Bicycling Brittany and Normandy Plus! Bayeux and the D-Day Beaches
France's northwest coast-with its rocky cliffs and sandy beaches-is widely known for its pivotal role in WWII, but the region's strong cultural identity and historic significance dates back to ancient Celtic roots. Just a couple hundred miles south of English Westcountry, Brittany and Normandy are geographically similar-though warmer, sunnier and less populated-compared with coastal England, and share a history of war, commerce, migration and cultural exchange that predates the Roman Empire. Cycling Brittany and Normandy is perfect for anyone who wants to...
- ...cross a drawbridge and emerge from a dungeon,
- ...imbibe local calvados, chouchenn and pommeau,
- ...traverse a causeway to the world's most famous tidal island fortress,
- ...watch a giant church bell made by "deaf" artisans, or
- ...touch history at Normandy's beaches.
***If this sounds like a great tour but don't have time for the full 11-days check out our 7-day Bicycling Brittany and Normandy tour.***View Day-by-Day ItineraryHide Day-by-Day Itinerary
Day 1: Welcome to Saint-Malo
As you approach the walled city of Saint-Malo, pause to appreciate its tactical position near the mouth of the English Channel, its sheer, fortified walls, and its vast tidal beaches. Saint-Malo is notorious for its independent streak, having harbored corsairs-French privateers and pirates-who acquired fortunes from passing ships. Tonight enjoy a walk of the ramparts, and the opportunity to explore the old town's citadel and cobbled streets before enjoying a sumptuous welcome dinner.
Distance: Test Ride. Meals: D
Lodging: Hotel Chateaubriand
Day 2: Loop ride to Cancale
Inland Brittany is a secret world of winding paths, walled villages, granite cottages and serene churches. Our first stop will be the Ferme marine where we will learn all about oyster farming. Pedal leisurely through this storybook countryside, or crank up your cadence to spend more time exploring the colorful port town of Cancale and its many culinary delights from the sea. Treat yourself to a lunch of oysters, langoustines, crabs, or clams as you watch the sailboats. Or perhaps you'll head north to Pointe du Grouin, which marks the entrance into the Bay of Mont Saint Michel, before turning back toward Saint-Malo along rocky coastline and sandy beaches.
Distance: 45km (28 miles). Meals: B
Lodging: Hotel Chateaubriand
Day 3: Bicycle to Sables d'Or les Pins
Highlights: Dinard, Fort la Latte
Just when you thought Brittany's shoreline couldn't get more picturesque, you arrive at the breathtaking blue-green waters of the Côte d' Eméraude west of Saint-Malo. Here you'll ferry across the broad estuary of the Rance River to the charming resort town of Dinard, where generations of wealthy British vacationers have built magnificent villas. The ocean breeze is fresh and strong as you ride Cap Fréhel's soaring cliffs to the 14th-century Fort la Latte castle stronghold. This iconic fortress-complete with drawbridge, dungeons, turrets and sheer drop to the breaking waves-is fully restored and has been used in films including The Vikings (1958) starring Kirk Douglas and Tony Curtis.
Distance: 60km (37 miles). Meals: B, D
Lodging: Hotel de Diane
Day 4: Bicycle to Dinan
Highlights: La Hunaudaye Forest, Château de la Hunaudaye, Corseul
With the coast at your back, today's ride guides you south through Brittany's patchwork of farms, forests and rivers-home to the region's rich cultural heritage that tourists seldom experience. At the edge of La Hunaudaye Forest, you'll cross an impressive moat to explore the worn walls and secret corners of 13th-century Château de la Hunaudaye, a key example of Medieval architecture. Turning east toward Corseul, the ancient capital of the Gallo-Roman province of the Coriosolites, your mind may turn to locating the perfect lunch spot, but be sure to visit Corseul's archaeological museum and ancient ruins before continuing on to Dinan, one of Brittany's best-preserved Medieval towns.
Distance: 59km (37 miles). Meals: B, D
Lodging: Hotel Le D'Avagour.
Day 5: Loop ride around the Rance Estuary
Highlights: Guided tour of Dinan, Saint-Suliac
We'll have a guided tour of Dinan and explore its half-timbered homes, cobbled streets, ramparts and an attractive port on the Rance River, Dinan beckons visitors to shop its local craft boutiques, art galleries, workshops and cafés. You may wish to set out on foot, boat up the Rance Valley, or mount your bike and take a loop ride north along the Rance River estuary to Saint-Suliac and back. Riding from village to village, you'll see fishermen at work, and children at play.
Distance: 50km (35 miles). Meals: B
Lodging: Hotel Le D'Avagour.
Day 6: Bicycle to le Mont Saint-Michel
Highlights: Dol de Bretagne, First views of Mont Saint-Michel
The ride to Mont Saint-Michel awaits, but there's a lot to see and do before reaching the kilometer-long bridge to the island tomorrow. On the way to Normandy, stop for lunch in Dol de Bretagne and explore its Abbey, formerly the seat of one of nine ancient bishoprics of Brittany. Later in the day, notice the abrupt hill rising from the flat countryside surrounding the village of Mont-Dol-a geological twin to Saint-Michel to further whet your appetite. Finally, chalk arrows point your route along the edge of the bay, and your first views of the world-famous island abbey can be seen! The site was first chosen as a stronghold during the 6th century for its proximity to the mainland, its low-tide accessibility, and natural defensive features during high tide. It has been a monastery since the 8th century and is the subject of a 164 million euro project to remove accumulated silt and restore it to an island.
