Are you coming to Lille or the north of France for a weekend and you love cycling?
Are you here on a cycling pilgrimage for the Tour of Flanders and the Queen of the Classics aka Paris-Roubaix? Or maybe to attend a track cycling championship at the STAB Vélodrome in Roubaix? If so, then you must be a bit of a cycling fanatic! …Right? 😉
So here are 21 cycling activities for you to do in Roubaix.
Some pretty obvious and unmissable touristic attractions around the historic Paris-Roubaix velodrome of course, but also some unique and original ideas you wouldn’t have thought of! Because it takes a local to know about these things 😉
To be done in this order, backwards or completely random, here are my ideas (and little secrets) as a Roubaisienne, of cycling activities to do in Roubaix for bicycle lovers.
🍒🍒🍒 BONUS: there’s an interactive map at the end of the article with all the spots mentioned here!
1- Ride on the historic velodrome
The André Pétrieux velodrome, or outdoor velodrome, which serves as the finish line for the Paris-Roubaix race, is often open to the public.
➝ So take the opportunity to kiss the finish line, which has seen legendary cyclists such as Fausto Coppi, Louison Bobet, Eddy Merckx, Roger De Vlaeminck… and more recently Tom Boonen, Peter Sagan or Mathieu Van der Poel !
➝ Ride the « côte d’azur », then tickle the red and black lines to shiver on the 31° incline track, until the bell rings… ding ding ding, final lap! The crowd goes wild in the Raymond Poulidor grandstands!
2- Take a photo of the maxi cobble at the entrance to the André Pétrieux velodrome.
Photo credit: La France à Vélo
Can you resist the call of a selfie with a big stone? 😜 A true emblem of the mythical race, the cobblestone is obviously entitled to its own monument and stands proudly at the entrance to the Roubaix velodrome track.
➝ How much do you think it weighs? Considering that the winner’s cobblestone already weighs 26lbs / 12kg… 😉
3- Admire the monumental paintings of legendary Paris-Roubaix winners
Our eyes are always riveted on the track at the Roubaix velodrome, but there’s a little surprise on the outside, behind the the grandstand. 👀
You’ll find portraits of the greatest cyclists who have braved the cobblestones of the Hell of the North.
And if you want to collect them like Panini trading cards, there’s also one in the lobby of the STAB Vélodrome (the more recent indoor velodrome).
4- See the last cobble section of Paris-Roubaix
Welcome to the Roubaix Walk of Fame 😜!
Just like in Hollywood, except that it’s not concrete stars, but plaques with the names of all Paris-Roubaix winners that are placed on the last cobble sector, or Secteur #1, for purists…
➝ You can go treasure hunt on Avenue Roger Salengro, which precedes the velodrome, and to try to find the plaque of your favorite rider.
5- Visit the legendary showers at the Roubaix velodrome
These are certainly the most famous showers in the world!
After the finish line, they’re the second mandatory stop for the pros, often dusty or covered in mud, depending on the April weather.
It’s an old-fashioned place but it’s also very photogenic and soaked in history.
The 24 showers are not open to the public. They can only be visited with a guide. I advise you to contact the Roubaix tourist office, which will direct you to the appropriate guides.
During your visit, you’ll learn why these showers were built, you’ll have goose bumps just to think of all the emotions released here after the effort, whether tears of happiness or the ultimate disappointment of second place on the podium… and you’ll have fun finding the cubicle of an « intruder » among the 90.
Unfortunately, ladies (and gentlemen, inclusivity obliges), it’s highly unlikely that you’ll come across shapely calves and thighs being soaped… sigh.
6- Visit the Museum Des Amis du Paris-Roubaix
While we’re on the subject of history and culture, let’s follow up with a visit to the Musée Des Amis de Paris-Roubaix.
Les Amis du Paris-Roubaix is an association that repairs and maintains the cobbled sectors, among other things.
➝ To make an appointment, fill in the form on this page lesamisdeparisroubaix.com/musee
7- Try out the track at the Stab indoor velodrome
Looking for speed and height? I’ve got the perfect place for you:
➝ The Jean Stablinski velodrome, or STAB, right next to the historic velodrome.
It opened in 2012 under UCI standards. It becomes regularly the playground of the pros and you may be lucky enough to come across, since the STAB is one of the official training velodromes for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
But you don’t have to be a pro to ride the track and its 40°+ slope, as they offer track experience for beginners.
