The Vélomaritime, a spectacular itinerary along the English Channel
29 June 2023
Escape along the Channel coast with Vélomaritime
Ride along the magnificent French coastline, from Brittany to the North Sea, on one of the most beautiful cycle routes in France: La Vélomaritime. Following the coastline from Roscoff to Dunkirk, you can admire the fabulous Pink Granite Coast, the majestic Bay of Mont-Saint-Michel, the D-Day landing beaches, the spectacular cliffs of Etretat and the fascinating Baie de Somme, famous for its seals.
On this scenic tour, you’ll discover the habits and customs of a region closely linked to the sea, its tides and its excellent local produce. Oysters, mussels, crustaceans and seaweed terrines will awaken your taste buds between pedal strokes!
The Vélomaritime, a committed route
While the Vélomaritime route is the stuff of dreams, it’s important to note that it’s a fairly demanding one. The Breton and Normandy coasts are particularly steep, challenging the cyclist. The climbs are short, but steep, and the difference in altitude accumulates rapidly over the kilometers. If this is your first experience with La Vélomaritime, consider this little-known aspect of the region, and why not opt for an electrically-assisted bike rental, as we offer at Abicyclette Voyages. If you prefer a non-electrically assisted option, plan for fairly short stages.
What to see on the Vélomaritime?
La Vélomaritime is 1500 km long and full of charm. There are many points of interest along the coasts of Brittany, Normandy and Hauts-de-France. Unspoilt natural areas, wild coastlines, landmark monuments, medieval towns and ports of authentic charm all enhance your journey. To fully appreciate all the beauty of the sites, take advantage of the variants to deepen your discoveries.
A picturesque port in the north of Finistère, Roscoff is lively thanks to its casino and thalassotherapy center. With its sculpted granite facades and flamboyant Gothic church, the town is well worth a visit. A short boat ride will take you to the charming island of Batz, opposite Roscoff, whose lighthouse offers an unobstructed view of the mainland.
With the magnificent Ile Houët, recognizable by its lighthouse and unique keeper’s house, and the Château du Taureau, the Bay of Morlaix offers you a unique moment of discovery and relaxation on one of its long sandy beaches. Famous for its oyster culture, make the most of the opportunity to taste oysters.
The pink granite coast
In the Côtes d’Armor region, you’ll find the most emblematic landscapes of the Pink Granite Coast, a true wild jewel. At Ploumanac’h, you can admire the chaos of pink rocks, dominated by the legendary lighthouse.
A preserved wilderness sculpted by the sea, Cap Fréhel is well worth the few kilometers detour from La Vélomaritime. With its steep, majestic cliffs, it’s a magical place. While you’re there, take time to admire Fort-la-Latte, a castle with thousands of years of history.
Surrounded by ramparts, Saint-Malo is a corsair city whose history is rooted in the sea and its great shipowners. This jewel of a city, surrounded by islets with bastions, can be enjoyed by strolling through its narrow streets full of treasures. Today, the sea is still the heart of the city, which hosts the annual “Route du Rhum”.
In the heart of the Bay of Mont-Saint-Michel, you will wind your way along roads surrounded by meadows and sheep, before catching a glimpse of the majestic rocky islet crowned by the impressive Abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel. Accessible by bike up to the foot of the small town, this visit is a must.
The landing beaches
Immerse yourself in the recent history of the Second World War on the long D-Day beaches, now named in honor of the combatants who landed here. These long, peaceful stretches of sand offer an emotional visit with their vast cemeteries of white crosses and memorials.
A battered city after its destruction during the Second World War, Le Havre was given a new lease of life by the architect in charge of its reconstruction, Auguste Perret. A resolutely modern city, its unique heritage is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The cliffs of Etretat and the Côte d’Albâtre
Famous for its white limestone cliffs overlooking the sea, Etretat’s landscape is unique and breathtaking. Follow in the footsteps of Arsène Lupin, the great burglar imagined by Maurice Le Blanc, and admire the chalk cliffs plunging into the water. With its gardens, pebble beaches and harbors nestled in the cliffs, the Côte d’Albâtre is one of the most beautiful stops on the Vélomaritime.
Baie de Somme
Further north, the Baie de Somme gives you the feeling of being at the end of the world. Here, nature reigns supreme between cliffs and long stretches of water. From the shore, keep your eyes peeled for the sandy islets formed by the tides and watch the seals bask in the sun.
Practical information about La Vélomaritime
Interested in a La Vélomaritime adventure? If this is your first experience, we recommend that you read our article with our 8 tips for preparing your first cycling trip.
How many days should I allow for La Vélomaritime?
The route is easily accessible by train, so you can choose to do all or part of La Vélomaritime. However, you should allow at least one month for the entire 1500 km route.
Which bike for La Vélomaritime?
The route is suitable for all types of bikes, from road to trekking. However, if you want to be sure you’re on the right bike, we recommend a touring bike or a good hybrid bike. Electrically-assisted bikes are also well suited for this route, with its steep climbs and descents.
Equipment for La Vélomaritime
The coastal climate of northern France is notorious for its unpredictability. Wind, rain, and morning fog are conditions we regularly encounter on La Vélomaritime. That’s why it’s important to be equipped with a windproof jacket and good rain gear.
On the bike, it’s best to opt for waterproof panniers, as the protection offered by non-waterproof models is generally inadequate.
But don’t worry, these weather conditions do not detract from the beauty of the landscape, and in fact add a poetic touch.
When to go on the Vélomaritime?
The Vélomaritime is a great route to follow from May to mid-October. In summer, certain tourist areas such as Mont-Saint-Michel and the cliffs of Etretat can be a little crowded. To enjoy the itinerary in peace and quiet, we advise you to choose off-season periods, before summer or after mid-September.
How do I get to the route?
Many major cities have trains that accept unmounted bicycles. Please note that in Brittany it is now important to book your ticket with your bike in advance. To find out more, see our information on taking your bike by train.
At Abicyclette Voyages, we’re here to help you discover the magic of La Vélomaritime. Contact us to find out more!