Our Brittany-Normandy adventure begins with two nights in an elegant, 18th century château near Cancale – renowned for its oyster production. From there we bicycle beside the River Rance to visit medieval Dinan with its superb half-timbered houses, Gothic churches and picturesque winding streets. The next day we’ll cycle via Cancale along the beautiful Emerald Coast to the fascinating walled city of St. Malo where we’ll spend the night in the heart of the historic center. In charming Dol-de-Bretagne we’ll enjoy lunch before easy biking to Mont St. Michel, the mountain on which Benedictine monks built their astonishing abbey in the middle ages. It’s an experience you won’t soon forget!
The next morning we’ll transfer to St. Isigny near the coast of Normandy, for a scenic bike where we’ll visit Pointe du Hoc, Omaha Beach and the American Cemetery at Colleville. Bayeux, our final destination was miraculously untouched by the W.W.II bombardments. Here we’ll visit the famous Queen Mathilde Tapestry, an amazing, hand made, 230 feet long tapestry that retraces the Norman conquest of England in1066 and bears a unique depiction of life in the XI th century. This 7 day/ 6 night tour allots two nights each in La Gouesniere and Bayeaux, and one night in St. Malo and Mont St. Michel. We will enjoy 4 superb dinners together, along with daily breakfast. The tour is limited to 14 people!
- Cycling scenic paths with the breeze of the Atlantic coast in your hair
- Strolling the curving, cobblestone streets of a medieval walled city
- Enjoying panoramic bay views of Mont St. Michel from your cozy hotel room
- Tracing the sobering history of WWII in this now-peaceful landscape
- Exploring the beautiful gardens of a chateau – Indulging in fresh, local oysters and seafood in a quiet fishing village
We’ll welcome you at the train station in St. Malo in the early afternoon. Then we’ll transfer to our charming hotel in close-by St. Meloir des Ondes. After our orientation meeting we’ll take a warm-up ride to the Bay of St. Michel along the Atlantic coast. In the evening we’ll enjoy our first outstanding French dinner, beautifully presented in the attractive dining room of the hotel.
Today we’ll cycle through picturesque valleys, pastures and quiet villages to Dinan, a surprisingly well-preserved, medieval walled city overlooking the River Rance and its colorful port. We’ll have lunch in this “architectural jewel”, where there will be ample time to follow the ramparts around the city. We’ll stroll through the curving, cobblestone streets; admire the Roman Basilica, half-timbered houses, castles, squares and public garden Dinan is famous for. We return to our hotel closely following the River Rance and stopping in its delightful small ports with great views over its tidal flats. Dinner will be in our elegant hotel.
Today we must reluctantly leave our hotel in St. Meloir and bike north to Cancale, a charming fishing town famous for its fresh oysters. Please do not ask for any condiments with this oyster treat as they are eaten “solo” in this part of France! Afterward we pedal on along the beautiful Emerald Coast enjoying expansive, quiet coastal views. There is time to stop at one of the magnificent beaches and to dip our feet in the Bay of Mont St. Michel. Then we’ll cycle on to our comfortable hotel in the heart of St. Malo. St. Malo is a very interesting medieval walled city, founded in the sixth century by a Welsh monk. It was the birthplace of the discoverer of Canada, Jacques Cartier, and today is one of the most popular seaports in Brittany with a bustling town center excellent for shopping. We’ll arrive early in the afternoon giving you ample time to explore or shop in this delightful city. Dinner is on your own tonight. St Malo offers many excellent local seafood restaurants.
We’ll depart from St. Malo today, biking through gently rolling hills and charming rural countryside to the former religious capital of Brittany, Dol-de-Bretagne. After a short visit and a tempting French pastry snack we’ll bike on and soon reach the comfortable, flat polders around Mont St. Michel. The bay, the medieval town and the Abbey create an effect which is unrivaled anywhere else in the world. Every room in our hotel has a panoramic view on this marvelous sight. In the afternoon you have plenty of time to visit the famous Abbey of Mont St. Michel, one of the seven world wonders and the medieval town with its quaint, half-timbered houses built into the rock face. It’s an unforgettable experience! This evening dinner is in your own. You will have no trouble choosing from one of the many excellent local restaurants.
This morning we’ll cross the steep hills of Western Normandy by mini bus and arrive in about 90 minutes at Isigny-sur-Mer. After a mid-morning coffee break we’ll pedal through peaceful backcountry to Grandcamp-Maisy where our heartstrings will be pulled as we encounter our first sobering W.W. II memorials. Then we follow the coast to Pointe du Hoc, a deadly German fortification, where many American soldiers lost their lives during intense fighting on June 6, 1944. Next are Omaha Beach, sight of the greatest naval invasion in history and the Colleville Cemetery with its perfectly aligned white crosses and stars of David, marking the final resting place of over 9,000 Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country – truly a place for reflection and remembrance. We are moved and grateful to be able to cycle in the afternoon past peaceful farms and villages to beautiful Bayeux, the first French town to be liberated on June 7, 1944 and miraculously untouched by bombs. Our chateau hotel is near the center of this wonderful, old city. You’ll have time to visit the Notre-Dame Cathedral, one of the finest in France, with sections dating back to 1077 or just to stroll and window shop in the delightfully quaint city streets. Dinner is in one of the finest restaurants of Bayeux.
This morning we’ll walk to view “Queen Mathilde’s Tapestry”, a remarkable embroidery in wool on linen, 230 feet long and 20 inches high! It is truly a one-of-a-kind, pictorial account of the events leading up to the military invasion of England by William the Conqueror and is a wonderful representation of life in the 11th century. After our visit we’ll have an optional cycle over tranquil rural roads through lovely country to Creully, another picturesque village of Normandy. Here we’ll pass by the former BBC headquarters in the Creully Mansion and then bike to the interesting formal Gardens of Brécy, a château currently being renovated. Optional after returning to Bayeux is a visit to the W.W.II Museum, an emotional “summing up” of all the horrors of this tragic war. Before our delectable farewell dinner you‘ll have time for some last minute shopping in the center of Bayeux.
