Brittany Borders Bicycling

The 'Apples and Pears' cycle tour in Normandy

A fully-supported, self-guided cycling tour of France's southern Normandy, perfect for spring or autumn

Total distance: 260kms (160 miles)
Max. daily distance: 80kms (50 miles)
Grade: Moderate (Assuming reasonable level of cycling fitness)

Normandy has been described as a land of picturesque half-timbered houses, lush green pastures and orchards of apple and pear; and this self-guided cycling tour takes you on a journey through the beautiful rural heartland of southern Normandy. Spring or autumn are the perfect times of the year to do this tour. In the spring the meadows and roadside banks are carpeted with wild flowers, and the fruit trees are laden with blossom. In the autumn months the orchards are groaning with apples and pears, some of which will be harvested to make into cider, Calvados and perry. This is a fully supported biking tour providing circular daily rides of between 50kms (30miles) and 80kms (50miles) and is designed for couples, families and groups.

If you are seeking a holiday cycling along quiet country lanes and byways away from the crowds, then this is the tour for you.

A table made for two

Itinerary

Day 1 - Distance: 68kms (42 miles)

A gentle cycle ride through the Normandy and Mayenne countryside on quiet lanes, passing through pretty villages and small towns, including Mantilly (Capital of the Pear), Passais and St. Fraimbault. Near the end of the day's ride at Fougerolles-du-Plessis, treat yourself to a brioche from the boulangerie, which in 2009 won the award of 'Champion of France - Best Brioche'.

Day 2 - Non-cycling day

Day 3 - Distance: 80kms (50 miles)

This is the longest of the cycle rides, but a large section of it is off-road following the route of an old railway line which has been converted to a cycle path. The town of Pontmain is visited, which is a modern day pilgrimage centre, attracting over 200,000 visitors a year to its magnificent cathedral. From Pontmain, the route wanders its way to Fougeres passing through the beautiful Fougeres Forest, with its 1600 hectares (3950 acres) of deciduous woodland, many species of wildlife and monuments dating back as far as the megalithic period. Stop for lunch in the historic and thriving Breton town of Fougeres, with its perfectly preserved 'old' town dominated by a superb castle, which is recognised as one of the best examples of a mediaeval chateau in Europe. Start the return leg on the cycle path from the heart of Fougeres.

Day 4 - Non-cycling day

Pontmain 'Cathedral'

Day 5 - Distance: 47kms (30 miles)

This route meanders through the stunningly beautiful valley of the River Selune, with some of the ride following the riverbank on an off-road cycle path converted from an old railway line. The landscape is one of lush meadows and orchards of apples and pears. You will pass farms which make and sell cider, Calvados, perry and apple juice from the local fruit. Stop for a picnic lunch in the orchard of the 'Apples and Pears Museum'. The museum contains a wealth of information about the heritage of the fruit-growing industry of the region, together with a shop selling locally produced products. After lunch, cycle back along the side of the valley, gradually climbing, and perhaps stopping for a break in the small market town of Le Teilleul.

Day 6 - Distance: 67kms (41 miles)

This cycle ride has some of the best panoramic views in southern Normandy. Start the route by heading down into the valley, before picking-up the dedicated cycle path which skirts around the lower slopes of the hillside town of Mortain. Mortain was the scene of intense fighting in August 1944 following the D-Day Landings. The route gradually gains height above Mortain following the ridge above the valley, which is within the Regional Park of Normandy. The winding lane then swoops downhill through the Forest of Mortain offering breathtaking views across the valley before arriving in the town of Barenton. From Barenton the route meanders for the rest of the ride along quiet country lanes.

What we provide

We provide a warm welcome, four self-guided, fully supported cycle rides, including comprehensive and easy to follow route guides/maps and written directions. We also provide bicycles and other bike related equipment for your use at no additional cost (see BIKES & OTHER EQUIPMENT). However, if you would prefer to bring your own bike, this is no problem and we will adjust the price of the tour accordingly. We also provide a full backup service if you have a mechanical problem, and are also on hand to assist you in the unlikely event of you getting lost. Details of sites of interest and places to eat/drink to be found on each day's ride are also provided.

Menhirs in Fougeres Forest
As far as our bike tour goes I would say that you have definitely put a lot of thought into the routes to ensure maximum personal safety while being able to take in the pleasures of the area. The routes took us past the highlights of the area that as general tourists we would not have found. The time of year (April) was sensational showing the best of what the area had to offer. The locals are so friendly and try very hard to communicate with the obvious foreigners, and the kids loved to look at the tandem! If people are thinking about doing a bike ride...do it!! Even if you haven't a lot of experience, give it a go, you'll love it!! And of course you guys are great and gave us confidence to ride out on our adventure without worrying about getting lost or having a mechanical breakdown. It was a great comfort
Jodie & Steve, Lambton, NSW, Australia.

Accommodation

Your accommodation is on a self-catering basis, situated in an idyllic and peaceful rural location close to the market town of Saint-Hilaire-du-Harcouet. You will be based in a charming stone-built farmhouse dating from the 17th century, which has been sympathetically renovated, retaining its original character, but providing modern facilities and comfortable accommodation. There is also a large garden for you to relax in after a day in the saddle and ample secure, weather-proof storage for your bikes. Your welcoming English hosts will ensure that you have a thoroughly enjoyable and restful stay. For full details of the accommodation, please click here.

Pause by the stream

Duration

The tour is based upon a week's stay, from Saturday to Saturday with four rides and two rest days. We think that it is a good idea to have a couple of rest or "do your own thing" days, when you can perhaps go sightseeing, visit a local market, go to the beach or even go for a cycle ride if you wish!

Price

The cost of the tour comprising of four rides including route maps, backup and hire of bicycle is 200€ (Euros) per person. The additional cost of the gite, providing accommodation for up to 12 people, starts from 400€ (Euros) per week depending upon the time of year and the number of people. If you would like to make payment in a currency other than euros, please contact us.

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Contact Details

Tel: (0033) (0)2 99 97 08 76

Business Hours: 9am to 6pm

Email: info@brittanybordersbicycling.com

Brittany Borders Bicycling, Chez M ou Mme Hall, La Ramée Gérard, 35420 St Georges de Reintembault, France