Brittany & Normandy, France
Domfront, Lower Normandy
Le Mont St. Michel
Our Preliminary Itinerary:
This tour takes us to regions of France rich in history, going back to the days of William the Conqueror and continuing over the millenium to the most famous battles of WWII. After arrival in Paris, we transport you to Bagnoles-de-l'Orne for our first two nights where our travels begin. This charming thermal spa town is set in the center of the Normandie-Maine Regional Nature Park in south central Normandy.
Fougères, located on the border between Brittany and Normandy is our second destination. Here you will find a magnificent castle dating from the Middle Ages, a town center characterized by half-timbered houses built in medieval times, and a 14th century belfry, the oldest in Brittany.
Leaving Fougères we head to the village of Dinan, no doubt one of the prettiest in the Breton region. Dinan includes both a charming port located on the Rance Estuary, and a beautifully preserved old town with cobbled streets lined with shops and galleries selling locally made goods. Our lodging in Dinan is along the port just a stone's throw from the Rance River.
From Dinan we ride to St. Malo, a historic walled city that was rebuilt by the Malouins, brick by brick, following its destruction during the second world war. St. Malo has been described as, "the brightest jewel of the Emerald Coast of Brittany." It is also the site of the enchanting novel by Albert Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See, winner of the the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. We will spend two nights in St. Malo to explore this lovely coastal town and to visit Cancale, the oyster capital of Brittany.
Next we ride into Normandy, skirting the coast as we visit Pontorson, Ducy and Coutances. As we travel this region, we will stop for a day to tour the ancient and mysterious 8th century monastery of Le Mont St. Michel. Not only is "Le Mont" a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is the second most popular tourist destination in France (bet you can guess which is first!).
Our last few days of riding take us to the sites of the Normandy Invasion. We will spend one night in Sainte Mère Eglise, the first town in France liberated by the Allies. Fame came to this village after the release of the 1962 movie The Longest Day which depicts the famous scene of a paratrooper caught on the church steeple, observing the battle playing out below him.
Heading to Bayeux, we make our base here for three nights to explore all this area has to offer. Bayeux is home to William the Conqueror and the 1,000 year-old Bayeux Tapestry that commemorates William's victory in the Battle of Hastings in 1066. It is not to be missed. William built a cathedral in Bayeux after his victory in Britain, and it takes center stage in the town.
Bayeux is also our jumping off point to visit several D-Day battle sites. There are many options for sites to visit in this area including the D-Day landing beaches of Omaha, Gold, Juno, Sword and Utah, the American Cemetery, and Arromanches, where the allies built Mulberry Harbor after winning the battle. Close by you will find the sobering Pointe du Hoc, a promontory between Utah and Omaha beaches. Army Rangers scaled these 100-foot cliffs using grappling hooks early on D-Day to capture Pointe du Hoc, a critical point on the Atlantic Wall. Tragically, without reinforcements, less than 40 of the original 225 Rangers survived.
After visiting all of these somber sites, no doubt, it will be time for a glass of Calvados. The apple brandy is native and ubiquitous to the region, so make sure to have a taste or two as you contemplate man's history over the last 1,000 years.
This is just a sampling of our tandem tour to Brittany and Normandy. This region is delightful for cycling, grades are gentle, the distances moderate, and the people of "Bretagne et Normandie" are especially welcoming to those of us who call North America home. We hope you will join us on this special tour!
If you are interested in this tour, please Contact Us for more information or check out our info page to see what's included on a Tandem Bicycle Tour.