The Normandy is only a 5 hour ferry ride away
from the English South coast and it can be easily reached from Southampton.
It is a fantastic place to cycle for a couple of days and especially
in spring the landscape is stunning. In the spring of 2003 a friend
of mine an I did cycling trip on the Cotentin peninsula.
In order to be as flexible as possible we brought our tend
with us and used a 1:100000 road map for the planning. We decided
to take the midnight ferry from Portsmouth to Cherbourg in order
to save half a day and therefore left Southampton around 6 in the
evening. It turned out that this early start was unnecessary as
it only took about 3 hours to cycle the 40 km to Portsmouth but
at least we were on the save side. We used a couple of inland B
roads to avoid the heavy traffic on A27 and with the right map (OS
Explorer 119) that wasn't to difficult. Once we reached Portsmouth
a good net of cycling lanes brought us to the ferry terminal.
Day 1: Around Cap de la Hague
Time: 10 h
After a sleepless night on the ferry (we had "Recreational"
seats that were cheap but extremely uncomfortable) we reached Cherbourg
at 6 in the morning. Our first encounter with France was a Patisserie
where we got our first of many fantastic French pastries.
With fresh strength and great expectations we left Cherbourg on
the road following the signs to Querqueville. What we did not know
yet was the fact that this day would become an extremely hilly and
stormy one. As we wanted to cover about 100 km a day we decided
to keep on small country lanes instead of doing a lot of off road.
Therefore we followed the D45 which turned inland soon after Urvill.
And this was when we discovered that the inland of the peninsula
is about 100 meters high. What followed was a strenuous up and down
hill along a wild and picturesque coast till we finally reached
Cap de la Hague in the late morning.
After a good rest we started climbing the central hill of the Cape
using small country lanes instead of the main road and bypassing
the nuclear recycling plant La Hague. By the time we reached the
lovely village Beaumont-Hague it was high time for a lunch and we
found a nice place to have a fortifying meal.
The afternoon started easy enough with quite a flat bit on the D37
southwards but soon a strong west wind came up. It increased when
we turned on the coast road D64 after Vastville. The route along
the coast was very nice and there was plenty to see. By the time
we passed Flamanville the wind reached gale force and even cycling
downhill required additional pedaling sometimes. Therefore we decided
to stop shortly after in le Rozel where we found a very nice but
extremely expensive campsite. Luckily we found a wind protected
pitch behind a sand dune so that our tend survived the storm which
covered us in tons of sand.
2nd day of the Normandy tour -->