Starting from the English Channel and descending towards the Atlantic, the Vélo Francette® cycle route lets you discover the flavors of a gentle France, crossing Normandy, the Pays de la Loire and Poitou-Charentes.
Created in 2015 and voted best cycle route in Europe in 2017, the Vélo Francette has not finished surprising! This cycle route provides interconnection between the major routes of the West: the Véloscénie, the Loire à Vélo and the Vélodyssée.
The route begins on the emblematic Landing Beaches, or the city of Caen, and crosses the Norman bocage along the Orne valley in Norman Switzerland. Then you will pass through the medieval city of Domfront, and charming cities Mayenne, Laval and Château Gontier. Your cycling trip ends in Angers, the city of King René d'Anjou, between rivers Maine and Loire.
You individually travel to the point of departure: Ouistreham or Caen. The sea side resort Ouistreham, situated on the Channel and well known for its D-Day beach ‘Sword’ of WW ll, is the official start of the ‘Vélo Francette’. The choice of historic Caen, situated more than 10 km inland, is rather practical: easier to reach by train and a shorter route the next day.
First follow the old tow path along the canal de l’Orne that connects the coast with Caen. On the way admire the Pegasus bridge, a historic place in WW ll. A track takes you, along the marina, to the town of which the history goes back to the time of William The Conqueror. Caen is well known for its castle, abbeys and ‘Mémorial’, the important war museum. After that you follow a track to the south along the L’Orne that leads you into the green hills of ‘Suisse Normande’. You follow a deserted railway, an Eldorado for nature lovers. After Thury-Harcourt you reach Clécy on the banks of the river L’Orne. When staying in Caen, todays tour is 41 km.
Challenge : 57km or 41km, 176m ascent, 144m descent.
On the way to Flers you follow a beautiful country route straight across the hilly ‘Suisse Normande’. The route first leads you along the winding river L’Orne that later on makes way for the Noireau. Until the Condé-sur-Noirreau the river valley is surrounded by steep hills. You have to climb considerably when you leave the valley. When however the Mont de Cerise comes into sight the route shows more mercy for the calves and you reach Flers with its beautiful castle. 2 options for today.
Challenge : 45km, 395m ascent, 546m descent OR 43km, 495m ascent, 347m descent.
As soon as you leave Flers the route leads you via a relaxed descent to the valley of the river Varenne. You can still see that besides agriculture there used to be mining. A wonderful track, often quite close to the river, takes you along historic places like Moulin de Varenne, Moulin d’Amboise and Pont des Planches. This cyclists’ paradise is heaven. In Ambrière-les-Vallées you take a last look at the Varenne and you continue your way along the bank of the Mayenne to the town of the same name.
Challenge : 65km, 117m ascent, 214m descent.
After a visit to the historic town of Mayenne, with its castle, the history of which goes back to Carolingian times, you go through the Mayenne valley full of splendid scenery. It’s a relaxed and umbrageous route that follows the former tow path along the river . You pass old, characteristic lock houses, monumental mansions and villas. The tour ends in Laval, a ‘Ville d’ Art et d’ Histoire’ where you have plenty of time left for a stroll along all the beautiful historic heritage.
Challenge : 35km, 45m ascent, 120m descent.
The start of this route offers amazing views of Laval with its two castles. The railway bridge with its nine arches, connecting the eastern Mayenne bank with the town centre and its port, has an separate track for cyclists and hikers. Before going further through the scenic beauty of the Mayenne Valley you should admire just south of town the well known Abbey of Port Salut, the name of which is linked to the creamy cheese of the same name.
Challenge : 35km, 60m ascent, 53m descent.
After each bend the Mayenne Valley surprises you again and again; a beautiful castle, somewhat further on an antique water mill. The village ports along the bank invite you to take a short break. Before Le Lion- d’Angers you cycle through the picturesque L ‘Isle Briand with its castle and world famous stud farm. After the confluence of the Mayenne and Oudon you cross a very special swamp. You reach the historic Anjou town Angers via Jean Moulin’s bridge. The country atmosphere is still perceptible/tangible.
Challenge : 58km, 74m ascent, 88m descent.
After breakfast your trip ends. You (and your bike) travel back to Caen by train. From there a bus takes you to Ouistreham (every hour).
All accommodations are carefully selected because of their location, atmosphere and/or unique services.
We choose comfortable 2*/3* hotels or B&Bs where all rooms have private en-suite bathroom and every morning breakfast are included.
For this trip you can choose between Comfort and Comfort +. The accommodations for a Comfort+ trip, will be in 3*/4 * hotels wherever possible (supplement applied).
7 Nights included
2/3 Star Hotels or 3/4 Star Hotels (supplement applied)
Tourist tax included
Breakfast included, Halfboard optional on request
Maps and tourist information on all the places of interest
24/7 Bilingual Emergency hotline
Luggage transport to your next accommodations. Luggage accepted per person: 1 suitcase or travel bag (20 kg maximum)
Parking informations on request
GPS tracks are available on request
The closest airport is Rennes. This airport is served by both major and low-cost international carriers and can be easily reached by local transport, which is affordable and offers a frequent service. But it is better to arrive in Paris airports. From Paris you will have more train (and faster) for Caen train station.
If you start from Ouistreham, you can take a train to Caen and then a bus to Ouistreham (journey is about 35 min). Check this website for timetable and tickets: https://www.twisto.fr/
On departure from Angers train station you can take different trains to reach easily different airports: Nantes, Rennes, Le Mans or Paris.
From Paris to Ouistreham (approx. 2h45 – 245 km/152 mi). For driving routes see the website ViaMichelin: https://www.viamichelin.co.uk/