Updated on 27 September 2023
Reading time: 9 minutes
Starting from Bayeux, our group of four friends embarked on an exhilarating 4-day adventure along the VeloWestNormandy cycling route, heading towards the majestic Mont-Saint-Michel!
One of the motivating factors that led us to explore this route is its easy train accessibility from Paris, making the return journey to our starting point hassle-free from Pontorson train station.
VeloWestNormandy offers a rich blend of Normandy’s natural beauty, cultural heritage, historical significance, and culinary delights. With a mix of greenways and picturesque country lanes, this cycling route provides a diverse and accessible experience for all, culminating in the breathtaking arrival at the iconic Mont Saint-Michel!
Gare de Bayeux
Place de la Gare
14400 BAYEUXFind out more
Tourist Office of Bayeux
Saint-Martin de Mondaye Abbey
Pays de Vire – Collines de Normandy Tourist Office – Vire-Normandy Tourist Information Office
Loterot Leisure Park
‘La Percée du Bocage’ Museum
Maison de la Nature et de la Pierre Sèche nature centre
Dathée Lake leisure base
Belvédère de Chaulieu
La Grande Cascade
Château des Montgommery
STEP 1: From Bayeux To Villers-Bocage (Approx. 41 km)
We jump off the train at Bayeux station, bursting with excitement, ready for our two-wheeled adventure! Some of us have brought our trusty bikes, while others have arrived solo and choose to rent their bikes on the spot. The team from Loc’Velo eagerly anticipates our arrival at the train station exit. They swiftly deliver the bikes, provide a crash course on how to master the electric ones, and make sure our saddlebags can carry all the essentials for our upcoming cycling escapade. With everyone in the saddle, we set our course towards the historic heart of Bayeux, the first town liberated by the Allies on June 7, 1944!
The city was spared from WWII bombings and has retained all the charm of its medieval alleyways. The town holds numerous treasures, so we allocate some time for exploration. We marvel at its picturesque half-timbered houses, visit the Notre Dame Cathedral erected in honor of William the Conqueror, and explore the Museum of the Bayeux Tapestry, a UNESCO-listed masterpiece. Stretching over 70 meters, it vividly depicts the Norman invasion of England in 1066.
After this enriching cultural interlude, we rejoin the scenic bike route marked with the unmistakable ‘VeloWestNormandy’ sign featuring a green logo with a soldier’s helmet and Mont-Saint-Michel. We pedal along charming backroads, granting us a leisurely view of the architectural wonders of the Bessin and the picturesque landscapes of the Normandy countryside. These roads lead us to the Abbey of Saint-Martin de Mondaye, a place of worship that has stood tall for over 800 years. We are all captivated by this architectural gem. Guided tours, led by a canon, are available for those eager to delve deeper into its history. Outside, in its spacious parking area, picnic tables beckon us to settle down for a delightful lunch break.
After this spiritually uplifting pause, we set off once more, winding our way through fields and quaint villages. After less than 10 kilometers, our gaze is drawn to perfectly aligned rows of white headstones at the British Military Cemetery of Tilly-sur-Seulles, a solemn reminder of the Battle of Normandy. This Commonwealth military cemetery is the final resting place for 1,222 soldiers from the Second World War. Here, amidst the tranquil landscape, we feel that we are standing on sacred soil, profoundly steeped in historical significance.
On the way, before reaching the end of our first stage, we come across a hiker’s rest stop in Saint-Vaast-sur-Seulles, designed for cyclists in mind! Time for a break before reaching Villers-Bocage, where our first day comes to a close.
Where to eat?
Restaurant La Terrasse: Treat your taste buds to local cuisine featuring locally sourced and homemade products from appetizers to desserts. (Hello Cyclo certified by Bayeux-Bessin)
Hôtel-Restaurant Reine Mathilde: Nestled in the heart of the medieval town, Reine Mathilde Hotel, its restaurant, and terrace invite guests to indulge in delicious and relaxing moments! Enjoy views of the cathedral and its proximity to numerous museums. (Accueil Vélo certified)
Hôtel-Restaurant Le Lion d’Or: Housed in an 18th-century former postal relay station, located in the heart of Bayeux’s old town, the restaurant at Hotel Le Lion d’Or offers a cuisine crafted from local Norman ingredients. (Accueil Vélo certified)
Where to sleep?
Hôtel les 3 Rois: Nestled in the heart of Normandy’s countryside in Villers-Bocage, this charming establishment offers modern and creative cuisine, celebrating local produce and homemade dishes. The Chef offers takeaway menus on demand. The hotel’s cozy rooms ensure you have the comfort needed for a restful night’s sleep. (Member of Cyclo Service)
Step 2: from Villers-Bocage to Vire (APPROX. 46 km)
Feeling energized after a restful night and a hearty breakfast, we set out to reach the heart of Normandy’s countryside today. We pass through the Crahan Valley. Along the picturesque route, we make a quick detour to the Loterot Farm, the birthplace of Calvados cream liqueur. Here, we explore an unconventional cellar adorned with two remarkably unique historical frescoes. It’s also the perfect place to pick up a few local products to take home as souvenirs.
