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Bike in a countryside setting
Bike in a countryside setting | © MabelAmber / Pixabay
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The Best Cycling Routes in Normandy, France

Picture of Christine Wilson
Updated: 20 April 2018
The terrain offered by Normandy naturally makes it a cyclist’s idyll. Dynamic landscapes and designated bike paths allow bikers of all levels a route that’s right for them. It’s also a passion that rings through the region, making bike rentals easy to arrange through local operators or tourist boards. All you need are your two legs, your spirit of adventure and maybe the added comfort of a GPS. We won’t judge. Read on for our picks of the best cycling routes in Normandy.

Bike alongside the sea on the Alabaster Coast Coastal Route

The Coastal Route makes up part of the EuroVelo 4, the 4,000-km bike route that runs all the way from Roscoff, Brittany to Kiev, Ukraine. In French, it is called the Véloroute du Littoral, which is also how it’s written on the signage that guides the way. While super-avid cyclists can give the entire stretch a go, those looking to break it down can pedal the 180-kilometre scenic stretch of the Alabaster Coast, beginning in the UNESCO World Heritage City of Le Havre and ending in the fishing village Le Tréport. While the roads are paved throughout, they are shared with vehicles and certain areas are busier than others. Add to this some steep climbs, this ride is deemed challenging but well worth it to take in the aqua blue ocean crashing against ivory cliffs. Break up the ride by spending a night in towns of interest en route, such as Étretat, Fécamp or Dieppe.

cliffs of etretat
The cliffs of Etretat along the Coastal Route | © Anja Osenberg / Pixabay

Cycle the cider route through the Pays D’auge

The picturesque Pays D’auge is the home of an abundance of half-timbered houses, bucolic farmland and known to pour the best cider and Calvados in the region. The Cider Route that winds through the area is a well-marked trail with points of interest en route, namely the cider producers who are ready and waiting to invite you in to sample their apple-based liquor. A great launching point for your ride is the charming village of Beuvron-en-Auge. From here, the route loops through 40 kilometres of weaving road, over verdant and rolling hills, past castles, manor homes and of course, apple orchards. Even if cider tasting isn’t your thing, the ride is spectacular and embodies quintessential Normandy.

cycle pays d'auge
Cycle past half-timbered houses in the Pays D’Auge | © Ian / WikiCommons

Roll along the Vélo Francette from Normandy to the Atlantic Coast

Between the port town of La Rochelle and Ouistreham, just north of Caen, is the Vélo Francette. The entire route has a length of 615 kilometres, though is easily broken up into sections to allow for shorter rides. Some of the sections of the pathway are called Greenways and are ideal routes for families or novice riders. There are a total of five Greenways to choose from heading in both directions. The Greenway between Ousitreham and Caen is a lovely, easy trail that journeys from the city to the coast in just 15 kilometres. The Greenway heading south from Caen to Thury-Harcourt travels along an old railway and into the region known as Swiss Normandy, an idyllic countryside setting and outdoor lover’s paradise in the Orne Valley.

The Vélo Francette
Keep an eye out for this sign to follow the Vélo Francette | © Oncle-charly / WikiCommons

Pedal along the path of the Impressionists in the Seine Valley

The Seine Valley route, in French and on signage known as the Véloroute du Val de Seine, aims to unite cyclists and art enthusiasts by connecting the towns that inspired the artists of the Impressionist movement. The route begins approximately 60 kilometres north of Giverny in the town of Elbeuf. It runs for 120 kilometres along the river, passing through the untouched landscapes of the Boucles de la Seine Normande Natural Park, as well as the city of Rouen. The trail eventually ends in Le Havre, where the Seine flows into the sea. The ride contains some hilly sections that may pose a challenge, however, Greenway paths are available as an option.

Ride through history from Arromanches to Port-en-Bessin

The route from Arromanches to Port-en-Bessin via Bayeux ticks many of the boxes for a well-rounded tour of the Second World War in Normandy. In Arromanches, visit the D-Day Museum to learn about the Allied soldiers’ plans to construct an artificial port in the harbour. In Bayeux, monuments and sites abound, including the Bayeux War Cemetery and the Museum of the Battle of Normandy. Port-en-bessin brings you closer to Omaha Beach, the landing site of many American Soldiers on June 6, 1944. This route is best suited for intermediate-level riders. From Arromanches to Bayeux is approximately 11 kilometres and Port-en-bessin to Bayeux is 14 kilometres. The roads are paved and shared with vehicles, with some busier traffic areas upon entering Bayeux.

arromanches
Revisit the sites of D-Day on a bike ride to Arromanches-les-bains | © InspiredImages / Pixabay

Push through the Véloscenic from Paris to the Mont Saint-Michel

Pass by jaw-dropping scenery, natural parks and pastoral villages on the ultimate bike path of Normandy: the Véloscenic. Not for the faint of heart, this epic route is 442 kilometres of well-marked pathways, beginning from Notre-Dame in Paris and ending at the Mont Saint-Michel. (Or vice versa, through the bustle of downtown Paris is probably the last place you’d want to arrive after such a journey!) The full length of the path travels through four different French regions and three natural parks – the scenery ever-changing from start to finish. It can be broken down into six different sections, ranging from 31 to 93 kilometres, so you can tackle it bit by bit.