Cycling in Normandy

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
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Cycling in Normandy

Postby iainb » 28 May 2008, 1:47pm

Hi folks
I'm staying at St Aubin sur Mer on the Normandy coast in August for a couple of weeks. I'm taking my bike and hope to have a short (20 - 25 mile) ride each day. Any advice anyone may have for riding in the area roughly between Caen and Bayeux would be much appreciated, particularly regarding gearing. I'm moderately fit and have a bottom gear of 36 x 23, I want the rides to be fairly leisurely, so is this low enough ?


Postby wallabyhunter » 30 May 2008, 11:07am

Hey how goes it?

No replies yet I see, I will be in Normandie but late in Aug, I'll watch what replies you get.

Bonne Chance

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Postby iainb » 30 May 2008, 3:51pm

Hi mate

It's going fine (but slowly!) thanks, just back from a 20 mile ride at a blistering 14.9 mph! I've just had a look at your website, it should be a good trip you;re obviously pretty fit so I don't suppose there will be much in Normandy to worry you! I'm sure the Hewitt will be fine, they have a very good reputation. I'll be on something more modest, my 30 year old Carlton!
Thanks for the reply.


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Postby dannyb » 1 Jun 2008, 2:02pm

Hi Iain,

Myself, son and his friend (both 13 yrs) have just come back from cycling in this area for a week - great fun! We stayed in Reviers and cycled to Arromanches, Bayeax and also to and from Ouisterham (where we caught the ferry), along the coast and so on. It's generally low-ish hills, but there are some steep-ish climbs in places. We bought two of the blue IGN maps - 1612OT and 1512OT - these proved to be indispensable! (as was the water proof map case).

One really good trip we did in a day is called the 'Route de Moulins' - the route of the (water) mills - This was roughly - Reviers - Moulineaux - Fontaine Henry- Thaon - le Bout Renard (we could *not* find the right road out of here and ended up going cross country on a farm track and footpath..!) - Cainet - (bit of a hill out of here) - Cully - Coulombs - St Gabriel - Creully - St Croix-sur-Mere....and from there back to Courselles sur Mar and then St Aubin.

Generally we found the coast road quite busy (well relatively) so took roads that ran parallel, particularly up near Arromanches - where there is quite a steep climb out of the town. Having said that, there are bits of cycle paths in some of the coastal towns.

It's possible to cycle into Bayeax itself using one of the C roads - I think we arrived and left on the C3 via St Sulpice - great for avoiding the ring road and general town traffic. We just followed our noses through the back streets and popped out almost next to the Cathedral.

I personally find the history of Normandy fascinating - both the landing beaches and the earlier history. If you've not read it and wanted to find out more about D-Day - the Longest Day by Cornelius Ryan is good introduction. We also went on a tour of Juno beach provided by Canadian guide which was good. In the past I've visited quite a lot of the museums and memorials and cemetries (from all of the combatants) and found it a moving experience without being mawkish. One thing that has always stayed with me is the helmet from a GI with a yin and yang symbol painted on it. It seemed to make events of sixty years ago very contemporary.

There is a super wine shop in Courselles - it's in the main street. The wine is a couple of euros more than in the supermarket but it is really worth paying the extra. Really nice and helpful person who runs it. We also thought the Patisserie that's in the same street (near the crepe shop) was the best in the area!

One thing you might want to avoid is cycling in the sea which my son did - he managed quite a distance both in length and depth....

Danny B

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Postby iainb » 1 Jun 2008, 9:44pm

Hi Danny

Thanks for the reply and the useful info (particularly regarding the wine shop!) I am expecting it to be busy in August so I will try to avoid the coast road, I borrowed a map of Normandy and a book of D day museums etc from the library so I will head inland as there seems to be plenty of lanes and minor roads which I would imagine are pretty quiet. I shall also try to avoid cycling in the sea - not usually a good idea !!


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re Bayeux and Caen

Postby meddyg » 2 Jun 2008, 10:17am

there is a good cycling route in and out of Caen via the Botanical Gardens; worth a stop and a look in themselves. We approached Caen from Bayeux on the back roads and touched the Route des Moulins too; then almost due south from Fontaine Henri - the green cycle route starts in the suburns and takes you through parkland and Bot Garden. Good luck

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Postby iainb » 4 Jun 2008, 9:20pm

Thanks for the reply meddy, I think I'll check the Route des Moulins out and hopefully get into Caen.



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Postby brianleach » 5 Jun 2008, 2:46pm

I cycled in Normandy last August (over the Bank Holiday weekend!!) and had a great time. I rode from the ferry port to a camp site in Luc Sur Mer and stayed there for the weekend taking trips out each day.

I found the whole thing great fun. I used a large scale Michelin map in my handlebar bag and just did leisurely tours of about 25ks each day using the back roads.

Really all these back roads are enjoyable and even on the bigger roads I found almost everyone very courteous, Brit drivers being the worst!! It is rather unnerving however to have a huge lorry following you waiting to get past!!

I would recommend a visit to a WWII cemetery. I went to a Canadian one and found it very moving especially as some of the dead were the same age as my sons.

I liked the coast road from Luc Sur Mer but didn't get as far as Arromanche. Next time perhaps.

All in all well worth the trip.

Doing the same in Brittany this August. Hope the weather is as kind.

Brian Leach

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Postby iainb » 5 Jun 2008, 9:58pm

Thanks for the reply Brian
According to a D day book I have st Aubin was on Juno beach where Canadians landed so I guess this must be in the area you visited. I aim to stick to the back roads as much as possible. I've visited some WW 1 cemetries on the Somme and in Flanders and it certainly is a sobering experience.