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Biking Vacation Bicycling France: Normandy & Brittany ​

Activity Level: Easy / Moderate  |  Daily Mileage: 18 – 39 mi  |  Daily Biking: 2 – 4 1/2 hr
Air package plus
10 days from only
Price includes roundtrip airfare.
Land only
7 days from only
Pre-trip Extension:
Paris · 2 nights $445

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Detailed Itinerary 2014

Day 1 - Depart U.S. / Fly overnight to Paris

Depart the U.S. for Paris, France. The particulars of your arrival overseas are detailed with your flight itinerary.

Day 2 - Arrive in Paris

Upon arrival at Paris Charles-de-Gaulle (CDG) Airport, claim your luggage and clear customs. If your luggage is lost, fill in a PIR form before leaving the customs area—VBT representatives are not allowed into the customs area. Please make sure that your VBT luggage tags are attached to your bags. This helps the representative identify you.

After exiting customs, enter the arrival hall and look for your VBT representative or driver, who will be holding a VBT sign. Your representative will welcome you to France and arrange for your transfer via taxi or van to our Paris hotel (a drive of approximately 60 minutes, depending upon traffic). At this time, please verify with your airport representative the time of your transfer tomorrow to Bayeux. If you are delayed in meeting your VBT representative at the CDG Airport, please call 06 72 07 59 24 or 06 15 15 15 25 from within France. Outside of France, call +33 672 07 59 24 or +33 615 15 15 25.

VBT provides you with City Information in your Final Travel Booklet that includes information and recommendations about what to see and do in Paris. Enjoy the rest of the day to relax or to begin exploring the “City of Light” on your own.

Day 3 - Transfer to Bayeux

VBT No-Air Package guests: Meet your fellow travelers in the lobby of the Hotel Pullman Paris Bercy (1 rue de Libourne 75012, Paris; Tel.: 011 33 1 44 67 34 00 from outside of France or 01 44 67 34 00 from within France) at 8:45 am for a 9:00 am departure by private coach to Bayeux. Travel time is approximately 3.5 hours, depending upon traffic. If you prefer to make your own way to Bayeux, at your own expense, hotel details are listed in your final documents. You will meet your VBT Trip Leaders at Le Lion D'Or, Bayeux. Please contact this hotel to advise of any travel delays or changes which will result in you missing the 3:00 pm safety and bike-fitting session, and the staff will pass your message on to your VBT Trip Leaders.

VBT Air Package and Pre-Trip Extension guests: After breakfast, meet in the hotel lobby at 8:45 am to join a private coach transfer to Bayeux, departing at 9:00 am. Travel time is approximately 3.5 hours, depending upon traffic. Meet your VBT Trip Leaders at Le Lion d'Or, Bayeux.

After settling in, you'll have free time to have lunch on your own and to discover the medieval city of Bayeux and its famous 11th-century tapestry. Also highly recommended is a visit to the Battle of Normandy Memorial Museum.

At 3:00 pm, your Trip Leaders will conduct a safety and bike-fitting session, followed by a short warm-up ride, which takes you from the hotel into the countryside.

This evening, gather with your fellow travelers for a welcome reception, followed by dinner at the hotel.

Day 4 - Cycle to Arromanches

After breakfast this morning, we'll cycle through rolling farmlands and picturesque country villages to the coastal town of Arromanches, which played a vital role in the D-Day landings. For it was here that the Allies built one of their famous Mulberry harbors—a portable, temporary structure that facilitated the transfer of troops and supplies—the remains of which still can be seen at low tide today. Learn more about the harbor, and the historic June 6, 1944 landings, at the D-Day Museum, which you'll have time to explore on your own. You might also visit Arromanches 360, a circular theater showing a fascinating film that uses both wartime footage and modern images of the area to tell the story of “Operation Overlord,” the largest military operation in history, and its aftermath.

After our visit and lunch on your own, you can either cycle or shuttle back to our hotel.

Tonight you have the night free to enjoy dinner on your own in town.  

Day 5 - Visit Omaha Beach and the American Cemetery with our local guide

This morning, we cycle through the verdant countryside, past fragrant orchard fields and old stone farmhouses, to Omaha Beach, perhaps the best-known D-Day landing site. You'll have free time for lunch here before we join Guillaume Marie, a World War II expert and our local guide. His passion for his subject will be evident as he leads us along these now-tranquil shores and shares with us the dramatic events that once took place here. Code-named “Operation Overlord,” the D-Day landings were the largest military operation in history and the beaches of Normandy bore the brunt of the invasion. It was Omaha that witnessed the most intense fighting, as nearly 7,000 boats hit the beaches along this coastline, pouring tens of thousands of Allied soldiers onto French shores, in the early morning hours of June 6, 1944.

We'll then cycle the short distance to the American Cemetery, a 170-acre, meticulously landscaped memorial overlooking Omaha Beach and the English Channel. The site contains 9,387 perfectly aligned white crosses and Stars of David marking the graves of the brave American servicemen and women who perished during World War II. Guillaume will again provide insight and answer questions.

Later we'll transfer to our hotel, La Ferme des Mares, on the outskirts of Saint-Germain-sur-Ay (a drive of about 1.5 hours, depending upon traffic). The building harbors a unique history: Once an ancient Norman fortification, it later became a sprawling country farmhouse before being transformed into a hotel. This evening, dinner is at our hotel.

