About the challenge
This wonderful challenge takes us from Paris west through Normandy towards the beautiful coastline of Brittany: with long days in the saddle this will be an unforgettable achievement! Starting from central Paris, we head out of this stunning city through the small villages and medieval market towns of Northern France, taking in some of the WW2 sites around Caen and the Normandy beaches en-route. A long challenging day takes us to St Malo; we then take the ferry back to Jersey and finish with a ride into St Helier, where we are greeted at our finish line by a host of supporters – a wonderful way to end our journey!
Day 1: St Helier – St Malo – Paris
We will meet at the ferry terminal where the crew will give a detailed briefing on the trip ahead. We’ll take the ferry across to St Malo and continue our journey to Paris. It will be a late arrival in Paris so we’ll get checked-in at the hotel and rest before our first day in the saddle. Night hotel.
Day 2: Paris – Evreux
Cycle approx 112km (70 miles)
We set off from the Eiffel Tower, a wonderful way to start our ride! The streets in Paris are busy, but we leave early to avoid as much traffic as possible, and enjoy riding past beautiful Paris buildings and landmarks as we head west out of the city. Riding through the prosperous suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt, which lies just to the south of the famous Bois de Boulogne, it is not long before the city’s roads are behind us and we are cycling on smaller, quieter roads. We now ride through open, agricultural landscapes, passing villages with squat Norman churches, colourful shuttered houses and tree-lined market squares – peaceful rural scenes which are as quintessentially French as the grandeur of Paris behind us. We cross the River Eure and head towards the cathedral town of Evreux, our destination for the night. Evreux dates back to the 5th Century AD, and its cathedral is one of the largest in France. Night hotel.
Day 3: Evreux – Caen
Cycle approx 138km (85 miles)
A longer day today, as we continue west on quiet roads. The cycling is mostly flat and takes us through agricultural lands into meandering valleys and traditional farming hamlets. Our route takes us along shady beech-tree-lined avenues which are typically French, and we pass some pockets of woodland. There are plenty of apple orchards in this region – the area produces lots of cider and calvados! As we approach the coast we head north, avoiding the busy streets of central Caen. Time permitting, we may be able to stop at Pegasus Bridge, where the first house to be liberated from the Germans in June 1944 still stands; it is now a café and museum. From here it’s not far to our hotel. Night hotel.
Day 4: Caen – St Lô
Cycle approx 112km (70 miles)
A shorter day today, with a beautiful ride along the coast towards the small town of Arromanches, heart of the Normandy Landings. Here there will be an opportunity to visit the thought-provoking Museum (at a small charge) during this commemorative year.Parts of the mulberry harbour built here can still be seen out at sea and on the beach. We will also pass Juno and Gold beaches. There are several memorials along the way, and there should be time to stop at them if you wish. Our route then takes us south towards St Lô, a town almost totally destroyed during the Battle of Normandy in 1944.
Day 5: St Lô – St Malo
Cycle approx 128km (80 miles)
Our last full day’s ride takes us south through Lower Normandy towards the small town of Avranches, riding through small villages and rolling farmland. The roads undulate for most of the morning, but as we approach Brittany the terrain becomes very flat. We ride alongside the coast for a stretch, then cross the peninsula to St Malo. We ride to our hotel and enjoy an evening of well-deserved celebration.
Day 6: St Malo – St Helier
This morning marks our return to Jersey! Disembarking with our bikes, we ride the last short stretch to our finish line, where we’ll be met by friends and family – a wonderful way to end our cycling challenge! (Lunch and dinner not included)
Discover Adventure reserves the right to change the route or itinerary for safety reasons should local conditions dictate.
The cost includes all accommodation, as well as transport (by ferry) and all meals except three as specified in the itinerary. It also includes full trip support of experienced Discover Adventure leaders, drivers and mechanics.
It does not include personal travel insurance, three meals as specified, local transport during free time in Paris, drinks, extra food, personal items or entry to any optional tourist sites you may wish to visit. Remember to allow extra for drinks, snacks, souvenirs and other personal expenses. Please note that costs may fluctuate and we have no control over any changes. We strongly recommend you carry a credit card in case of personal emergency.
Accommodation is in 2-3* hotels, picked for location. The hotels are comfortable with en suite facilities; rooms are on a twin-share basis. Standards may vary between the hotels.
All food is included except two meals where specified. Lunches are generous buffet-style with plenty of energy food to keep you going! Dinners are generally eaten in the hotels.
Being vegetarian or having other dietary requirements is not usually a problem provided you let us know well in advance. Bear in mind that being vegetarian is not generally well-understood in France, so meals may not be as varied as you are used to. If you know there are plenty of foods you cannot eat you may wish to bring extra snacks from home so you can top up your energy supply. Please feel free to ask us for advice. Any meals not included are listed in the itinerary and are generally when we are in towns or cities where you are free to explore and find something to suit your budget.
