Normandy – D-Day Cycling Holiday
Start / FinishCarentan / Caen
Distance118 miles/190 kms
Explore all five of the D-Day landing beaches on this 5 night cycling holiday along the Normandy coast. Museums and memorials to the momentous events of 6th of June 1944 punctuate the route which also features rolling green countryside, fine sandy beaches and gorgeous old Norman villages.
This beautiful area of Normandy with its verdant green countryside and charming little towns with half-timbered buildings will forever be linked with the D-Day landings of World War II when the allied forces came ashore and began the battle to claim back Europe from Nazi Germany. All along this coastline there are memorials and museums that tell the stories of bravery and tragedy that unfolded in June 1944.
The route starts in the small town of Carentan from where you will cycle out to Utah Beach via the pretty village of St. Mère Église, the first town to be liberated by the allies. The shell craters at La Pointe Hoc are still very visible and the sea of white head stones above Omaha beach at the American Cemetery are very moving indeed.
The remains of Churchill’s Mulberry harbours at Arromanches on Gold Beach look like great concrete whales beached in the shallows and a visit to the town’s D-Day Museum brings Operation Overlord to life once again.
In between the memorials, museums and historical artifacts, the natural beauty of the Norman countryside asserts itself at every opportunity. The verdant green countryside is bordered by steep cliffs leading to huge fine-sand beaches and the traditional half-timbered houses, so typical of this area, blend in to the timeless landscape perfectly.
The route leads you along bike paths and greenways as well as secondary roads. There are a few sections on slightly busier roads but these are kept to a minimum. The route does feature some ups and downs and as such merits its leisurely to moderate grading. E-bikes are available and worth considering if you are at all concerned about the hills.
Itinerary & Map
Day 1: Arrive Carentan
After checking in to your hotel the rest of the day is yours to relax and enjoy this pretty little town. One of the first strategic goals of the advancing allied forces in June 1944, the town was the scene of a fierce 6 day battle between the German 6th Parachute Regiment and the American 101st Airborne Division. The 11th century cathedral sustained some serious damage but has since been restored to its former glory and is well worth a visit. We also recommend a stroll around the marina which is located on a canal that links the town to the Normandy coast 8km away.
Day 2: Circular ride to St. Mère Église and Utah Beach, 37 miles/60 kms
Your first ride leads you along a lovely greenway cycle path, through the Cotentin wetlands to the town of St. Mère Église, the first French town to be liberated by the allies. The Airborne Museum, located in the town, has some great memorabilia from Operation Overlord and is well worth a visit. You then cycle out to the coast to Utah Beach where the American 4th Infantry Division and 70th Tank Battalion came ashore. The Utah Beach Museum houses one of the few remaining B26 Bombers and does a great job of describing the events that unfolded on this beach in June 1944. Th route then leads you back, through the charming Normandy countryside to Carentan.
Day 3: Carentan – Omaha Beach – Port en Bessin, 31 miles/50 kms
Today you begin your journey east along the Normandy coast. The delightful little village of Isigny-sur-Mer may tempt you to stop for a stroll around and a coffee before heading on out to Pointe du Hoc, a high vantage point separating Utah and Omaha Beaches. The landscape here is still pockmarked with deep craters left by the shells launched from allied warships. A little further along the coast you reach Omaha Beach, where the US 1st and 29th Divisions lost over 2000 men during the very difficult landings on this well defended stretch of coastline. The sea of white headstones stretching across the well manicured lawns of the American Cemetery at Coleville-sur-Mer is a moving and visible reminder of just how many paid the ultimate price in this little corner of Normandy. You’ll stop for the night in the pleasant little fishing village of Port-en-Bessin.
Day 4: Port en Bessin – Gold Beach – Juno Beach – Courseulles sur Mer, 22 miles/35 kms
Today’s ride leads you further along the coast to Gold Beach where the British Army came ashore. Their objective was to establish a beachhead and then to capture the village of Arromanches and link up with the US forces at Omaha Beach. En-route you will pass the impressive defensive battery at Longues-sur-Mer before descending to Arromanches itself. Just off-shore and on the beach itself you can see the remains of the ingenious prefabricated Mulberry Harbours that were towed across the channel from England and enabled allied forces to offload heavy equipment and supplies more easily. Take a stroll around the pretty village, perhaps paying a visit to the excellent D-Day Museum before continuing your ride. The route follows a network of hedge-lined lanes through a quiet, rural landscape to the little port of Courseulles-sur-Mer which is located on Juno Beach where the Canadian Army came ashore. The Juno Beach Centre Museum does a great job of depicting how events unfolded here for the Canadian soldiers.
Day 5: Courseulles sur Mer – Sword Beach – Pegasus Bridge – Caen, 28 miles/45 kms
Today’s route continues along the Normandy coast to the most easterly of the D-Day landing beaches – Sword Beach. The small seaside town of Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer marks the western limit of this landing area that stretches 13 kilometers along the coast to the port of Ouistreham. The British Army came ashore here, initially to quite light resistance but moving inland towards Caen was slow and costly. You’ll also head inland at this point, following the Caen Canal to the Pegasus Memorial on the site of the old Pegasus bridge. A daring raid by glider-born troups in the dead of night just prior to the landings took the Germans by surprise and secured the bridge for the allied forces thereby preventing enemy reinforcements from getting to Sword Beach.
From here you ride into the town of Caen where the route finishes. We highly recommend a visit to the excellent Caen Memorial Museum which has some wonderful exhibits that help explain the D-Day landings as well as World War II in general.
Being quite a large city, Caen has an excellent selection pf restaurants and bars in which to celebrate completion of your D-Day Beaches Cycling Holiday.
Day 6: Departure
After breakfast it’s time to head for home or your next adventure.
Dates & Prices
|2020 Arrival Dates|
|Daily arrivals 01 April to 15 October|
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|Deposit per person||£235|
5 x Breakfast
Luggage transfer (2 x 20kg piece pp)
Maps & route information
Bike hire (see supplements)
Entrance fees to monuments
Halfboard, superior (£202)
Extra night Carantan, double/twin, comfort (£59)
Extra night Carantan, single, comfort (£104)
Extra night Carantan, double/twin, superior (£69)
Extra night Carantan, single, superior (£118)
Extra night Caen, double/twin, comfort (£64)
Extra night Caen, single, comfort (£109)
Extra night Caen, double/twin, superior (£133)
Extra night Caen, single, superior (£226)
Regular bike with lock & pannier. See practical information (£84)
Electric bike with pannier & lock (£158)
Regular bikes provided are modern alloy framed models with 24 speeds. The bikes come equipped with pannier, lock and a repair kit with pump.
Electric bikes are also available.
We suggest you bring your own helmet for safety and hygiene reasons. Alternatively, helmets are provided on arrival.
Below you will find examples of the types of accommodation typically used on this tour. Please note that the hotels we book for you may differ slightly from those described but they will certainly be of a similar standard.
Comfort: Comfortable hotels
Superior: Good quality hotels
Take the ferry from Portsmouth to Caen or Le Havre and then either drive or take a bus/train to Carentan (40 mins from Caen/2hrs30 mins from Le Havre). Alternatively, fly or take the Eurostar to Paris and then take a train to Carentan via Caen.
At the end of the trip take the ferry back to Portsmouth from Caen or catch the train to Le Havree or Paris from Caen.