.
Maastricht is a historical Dutch city that could be a good base to cycle more of the route in day stints. The city on the river has a mixture of old and new architecture and a number of riverside restaurants and bars to keep you well entertained in the evening.
During the day you can cycle between The Netherlands and Belgium, visiting different waterways and stopping in charming hamlets hidden between hills and farmland.
Rotterdam is a popular tourist destination in its own right and the start or end of the full EuroVelo 19 route. A large port city you can learn about the city’s maritime history and the cycle route takes you to sea along some of the waterways and back into the city.
The city is also a lively student town, well known for its Erasmus programme and filled with quirky cafes and bars.
If you head inland from Rotterdam you quickly come to the city of Dordrecht or head further into the countryside, through the National Park de Biesbosch and continue through Holland, Belgium and France before eventually returning back to Charleville… where we started this journey.
EuroVelo route 19 stretches over 1000km and Charleville is just one stop off on the wider route. However unless you have a week or two to spare to do the whole route then I highly recommend Charleville as a base for some short half day, full day or overnight trips on your journey along the river Meuse!