From Paris to get to Berlin, you have to pedal 1047 km. With some lovely climbs along the way, if we are to believe Hexplo, who details the entire track profile in a graph, such as those dissecting each stage of the Tour de France. The site promises 93% of paved roads, including 43% of bike paths, 9% of small side roads and 48% of roads qualify as “quiet.”
Hexplo automatically offers a quiet program, in 22 days, with a coverage of 42 kilometers per day. This is the silent mode, but it is possible to change this daily ration. From Sports Mode (in 11 days) to Family Mode (105). Depending on the chosen speed, the route calculator each time presents a detailed plan, on a map, of your stages.
The future is in cycling vacations.
Behind Heexplo, which was officially launched at the end of April, we find Emmanuel Braault, 23, from Boulogne-Billancourt. A recent graduate of Lille’s Central Engineering School — “with a course focused heavily on entrepreneurship,” he explains, the young man was quick to dive into the deep end. By founding his first company in his field of passion: bike tourism. He says: “It was the first trip to Rochelle Bordeaux, in 2018, with a friend. I loved him. I didn’t think I would be so far and so separated by staying so close to Paris.”
Burgundy will follow by bike, then Saint Malo – Morlix, Amsterdam – Paris or even Paris – Bordeaux. Several trips that will assure him in his idea that “the future is in cycling vacations”, just because he has the advantage of having a very good carbon footprint. Increasingly common conviction? The Ministry of Economy welcomes “France now ranks second as a global destination for cycling tourism after Germany, with more than nine million bike trips annually.” Florent Tejo, project manager at France Vélo Tourisme, an association that supports communities in promoting their bike paths, added that the Covid-19 crisis has amplified this phenomenon. As evidence of this, attendance records for his site: “more than 111% between 2019 and 2021,” he declared, estimating that the increase will continue this year.
Calculate your route, but also find accommodation…
It remains to make life easier for those vacationers on bikes, especially when they want to leave “EuroVélo”, these well-marked major routes such as Loire à Vélo, Vélodyssée (between Roscoff and Hendaye) or Via Rhôna. With this in mind, a Hexplo itinerary can be helpful. “Others offer a similar tool,” Florent Tejo explains. Starting with France Vélo Tourisme, “but also with a Geovelo or two German players who have blasted off in France in recent years,” Comôte lists, more for seasoned cyclists and Outdooractive. »
The tool is also accessible in the free part of Hexplo and allows you to plan these trips across much of Europe. But Boulogne wants to go further. “Once the route is mapped and the stages are fixed, the platform allows you to find and book accommodations, do the same for train tickets, or locate places of interest near your route,” explains Emmanuel Brault. This is the main advantage of Hexplo for its founder, who built his project by interviewing about thirty regular cyclists to understand their needs. “Everyone already has their favorite tools for building their route, finding accommodation, and booking a train ticket, he explains. On the other hand, none of them aggregate all of their services under the same platform. This is exactly what Hexplo aims for.”
Emmanuel Brault says he has already incorporated 30,000 VIP places into his website, as well as 700 host cyclists, and 7,000 temporary accommodation points, “but also all offers included in the reservation thanks to the partnership with the platform,” he identifies. It’s access to this paid second part. “Thirty euros a year, Emmanuel Braault slips, adding that this package also offers an itinerary recording and downloading feature.
Be a ‘wizz’ for a cyclist
Hexblo starts slowly. At the beginning of May, the young entrepreneur had 30-40 subscribers to his platform. Ultimately, Emmanuel Brault strives to create a “cyclist’s zinger”. A reference to this mobile driving assistance app popular among motorists that works on the principle of participatory production. In other words, users themselves enrich the application with content. “The idea is the same with Heexplo, already imagine Emmanuel Brault. But instead of reporting speed cameras or traffic jams, users will be invited to save temporary accommodation locations, accommodations and points of interest they enjoyed.”
For this, Hexplo should not be limited to the web platform, but also come in the mobile application. “Priority project,” says Emmanuel Braault, who, ideally, would like to have this app available by summer. “But for that, I will have to enlist, and find the money beforehand,” he slips. Another challenge is to grow the subscriber community as quickly as possible. “The key to success is to provide the richest possible content, but also to get new services,” says Florent Tejo. If France Velo Tourisme does not have a project to launch a mobile application, nor to develop the collaborative aspect, “on the other hand, an increasing number of actors are embarking on this idea, he continues. All of them, more often than not, aspire to become Waze for cyclists. In short, there is competition. In this context, Emmanuel Brault is still the payment option. “Initially, I had the idea that to democratize a service, it should be free,” he says. But this strategy risks building a platform to satisfy My partners first accepted cyclists. Which I didn’t really want. Then, again, the young entrepreneur says he set the subscription price based on his interviews with experienced cyclists: “They told me thirty euros a year, that’s not an obstacle, they told me.”