7 Day Historical Tour of Normandy
2020 Tour Dates:
Price: £3,500* per person
Normandy has a long and compelling history. Visitors to France will be only too familiar with the historic relevance of Paris in French history but the region of Normandy has its own story to tell and has a long and fascinating history. The region contains over 900 listed historical sites and for over a millennium has provided the backdrop for some epic events – many having a bearing on world history. Over the course of a week, we take cycling groups through the region where they will discover historic Normandy, on classic routes, staying in renaissance chateaux and medieval towns.
Since the Vikings landed, and made the region their home in the 10th century, to the D-Day landings of 1944, Normandy has hosted many significant events, which have all had a major bearing on our world. Our groups will be cycling through many of them and staying at some impressive and incomparable venues ‘en route’. The key ingredients for this adventurous and entertaining trip are all here in abundance in an area of breath-taking natural beauty and historical relevance.
Pegasus Bridge - D-Day Beaches - Bayeux -Colombieres
Distance: 45 Miles
Our tour will start at the iconic Pegasus Bridge where the silent landing, by gliders, heralded the commencement of the D-Day landings by over a quarter of a million allied troops (156,000 on D-Day) which signalled the beginning, of the end, of Nazi Germany. Our group will be delivered to the rendezvous by coach or mini-bus and the start of our cycling tour will actually begin, on foot, with a tour of the famous Pegasus Museum. We will then mount up and cycle through the beaches of Sword, Juno and Gold – each of which has a dramatic and poignant story told in the drama of 1944 – a story which we will share with the riders as we go.
When we reach Gold Beach, the destination of the Mulberry Harbour, we will turn inland and make for Bayeux, famed for its 11th-century tapestry and cathedral of similar vintage. Situated in the heart of this medieval city, with its criss-cross of cobbled streets, the Notre Dame Cathedral, built in 1077 is a perfect example of Norman architecture. We will take a little time here on an extended lunch stop and riders will have the choice of taking in the sights or pushing on for our first overnight stop in our first chateau, in Colombières which in medieval times was one of the most redoubtable fortresses in the region. Following the D-Day invasions, the village was freed on 9 June 1944 by the Allies. General Omar Bradley set up the base for the Twelfth United States Army Group in Colombières castle before pushing on across France and into Germany.
Route Distance: 45 miles
Level of difficulty: Easy going with no big hills
Colombières - Omaha Beach - Catz - Utah Beach -Ravenoville
Distance 50 miles
After an evening of memorable hospitality at the Chateau de Colombieres the group will saddle up and head on back to the beaches, making a bee-line for Omaha. It was on this beach that the US 1st Divison landed in 1944 and sustained such significant losses. We will cycle to the beach and visit the American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer that honour the troops who died in Europe during World War II. The cemetery is a haven of pine-ringed peace, beautifully maintained, and is today a memorable tribute to the fallen. From there we will cycle on toward Catz for a lunch date at a local restaurant. The town was a strategic objective of the 3rd battalion of the 327th Glider Infantry Regiment at the launch of the offensive by US airborne troops to capture Carentan.
‘Post’ lunch the group will mount up and head onto the final beach of the D-Day landings, Utah, where 20,000 US troops of 4th US Division landed and advanced successfully during the war. We will then move on, up the coastal path, to the spectacular Ravenoville Chateau. The evening’s accommodation lies in a small rustic village surrounded by salt marshes where guests can enjoy the timeless tranquillity of the chateau’s manor house with its adjacent 17th-century ruins and beautiful gardens.
Route Distance: 50 miles
Level of difficulty: Flat to undulating roads, no hills – easy going
Ravenoville - Sainte-Mère-Église - Houel - Barneville Carteret
Distance: 45 miles
Our group will, by now, have taken in all five of the D-Day landing beaches and will take the same road as the 4th US Infantry Division in 1944 and cross the Normandy Peninsula to Barnville Carteret on the other side. We will visit the famous town, Sainte-Mère-Église, whose church spier hosts a suspended paratrooper. Today, it is only a mannequin but on the 6th June 1944, Private John Marvin Steele landed on the pinnacle of the church tower from the skies only to be successfully rescued by locals after the town was liberated shortly afterwards.
We will cycle on to the town of Briquebec to stop for lunch. The name of the town reflects its Viking history and derives from the Scandinavian bekkr, a course of water; in turn from brekka, slope. This was one of the first Viking settlements in the early part of the 10th century. A century later these early settlers evolved and became part of the formidable Norman people who made the town and its castle one of their strongholds.
