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Cycling Normandy: Côte D'albâtre and the Baie De Somme 34

Cycling in Normandy: Côte D’albâtre and Baie De Somme

Overview

Between the grey and blue hues of the English Channel, the ever-changing skies, the white chalk cliffs of Etretat, the traditional ochre cob of the houses and their abundant flower arrangements, the Côte d’Albâtre is far more colourful than one imagines. Besides for the impressionists, this area has been also an inspiration for many cyclists for a reason: a superb mix of quiet coastal backroads, interspersed with charming fishing ports and small villages, the cliffs of Etretat, but also the wonderful Fécamp, Saint Valéry en Caux and Veules les Roses. The route follows the coastline, as you head towards the estuary of the Baie de Somme with its nature reserve and abundance of birdlife. You take the time to appreciate the Belle Epoque architecture of Mers les Bains and the medieval Saint Valéry sur Somme, before finishing your journey in the small fishing ports along the bay.

  • The Cliffs of Etretat
  • The Small Port of Fécamp
  • Veules les Roses, one of the most beautiful villages in France
  • The Baie de Somme, a veritable ornithological treasure

Click to view map

Itinerary

Day 1: Le Havre – Etretat | 40 km

The tour begins at 10am at Le Havre SNCF railway station. On request we can book the previous night’s accommodation for you in Le Havre.

You start with a tour of Le Havre’s centre, which isn’t the prettiest, having paid a heavy price during World War II. Still, some modern architectural projects along the docks are revitalising the Norman city and are definitely worth seeing. You then leave Le Havre and head north along the Côte d’Albâtre, getting your first opportunity to discover the surrounding countryside, as well as the many small villages perched above the coastline. You get in the heart of the Caux region, a vast limestone plateau named after its first inhabitants. The coast takes its name from the colour of alabaster, a mineral whose many shades of white are present in the cliffs that plunge into the sea. You end the day at one of the symbols of the Côte d’Albâtre: the cliffs of Etretat, where some superb tracks allow you to reach the cliffs of Etretat by bike. You then settle into a small hotel in the village’s centre before enjoying your first night by the sea.

Day 2: Etretat – Fécamp | 20 – 35 km

Today’s stage is deliberately short, offering plenty of time to enjoy Etretat. After breakfast, you can go on an optional walk along the “Chemin des Douaniers”, a superb path that follows the coastline. The walk is rewarded with great views of the pierced Etretat rock arches and can be adapted according to your energy and enthusiasm, with the full tour taking between 1h 30 and 2h. You then pick up your bikes and head for Yport via several “valleuses”, dips in the land offering natural access points to the sea, and characteristic of the Caux region. The route then takes you to the pretty village of Fécamp, whose activity is predominantly maritime. Fish and seafood take pride of place here, and the numerous restaurants offer the opportunity to sample the local delicacies after a walk along the seafront.

  • Cycling Option 1: approx. 20 km; altitude gain: approx. 150 m
    Cycling Option 2: approx. 35 km; altitude gain: approx. 300 m
  • Accommodation: Hôtel du Commerce or similar

Day 3: Fécamp – Veulettes-sur-Mer | 30 – 35 km

The departure from Fécamp this morning is a bit demanding: the town is set deep into the valley of Valmont, which means you have to climb up and onto the nearby headland that overlooks the town and the sea. You continue your discovery of the coastline and the Cauchois country, with its peaceful villages surrounded by lush meadows, reed beds, peat bogs and forests. The narrow country lanes that criss-cross the local countryside offer ideal terrain for cycling. The local architecture also offers plenty to admire with its traditional cottages of red brick and thatched roofs. You pass through Sassetot le Mauconduit, whose chateau served as a residence for the Empress Elisabeth of Austria, also known as Empress Sisi. A final descent at the end of the day leads you straight to your overnight stop, Veulettes-sur-Mer. Its long, broad, pebble beach offers a superb spot to watch the sunset over the high white cliffs and the Butte du Catelier. A great place to relax and unwind.

