Cycling Across Normandy
We call this ‘The Normandy Crossing’, and it extends our long weekend break in Normandy to create a true journey across Northern France from St Malo to Caen.
An overnight ferry crossing takes us from Portsmouth and we wake up to the beauty of St Malo. The onward journey to Caen is split into sections which give a true flavour of the variey that Normandy offers. Leaving St Malo after a leisurely breakfast and wander round, we ride east past Mont St Michel to Ducey, where we spend two nights. We then head North and ride to Aunay-sur-Odon. Spending two nights in each hotel provides the opportunity to explore locally, whether to Bayeux and the WWII beaches or the glorious rivers and rocks of Suisse Normande.
On the final day we take a stunning smooth, level cycle path to Caen. We are free to explore the historic sights for a few hours before continuing the canal-side path past Pegasus Bridge to the port in Ouistreham. An overnight ferry takes us back to Portsmouth.
This is a real multi-day journey which lacks the hassle of moving hotels every night.
|Sunday 10 June 2018 – Saturday 16 June 2018||£725|
Day one – St Malo and the bay of Mont St Michel
Early risers can take a coffee on the ferry, but we are aiming to take a one-kilometre cycle to St Malo and relax over breakfast and a few hours to get to know this beautiful town.
Once on the move, we have the delight of sea views and mainly flat riding. We will discover the area of France that was reclaimed from marshland with the help of Dutch expertise, and ride across polders below sea level. Just over half way through the days ride we should get marvellous views of Mont St Michel a few km away before we head inland towards Ducey.
Ducey is conveniently located near a lake and we take our time riding around this and visiting some of the local area. Those who want can spend time in the nature reserve or the very attractive villages of Ducey and its neighbours.
Distance 0 – 50km, fairly flat riding. Dinner in the hotel is included.
We have an interesting variety of terrain to cross – all of it attractive farmland that is also steeped in the history and landmarks of the invasion in 1944. This is a more undulating ride that the journey from St Malo, but the climbs are mainly gradual and we have a whole day to pace ourselves and savour the views. The support vehicle gives added peace of mind for those who feel they might not want to ride every mile, although most people find that travelling in a group at a steady pace helps the miles simply pass by.
An undulating route takes us to the historic town of Bayeux via a number of wartime points of interest and some picturesque countryside. We are free to visit the older history of the tapestry or the more recent monuments and museums relating to the Second World War. Stronger riders may opt to spend 60 – 90 minutes riding to the coast to see the guns of Longues-su-Mer or the floating harbour at Arromanches.
Total distance 70km or 90km, undulating terrain.
This is a glorious route which starts in rolling hills and descends onto the new, long section of tarmac cycle path alongside the river Orne that we enjoyed on day one. There is adequate time to explore Caen, which has some excellent attractions spanning centuries of history, and we have a pleasant time strolling amongst the old streets or simply enjoying time to sit, drink and watch.
The return along the river will be a wonderful memory that most people dream of returning to.
Total distance up to 60 km or 80km, some limited undulating terrain.
Day six – arrive home
Aunay-sur-Odon grew at the crossroads between two trading routes in Gallo-Roman times. It was chosen to be one of the first towns to be rebuilt by the Marshall Plan after WWII, and care was taken to keep the typical style of the region. It regularly features in towns and villages in bloom and is a lovely place to visit.
It is ideally situated about 28km from both Bayeux and Caen, and close to the rocky area of Suisse-Normandie.
We will be staying in two hotels during the trip. The first short riding day takes us to Ducey, and the following day we have a circular tour around the area and return to the same rooms to relax. The following morning we ride the second leg of the ‘Normandy Crossing’ itself and settle into the second hotel. Once again, the following morning sees a circular route so there is no packing to worry about.
Our hotels are situated in the centres of Ducey and Aunay-sur-Odon respectively, and we are staying on a half board basis (Dinner, Bed & Breakfast).
What is Included
We provide the location, equipment and know-how so that you can explore the area with guidance and flexible support. This break includes:
- return ferry Portsmouth – Ouistreham
- half board accommodation including one drink with your evening meal
- motorised support from a qualified mechanic
- a cycling guide
- pre-planned routes
- informative discussions and instruction from the guides on some evenings (see optional activities below)
People like our ‘breaks with cycling’ because they are more than pedalling all day. So we always offer free informal discussions on some evenings and a few visits to local attractions on some days. This is a guide to the optional activities that you can take part in. We let you know the full details of these options and costs where applicable nearer the date.
- the natural and human geography
- tips on improving your distance cycling skills
- better photographs from a small camera
- time to reflect (we offer life coaching skills for those looking for more personal insights)
- cider or Calvados tasting
Getting to Portsmouth
The nearest airport is Southampton, but because we catch an early ferry any arrival airport (Southampton, Heathrow or Gatwick) will require you to stay in Portsmouth the night before. Contact us if you plan to arrive by air and we can discuss the options.
There is parking at Portsmouth ferry terminal itself. Alternatively, you can take your own car over the to France and combine our holiday with your own travels – ideally you would join us in Ouistreham for the riverside rides on the first and last days.
Travelling within France
SNCF – trains around France – http://www.sncf.com/en/passengers
Brittany ferries – Ferries to Caen and Le Havre – http://www.brittany-ferries.co.uk/
Paris Underground – http://www.ratp.fr/