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Bicycling France: Normandy & Brittany

Since 1066, when William the Conqueror mounted a successful invasion of England from its scenic shores, Normandy has played a pivotal role in European history.

  • 10 Days
  • 6 Reviews Recommended by 6 of 6 travellers
  • Activity Level: Easy / Moderate
  • Daily Mileage: 18 - 39 mi
  • Daily Biking: 2 - 4 1/2 hr
  • Small Groups: 20
  • Biking
  • Easy / Moderate
  • Plane

Why You'll Love This Tour

Overview

Normandy Tours, Normandy Guided Bike Tours

We’ll delve deeply into that history on this biking vacation, cycling from the now-tranquil beaches made famous by D-Day landings … to Saint-Malo, the legendary “City of Corsairs” … to breathtaking Mont Saint-Michel, with its glorious medieval abbey. As we pedal through lush pasturelands and charming villages, we’ll pause to sample award-winning cider and Cancale oysters—and connect with local residents, who offer insight into the storied culture and time-honored traditions of Normandy and Brittany.

Cultural Highlights

  • Stroll along the sandy shores of Arromanches and Omaha Beach, two infamous D-Day landing sites
  • Gain insight into “Operation Overlord” during visits to the D-Day Museum and Arromanches 360
  • Pay tribute to the brave servicemen and women laid to rest at the American Cemetery
  • Savor award-winning cider during a visit to a farm in Normandy
  • Sample the celebrated huîtres of Cancale during a tasting of their famous oysters
  • Discover Dinan, a fairy-tale-like medieval walled city overlooking the River Rance with a local guide
  • Spend two nights in Saint-Malo, the fabled “City of Corsairs”
  • Tour Mont Saint-Michel, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and marvel at the island's spectacular Gothic abbey

What To Expect

This tour offers a combination of easy terrain mixed with moderate hills. Our VBT van support shuttle is always available for those who need assistance. Ideal for beginning and experienced cyclists.

What’s Included:

Bicycle Tour Only – without Air

  • 6 nights in 3- and 5-star hotels and a renovated former Norman fortified farm
  • 11 meals – 6 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 4 dinners

Air Package Plus

  • Roundtrip international airfare
  • 8 nights in in 3-, 4- and 5-star hotels and a renovated former Norman fortified farm
  • 13 meals – 8 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 4 dinners
  • Transfers
  • AND the option to add our Low-Cost Trip Extension: Pre-trip: Paris – 2 nights for only $445

Both Vacation Options Include

  • FREE use of our custom VBT bicycle and helmet
  • Service of two local bilingual VBT Trip Leaders
  • Full van support
  • Daily route directions and maps
  • Welcome reception with local wine and hors d'oeuvres
  • Sightseeing and cultural activities
  • 5% Frequent Traveler Credit to use on your next VBT vacation
  • Special Good Buy Discount
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Please note: Web Special savings cannot be combined with any other offer. Standard Terms & Conditions apply when purchasing this trip. 2015 Prices include all airline surcharges and Government taxes and fees. Ask our Tour Consultants for details. Every effort has been made to produce this information accurately. We reserve the right to correct errors. Prices are based on preferences selected above, including meals and sightseeing as specified in What's Included. All prices are subject to change. Departure dates and prices shown may be updated several times daily, and apply to new bookings only.

Itinerary & Map
Or, Expand All Days
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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Accommodations

Hotel Pullman Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport

The 4-star hotel Pullman Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport is in the heart of Charles de Gaulle Airport and provides a free airport shuttle service. It features a fitness room and a heated indoor pool overlooking the hotel's gardens. Savor gourmet French and international cuisine at the hotel restaurant, or tapas and cocktails in the trendy bar, whose wine list was created by Olivier Poussier, the World's Best Sommelier 2000. Computer terminals are available in the hotel lobby. The décor of its spacious guest rooms and suites were inspired by the world of Parisian high fashion. All are non-smoking and have a 40-inch LCD TV with satellite channels and free, high-speed WiFi access. Each soundproof room features air conditioning, tea- and coffee-making facilities and a minibar.
Free WiFi Included

Château de Sully

17th-century property with a swimming pool and elegant restaurant. Fitness center with sauna, hot tub, and indoor swimming pool, whose sliding windows open out onto a stunning garden. 13 rooms in the chateau and 9 rooms in the nearby manor.
Free WiFi Included

Grand Hotel des Thermes

Situated at the edge of the English Channel, Grand Hotel Des Thermes is the perfect spot to unwind after a day of biking. Since 1881 it has been a holiday retreat for European Royalty and the Grand Hotel des Thermes continues that tradition of excellence to make your stay exceptional. As a guest you’ll enjoy free access to the swimming pool, sauna, fitness area. The hotel boasts a popular spa with a selection of treatments, a bar and a restaurant. Complimentary WiFi is available in the lobby.
Free WiFi Included

La Ferme des Mares

Offering country chic in a former fortified Norman farm that’s been converted into a luxury hotel, La Ferme des Mares is a stylish hideaway where you’ll always find the warmest of welcomes. Resting by quiet salt marshes, the hotel is just minutes from beautiful sandy beaches. Spend an afternoon walking along the coast, or stay a bit closer to your room and pick flowers at the hotel’s pleasant garden. Each of La Ferme des Mares’ rooms features its own bathroom (complete with hair dryer and complimentary bath care products), flat-screen television, complimentary WiFi Internet access, telephone, black-out blinds and luxurious soft furnishings. The boutique hotel also boasts its own, in-house restaurant.
Free WiFi Included

