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first (short) trip to France - advice needed

vertigoscenevertigoscene Posts: 56
edited February 2013 in Tour & expedition
Hello All

I'm looking to plan my first cycle touring trip, and would like to go to France. I only have 3-4 days, so I'd like to go to Northern France. I was thinking of taking a ferry to somewhere in Normandy/Brittany -maybe coming into somewhere like Le Havre and cycling over to Honfleur and around the area.

I'm planning to take camping equipment, but would be planning to stay in Hotels if I'm in towns for 1 or 2 days.

Has anyone been around this particular area and have any thoughts? Or any alternatives in N France that may be better?
I do want to go further afield at some point, but with limited time, money and this being my first trip I wanted do something on a smaller scale.

Any thoughts most appreciated.




  • infopeteinfopete Posts: 878
    Too much choice...

    The coast from Calais south is great for cycling, the roads are surprisingly quiet and the views are great.

    Then there is Dieppe, you can go in any direction (the dry bits) along the coast or inland and it's lovely cycling.

    Caen puts you onto Veloroute 6..... takes you to Budapest

    St Malo, one of the best ports to cycle from. The north coast of Brittany is a bit busy with traffic though.

    If you've only got a few days I'd go on Eurotunnel with your bike (I think you have to telephone to arrange it) and spend less time traveling and more time cycling.
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  • St malo to hon flier would be a good ride for 3 days.
    Plenty of campsites or b&b along the way. Roads are lovely(most of them)
  • andymillerandymiller Posts: 2,856
    edited February 2013
    It depends a lot on where you are starting from, and the practicalities of getting to the ferry terminal.

    The last time I looked, the ferries to Normandy left fairly early in the morning - so for me the overnight Portsmouth-St Malo ferry was a better option. But I'm going from memory and things may have changed.

    If you're in the West country the Plymouth-Roscoff service might be an option. there are (or were) services from Weymouth.

    If you're in Kent, or in London then you might want to think about going Ramsgate to Boulogne.

    Personally I'd avoid Calais unless you've considered and ruled out the other options (or you live near Dover).
  • mercia_manmercia_man Posts: 1,388
    I went Portsmouth to Le Havre last summer and had a bad experience. Le Havre is not cycle-friendly. It's a big busy city. The problem is getting onto the Pont de Normandie that takes you south over the Seine estuary to Honfleur. I downloaded a recommended route to the bridge via the CTC website, taking you along a supposedly signed cycle route through the docks to the bridge. But the signs for the cycle route were few and far between, some roads and minor bridges were closed for repairs and I ended up going back and forth trying to get onto the bridge along a route that didn't involve riding illegally on a motorway. I eventually managed to get onto the bridge after several frustrating hours of approaching it from various directions. The bridge itself is very steep and the cycle lane is very close to traffic thundering past you. I did it in the pouring rain and a raging sidewind making it hard to keep in a straight line. Every lorry that overtook me almost blew me over! Hard work and not much fun.

    I would recommend the Brittany Ferries service from Portsmouth to Caen or Cherbourg. Caen is very cycle-friendly. There's a good cycleway from the terminal at Oustreham to Pegasus Bridge and into Caen itself. A good touring area. The Suisse Normande south of Caen is pictresque and quite hilly. Cherbourg is another option. The Cotentin peninsula is OK for two or three days of cycling.

    Another good option from Portsmouth is to go to St Malo with Brittany Ferries. It's many years since I last did it but I seem to remember it's easy enough to get out of on a bike. Nice touring country all around.
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