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If you fancy a multi-day cycling challenge through incredible scenery, traditional French villages, historical sites, hidden valleys, woodlands and countryside, look no further than the Vélo Francette, voted the Best European Cycle Route in 2017! This fascinating 600km cycle route from the English Channel to the Atlantic Ocean will take you through some of the most amazing scenery of Normandy, Pays de la Loire and Nouvelle Aquitaine.

Starting in Ouistreham, the 140km section crossing Normandy is highly popular and with good reason. During the ride, you’ll pass through the historic D-Day Landing Beaches (Sword Beach), the picturesque city of Caen, as well as lesser-known gems such as the Normandie-Maine Regional Natural Park, the hilly Suisse Normande (Norman Switzerland), the Roche d’Oêtre and the medieval fortified town of Domfront.

Plage Ouistreham sur l'itinéraire vélo francette
© Pascal Beltram

You’ll travel on country lanes, bridleways and cycle paths meaning that most of the roads on the route are quiet and traffic-free. If you want something more challenging than this adventure from Ouistreham to La Rochelle, there are a number of great long-distance cycle routes of Western France connected to La Vélo Francette: on the way, you can join the Véloscenie linking the Mont Saint-Michel to Paris, the Loire by bike itinerary for an in-depth discovery of the Loire Region and the Vélodyssée, running along the Atlantic coast for 1,200km from Brittany to the Spanish border.

Ideas for families: The Orne countryside and around Caen.