Normandy makes a great destination for a cycling holiday. You can decide for yourself whether you want to take your own bikes or hire locally – there are plenty of hire shops around. And there are equally plenty of maps/guides available to help you plan your route. Recommended maps are the Cartes de Promenade from the Institut Geographique National with a scale of 1:100 000 (1cm = 1 mile). These can make navigating a bit difficult but they have the benefit of covering a larger area (so can be used for multiple excursions) and they show all the GR routes. If you are not venturing too far afield then the larger scaled IGN Serie Bleue maps 1:25000 are worth investing in. We have found these useful for cycling in other areas of France as they show all the paths.
Take your passport with you if you’re planning to hire bikes as they are often the only acceptable form of identification that you will have available. You may also need some cash available.
Remember to cycle on the right! Bike helmets are strongly recommended for children and adults alike.
Bike Rides we’ve done in and around Normandy
Fôret de Villecartier: Strictly speaking this is just over the border in Brittany…but is easily accessible if you are staying in the south of Normandy near to Granville or Avranches. The forest is to be found just off the D155 about 30km north west of Fougeres.
This location is more interesting for active older children who will enjoy hiring mountain bikes from the Auberge at the head of the lake. It’s quite hard work cycling the forest trails and there are no trailers available for youngsters. Take a picnic to enjoy in the woods.
Cycling around Jullouville: There are several hire shops along the D911 beach road heading from Granville down to Jullouville. We used “First Games” in the centre of Jullouville. They offered a very pleasant and patient service from €27.50* for half a day with 2 adult bikes, 2 child bikes and one tandem. A limited number of trailer buggies were available.
We started our trip here by cycling along the long sea front which was very easy going although there were quite a few sun-worshippers to contend with! At the bottom of the promenade we headed inland and tried to follow the GR223 north towards Kairon Plage. However we really couldn’t find any trace of it so we ended up following minor roads which was absolutely fine as they are relatively quiet.
You do need to make sure that your children are competent cyclists though as from time to time traffic does come along. It was also quite a climb away from the coast so we needed to dismount occasionally. Our hire shop had tandems available so we tried one – great fun but you need to have a competent cyclist on the front (keeping it balanced is quite difficult) and they generally make for slower progress!
Organised cycling holidays:
For the more adventurous! Personally we’ve never tried this…but we can’t see any reason why it shouldn’t work out fine for a family with slightly older children who are used to bike riding. Have a look at Sherpa Bike Rides as they have some itineraries that look very easy to do. Breton Bikes also have an itinerary in Normandy.
Here’s more information to make the most of your visit to Normandy:
- Chateaux / Gardens
- D-Day Sites
- Food & Drink