Normandy Beaches

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
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Normandy Beaches

Postby blue red blue » 25 Mar 2019, 7:21pm


I know this has been asked many times, but I need some more information. I have read several blogs, one or two very good, detailing the D-day beaches by various people, but I managed to find a blog that listed the miles travelled per day and campsites. But have now been unable to find it. I know Penfold (dont' get a big head) has done it with his mate several times, but I am planning a trip with my friend from Australia in June. Three of us are actually going, two are cycling. We are all ex MOD and all OAP's, so basically we are all falling apart. What I would like is as much information as possible from people who have done this ride. I am planning to start at Cherbourg, but what I am really interest in is: what do people call a days ride? What is your start time? What is your finish time? We are planning to cycle to Caen, but also take in all the beaches, museums and to lay a cross at as many crematory's as possible. Our third man will be acting as pay bloke, so if anyone can help on what is considered to be an average day (time and mile wise) and particularly campsites and the difference between private and public ones in the area. :D

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Re: Normandy Beaches

Postby Brucey » 25 Mar 2019, 9:50pm

it is about 80 miles from Cherbourg to Caen via the main roads; in a car you can drive it in about an hour and half. However if you are avoiding the main roads, and visiting the beaches and going to campsites, then the distance is likely to be somewhat further, maybe half as much again. IIRC the Cherbourg peninsula is pretty lumpy and in places the coast road isn't flat either. On average the wind ought to be on your back, but it is the coast so there are no guarantees.

I don't think you should set your schedule by what others have done, unless their appetite for speed/mileage happens to match yours. Set a realistic target for daily mileage, based on what you are comfortable doing, and allowing plenty of time to visit the places you want to visit; there is no shortage of things to stop and look at. Riding-wise, these days you can get plenty of information about how the route profile is likely to look; for example

takes in much of your likely route.

All the best of luck with your plans


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Re: Normandy Beaches

Postby hamster » 26 Mar 2019, 12:07pm

I've ridden the area a lot. Cherbourg is in a bowl, with a good climb out most ways.

The east coast of Cotentin is pretty much flat.
My easy route would be:
Day 1 Cherbourg - Barfleur (good muni campsite on the north edge of town), typcially ferries arrive around 1400 and a comfortable afternoon's ride from Cherbourg, very quiet roads and a cycle path out of town).
Day 2: Barfleur-St.Vaast-Utah Beach-Ste.Mere Eglise. Nice campsite in town about 200m from the museum and church / square (with parachutist).
Day 3: Explore museum, then the hook round to Omaha Beach. I've not camped here.
Day 4: Omaha museum, also American Cemetery, Longues Battery, Bayeux.
Day 5: Bayeux Cathedral, Tapestry (a MUST, very well displayed), Arromanches. Good muni campsite in town centre.
Day 6: Arromanches museum, Juno Beach, lots of poking around at small things on the coast - Ouistreham.
Day 7: Ouistreham bunker & museum, canal towpath to Pegasus bridge, lunch at Cafe Gondree, boat to Portsmouth from Ouistreham.

This is a combination of a couple of tours I have done with the family, some on a tandem with 10-12 year old on the back. All relaxed riding, a few hills but nothing relentless.

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Re: Normandy Beaches

Postby Woodtourer » 27 Mar 2019, 12:28am

We arrived via ferry from Portsmouth last August. Yes it is uphill from Cherbourg! But the blackberries were ripe!!!!

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Re: Normandy Beaches

Postby brynpoeth » 27 Mar 2019, 5:14am

How fit are you, how much do you cycle at home? Weather might be better than you are used to (cooler) :wink:
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Re: Normandy Beaches

Postby groberts » 27 Mar 2019, 8:18am

I hope my blog form 2010 will help answer some of your questions. If you can manage to be there on 6th June it's even more rewarding. ... june-2010/


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Re: Normandy Beaches

Postby Vitara » 28 Mar 2019, 6:35pm

It's a tour I've done twice; Cherbourg to Caen.

Five days makes for a very relaxed tour, with plenty of time for visiting museums, cemeteries & places of interest. Theres a bit of distance to cover from Cherbourg until you reach the start of Omaha beach, but after that you'll encounter things to see and places to visit with increasing frequency & you can keep each days ride relatively short with lots of stops, or stretch the mileage to take in more sites.

One venue I would suggest from my last trip is the German Cemetery at La Cambe. It provides a distinct contrast from the American Cemetery and many of the other sites & museums & I found it quite a sobering experience looking at D Day from the German perspective and the loss of life on both sides.

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Re: Normandy Beaches

Postby blue red blue » 28 Mar 2019, 8:19pm

Thanks guys, all your posts have been very informative. Groberts, your blog I have read so many times and it has given me the incentive to do this ride, thanks! Hamster, after reading your reply, I am thinking of amending my schedule. Last year, I was riding every Sunday morning with a college from work and we were averaging 20 klms in 2- 2.5 hrs, on a mixture of road, wood and gravel, with a coffee break in the middle. The reason I want to know what people call a normal day is, as I said in my blog, not only do I want to travel from Cherbourg, but I want to visit as many cemeteries as possible. If an average cyclist is stating at 9:00 am and travelling until 3:00 pm, how far would they likely to travel, just to give me an idea so I can factor in time to visit the cemeteries. If anyone can offer any help with campsites and odd out of the way sites, I would appreciate it! Thanks again for your help.

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Re: Normandy Beaches

Postby al_yrpal » 28 Mar 2019, 8:59pm

You will do 25 to 30 miles a day taking plenty of time out for your stops starting at 9 and finishing at 3 with a relaxed lunch somewhere. I have done this trip but went on to the jewel that is Honfleur passing through fashionable Deauville and stopping in campsites such as Castel Camping L'Anse du Brick near Barfleur, Utah Beach, Courseilles sur Meré, and Trouville returning from Le Havre. Theres plenty to see. Dont miss a morning at St Vaast la Hogue visiting the oyster beds and the museum on the island, and if time allows a gourmet lunch - very popular with the French!

Touring on a bicycle is a great way to explore and appreciate the countryside and towns you pass through. What do you do to make a difference?

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Re: Normandy Beaches

Postby RideOn55 » 30 Mar 2019, 9:04pm

For campsites the Municipal in Arromanche is excellent. Right in the town and an easy walk to the beach where the remains of the mulberry harbour are visible and can be walked out to at high tide. There are museums etc in Arromanche and plenty to see. The locals are very pro British. The Municipal has a back gate. Turn left and there is a patisserie on the corner which sells fantastic food, would recommend their traditional Normandy baguettes. Turn right and there is a late opening, well stocked, local supermarket. A bakery van visits the site every morning with warm croissant etc. It's a couple of miles to cycle into Bayeux if you can manage but we'll worth it to see the cathedral, tapestry and sadly the British and commonwealth cemeteries.