Individual departure after breakfast to catch a train for the two-hour train ride back to Paris. If you intend to fly home today, please be careful to schedule your flight for the afternoon so you have time to make the train connections to Paris and then to Charles de Gaulle or Orly Airport. The total time needed from Bayeaux to the airports for trains, metro, taxis or buses is about 4 hours.
Dates & Prices
|2018 Tour Dates|
Great Trip from hello to good bye. My wife and I just celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary with a Van Gogh guided trip to Normandy and Brittany. From the minute we were greated by the Van Gogh family at the train until they drove us to our departure train they were focused on providing us with the best service possible. The trip was planned perfectly – we were never bored nor did we ever say we had too much. They clearly know what works for their clients. All the hotels were nice – the meals all very good and the mix of cycling and site seeing was perfect. While they can not take credit for the weather it did not hurt that we have 6 days of sunshine! If you are looking for great service at a great value – go Van Gogh!!!!!
The hotels listed below are examples of those usually used on the tour. Depending on availability, you may be booked in a different hotel of equal quality.
A family business, created in 1936 by Adelaide Guerin and her future husband Mr. Tirel, Maison Tirel Guerin is an integral part of the culture in Brittany and the Saint-Malo region. In a previous era, the establishment was a little “café-bar” opposite Gouesnière train station, and considered “avant-garde” in its organizing balls on weekends. Today, the hotel is known throughout the region for its excellent fine French food and a warm, friendly atmosphere.
Hotel France et Chateaubriand
Located in the heart of the fortified city Saint-Malo, you will discover an elegant building of character. Built in the traditional neo-classical style of 19th-century French seaside resorts, the hotel offers 80 fully equipped rooms (including 20 with sea views). Discover the Great Aquarium, Bourbansais Zoo, the Mont-Saint-Michel, the Solidor Tower, Saint-Malo’s Spring tides, the rock sculptures and even Fort National.
Relais Saint Michel
This comfortable, elegant 4-star hotel is nestled in the heart of a landscape garden and boasts a stunning view over the bay of Mont Saint Michel. Each room offers the ultimate in comfort in peaceful surroundings by day and by night. The restaurant offers a panoramic view of the sea and Mont Saint Michel bay, as well as authentic, gourmet cuisine. Ideally located a few minutes from the medieval village of Mont Saint Michel, the Hotel Le Relais Saint Michel will be your haven of peace during your stay.
Chateau de Bellefontaine
The Château de Bellefontaine is an integral part of this rich region. Its history is marked by the epic of William the Conqueror, and the castle was released by the Allied Landing during the Second World War. The scenery is immense, with the bicentennial park opening towards the tranquil countryside. The moat of the Castle, filled with swans and ducks, takes you back to the romanticism of a forgotten era. Whether it’s the calm of and well-being of winter, passed by the sounds of a crackling fire, or a sunny day spent relaxing on the terrace, the Castle of Bellefontaine opens its doors to you.
- 6 nights lodging in mostly small, family-owned hotels with private facilities
- 4 dinners, 2 lunches, and 6 breakfasts
- Bike rental
- Entrance fee to Bayeux Reine Mathilde Museum
- Outstanding, personalized leadership by VGT’s owner and a co-guide
- Support van
- Daily route directions
- Baggage handling
- All taxes and gratuities for the hotel and restaurant portions of the tour
24-speed hybrid Trek bikes are included on the tour. Bicycles come equipped with: grip shifters, handlebar bag, bell, cage, and water bottle. We have everything you’ll need in the van to make your biking experience more comfortable, including toe cages (no clips for clip in shoes), rear view mirrors, and rear panniers. It’s also possible to replace our pedals with your own “clip in” pedals. Helmets are not included so please bring a helmet! We do have a few helmets available for rent for $20 for the week. If you wish to rent one, please let us know ahead of time.
To rent an e-bike is also possible. Please inquire with us for the price. We advise you only to rent an electric bike if you have first tried one at home. They’re heavier than regular bikes and therefore can be difficult to maneuver.
Daily buffet breakfast, 2 coffee breaks, 2 lunches and 4 dinners are included in the tour price. For the buffet breakfasts there’s an assortment of cold meats and cheeses, eggs, bread, croissants, jam, cereal, yogurt, fruit, coffee, and tea. For the two included lunches we’ll stop together in a local restaurant. For the other lunches we’ll be in a town with lots of choices of simple to extravagant restaurants. Dinners are 3-courses with either a set menu or a choice of 2 or 3 options. On the two nights when you are on your own for dinner, you can choose one of many delicious restaurant options within easy walking distance from our hotel.
We can accommodate many types of dietary restrictions including vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and dairy free. Please indicate these requests at the time of booking.
- Alcoholic and bar beverages
- Two dinners
- 4 lunches
- Independent sightseeing
- Transportation other than scheduled VGT transfers
- Other items of a personal nature
Tour begins in the afternoon at the train station in St. Malo. You can reach St. Malo from Paris by TGV to Rennes (two hours) and then a local train to St. Malo (another hour). You will receive the exact meeting time after full payment is received. For last minute train schedules visit the website of the French Railways, www.sncf.com.
The tour concludes in the morning of day 7 after breakfast. It’s a 5 minute cab ride from our hotel to the Bayeux train station. The local train from Bayeux to Paris takes about two hours. Return flight from Paris to the USA should be scheduled for the late afternoon!