➝ To book a first-time track session, go to: http://stabvelodromeroubaix.fr
Chills, sweat and thrills guaranteed! But don’t worry, their instructors will do their utmost to ensure your safety.
8- Build and weld your own bike frame
In Roubaix, we’re super lucky to have a great artisanal bike frame builder.
Andreas who created La Fraise Cycles, has set up shop and workshop at Le Non-Lieu, which is a former factory.
In the forge of this former textile factory, he creates bespoke bicycle frames and also offers courses in building your own bike. Gravel, randonneuse, tandem, trail bike, Andreas can make it all from his steel tubes.
9- Discover paintings of cyclists at Museum La Piscine
The Museum “La Piscine” is a must-see for all art lovers. With over 250,000 visitors a year, you can’t go wrong.
And even if you’re not a museum rat, it’s worth it just to stroll through the old shower cubicles (showers again!) and around the pool surrounded by statues! Once you’ve been dazzled by the incredible stained-glass window in the main room, set off in search of the paintings of cyclists. They’re pretty well hidden, but well worth the detour! I love their cycling outfits! That was before all the sponsor logos…
So get lost in the museum to find them, and learn more about Roubaix’s heritage. You’ll see, it’s the most beautiful museum in the world! Chauvinistic? No, realistically, you’ll be telling me all about it 😉
10- Test a cargo bike made in Roubaix
In Roubaix, we love revamping our old factories buildings! The Ateliers de la Teinturerie have been transformed into artists’ studios, and among those artists is Baptiste, who has created Bobbie Cargo.
➝ So if you like steel tubes and atypical locations, you’re in for a treat!
➝ Get in touch with him and book a slot to test one of his cargo bike models in Roubaix.
11- Go gravel biking with Roulez Roubaix
What’s better than riding with locals to discover a new location?
Roulez Roubaix is a chill social ride at an average speed of 16-18km/h, departing from Roubaix’s Grand Place. Perfect for discovering the surrounding area, a minimum of one paved sector per ride, heading for Belgium, Parc du Héron, les 6 Bonniers, Wervicq, Templeuve and the list goes on.
➝ It’s often on Wednesday evenings, between 35 and 45km of gravel depending on the mood.
➝ And sometimes on weekends for longer outings.
➝ They share their traces on Insta and Facebook, more info on roulezroubaix.cc
If your schedule does not fit theirs, you can also take one of their trails, like this one, which takes you around Roubaix with some interesting viewpoints: http://komoot.com/tourderoubaix.
12- Try an RPM / spinning / indoor cycling class
Rp-what? RPM or indoor cycling is indoor cycling in ultra-sporty mode.
In the dark, with the music blasting, all you have to do is follow the coach’s instructions and pedal your heart out. Perfect for clearing your head.
➝ Free trial session at OneFitnessClub in downtown Roubaix.
13- Browse and indulge for a cycling book
The Roubaix Tourist Office is a real nugget! Not only is it a great source of information on the town, but their store is also packed with carefully selected accessories, objects and decorations… and very often locally made.
And of course, since cycling is one of the pillars of the city’s heritage, it’s the perfect place to pick up a book on the subject.
➝ And to top it all off, they have a terrace at the back where you can relax with a juice and leaf through your new book.
14- Discover Street Art in Roubaix, by bike!
Roubaix is big! Roubaix is full of abandonned factories! Roubaix is full of artists!
So if you shake it up like a can of spray paint, you’ve got a city of expressive walls 😉
Street art is everywhere, in the smallest nooks and crannies, but above all in hidden and remote places. Whether it’s international artists like JonOne, C215, Jef Aérosol or more local ones like Des Friches et des Lettres, Collectif Renart, LEM or Benjamin Duquenne, they’ve all left their mark!
Cycling is the best way to discover all the murals hidden around the city. A 12km route (approx. 1h30) is available for free on Cirkwi, so you won’t miss a single artwork.
➝ Here’s the link: cirkwi.com/circuit-street-art-velo-roubaix
Practical info: if you don’t have a bike, you can rent one from V’lille or contact the Roubaix tourist office for a bike loan.
15- Sleep at La Maison Bleue in Roubaix
If you’re looking to stay in a premium hotel with character, this is the place for you!
