Updated on 3 July 2020
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Cycling is a wonderful way to experience Normandy, which is one of the most cyclist-friendly destinations in France. Whether it’s a family ride on a traffic-free trail, or some more challenging mountain biking on more rugged terrain, Normandy offers 1,600km of stunning cycle routes and 700km of safe greenways to suit all abilities. The more prepared you are before getting in the saddle, the more you’ll enjoy your trip, so here are a few tips to help you plan your next cycling trip to Normandy!
Get back to basics
Whether you’re considering your first-ever cycling holiday or are an experienced cyclist, you’ll need the right bike. Pretty obvious, right? And if you don’t have your own bike, don’t worry – there are lots of great places to rent bikes throughout the region. For safe cycling, wear a helmet. Compulsory for children under 12 in France, wearing a cycle helmet is essentially when on a cycling holiday.
CHOOSE A family-friendly cycle route
Normandy boasts many beautiful cycle routes, including six major ones: the Velomaritime, Veloscenic , Vélo Francette, Seine Valley, London-Paris Avenue Verte and the D-Day Landing Beaches to the Mont-Saint-Michel. Leisure cyclists should make a bee-line for the great traffic-free trails and greenways, some of which are lovingly-restored former railway lines. Perfect for all ages and abilities, these routes offer diverse stunning landscapes and easy, relatively-level cycling.
Look for the ‘cyclists welcome’ label
Whether you are kind of person who plans everything before the trip (recommended for family holidays) or prefer to be a bit spontaneous, here’s a fantastic option for your cycling holidays to Normandy. TheAccueil Vélo (cyclists welcome) label locates accommodation, restaurants, bike hire and repair shops, tourist offices, as well as touring and leisure sites open to visitors with bikes, less than 5km from a signposted cycle route. For foodies exploring Normandy, the Vélo & Fromages label combines cycle routes and cheese trails to treat your taste-buds on your two-wheeled adventures.
Cycling holidays aren’t reserved for the overly fit and trained, anyone can do it. Be prepared, however. The quality of your equipment is key. Don’t set off with the wrong kinds of tube or faulty parts; get your bike in tip-top order before you leave. Train a little in the saddle and try to replicate cycling conditions at home. Plan your route in advance, be aware of traffic and road safety rules before you go. Being prepared and roughly knowing where the nearest towns are doesn’t kill the magic of exploration, it keeps you safe and cycling safely.
Plan your journey
The SNCF national rail network encourages combining bicycle and train travel in Normandy – two convenient and environmentally friendly forms of transport. On Normandy’s brand new trains, bikes are allowed on free of charge at most times of the day. You may need to reserve a bike space ahead of travelling as there’s usually a limit of how many bikes can be carried per train. If you’re visiting from the UK, bringing your bike is easy on the cross-channel ferries.