  • Cycling Option 1: approx. 30 km; altitude gain: approx. 150 m
    Cycling Option 2: approx. 35 km; altitude gain: approx. 400 m
  • Accommodation: Local family hotel/guesthouse

Day 4: Veulettes-sur-Mer – Veules-les-Roses | 25 – 40 km

Shortly after leaving Veulettes, you stop at the Château de Janville, a beautiful 17th-century building, set in a lush green setting. A quiet back road that turns into a track leads you straight to Saint Valéry en Caux, a pretty little Cauchois port, home to fishing boats and pleasure boats alike. The small lanes surrounding the port are full of flower displays, and the port itself beats to the rhythm of the returns from the sea and the fish market. About halfway through the stage, Saint Valéry is a perfect place for lunch. The itinerary then takes you on to one of the prettiest destinations on the route: Veules-les-Roses. The village is considered to be one of the most beautiful in France, and possibly the most beautiful in Normandy. Home to the Veules, which holds the record for the shortest river in France at only 1194m, Veules-les-Roses is full of hidden gems and is well worth discovering, on the bikes or on foot. Watermills, dovecotes and some half-timbered houses with traditional thatched roofs offer a superb journey back in time. And the many rose bushes that fill the flowerbeds, hedges and walls of the village top off a beautiful and bucolic setting. You settle into your guesthouse for the night.

  • Cycling option 1: approx. 25 km; altitude gain: approx. 150 m
    Cycling option 2: approx. 40 km; altitude gain: approx. 250 m
  • Accommodation: Local family hotel/guesthouse

Day 5: Veules-les-Roses – Dieppe | 30 – 45 km

You head north again today, following the Côte d’Albatre, and pass through Sotteville sur Mer, before following the coastline on a narrow back road that leads you to Saint Aubain and Quiberville. Take the time to visit Saint Marguerite sur Mer and its 12th-century Romanesque church, before an optional out and back trip to the small lighthouse of Ailly. You also cross the village of Varengeville sur Mer, a popular holiday destination for the Parisian bourgeoisie in the past centuries. The option 2 route heads off on an extra loop inland. You pick up a section of the Route du Lin cycle route from Luneray to Pourville sur mer in the Saâne valley. You then drop down once again from the limestone plateau of the Caux region towards the sea. Tonight, you stop over in the town of Dieppe. Despite paying a heavy price during the Hundred Years’ War, as well as during World War II, Dieppe nonetheless retains some charming remnants from an era when Parisians began to flock to the beaches of the English Channel. You settle into a guest house, before making the most of Dieppe’s many restaurants and Norman specialities.

  • Cycling option 1: approx. 30 km; altitude gain: approx. 350 m
    Cycling option 2: approx. 45 km; altitude gain: approx. 450 m
  • Accommodation: Villa des Capucins or similar

Day 6: Dieppe – Le Trépor | 30 – 50 km

Second to last stage of your journey, and the last stage in Normandy, as tonight’s stopover is on the borders of the Picardie region. You can count yourselves lucky if you get a glimpse of its small, sky blue flowers, whose blossom is particularly short-lived and discreet. From village to village, from Belleville sur Mer to Tocqueville sur Eu, your route takes you through the pretty Normandy countryside. At Criel sur Mer, you plunge to the edge of the English Channel and discover its pebble beach, surrounded by the highest chalk cliffs in Europe. The painted wooden bathing huts add a traditional seaside resort feel to the village. The stage route continues to Le Tréport, a pleasant seaside resort, and the last Norman stronghold before the plains and the Baie de Somme.

  • Cycling option 1: approx. 30 km; altitude gain: approx. 250 m
    Cycling option 2: approx. 50 km; altitude gain: approx. 500 m
  • Accommodation: La villa Marine or similar

Day 7: Le Tréport – Baie de Somme – Noyelles-sur-Me | 35 km

You leave Le Tréport this morning for the last stage of your journey. The Norman countryside gives way to the district of the Somme and the region of the Picardie. This morning’s itinerary follows the English Channel, and little by little, the vast Baie de Somme comes into view. The high white cliffs give way to the flat Picardie coast. The route takes you along a fine line between the land and the sea, as here (unlike the plateau of the Pays de Caux, protected from the sea by its natural cliffs), Man has had to fight against the onslaught of the English Channel. From Cayeux sur Mer you ride along dikes until you reach Saint Valéry en Somme, on the south shore of the bay, one of the three ports, with the Crotoy (north shore) and the Hourdel. The tour finishes in style at Saint Valéry en Somme railway station where you board a small tourist train, whose locomotives date back to the first quarter of the 20th century. The train takes you on a tour of the bay before dropping you off at Noyelles sur Mer, a small town that marks the end of your journey.

