A cycle route linking Sussex to Paris is to be built in time for the 2012 Olympics.

The county has signed up to an agreement with the French authorities to create the "Avenue Verte" which will enable cyclists to travel on one unbroken route from London to Paris via the ferry at Newhaven.

It will be the first time an official cycle route has linked the two countries.

However councillors have warned that a significant amount of new funding will need to be found before the project can become a reality.

West Sussex county councillor Derek Whittington, said: "The aim is to make the route as traffic free as possible given the obvious constraints of the major capital cities that are involved.

"In Paris, for example, there is talk of some sections being routed along canal towpaths.

"It is also hoped to complete much of the work in time for the 2012 Olympic games, but while the goodwill is in place, much will depend on external funding."

It is hoped lottery funding grants may pay for some of the project. European Union grants will also be applied for.

At least 21 kilometres of the proposed "Avenue Verte" will pass through West Sussex, including much of it on already existing off-road paths and National Cycle Network.

A further 30 kilometres would be created in East Sussex, including along the Cuckoo Trail and Forest Way.

South of Polegate, the route would continue to Newhaven as National Cycle Network Route 2, which runs along the South coast, extending into West Sussex to the West and Kent to the East.

Stretching north, out of Sussex, the route will travel into London and to end at St Paul's Cathedral.

On the French side the route will follow the former Dieppe to Paris railway for 40km.

It currently stops just outside Forge-Les-Eaux but once complete, the route will extend to Paris almost entirely on traffic-free routes. The likely end point in Paris will be Notre Dame.

The route will also be available for use by walkers and horse riders.

An agreement has already been signed with the French authorities during a visit to Lewes.

The agreement sets out the initial stages of the route but further planning is now likely to take place.

West Sussex county councillor Tex Pemberton described the project as "exciting and innovative" said: "The opportunities for green tourism will be enormous because this will be a route that walkers as well as cyclists will be able to use."