Updated on 25 June 2020
Reading time: 2 minutes
Time to connect with your inner history buff on horseback! Years of settlers, battles and conquests – there are lots of stories to tell. Riding the 210km ‘William the Conqueror’ trail is something quite special and is a great way for both novices and experienced riders to enjoy Normandy’s unspoilt landscapes in a historical way.
This horse-riding trail follows William the Conqueror’s epic 150km gallop in just one day to reach Falaise. In 1046, at the age of 19, William Duke of Normandy and future King of England was regularly threatened by barons keen to take control of the Duchy of Normandy. One day, when he heard of an ongoing plot to kill him, he decided to flee on horseback from the coast to Falaise. Avoiding busy roads, he raced across the fields, down narrow paths and through deep countryside until he found refuge in Ryes, a village in the Bessin area, before heading south to Falaise for safety.
Today, this 208km horse-riding trail celebrates the journey of this great medieval soldier and ruler. The trail starts at the Baie des Veys (Géfosse-Fontenay), before crossing the Bessin, the Norman bocage (hedgerow country) and the wild mountainous area of the Suisse-Normande (Norman Switzerland) before arriving at the spectacular castle of Falaise.
The trail in eight stages
Stage 1: Géfosse-Fontenay to Formigny: Maps 1, 2, 3 et 4
Stage 2: Formigny to Ryes: Maps 4 et 5
Stage 3: Ryes to Martragny: Maps 6, 7, 8
Stage 4: Martragny to Noyers-Bocage: Maps 9, 10, 11 et 12
Stage 5: Noyers-Bocage to Roucamps: Maps 12, 13, 14, 15 et 16
Stage 6: Roucamps to Le Vey / Clécy: Maps 16, 17, 18, 19
Stage 7: Le Vey / Clécy to Pont d’Ouilly: Maps 19 et 20
Stage 8: Pont d’Ouilly to Falaise: Maps 20, 21 et 22
William the Conqueror trail brochure (in French)
Horse-riding in Normandy
Emblematic horse-riding trails in Normandy
Equestrian activities in Normandy