Distance: 65km (40 miles). Meals: B, D
Lodging: Hotel Mercure
Day 7: Mont Saint-Michel transfer to Villedieu-les-Pôeles
Highlights: Guided visit Mont Saint-Michel, bell factory
Though Mont Saint-Michel falls into the modern political region of Normandy, both Normans and Bretons have claimed it as their own. This and the island's other fascinating history is yours to savor this morning on a guided visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Mont Saint-Michel village and abbey. A historic town in interior Normandy with a fascinating and surprising history, Villedieu-les-Pôeles became a center of metal-work, having imported advanced coppersmithing techniques from the Middle East toward the end of the Crusades. Its inhabitants, still known as Sourdins (because repeated hammering of copper caused them to become deaf, or in French, sourd), were strong supporters of the French Revolution, and are still well known for the artisanal manufacture of large church bells at factories like the one you'll visit this afternoon.
Distance: No Ride Today - Shuttle is 80km (50 miles). Meals: B, D
Lodging: Hotel Le Frutier
Day 8: Bicycle to Carentan
Highlights: Hambye Abbey, Carentan
The landscape in Normandy is impressively diverse, and today's ride gives you a little taste of everything. A warm-up on rolling hills and hedge-lined roads. Next, Normandy's swampy plains and vast bocage grazing lands dotted with the happy livestock and burgeoning produce behind the region's culinary specialties: Camembert cheese, brioche, calvados, cider, lamb, succulent chicken and duckling! Finally, the stately town of Carentan, ravaged by battle during WWII, was a strategic early goal in the Allied landings at Utah and Omaha beaches. Capture of Carentan was a key accomplishment in staging troops and establishing a continuous defensive line against expected German counterattacks.
Distance: 77km (48 miles). Meals: B
Lodging: Auberge Normande
Day 9: Carentan to Bayeux
Highlights: Point du Hoc, Omaha Beach, American Cemetery, Bayeux
Allied Forces invaded German-occupied France on June 6, 1944 on the beaches just east of Carentan, and today you'll visit several sites and museums dedicated to honoring the memory of those who served. Regardless of your appreciation of military tactical history, chances are you'll find yourself moved by witnessing the landing sites, the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, and by observing the German defenses still visible along the roadside. The day's ride ends in Bayeux, home to the famed Medieval tapestry commemorating the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. Legend has it that the tapestry was designed and woven in England by Reine Mathilde, William the Conquerer's wife herself.
Distance: 65km (40 miles). Meals: B
Lodging: Hotel Churchill
August 27, 2016 Departure: Hotel Reine Mathilde
Day 10: Normandy highlights loop ride
Highlights: Cider and calvados tasting, Arromanches artificial harbor, Longues German battery
Your first stop will be at one of the local producers of cider and calvados. After the visit you will taste some of their specialties. Then pedal onto Arromanches, where the allies built a temporary harbor so that heavy equipment could be unloaded prior to conquering a deep water port. In the final part of the loop you'll see the remaining of the impressive German defensive batteries in Longues. Save some time in the afternoon to view the incredible craftsmanship at the Musée de la Tapisserie in Bayeux.
Distance: 52km (32 miles). Meals: B, D
Lodging: Hotel Reine Mathilde
Day 11: Tour ends in Bayeux
Our tour ends this morning in Bayeux. Enjoy the rest of your travels in France.
HighlightsSaint-Malo, Port town of Cancale, Fort la Latte, Dinan - one of Brittany's best-preserved Medieval towns., 13th-century Château de la Hunaudaye, Mont Saint-Michel, Hambye Abbey, a beautiful Benedictine monastery , Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, Bayeux, home to the famed Medieval tapestry commemorating the Norman Conquest of England in 1066Keep in Mind: We work hard to maintain consistency across all of our tours, but some trips have unique differences. Here are some things to keep in mind about this tour.
IncludesUse of a quality 27-30 speed bicycle; 11 days, 10 nights' accommodation; 10 breakfasts, 6 dinners with wine; oyster tasting; guided visit of Dinan; Bell Foundry; guided visit of Mont Saint-Michele and its abbey; cider tasting; 2 to 3 bilingual tour leaders; van support plus "The Usual""The Usual" (Included with every ExperiencePlus! tour)
Begin/EndSaint-Malo / Bayeux
Arrive/DepartRennes (RNS), Paris (CDG) / Paris (CDG)
Total Distance473 km (292 miiles)
Daily DistanceAverage per riding day 59km ( 36 miles)
Rating301 Rolling terrain with moderate climbs every day.
TermsTerms & Conditions
Dates Price Private Room Charge Notes
* We are happy to match solo travelers who would like to share a room with someone of the same gender. If no match exists, due to hotel pricing, we will charge 50% of the private room charge. This charge will be collected at the time of the final payment. If a roommate assignment is available it will be refunded at the conclusion of the tour.
Book Review: All the Light We Cannot See
For those interested in bicycling Brittany and Normandy this book will hold a special meaning as the climax of the novel takes place in this area.
France Trip Planner
Read up on country customs, airport information, culinary specialites, and more!
Meals on Your Bicycle Tour
Information on how meals work on ExperiencePlus! Bicycle tours
Mont-Saint-Michel an Island Once More
After ten years of major work, the Mont-Saint-Michel can now once more become an island at high tide.
- Book Review: All the Light We Cannot See
LOVE THE ARROWS!Lizz V., Sunnyvale, CA
It was a beautiful route and interesting towns. Lots of favorite spots. Very fond of ExperiencePlus! and the crew and the great trips.Ken C., Fredericksburg, TX
Great trip. Good team leaders, good route, food and wine were good.Bill D., Austin, TX
Mont St. Michael''s was visually awesome and I really enjoyed Saint-Malo. But also enjoyed the road (chalk) arrows. Great idea! So much easier than the sheets of paper.Karen F., Davis, CA
What was your favorite experience on this trip? Hard to say there were so many, the ride itself, the bell factory, seeing the D-day beaches.Richard W., Davis, CA