Discover Adventure Crew
Your trip will be led by experienced Discover Adventure leaders. Our leaders are selected for their experience in harsh wilderness environments, knowledge of travel in remote areas, friendliness and approachability, sense of humour and ability to safely and effectively deal with any situation that arises. They are also trained in expedition first-aid. You are in very safe hands with a Discover Adventure leader.
All our leaders are from the UK or other English-speaking countries. Most work for us on an ad-hoc basis and have ‘real’ jobs in-between trips! We never send our leaders to the same destination for months on end – we want them to be as enthusiastic about your trip as you are. The number of crew and support vehicles looking after you will depend on the final size of your group, but the team will be looking after every aspect of your trip whether that’s transporting your luggage, ensuring your route is well-marked, making you lunch and sorting out any mechanical problems. At Discover Adventure we pride ourselves on our high leader: cyclist ratio and believe it leads to greater trip enjoyment as well as excellent trip safety.
Support vehicles are with the group all of the time. All luggage and spares will be carried in them. Space is limited and hard-sided luggage is not suitable, so it is essential that your kit is packed in a soft sailing bag, rucksack or expedition kitbag. Ask us about our specially-designed low-cost kitbags if you don’t have one already. You should also bring a small daypack or large waist-pack to carry items needed during the day as you will not have access to your main luggage until the evening. You will be met at St Helier and our vehicles will drive your bikes out to Paris. They will be well-packed and protected during transit in our vehicles, but if you have an expensive or delicate frame, you may prefer to bring extra lagging to protect it more, or a soft bike bag. Hard case bike bags are not suitable as we do not have space to store them.
Your safety, and that of the rest of the group, is our highest priority. Our trips are designed and planned with safety in mind. Your crew will be equipped with radios and emergency mobile phones, first-aid kits and other safety apparatus where necessary. They always have access to our 24-hour emergency back-up in the UK. Our leaders are responsible for safety on the trip, and will make any changes to the itinerary they deem necessary should local conditions dictate. Pre-trip administration – such as compulsory medical questionnaires and travel insurance – is all done with your safety in mind.
Preparing for the challenge
We ride mainly on small country roads; traffic is light on most of the roads but when we pass through busy areas we may go through as a group. French drivers are generally considerate to cyclists. The cycling is mainly undulating. Distances are fairly long, varying from 112 - 136km (70 – 85 miles) per day; you should make sure you are fit enough to manage these distances. Exact mileage may vary slightly depending on hotel location and any deviations. Please be aware that all cycle computers and GPS devices vary slightly: please do not feel cheated if your mileage does not agree with ours! We are always happy to talk through the trip in more detail with you if you are worried about your fitness at any stage.
We strongly recommend that you ride a road/racing bike (rather than a mountain bike) for this trip due to the long distances involved on well-surfaced roads. However Discover Adventure can provide hybrid or mountain bikes at an extra cost if you wish.
There will be a range of spares in the vehicle along with a full tool kit. However it is impossible for us to carry spares for every eventuality so it is vital that when bringing your own bike it is in good order before departure. It is imperative that you supply your own helmet and wear it at all times while cycling, with the straps done up.
Clothing & Equipment
We could be exposed to bad weather at any time so but be prepared for all weathers and temperatures and remember that weather conditions can change quickly. We provide you with a detailed packing kit-list on registration, as well as details on useful discounts you are entitled to as a Discover Adventure customer. We are always available if you need advice.
The climate of northern France is very similar to that of southern England. Temperatures can vary widely, rain is always a possibility and it may be windy in flatter areas.
Our challenges attract people of all levels of experience and fitness, all ages and backgrounds. We expect all participants to train hard in advance to achieve this challenge, but we respect everyone’s limits. We design our challenges so that everyone can go at their own pace: this is not a race. For logistical and safety reasons we sometimes need to re-group, so the front-runners will find themselves waiting for the slower ones. Please relax, and remember that this is a team effort that enables people to achieve their personal goals and earn sponsorship.
Passport & Visa
A valid ten-year passport is essential; it must be valid for the entire duration of your stay. There is no visa requirement for UK citizens. Other nationalities should check entry requirements.
We insist that you have had a Tetanus injection in the last ten years, and highly recommend protection against Polio. You should always check with a GP or travel clinic for up-to-date travel health advice as it does change.
Worldwide Sustainable Tourism
Long before ‘Responsible Tourism’ became a recognised phrase, we designed and ran our trips to ensure they made minimum impact on the environment and a positive impact on the local communities we pass through.
Discover Adventure Projects
We are supporting a tree-planting project in Peru and a children’s home in Tanzania on a long-term basis. If you would like to ‘give something back’ please consider donating £5 to our projects when you sign up.
We encourage all our customers to offset emissions connected with their trip. You can offset at any time in the lead-up to departure by visiting Climate Care via our website and making a donation to a worthwhile project supported by them. Alternatively, if you wish to take more practical action in the UK you can volunteer for a day with The Conservation Volunteers and work on an environmental project local to you. Work may include construction footpaths, dry stone walling, creating wildlife habitats or planting trees in your community. Volunteer today at www.tcv.org.uk or call 01302 388883.