Another stop along the route takes us to ” La Percée du Bocage” Museum , a place of remembrance dedicated to the British soldiers who fought to liberate the countryside during Operation Bluecoat in late July 1944. Through eight museum spaces and a sound and light show, we step back in time, reliving the journey of these heroes and the daily lives of the residents during the occupation of France from 1939 to 1944.
The cycle route then winds through the Evêque forest before reaching a thrilling stop for adrenaline enthusiasts: the Souleuvre Viaduct, famed for its bungee jumping! We find ourselves near the village of Bény-Bocage and the Maison de la Nature et de la Pierre sèche ( the House of Nature and Dry Stone). Following a delightful and easy greenway, we arrive in the town of Vire, famous for its delectable andouille sausages! We take a leisurely bike ride through this ancient fortified town, where numerous remnants transport us back to medieval times – the Clock Tower, the keep, and Notre-Dame Church.
Where to eat?
Brasserie des Trois Sens Couverts – Normandie Luge: With a seating capacity of around a hundred inside and over 200 on its outdoor terrace nestled in the Souleuvre Valley, this restaurant offers breathtaking views of the Gustave Eiffel-designed Souleuvre Viaduct. They proudly source regional products from within a 50-kilometer radius.
Another option is the Restaurant de la Gare in Souleuvre en Bocage.
Where to sleep?
Hôtel Saint-Pierre: Located in the heart of the town of Vire, this hotel offers 29 comfortable and tranquil rooms, each equipped with a bathroom featuring a hydrojet shower or a whirlpool bath. (Accueil Vélo certified)
Hôtel-Restaurant de France: Located in the city centre of Vire, this establishment offers comfortable rooms and a traditional restaurant. (Accueil Vélo certified)
Hôtel Moderne: Located opposite the Vire SNCF train station (no overnight trains) and just a stone’s throw away from the city centre, this hotel offers comfortable rooms and a brasserie.
Step 3: from Vire to Saint-Hilaire-du-Harcouët (Approx. 54 km)
As we embark on the third day of our adventure, the cycling route leads us mostly through greenways– those wonderful, cyclist-friendly trails. Along the way, we decide to make a little detour to Lake Dathée, located just 8 km off the itinerary. Here, you can indulge in a variety of activities like paddle boating, kayaking, and golfing. The site is also a birdwatching reserve where you can spot over 80 different bird species!
After a delightful walk around the lake, we continue our journey along the greenway and take a break at the hiker’s rest stop in Saint-Germain-de-Tallevende, where we find covered picnic tables, restrooms, showers, and electrical outlets. We hop back on our bikes to discover changing landscapes and thick forests covering the hills. Just a short ride (2 km) from Chaulieu, we reach the highest point in La Manche (368 meters above sea level): the Chaulieu viewpoint ( Le Belvédère de Chaulieu). We contemplate the beautiful panorama of the Mortainais bocage. At the top of the wooden tower, an orientation table helps us get our bearings and understand the 360-degree view.
We cycle through Sourdeval and spot a hiker’s rest stop with sheltered picnic tables, restrooms, a water fountain and even a ” free book exchange” for our reading pleasure. The Sourdeval campsite boasts two unique accommodation options dedicated to cyclists at its campground.
This stage offers stunning panoramas, lush woodlands and the waterfalls of Mortain-Bocage (Grande Cascade and Petite Cascade), which are an absolute must-see! We leave our bikes in secure bike storage and are delighted to find cyclist-friendly facilities in Mortain-Bocage’s castle square, complete with lockers, an air pump station, restrooms, and e-bike charging outlets. A short walk leads us to the Grande Cascade, the largest in the West of France, boasting a 25-meter waterfall and a captivating rocky backdrop. The bloom of rhododendrons in May and June adds to the area’s allure, and the location is a haven for exceptional wildlife and flora, much like the Petite Cascade.
Insider tip: If you’re a Calvados* enthusiast, a delightful detour awaits at Domaine du Coquerel in Milly (between Mortain-Bocage and Saint-Hilaire-du-Harcouët), where you can uncover the secrets of its production (Accueil Vélo certified). *Savour Calvados responsibly, always enjoying it in moderation.
We hop back on our bikes and arrive at our destination for the day, Saint-Hilaire-du-Harcouët. We left the greenway at Parigny, which boasts a hiker’s rest stop offering covered space, a water point, and restrooms. Saint-Hilaire-du-Harcouët is just 200 meters to our left: a quick tour of the town to explore its church and the Prieuré Lake.
Insider tip: don’t miss the bustling weekly market on Wednesday mornings!
Where to eat?
Les Voyageurs: Located in the town centre of Sourdeval, this restaurant serves up homemade traditional cuisine and can accommodate large groups.
Chez Yo: A cosy, friendly restaurant in Sourdeval that’s all about traditional cooking with local ingredients. They serve exclusively from the chalkboard menu, and maybe a Chef’s special if you’re lucky!
Where to sleep?
Hôtel-Restaurant Le Lion d’Or: Nestled along Avranches Street in Saint-Hilaire-du-Harcouët, amidst a lush park, this place has left an indelible mark on local history. The establishment earned its reputation by welcoming renowned guests in the 1960s, such as Lino Ventura, Fernand Raynaud, and Marin Marie.
