About an hour outside Paris, not too far from the historic town of Chartres, you can go for a self-powered ride along a decommissioned railway line that’s nearly reclaimed by nature.
Riding a special vélorail, or bike train, you pedal along a single stretch of track for just over 9 miles (14.5 kilometers), from Gallardon to Coltainville. The route is essentially, and quite beautifully, in the middle of nowhere.
It takes about an hour and 45 minutes to ride at a very leisurely pace. Along the way you’ll ride through fields, under road bridges, and natural “tunnels” formed out of trees and bushes. You might even see gliders taking off or landing in the airfield nearby.
The outbound journey is very slightly uphill, but you won’t break a sweat unless it’s a hot day. The ride back to the station at Pont-sous-Gallardon is therefore downhill all the way, so even if you are puffed out, you’ll easily get back to the station feeling just fine.