Day 6 - Explore rural Normandy

On our ride today, we'll enjoy a close-up look at life in rural Normandy. We'll pedal along a scenic route, passing fertile pasture lands dotted with grazing cows and half-timbered country manors. We'll stop at the town of La Haye du Puits. After the D-Day landings and the liberation of several of the surrounding towns and villages at the end of June 1944, the American troops headed south. The Germans, seriously reinforced, waited at La Haye du Puits and a fierce battle, lasting more than a week, pursued. The human loss on both sides was extremely heavy and a monument commemorating the sacrifices of the American 79th DI and commemorative stones for the 82nd Airbourne and the 90th DI can be seen in the town.

We will also explore the town’s weekly Wednesday market. A variety of local producers bring their wares to sell and our Trip Leaders will purchase a few delicacies for our picnic lunch later today.

Our ride then continues through country roads banked by the famous hedgerows of this region, to the farm of Alain Dauget, an award-winning cider maker. Since the 1600s, Normandy has been known for its exceptional pommes (apples) and the distinctive beverages they produce, including cider and Calvados, the famous apple brandy that shares its name with the region. During our visit, Alain will show us how his apples are harvested and pressed, then allowed to ferment, to produce cider—and, of course, share with us some samples! A picnic lunch prepared by our Trip Leaders will follow.

We'll then continue cycling to the small town of Lessay, with its interesting Abbey dating back to 1056. Learn about how it was bombed in 1944 by the German’s before they retreated from the town. We’ll then cycle back to the hotel. 

Day 7 - Visit Dinan / Saint-Suliac / Saint-Malo

After breakfast we check out of our hotel and transfer approximately 2 ½ hours to Dinan, a fairy-tale-like medieval walled city perched high atop a hill. Here we meet a local guide for a 1 hour walking tour through its medieval center, along its narrow cobblestone streets and to admire its Gothic church.

After free time for lunch, we will be reunited with our bikes at the port of Dinan and begin cycling along the River Rance. Our ultimate destination is Saint-Malo, a beautiful medieval walled city along the Brittany coast. En route, we'll stop in Saint-Suliac, a charming village known for its quintessential granite homes, draped with fishing nets.

We'll continue cycling to Saint-Malo, the legendary home of French corsairs, or privateers—and our home for the next two nights. Our hotel is located outside the walled Old Town, resting at the edge of the beach. It features several spa and therapy rooms, including an indoor, seawater swimming pool.

Late in the afternoon, discover Saint-Malo's Old Town on your own, then end your evening in one of the city's numerous small restaurants and creperies.   

Day 8 - Cancale / Saint-Malo / Farewell dinner

Today's journey takes us along the beautifully rugged Brittany coast to the tiny fishing port of Cancale, known for its superior huîtres (oysters). In fact, King Louis XIV was reportedly so enamored of these briny bivalves that he had fresh oysters brought daily from Cancale to Versailles. We'll have the opportunity to taste these acclaimed huîtres for ourselves, along with the locals, during a visit to an oyster market.

After free time for lunch our afternoon ride takes us back through the countryside to Saint-Malo.

Tonight, we'll gather at our hotel for a special farewell dinner.

Day 9 - Transfer to Charles de Gaulle Airport via Mont Saint-Michel / VBT No-Air Package ends

VBT No-Air Package guests: You are welcome to join our full-day transfer, via Mont Saint-Michel, to the hotel at Roissy, CDG Airport, Paris. Arrival time is expected around 5:30 pm. Or you may make your arrangements to leave the hotel at any time that is convenient. Checkout time is 11:00 am. Trains depart from Saint-Malo to Paris Montparnasse or Paris CDG Airport via Rennes. You are responsible for all transfer arrangements. We recommend you ask your VBT Trip Leaders or the hotel to assistance in making any travel reservations at least one day in advance.

VBT Air Package guests: After breakfast, say goodbye to your VBT Trip Leaders and depart for Paris via one of the most visited monuments in France: Mont Saint-Michel.

Upon arrival, walk to the nearby tourist information center and meet our local guide, who will accompany you across to the cone-shaped islet in the Gulf of Saint-Malo, connected by a causeway with the mainland.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the island is best known for the spectacular and well-preserved Benedictine abbey of Saint-Michel that sits at its peak. The abbey is surrounded by the winding streets and architecture characteristic of a medieval town. Small houses, shops and street stalls are found on its lowest level. Above these stand the monastic buildings, many of which date from the 13th century and are considered outstanding examples of Gothic architecture. The entire islet is crowned by the abbey church, which soars about 73 meters (roughly 240 feet) above sea level. 

After free time for lunch on your own, rejoin the shuttle and transfer to our hotel, located near Charles de Gaulle Airport, Paris (a drive of approximately 4.5 hours, depending on traffic).

This evening is free. You may wish to stroll through the park into Roissy village and have dinner on your own in one of the restaurants there.

Day 10 - Depart for U.S.

After breakfast, transfer by shuttle to Charles de Gaulle Airport, Paris. Please ensure that you are ready in the hotel entrance area at the designated transfer time. The shuttle is complimentary for hotel guests, and runs approximately every 30 minutes. Please ask hotel reception for exact times. Upon leaving the bus at the airport, make sure that you follow the signs for flight departures.

Please note: For guests with early-morning departures, breakfast at the hotel may not be available. Please check with the front desk to verify the times when breakfast is served.

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