The newest bikeway in France, la Véloscénie (the Veloscenic) cycle route links Paris and Mont-Saint-Michel via some of the country's most scenic landscapes. Spend a week exploring the secrets of northern France as you cycle along greenways, bike paths, and quiet secondary roads, through the hedgerow fields of the Bocage Normand, forests of oak and pine, and the nature parks of La Perche and Normandie-Maine, sampling Normandy's gastronomic heritage along the way.

Highlights

  • Stop in historic towns like Mortagne-au-Perche, Bagnoles-de-l’Orme, and Ducey
  • Sample regional cuisine including galettes, rice pudding, and cider and poiré
  • Visit La Perche Regional Nature Park and Normandie-Maine Park
  • Explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Mont-Saint-Michel

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in l’Aigle & Transfer to Mortagne-au-Perche Mortagne-au-Perche
Day 2 Mortagne-au-Perche to Alençon Alençon
Day 3 Alençon to Bagnoles de l’Orne Bagnoles de l'Orne
Day 4 Bagnoles de l’Orne to Mortain Mortain
Day 5 Mortain to Ducey Ducey
Day 6 Ducey to Mont-Saint-Michel & Pontorson Pontorson
Day 7 Depart Pontorson  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in l’Aigle & Transfer to Mortagne-au-Perche

Discover Normandy
Discover Normandy

Welcome to France! The easiest way to get to the start of your route, if you've arrived in Paris, is to hop on the train to the town of l’Aigle, site of a spectacular meteor shower in 1803 and roughly 90 minutes from the city.

From there, you'll get a transfer to Mortagne-au-Perche, a charming town with beautifully preserved historic buildings. And the feast isn't limited to your eyes—Mortagne is the boudin noir (blood sausage) capital of France. Explore the town and its culinary attractions as you rest up in preparation for the ride ahead. 

Day 2: Mortagne-au-Perche to Alençon

Alençon
Alençon

Today’s leisurely ride will take you out of the forests and farmland of La Perche Regional Nature Park into the equally gorgeous countryside of Normandie-Maine Park. Stop for lunch at Le Mêle-sur-Sarthe where the two overlap, a popular site for hiking and water sports. From here, it’s an easy ride to Alençon along a traffic-free bikeway, with a few unpaved sections on hard-packed gravel.

Once the seat of the Dukes of Normandy, Alençon has a proud lace tradition dating back to the 17th century. Take the rest of the afternoon to explore its fine art and lace museum, the Musée des Beaux-Arts et de la Dentelle; the circular halle au blé (market hall); and the expansive Parc des Promenades.

Cycling distance: 24 miles (39 km)
Total climb: 800 feet (245 m)

Day 3: Alençon to Bagnoles de l’Orne

Ride on quiet paths in Normany
Ride on quiet paths in Normandy

The Veloscenic route follows quiet secondary roads as you wind towards the château de Carrouges and the halfway point of today’s ride. Take in the views of the Écouves forest before you tackle the uphill section to reach the castle, then catch your breath as you explore the impressive castle, a stronghold during the Hundred Years’ War.

A gently rolling landscape will take you down into Bagnoles de l’Orne, a picturesque spa town nestled between forests and the lake. Explore the Belle Époque neighborhood and its opulent villas or unwind in the romantic jardin retiré (Remote Garden). If your legs are sore from the climb to Carrouges, a visit to the thermal baths is highly recommended—there’s plenty more cycling to come.

Cycling distance: 24 miles (53 km)
Total climb: 2,115 feet (645 m)

Day 4: Bagnoles de l’Orne to Mortain

Domfront
Domfront

Linger in idyllic Bagnoles de l’Orne this morning before embarking on the next part of your adventure. You'll get off to a peaceful start on quiet roads through the forests and countryside of the Bocage Normand. Along the way, you'll find the medieval town of Domfront and its castle ruins. Situated on a bluff overlooking the Varenne river, Domfront offers incredible views, but beware of the steep climb up and ride down.

The rest of the way is more leisurely, as you pedal onto the greenway upon leaving Domfront. This section of the Veloscenic offers gorgeous views of the Normandy countryside, especially as you cycle along the Sélune river. If you’re making good time, stop in Barenton for a tour and tasting at the Musée du Poiré, a museum dedicated to the rich pear and apple cider-making traditions of the region. After that, it’s all uphill until your destination for the night in Mortain.

Cycling distance: 33 miles (52 km)
Total climb: 1,885 feet (575 m)

Day 5: Mortain to Ducey

Discover the countryside of Normandy
Discover the countryside

If you’re not quite ready to leave Mortain behind, a quick loop from your hotel will bring you to two waterfalls just outside of town, in a lush wooded area where fairies and elves would not seem out of place. Today’s ride is mostly downhill, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to admire the views while you cycle to Ducey. Along the way, stop for lunch in Saint-Hilaire du Harcouët, where the medieval church tower and the former monastery of la Verrière are well worth a visit.

Park your bikes in Ducey and explore the Château des Montgomery and its monumental staircase on foot. Or, if you'd rather stay on the bike, follow the cycle path just south out of town into the bois d’Ardennes—a natural wooded area popular with locals and tourists alike.

Cycling distance: 19 miles (34 km)
Total climb: 665 feet (215 m)

Day 6: Ducey to Mont-Saint-Michel & Pontorson

Cycle the road to Mont Saint Michel
Cycle the road to Mont Saint Michel

Enjoy your morning coffee overlooking the Sélune river, but don't linger too long though, for today you cycle to the Mont-Saint-Michel. The route will lead you along traffic-free bikeways, followed by quiet secondary roads, as you cycle towards France’s northern coast.

One of France’s most recognizable landmarks and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Mont-Saint-Michel has been a site of pilgrimage and war alike since ancient times. Let the famous spire of its abbey guide you as you pedal toward it. Spending a few hours here to explore is a must, as is a taste of the local specialty, agneau de pré-salé (salt meadow lamb).

From the Mont-Saint-Michel, your pedaling will take you past the Moulin de Moidrey, a restored and working windmill from the 19th century that's open to visitors. Then it’s a short cycle on to Pontorson, where you’ll spend the final night of the tour, perhaps reflecting on the experience over a bowl of mussels à la Normande and a glass of cider.

Cycling distance: 28 miles (41 km)
Total climb: 900 feet (262 m)

Day 7: Depart Pontorson

Say
Say "au revoir" to Normandy

After one final French breakfast, you are free to depart at your leisure. Transfers or arrangements to extend your stay can be arranged.

Map

Map of Best of the Veloscenic Bikeway - 7 Days
Map of Best of the Veloscenic Bikeway - 7 Days