A guesthouse in the center of Roubaix. Christophe, the urban innkeeper as he likes to call himself, is a cycling fan, and you’ll see it in the decor. The names of the rooms pay tribute to Roubaix landmarks, and one of them is called « Paris & Roubaix ».
The Maison Bleue in Roubaix is also the starting point for the Gravelman Flanders. There’s plenty of space for bikes, and if you don’t have your own, Christophe can provide you with electrically-assisted bikes.
➝ Christophe often plays host to pro cycling teams who come to train at the velodrome, so you might be lucky enough to sleep in champion’s sheets 😉
16- Ride the Carré Bleu between France and Belgium
Credit : Carré Bleu
Want to stroll along the canals of the region from Roubaix?
Let me introduce you to the Carré Bleu (blue square) circuit. It is a cross-border cycling circuit along the canals in France and Belgium, hence the blue.
➝ The circuit is a 90 km loop on the paths of the main rivers banks of the Eurometropole: the Deûle, the Lys, the Bossuit-Kortrijk Canal, the Scheldt, the Espierres Canal and the Roubaix Canal.
➝ You can download the map and the GPS on the Blue Square website : Carré bleu.
17- Drink a Kwaremont at the Hôtel de France
If you have ridden the Carré Bleu, sweated as it should in RPM, pedalled on the velodrome or even during an outing with Roulez Roubaix, you will have deserved a little comfort after the effort!
➝ So head to the Grand Place de Roubaix for a drink on the terrace at the Hôtel de France.
➝ Grab the waiter and order a Kwaremont, it’s THE beer of cyclists.
Their logo is a slope of 6.6%… and it’s also the degree of alcohol of the beer. How smart the belgian brewers are! And in addition, there’s a small detail on the foot of the 25-33cl glass, there are engraved cobbles ! To consume with moderation of course!
18- Getting a cycling cap at VERA
… actually a GAPETTE ! Well yes, I could not NOT include myself in this list of things to do on the theme of cycling in Roubaix!
As I have many models of cycling caps, I let you make your pre-shopping on my online store.
You will see there are gapettes, musettes, neck warmers made in the north of France and also cycling socks knitted in Roubaix.
And who knows, I may have another secret or two of cycling activities to do in Roubaix to share with you in real life! 😉
19- Search for a second hand bike accessory
The city of Roubaix is a pioneer of zero waste and sustainable development in France, so it is quite natural that the Recyclerie has decided to install a new antenna here.
And since bargain-hunt is a regional sport with all the famous garage-sales, you may find a rare piece or something to equip yourself with in 100% second hand.
➝ There are not only bike accessories at the Recyclerie Sportive, all sports are represented.
20- Buy « ravito » and then take your bike to a picnic
So here’s a two-step suggestion:
1. Go to l’ Âne Hilare (my beloved and adorable neighbours) to get some good food (there is everything for an aperitif: snacks, sausages, delicious hummus, beers…) and these are only local products, all deliciouuus. If you want to play it simpler, they also offer very good sandwiches with vegetarian options.
2. Then hop on your bike to the Parc Barbieux to put down your picnic towel and enjoy your food findings. The park is so beautiful that you’ll definitely want to have a stroll around.
21- Pamper or repair your bike
If during your stay in Roubaix you have a problem with your bike and you need to repair your bicycle here are several addresses that can serve you:
➝ Le Busabiclou : workshop at 11 rue du Stand de tir à Roubaix + on the road with the bus – email@example.com – +33 (0)6 38 04 56 27 – www.busabiclou.org
➝ L’Autre Cycle Atelier Vélo : open on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 am to 4 pm and on Thursdays from 9 am to 12 pm, 78 rue du grand chemin in Roubaix – +33 (0)3 20 70 14 51 – online flyer
➝ Maison du Vélo Roubaix : 20 rue de Lille, Roubaix : Repair assistance workshop, every Saturday morning from 9 am to 1 pm – +33 (0)6 41 94 65 68 – firstname.lastname@example.org – they’re on facebook
And if it’s to boost your tires, I have a foot pump at VERA 😉
There you have it, with all these ideas for cycling activities to do in Roubaix, you should be pumped to visit this city I’ve fallen in love with! 💙
And as promised above, here’s a bonus interactive map to find all the activities of this list – you’re welcome!