Pullman Paris Bercy

The Pullman Paris Bercy lies at the heart of the Bercy Village pedestrian complex of Paris, just a stone’s throw from the Grande Bibliothèque and Palais Omnisport stadium and near the Bastille and Marais districts. Indulge in the hotel’s restaurants and bar, and then work it off in the sauna and fitness center. Your air-conditioned room features a cable/satellite television, telephone, minibar, coffeemaker and in-room safe. WiFi Internet access is available for an additional fee.
Free WiFi Included
Photos

Normandy Guided Tour Traveler Photos

Reviews
  • A great way to see a country.

    We have visited France before on a land tour. We saw all the touristy sights. With VBT we saw the countryside. We ate where the French eat. We met an apple farmer, tasted his products--Pom, an apple wine. We followed an English speaking French guide through the American cemetery and heard stories of prominent and not so prominent heroes of WWII. French children adopt a grave site in the cemetery and tend it! We ate raw oysters on the beach and put our feet on the Channel! Our guides were personable, knowledgeable and all that we have come to expect of VBT guides. The accommodations were "among the locals" while still at a four/five star level. We came home planning our next trip with VBT.

    Yes, I recommend this tour.

    Posted on: July 31, 2014
    Posted by: Eleanor
    From: Ohio
    Age: 65 or over
    # Of Trips: 2-4

    • Value:
    • Trip Leaders:
  • Great Trip

    The Normandy and Brittany trip was another great VBT trip. We really had a chance to get away from the crowds and get a better feeling for the French countryside. The lush countryside made it hard to imagine the fighting that has raged across it over the years. The tour leaders were outstanding and seemed to make everything happen without noticeable effort. The local guides that came in were very knowledgeable and greatly added to our understanding and enjoyment. The small VBT group kept you from feeling that you were being herded from one place to another.

    Yes, I recommend this tour.

    Posted on: July 30, 2014
    Posted by: SWID
    From: Boise, ID, USA
    Age: 65 or over
    # Of Trips: 2-4

    • Value:
    • Trip Leaders:
  • This tour is an unforgettable experience.

    This was a dream vacation. The accommodations were the best that I have ever experienced on a tour. Not only was this a historically meaningful vacation for me, but also visually so beautiful. This was my first VBT trip and I cannot wait for the next one. Thank you VBT for your impeccable attention to every detail. None of this amazing vacation was lossed on me.

    Yes, I recommend this tour.

    Posted on: July 29, 2014
    Posted by: Leelee
    From: Stuart, Fl.
    Age: 35 to 44
    # Of Trips: 1

    • Value:
    • Trip Leaders:
  • Two thumbs up...for the 10th time

    This was our 10th trip with VBT and we cannot wait for our 11th (in fact, we already booked it)! They do a superb job every time - tour leaders (this was our 3rd time with one and our 2nd time with another), food, hotels. The route was fantastic, the towns interesting and beautiful. And, of course, let's not forget the historical significance of this area. I would highly recommend Normandy & Brittany.

    Yes, I recommend this tour.

    Posted on: July 24, 2014
    Posted by: Lori
    From: Philadelphia
    Age: 55 to 64
    # Of Trips: 5 or more

    • Value:
    • Trip Leaders:
  • This may be our best tour yet with VBT!

    We just got back from our terrific VBT trip to Normandy and Brittany. Our leaders were very attentive to all of our needs and provided a safe and exciting tour. Their knowledge of the area and their good humor made our trip a lot of fun. Our bikes were first rate, the terrain was very pleasant with little traffic and the scenery was fantastic. The places we stayed were all very comfortable and were situated in villages or towns that had wonderful sites to visit after our spectacular bike rides. Visiting the beaches in Normandy for two days and seeing the D-day museums and sites were both interesting and very meaningful. We also enjoyed a private tour of a cider farm, a guided tour of walled cities and a fabulous ride along the coast of Brittany. The only problem that it ended too soon! We would highly recommend this tour.

    Yes, I recommend this tour.

    Posted on: July 09, 2014
    Posted by: Wendy44
    From: Sebago, ME, USA
    Age: 55 to 64
    # Of Trips: 2-4

    • Value:
    • Trip Leaders:
  • Fantastic: scenery, leaders, food, bikes, sleeping accommodations

    First: the leadership was amazing. Sophie and Luc rode three times as much as we did, making sure we were all taken care of. They could repair anything. They gave us great recommendations for restaurants. Second: the maps and roads were well researched and clear. The scenery was wonderful, from chilly ocean sites to warm mountainous areas. Third: the group of bikers soon became friends. Fourth: the hotels were wonderful and the food they served was so delicious. Marvelous trip!

    Yes, I recommend this tour.

    Posted on: June 24, 2014
    Posted by: ConnieJ
    From: Chicago, IL USA
    Age: 65 or over
    # Of Trips: 2-4

    • Value:
    • Trip Leaders:

Enjoy Your Vacation Longer With LOw-Cost Trip Extensions

Pre-Trip Extension - Paris

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