Calvados, positively bursting with culture and history
It might sound a strange thing for a cycle tour company to admit but cycling Calvados is not only about cycling. For those of you who do not know the region, it is one of the original 83 departments created during the French Revolution on 4 March 1790 and remains to this day, packed with a huge variety of experiences and geography to be enjoyed ‘en route’.
Calvados is part of the ancient region of Normandy (Normandie), once a Duchy itself until the ducal title was abolished during the Revolution. It is a region that challenges all levels of cyclists from the long flat coastal roads, the gentle inland undulation to the steeper hills of Suisse Normande. To the east, the river Seine forms the boundary with Seine-Maritime and Calvados comprises the Bessin area, the Pays d'Auge and the area known as the "Suisse Normande" ("Norman Switzerland”).
The cycling routes of Calvados are liberally punctuated with some fantastic places to stay or simply stop and take in some of the majesties of the sights, tastes and sounds. These are just a few of our favourite historical places that can be enjoyed with a brief excursion out of the saddle.
Calvados boasts 75 miles of coastline where excursions to Bayeux, Arromanches and Fontaine‐Henry will each tell their own story. The shoreline is, of course, famous for the D-Day landings which are the subject of a thousand stories of bravery and heroism. There are, however many older and equally compelling places to visit as you cycle the region's beautifully smooth roads. For some gentle cycling, a wealth of history and some very decent restaurants, Bayeux has a great deal to offer. Some of our favourite destinations here are:
‐ Notre‐Dame Cathedral, the focal point of William the Conqueror’s new Norman capital and built-in memory of its benefactor’s dramatic victory over Saxon England
‐ The Bayeux Tapestry tells the story of William the Conqueror’s life and times. Its 70 metre‐long, 58‐scene embroidery contains over 600 characters, hundreds of animals and even more riddles.
‐ Baron Gérard Art and History Museum contains a rich collection of art and history and includes 600 works of art and 250 are paintings and prints
A short cycle ride will take you back up toward the famous coastline and cyclists who have a little time to spend can take in,
Fontaine‐Henry Castle is a magnificent renaissance chateau that has remained unchanged under the same family stewardship for 800 years
Creully Castle – Creully-sur-Seulles dates back to the 11th century and played a pivotal role in the D-Day landings
The gardens of the Brecy Castle are equally impressive and date back to the 17th century. Visitors can expect beautiful carvings including statues, balustrades, vases redolent of the period
For cyclists looking for a little, more testing routes should travel south-east through Suisse-Normande where the gentle hills are swapped for sharper inclines. They should head for Falaise where the end of a solid ride will be rewarded with a stay in another splendid medieval town. The high walls of the imposing castle of Falaise, the birthplace of William of Normandy can be seen, visited and admired