Northern France Tourism : official website

The Paris-Roubaix peloton passing the crowds on the famous Arenberg Trench

A mythical race

The nicknames of ‘The Hell of the North’, ‘The Queen of the Classics’, ‘The Toughest of the Tough’ don’t underplay this cycling race infamous throughout the world, alongside the Tour of Flanders or Milan-San Remo races. Created in 1896, the Paris-Roubaix owes its reputation to its famous cobblestone sections and the reputation of previous champions (the Belgians Eddy Merckx and Johan Museeuw, and the Frenchmen Bernard Hinault and Gilbert Duclos-Lassale) as well as to the festive atmosphere which pervades the whole race. On the second Sunday in April each year, hundreds of thousands of cycling fans pack the Picardy and Nord-Pas de Calais verges to admire and encourage the brave competitors who have only one aim in mind - to reach the Roubaix Velodrome.

The crowd encourages the Paris-Roubaix competitors
  • The competitors riding across the cobblestone sections is always an exciting moment for Paris-Roubaix spectators.
  • © Région Nord-Pas de Calais

A course full of challenges

Since 1977, the Paris-Roubaix has no longer started from the capital, as its name suggests, but from Compiègne. The course then travels nearly 250 kilometres north, crossing 27 cobblestone sections (nearly 50 km of discomfort in total). One of the most well known in the Paris-Roubaix is the infamous ‘Trouée d’Arenberg’ - 2 km long and rated grade 5* in difficulty. It often causes the first falls among the peloton or breakaway groups. Further on, at ‘Le Carrefour de l’Arbre’ cobblestone section in Gruson, it is often said that any competitor leading at that point has a high chance of winning. The atmosphere and excitement are therefore at their height...Then it's on to the Roubaix Velodrome, where the victor will have justly deserved the chance the lift the cobblestone trophy!

The prize for all the pain and effort for the German John Degenkolb, the 2015 winner
  • The 2015 winner, John Degenkolb, lifts the Roubaix cobblestone trophy
  • © Région Nord-Pas de Calais

A symbolic cobblestone is given each year to the Paris-Roubaix champion

Cobblestones cherished more than ever

The Paris-Roubaix cobblestones are part of the heritage of Nord-Pas de Calais. They had, however, nearly disappeared from the countryside and the race. In 1965, there was only 22 km of cobblestones over the total 270 km... Luckily, the route has been modified since, allowing new sections to be revealed. These precious cobblestones are now cherished more than ever. Before the race every year, the ‘Amis du Paris-Roubaix’ and two horticultural schools in the region renovate and replace the infamous cobbles. Thanks to their efforts, the difficulty and spirit of this legendary race are preserved.

The Paris-Roubaix cobblestones in the Nord-Pas de Calais countryside
  • Each year, the beauty of the Paris-Roubaix cobblestones is restored to maintain the race’s unique characteristics.
  • © Région Nord-Pas de Calais

Best of the Paris-Roubaix 2015

Relive the the best moments of Paris-Roubaix 2015 - the winning sprint by Degenkolb to the velodrome, the victor’s interview, the Nord-Pas de Calais scenery and its infamous cobblestones... A roller-coaster of excitement