Images: Chris Henry
Paris is not a city that typically prompts a need for escape, yet to get out and discover the open roads of the surrounding countryside is a treat for any fan of French cycling. The ambience of the Tour de France, Paris-Roubaix, and other great French races is the perfect fuel for a ride.
To the south and west of Paris lies the classic Vallée de Chevreuse, with its wooded and hilly routes and hints of Versailles and the great royal palaces. To the east one finds more of a workingman's route: flatter, windier, with ample sprinklings of pavé to rattle the bike and the bones.
These images take you on that route, exiting Paris via the Canal de l'Ourcq before emerging into quiet, wide-open spaces. The canal offers a steady warm-up, easing from urban activity through the suburbs, into the forest, and ultimately out on the plains.