6 top cycle routes in Normandy

Recently bagging gold for ‘Most Desirable Destination’ in the Wanderlust Travel Awards, Normandy has more than 700km of glorious routes, perfect for blending cycling, heritage and food…

Team Wanderlust
01 January 2023
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Normandy France

1. The Veloscenic

Mont Saint-Michel (© Emmanuel Berthier)

From Paris’ Notre-Dame Cathedral to the holy island and abbey of the Mont Saint-Michel in its breathtaking bay – both UNESCO-listed French icons – this spectacular itinerary along more than 450km of cycle paths, voies vertes (marked greenways) and lanes takes you past natural parks, gorgeous garden, beguiling villages and stately homes for an unforgettable taste of the French countryside at its most serene and scenic. Among the highlights of the Normandy landscape that you’ll take in on this easygoing route are the Perche hills and the natural regional parks of Perche and Normandy-Maine, while wonderful architecture can be seen in Alençon with its World Heritage listed lace-making heritage (and its fame as the birthplace of Thérèse de Lisieux, patron saint of missions and florists), Carrouges with its 14th-century château (a classified National Monument) and the historic thermal spa town of Bagnoles-de-l’Orne.

2. La Vélomaritime

Fécamp cliffs (© Thomas Le Floc’H)

Also known as EuroVelo 4, this epic coastal route begins in the Ukrainian capital Kiev and takes you as far as Roscoff on the Brittany coast – an incredible 1,500km. The Normandy section leads you from Le Tréport to the otherworldly Mont-Saint-Michel, via the Alabaster Coast, all the D-Day landing beaches and the Cotentin Peninsula’s east coast. Unmissable sights and stop-offs include the authentic sister towns Eu and Le Tréport, Dieppe’s castle, marina, Canadian memorial and Saturday-morning market (named France’s finest market in a public vote), Fécamp’s Palais Bénédictine, UNESCO-listed Le Havre, the picture-perfect port of Honfleur, an array of lighthouses, the Mortain waterfalls, the Côte Fleurie seaside resorts of Trouville-sur-Mer, Deauville and Cabourg, the American cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, the Bayeux Tapestry and Cherbourg with its Cité de la Mer sealife centre – named the French people’s favourite monument in 2022.

3. The Vélo Francette

Velo Francette (© Eloise Guitton)

Linking with other major routes including the Véloscenic, the Vélo Francette steers you from the bijou port of Ouistreham in the Calvados area of Normandy to La Rochelle on the Atlantic west coast. Major attractions along its 600km route include Caen, the port city and Calvados capital with its 11th-century castle by William the Conqueror and its WWII memorial museums. Passing through the Orne Valley with its tranquil waterways and swathes of forest, then the wild and hilly Suisse Normande (Norman Switzerland), it then takes you on to Flers with its castle, churches, art and history museum, and 19th-century covered market. Your final Normandy stop is the fortified medieval town of Domfront perched above the Varenne valley, with charming squares, a ruined castle, a 12th-century Romanesque keep, half-timbered houses and lovely surrounding countryside that’s been designated a Site Remarquable du Goût (site of culinary excellence).

4. The VéloWestNormandy

Omaha Beach (© Emmanuel Berthier)

Traversing Normandy from the D-Day landing beaches to the Mont Saint-Michel, this 210km itinerary also brings you to the UNESCO-listed Bayeux Tapestry – a masterpiece of Romanesque art embroidered in the 11th century, offering a unique illustrated narration of the Norman Conquest of England in 1066 by the Duke of Normandy (later William the Conqueror) and of European life in the Middle Ages. You’ll also come into contact with some of the region’s finest scenery, including the Bocage Normand – an area of hedgerows that became famous during World War II for the way it hampered progress against the Germans – and the wetlands of the Cherbourg Peninsula. Other highlights are the fishing port of Port-en-Bessin, the seaside resort of Arromanches-les-Bains with its war museums, and the Souleuvre Viaduct. The route also connects with the Vélomaritime and Véloscenic.

5. La Seine à Vélo

Les Andelys (© Marie-Anais Thierry)

These 515km of blissfully tranquil cycle routes along the River Seine, between Paris and Le Havre and Deauville on the coast, give you access to some of Normandy’s top sights – among them the Impressionist master Claude Monet’s inspirational house and gardens at Giverny, Richard the Lionheart’s Château Gaillard at Les Andelys, the abbeys of Jumièges and Saint-Wandrille, and Rouen with its fabulous cuisine, from classic bistros to Michelin-starred restaurants. There’s also the enchanting old port of Honfleur, the lush green Pays d’Auge with its stud farms and famous cheeses, including Pont-l’Evêque, the Calvados area as a whole with its renowned apple brandy, and the chic resort of Deauville with its boardwalk and vast beach. The route also allows you to enjoy the unique thrill of hopping on board one of the river ferries with your bike to explore the other bank.

6. The Avenue Verte London-Paris

Alabaster Coast (© Vincent Rustuel)

Linking two of Europe’s greatest capital cities by pedal power, this phenomenal 470km route, with its long sections of greenways and its safe paths, takes you through the unspoilt landscapes of the historic Vexin region of farms and woodlands, as well as the wild Epte Valley. Landmarks you will encounter en route include the Château de Gisors – a key fortress of the Dukes of Normandy in the 11th and 12th centuries – and Monet’s riotously colourful gardens in Giverny and the artists’ village that has grown up around it. Lesser-known spots to discover include the Bray area – home to heart-shaped Neufchâtel cheese – and Forges-les-Eaux, a thermal spa town classified among the ‘Most Beautiful Detours of France’, with pretty villas and a noteworthy spa. You’ll finish the French part of your ride at the towering white cliffs of the Alabaster Coast with their views across the Channel.

What are you waiting for?

Start planning your dream visit to Normandy now by heading over to the official website.

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