  • Cycling distance for the day: approx. 35 km; altitude gain: almost zero

What to Expect

Accommodation

On this cycling holiday, you will be staying in comfortable 2-star hotels and guesthouses. We have carefully hand-picked all places and regularly monitor their quality. We have tried to choose accommodations that offer friendly service, clean and comfortable rooms and local flavour.

Click to view default hotels

Hotel la Taverne Des Deux Augustins, Hôtel du Commerce, Villa des Capucins, La villa Marine

Hotels and guesthouses are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates it will be replaced with a hotel of equal value and quality level

Meals

Six breakfasts are included. When no restaurant location is available on route lunches and snacks should either be bought from local shops or you can pre-order a packed lunch at your hotel. Dinner is available either from the restaurant in your accommodation or restaurants in the village near your hotel. A half-board supplement (6 dinners) is bookable upon request.

Difficulty & terrain

This holiday is appropriate for both beginner and intermediate cyclists in good physical shape. The daily distances vary between 35 km and 50 km, with a minimum altitude gain; you can optionally extend most rides. The route goes mostly on secondary country roads, with limited traffic and scenic surroundings (read more about difficulty grades). It is also possible to rent an electric bike, so this way the tour would accessible to everybody.

When to go

This trip is available from mid-April until early October. The flexibility of self guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates and you can start your trip on any date within the season.

Route Navigation

You will receive an email 2 weeks before departure, containing all the information necessary for your upcoming tour, including the following navigation tools:

  • Dedicated smartphone app on which you can download the full tour itinerary, view tour maps and route profiles, access the list of booked accommodation and services, useful contacts, etc.
  • Detailed Road Book (in digital version only) containing full colour maps with highlighted routes, step-by-step route description, and route profiles
  • GPS tracks compatible with all GPS devices/apps

Getting there

FCO up-to-date travel advice

Click to view travel options

By plane

The best arrival/departure point is Paris Airport.

By train or bus

Train connections from the UK
Take the Eurostar from London St-Pancras International to Paris (Gard du Nord). Please check the SNCF website for more details on schedules and prices. Total journey time is about 5.5 hours.

Inclusions

Included

  • 6 nights in guesthouses and 2* hotels in double rooms with en-suite facilities
  • 6 breakfasts
  • Daily baggage transfers
  • The train from Saint Valéry en Somme to Noyelles-sur-Mer
  • Our navigation app for smartphones, a detailed road book including maps (digital format) and GPS track
  • 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative

Excluded

  • Lunches and dinners not mentioned as ‘included’
  • International flights
  • Arrival transportation to the meeting place
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Drinks at the accommodations
  • Additional travel-related to changes in the programme due to bad weather
  • All personal expenses
  • Everything not explicitly mentioned as ‘Included’
  • Bike return tax in case you do not transport your rental bikes to La Havre by yourself (by the local train)

Options, extras & supplements

  • A supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room
  • This holiday is not available for solo travellers
  • Extra nights before the tour, along the way and at the end of the tour can be booked on request
  • Bike rental (standard or e-bike)
  • Half-board supplement (6 dinners)
  • Bike return tax in case you do not transport your rental bikes to La Havre by yourself (by the local train)

Bike Rental

In case you would like to rent a bike from us, we can offer you good quality hybrid or e-bikes in excellent condition with appropriate gearing and equipment for the trip. All bicycles (whatever the model) are equipped with a bike lock, a helmet, a puncture repair kit, and a pump. In many cases, at least one rear pannier, as well as a bar bag, are included. Sample pictures attached below, note that the exact models might be different depending on the availability, but the standard will be the same.

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