Imagine cycling across expanses of farmland as you spot something floating in the distance—a spire reaching toward the sky, extending above tiers of weathered stone resting on a rocky island. The towering island of Mont-Saint-Michel, its ancient abbey, and its serene bay are the major highlight of this six-day cycling tour, but the rest of the region has plenty to recommend it. You'll start and end in the walled port city of Saint-Malo, making your way through the countryside of Brittany and Normandy to destinations including the fishing port of Cancale and the village of Dinan.

Highlights

  • Sample the seafood in the oyster capital of Brittany
  • Explore medieval stone villages
  • Visit the island monastery of Mont-Saint-Michel
  • Bike through the serene French countryside

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Saint-Malo Saint-Malo
Day 2 Saint-Malo to Dol-de-Bretagne Dol-de-Bretagne
Day 3 Dol-de-Bretagne to Mont-Saint-Michel/Pontorson Pontorson
Day 4 Mont-Saint-Michel/Potorson to Dinan Dinan
Day 5 Dinan to Saint-Malo Saint-Malo
Day 6 Depart Saint-Malo  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Saint-Malo

Local traffic
Local traffic

Welcome to Normandy! Your tour starts in Saint-Malo, an old walled city by the sea. Dating back to the 6th century, Saint-Malo offers seafaring history, unique architecture and one of the greatest concentrations of seafood restaurants in Europe. Your first day is yours to get settled in and explore. 

Day 2: Saint-Malo to Dol-de-Bretagne

Normandy's countryside
Normandy's countryside

Today's ride begins along a winding coastal road—imagine France’s version of California’s Pacific Coast Highway—in full view of the Channel Islands. There are several beaches to stop at for a swim if the water is calling to you, or just keep an eye out for surfacing dolphins, common visitors to these waters, as you ride along. You’ll reach Pointe du Grouin, a narrow slice of land that juts into the sea like an arthritic thumb. Besides being famous for photo opportunities, this scenic perch also serves as the finish line for the transatlantic Jacques Cartier yacht race. 

Next up is Cancale, a picturesque fishing village located along the Bay of Mont St-Michel’s western shore. Each year Cancale harvests 25,000 tons of oysters, rightfully earning it the title of “Oyster Capital of Brittany.” From here, you’ll pedal south to Dol-de-Bretagne. The village is a monument to varying styles of medieval architecture, full of half-timbered homes and ancient stone buildings. Les Petits Palets is the oldest stone-built house in France, and the Cathedral of Saint Samson, which towers over the village, enjoys iconic status.

Short Option: 24 miles (39 km), 961 feet (293 meters) of climbing
Long Option: 33 miles (52 km), 1,286 feet (392 meters) of climbing

Day 3: Dol-de-Bretagne to Mont-Saint-Michel/Pontorson

Mont-Saint-Michel
Mont-Saint-Michel

From Dol-de-Bretagne, you’ll ride north through Mont-Dol and then along the bay to the east from Cherrueix, pedaling through Brittany’s low-lying polder landscape. Along the way, you’ll pass one of the region’s largest menhirs—tall, Neolithic stone monuments cloaked with Stonehenge-like mystery.

This short ride will let you reach Mont-Saint-Michel ahead of the crowds. Perched atop a tiny island in the Gulf of Saint-Malo, this UNESCO World Heritage site is so over-the-top spectacular it resembles something spawned from the mind of a Hollywood set designer with an unlimited budget. Give yourself at least two hours to explore Benedictine Abbey, which is to Romanesque architecture what the Tour de France is to bike racing.

Once you've had your fill of the abbey, a roughly 30-minute pedal will take you to Pontorson. Located just 6 miles (10 km) south of Mont-Saint-Michel along the Brittany-Normandy border, this ancient village dates back to the 12th century and features several architectural gems including the church of Notre-Dame.

Short Option: 25 miles (41 km), 367 feet (112 meters) of climbing
Long Option: 38 miles (62 km), 853 feet (260 meters) of climbing

Day 4: Mont-Saint-Michel/Potorson to Dinan

Admire Normandy's coast
Admire Normandy's coast

Pedal east across Brittany’s famous countryside along quiet country roads. You’ll ride through gently rolling hillsides checkered with lush meadows and thick forests, interrupted only by duck-filled ponds and tiny villages.

Eventually, you’ll reach Dinan, your home for the night. Narrow cobblestone streets framed by half-timbered homes accented with overflowing flower boxes are the norm, rather than the exception, in this town nestled along the banks of the Rance River. You’ll find plenty of options to enjoy Brittany’s legendary cuisine — just wait for the aromas wafting from the open-air bistros.

Short Option: 36 miles (58 km), 1,811 feet (552 meters) of climbing
Long Option: 43 miles (69 km), 1,936 feet (590 meters) of climbing

Day 5: Dinan to Saint-Malo

Riverside in Dinan
Riverside in Dinan

Follow the Rance River north into Brittany’s historic countryside. The width of the Rance creates the sense of riding along an inland coast, raising the question of whether it's actually a river or a frustrated lake. Ride along the left bank of the Rance before crossing it in Plouër, then continue along the river to Saint-Jouan-des-Guérets, a true inland sea where boats sail alongside artichoke fields and farm villages become the port.

If you're feeling ambitious, the longer route option takes you through the Emerald Coast (Côte d'Emeraude) and Dinard.

Short Option: 22 miles (35 km), 1,158 feet (353 meters) of climbing
Long Option: 40 miles (65 km), 1,942 feet (592 meters) of climbing

Day 6: Depart Saint-Malo

Say goodbye to Normandy
Say goodbye to Normandy

Linger over your last breakfast in Normandy before you make your way to the train station to head home or onward to your next adventure.

Map

Map of Mont-Saint-Michel Countryside Cycling Tour - 6 Days
Map of Mont-Saint-Michel Countryside Cycling Tour - 6 Days