Published by Lyn on 1 March 2020
The Avenue Verte London to Paris bike route is one of France's busiest. Now, one of the most popular B&Bs on the route is up for sale. I caught up with current owner Madeleine to find out more.
** NOTE: THIS POST IS NOW OUTDATED **
WANTED: NEW OWNERS FOR BIKE-FRIENDLY B&B
Avenue Verte London to Paris bike route
23 Grand Rue, 76270 Mesnières-en-Bray (Seine Maritime, Normandy)
I've been recommending the 23 Grand Rue B&B in Mesnières-en-Bray, Normandy to cyclists for several years now. The B&B is only 150 metres from the Avenue Verte London to Paris bike route but, as importantly, the owner, Madeleine, has always made a special point of rolling out the red carpet for cyclists.
She's has her home open as a B&B (with also a self-catering barn) for 10 years and has seen the extraordinary growth in cycling in the north of France. Just 25km from the Dieppe ferry port, the area has become even more popular thanks to the 'official' London-Paris route passing through.
Now, reluctantly, Madeleine is looking to sell the property so she can move closer to family. But she doesn't want to just sell it to anyone: she is keen to pass it on to someone who wants to continue the house's B&B tradition, and she is especially keen to reach out to cyclists who fancy running it for other riders.
If that sounds like you, I've done the legwork for you to find out more about the house. Here's my Q&A with Madeleine.
What have you enjoyed most about living in Mesnières-en-Bray?
The kind welcome of our French neighbours and friends, and the relaxed French lifestyle, the superb view, and the healthy ex-pat community. Plus we're near both Rouen and Dieppe for culture and shopping. Neufchatel-en-Bray with it famous heart-shaped cheese is 5km away, and there's a magnificent Renaissance chateau in our village (pictured below). With Dieppe so close and Calais also only 1.5 hours away, it's handy for visiting friends and family in the UK.
In terms of guests, can you tell us about the kinds of cyclists you tend to get through?
I've had cyclists from every walk of life and country – even Australians who've flown their bikes over. A large proportion use the house as their first stop from Dieppe to Paris after taking the crossing from Newhaven. The Avenue Verte cycle path itself is only 100-150m from our door, so I get a lot of touring cyclists. But I also get groups that come every year to stay and cycle around the local hills and forest. All types – riders with support cars, groups of men in Lycra, families, people on tandems. This morning I had a lovely man who travelled down from the British Midlands – it was his second stay as he'd been before by car with his wife. I've noticed a big increase in cyclists in the last two years in particular.
Do you have any idea of the breakdown of guests in terms of nationalities?
I would say guests in general are 60% British, 15% French and then a mixture of Germans, Dutch and Scandinavians with a sprinkling of American, Japanese, Australian etc. Most of the cyclists are from the UK, while the French come up from Paris at the last minute when the weather is good.
What have you enjoyed about hosting cyclists?
They are such happy people – and they are hungry and appreciative of the food! I have facilities for drying clothes and the four rooms can take up to 9 people, so it's quite flexible in terms of single riders or small groups. We're also lucky in town because we have a very active Maire (mayor) who encourages tourists, including cyclists. The countryside is varied and there are lots of routes already mapped out. The village has an excellent cafe/shop, which our guests also enjoy. I think the house would be really appreciated by a cyclist-owner who was interested in welcoming like-minded riders.
In addition to the B&B there's a luxury converted barn 10 metres from the house and this provides more space and income, plus there's a long garage that could be converted into a full bicycle repair workshop, or even into a sales or bike hire outlet.
What will you miss most when you leave?
Everything – I've been so happy here, but now it's time to retire and move closer to family.
What else do we need to know if we are interested in buying the B&B?
As well as cyclists, a large percentage of our guests stop off on the way to holiday homes or holidays in the south of France, or across in Brittany. There is nearly a year-round trade from second home-owners, though the winter months are quieter. It's a thriving business, and we are busy without having to advertise on the big booking websites. If I did that, I'd be exhausted! The price is €400,000 and I would be happy to negotiate on furniture, fixtures and fittings so that the business could be handed over smoothly.