Nourished and rejuvenated after lunch our group will cycle on to the coastal town of Houel where we will take a sharp left on reaching the sea. The coastal road will take us down to the stunning twin-town of Barneville-Carteret within sight of the island of Jersey. The town(s) are highly significant in Norman history and the ruling ‘de Carteret’ family assisted William the Conqueror in the Battle of Hastings as well as having a leading role in the medieval crusades. In the centre of closeby Barnville the square church tower, dating from the 15th century still has a prominent parapet which was besieged by the English in September 1499. Riders will be rewarded, for their day's endeavours, with a night’s stay at La Marine, an elegant hotel overlooking the fishing port and the canal leading to the marina – most of them with a sea view. For early risers, a cliff top walk is a great way to start the day on which they can take unparalleled ocean views, lighthouses, German gun emplacements and even the thousand-year-old remains of monastic dwellings.
Route distance: 45 miles
Level of difficulty: Easy going, pretty flat with a couple of small hills
Barneville Carteret - Pirou - Granville
Distance : 50 miles
On leaving Barnville-Carteret we will cycle along the sea road taking in all manner of eye-catching historical interest against a backdrop of rural beauty. We will travel through some wonderful areas of coastal splendour and picturesque towns as we make our way down the peninsula to the sea-side town of Granville – ‘the Norman Riviera”.
The nearby Chateau Pirou also contains a rival to Bayeux’s greatest treasure – the Pirou Tapestry. The 58 metres tapestry, in the style of the one at Bayeux, tells of the Norman invasion of Sicily and the conquest of southern Italy. We will stop for lunch at the eclectic La Cal restaurant for moules-frites, harvested from the local beaches, before moving on to Granville for our evening stop-over. The town is relatively large and much loved by Parisians – and an evening here will allow riders to find out why.
Distance: 50 miles
Level of difficulty: gently undulating
Granville - Avranches - Mont St. Michel
Distance : 35 miles
Leaving the town of Granville takes our group south towards
‘Le Mont St Michel’. We will pass many of the stunning sandy beaches that have made the Normandy Peninsula famous as a favourite holiday destination.
The terrain is undulating regularly here and although the climbs are manageable the cycling is slightly harder than the preceding days. We will make our way down the coastline and into the ancient town of Avranches for lunch.
Avranches sits high on a hilltop and has a long and fascinating link with the past. After all, this town was once taken by William the Conqueror from his Breton rival, Alan 1st. It was also the place where the English King, Henry 11 was absolved of the sin of murdering Thomas a Beckett and was also damaged in the Hundred Years War between France and England. It was occupied by the Germans in the last war and its liberation was led by General George S. Patton and began on 31 July 1944.
After lunch, we will descend from Avranches’s lofty perch and head towards where we will be staying for the evening, cycling towards our goal where we will be staying in sight of arguably Normandy’s most famous monument. ‘Le Mont’, is France’s second most popular monument outside Paris. For those in our party who wish to visit the monument, there will be ample opportunity as it is open until very late in the evening. A particular delicacy of the area are the lambs reared on the local saltwater pasture and who can be seen being bought in every evening. Dinner will include plenty of other local delicacies that will provide us with plenty of fuel for the final leg of the journey.
Distance: 35 miles
Level of difficulty: Some small hills & one big one
Mont St. Michel - Cancales - St. Malo
Distance: 35 miles
Our final day will see us leave Normandy and cycle into Britanny where we will follow the coastline up to the oyster beds of Cancale and have lunch. From there it is plain sailing all the way into the famous historic city of St. Malo whose thick walls belie its violent past. For centuries it was the haven for pirates or ‘corsairs’ who preyed on marine traffic and there is much evidence of its past for the curious.
This last leg will be a little shorter to allow our group plenty of time to explore the fascinating city. Our last evening will be spent in unforgettable accommodation in the old city and we will say goodbye to the region from the battlements under a stunning Breton sunset.
Distance: 35 miles
Level of difficulty: Flat & easy
2020 Tour Dates:
Price: £3,500* per person
General information about this tour:
*Prices are based on a minimum party of 4.
There will be a historical tour in the first week of every month from April - September commencing on Saturday and concluding on Friday
There are no minimum or maximum distances. Riders can cycle as much or as little as they want. The distances given are just guides and are the number of miles that the guide will do every day.
All Breakfast, lunch and dinner (with a little wine) are included in the costs
The group will have a guide who will meet you at your hotel every day and ride with the group.
A support bus will also be available on your daily route if you need assistance or a lift back.
Your luggage will be transported from your accommodation in the morning to your next hotel.
If we are unable to book you into any of the hotels mentioned we will book you into one of similar quality.
You, your luggage and your bikes will be collected from a point of disembarkation at the start of the tour. We can pick you up anywhere in France but depending on where it is may affect the costs.
If you need a bike you will need to give us your size.
A deposit of 20% of the total tour cost is required on booking.