Camping de la Sélune: Situated in Saint-Hilaire-du-Harcouët, this municipal campsite offers accommodation is a ‘gîte d’étape‘, a lodge typically designed to provide budget accommodations for hikers, cyclists, and travelers passing through, but also 67 shaded, spacious pitches by the Sélune River. (Accueil Vélo certified)
La couette gourmande: In the city centre, this self-catering rental house provides a tranquil retreat, complete with a lovely garden for a well-deserved rest. (Accueil Vélo certified)
Step 4: from Saint-Hilaire-du-Harcouët to Mont-Saint-Michel (Approx. 44 km)
We set off from Saint-Hilaire-du-Harcouët, bidding farewell to the Priory’s serene waters and the neo-Gothic Saint-Blaise church. This fourth leg of our trip follows a route shared by both the Vélomaritime and the Véloscenic cycling itineraries. Our pedals spin along greenways and quaint country roads, offering inspiring views of the majestic Mont-Saint-Michel on the horizon. Gradually, the idyllic bocage countryside transforms into the lush meadows of salt marshes. Along the way, the Sélune River emerges, guiding our day’s odyssey.
We soon arrive at the Montgommery Castle, located at the entrance of Ducey-Les Chéris along the Sélune River. This castle stands out, surrounded by lush greenery and adorned with brick and granite walls. As we step through its doors, the visit leads us through astonishing and romantic apartments steeped in history.
As we get to Pontaubault, we notice the bridge over the Sélune that enabled General Patton’s troops to reach Brittany following the Avranches Breakthrough (Operation Cobra) on July 31, 1944. Along this path, history comes to life as a poignant reminder of the indomitable spirit that carried soldiers through challenging times.
Continuing our journey, we arrive at Huisnes-sur-Mer. Perched atop a 30-meter hill stands a circular ossuary shaped like a rotunda, where nearly 12,000 German soldiers rest. Here, we find no graves, only plaques bearing the names of soldiers and civilians who fell during World War II. After crossing the mausoleum’s courtyard, a staircase leads to a lookout point at the summit with views of the Mont-Saint-Michel Bay, the distant Mont itself and the surrounding salt meadows. Even amidst solemn reflection, the enduring beauty of nature provides solace and inspires peace within our hearts.
Gradually, the Mont-Saint-Michel comes into view. The medieval abbey perched atop the Mont has played many roles throughout history— once a renowned monastery, then a fortress, and later, a notorious prison. We cycle to the very foot of the Mont, where we leave our bikes at the bicycle parking facility with 70 racks in the Cour des Fanils. We couldn’t have asked for a better way to conclude this trip!
Insider tip: Bicycles are allowed on the bridge-walkway and can be parked in the Cour des Fanils at the Mont-Saint-Michel. During peak daytime hours in the summer, due to the large number of pedestrians, cyclists, and shuttles, it is much more convenient to leave the bikes at the bike parking area near the dam and walk to the Mont-Saint-Michel or hop on the free shuttle.
The Mont-Saint-Michel / Paris train line operates from June to September, followed by a direct shuttle from Pontorson station to the Mont-Saint-Michel. For the rest of the year, this line goes through Villedieu-les-Poêles.
Please note: There’s a 10 km distance between the Mont-Saint-Michel and Pontorson train station.
Where to eat?
Auberge de la Sélune in Ducey-Les-Chéris: The restaurant’s simple and elegant dining area benefits from ample natural light and views of the lush garden. In the kitchen, the Chef passionately crafts contemporary cuisine with a strong connection to the local terroir. (Accueil Vélo certified, closed on Mondays and Tuesdays)’
La Bonne Porte in Ducey-Les Chéris: A friendly bistro-restaurant located in the upper part of the town. Facing the church, it is ideally positioned to fully enjoy its terrace and the view.
Where to sleep?
Hôtel Vert at the Mont-Saint-Michel: Comfortable rooms with on-site dining. (Accueil Vélo certified)
Our must-see favorites
- The medieval town of Bayeux
- Saint-Martin de Mondaye Abbey
- The Souleuvre Viaduct
- The waterfalls of Mortain-Bocage
- The bicycle arrival at Mont-Saint-Michel
All the practical details including contact information for tourist offices, restaurant suggestions, and accommodation options can be found on a dedicated itinerary on velowestnormandy.com alongside seven detailed maps and the complete GPX track of the route. For navigation on the road, a signage system ensures a trouble-free journey.
Please note: You have the option to begin this cycling adventure from either Bayeux or Carentan.
Bicycle Repair Specialists
Corner Bike Vire, Avenue de Bischwiller, 14500 Vire-Normandie, +33 (0)7 49 62 94 23
Ouibike, 2 Place Charles de Gaulle, 50150 Sourdeval (+ Bicycle Rental and Camping Equipment) – Certified Bicycle-Friendly ‘Accueil Vélo‘
Atelier Prepa Velo – 8 boulevard Clémenceau – 50170 Pontorson, +33 (0)6 99 54 41 93