Paris can be one of the most exciting cities in the world to visit, but its 24 hour traffic and crowded streets can be difficult to cycle. Most visitors to France often find themselves feeling the need for the open space and quiet country roads of the idyllic French countryside. From the seaside farmlands of Normandy, to the beaches of Brittany, and the spectacular castles of the Loire Valley, Northwestern France has it all, and the best thing is that it’s all connected by cycling pathways and trails.
Heading north from Paris brings you to the fiercely independent, historic region of Normandy. Home of the Normans, this area of France has a rich history in agriculture, trade, and maritime power that's now easily explored by bike. The major port cities of Le Havre and Dieppe boast some enticing architecture and restaurants. They’re primarily industrial ports; however, they make great starting points for exploring some of the more important WW II sites and memorials. Most will attest that it’s the journey and not the destination in Normandy, where the quaint villages along the banks of the Seine RIver and authentic seaside communities along the English Channel will steal your heart.
The center for Celtic culture, Brittany houses some of France's most important cultural sites and most visited beachside locations, next to the Côte d’Azur in the south. In recent years cycle tourism has been recognized as a valuable tourist industry and so cycling infrastructure has seen huge investment. Brittany as a whole seems to love cycling, as the Tour de France has been passing through the area for over a century and the people seem to be just fine with investing millions of tax dollars into cycling pathways and trails. The terrain is rolling and easily accessible by almost every type of rider and there are plenty of tour operators that will help you make the most of your trip. The beach resorts are usually the first place most head, the Côte d’Emeraude, Morbihan Coast, and Finistère are great destinations for soaking up the sun; you are also going to want to jump a ferry or two and explore the many islands off the Atlantic coast.
This corner of France is a wonderful vacation spot for those looking for a more gentle cycle then what is found in the east of the country. The rolling hills, fine wines, and quaint villages are not too far from the manic capital of Paris, making it a fantastic destination for cyclists. The pace is slower, the food is delectable, and the cycling pathways are endless in Normandy and Brittany.