Date De Depart Du Tour De France 2016

The destiné was facile enough: to période stages 1 et 2 du the 2016 Tour de France at our very own pace. Quel could possibly aller wrong? (Hint: the num of stages, for a begin ...)

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The UNESCO-listed montagne St-Michel. Photo: fmpgoh So, as part of my ongoing dattaquer to to convince anyone that will listen that it"s possible for anyone to cycle in France and have fun, je asked mien friend Claire if she wanted to go for a ride in Normandy.

Vous lisez ce: Date de depart du tour de france 2016

More specifically, how would she fancy talk the tons two stages of the 2016 Tour aux France v me? 

Her réagir was miscellaneous like: "Well, i can"t remember auto last time ns rode mien bike, cible it sounds prefer fun."

We were away.

Stage 1 - montagne St-Michel à Utah Beach, 182km

Download auto GPX file here.

Stage 2 - Saint-Lô to Cherbourg, 188km

Download the GPX ligne here.

However, à avoid death par bike, we split thé two stages into two-day rides. Ont much oui I prefer riding my bike, I"m no daft sufficient to créé I"m up venir riding 188km or 182km in one day in this lifetime any time soon.

So our schedule watch something prefer this – after the ride (or throughout it, depending conditions météorologiques what condition I arrive in every day), I"ll article ride reports at the end de each partie below.

Monday

THE PLAN: Claire lives in thé UK, sauce soja she"s driving à Portsmouth, parking bai up and then gaining a Brittany Ferries boat St-Malo ont a foot passsenger with elle bike (see here for Tour aux France ferry deals). She"s going à meet je at montagne St-Michel. It"s a 46km ride indigenous St Malo to mont St-Michel conditions météorologiques the côte road, cible to save temps she"s cheating and getting a taxi. Via auto Normandy traveler board, nous found WPO Transports (+33 (0)6 50 00 07 29), a taxi for sure that have the right to take bikes.

I"m getting the train increase to Pontorson (the nearest gare to montagne St-Michel) passant par Castillon, Bordeaux, Paris and Rennes (phew!) and voyages-sncf.com – see here to find out comment to livre your bike on to a français train et here if you"re coming to France passant par Eurostar or autre international chemin de fer service.

We"ll rendez-vous at Chambre d’hôtes esquive Epinettes, a B&B near mont St michel that"s accueil velo accredited. Tracy and Chenél recommended eating at Hôtel ns Beauvoir when they cycled les Veloscenie parisien to montagne St michel last year, haricot de soja we"ll see si the nourriture is ont good ont they say ce is. 

THE REALITY: OK haricot de soja the ride has now become solo as Claire has actually caught the dreaded fever germes thing that"s sweeping the UK et France. Prepare à la lots de scenic d’image without any cyclists in them until I comprendre the hang ns the autotimer nous my caméra ...

Concerned about the chill in the aviation in Paris, thé fact that Normandy is even further north – oh, et the fact that yes sir rain et 45km/hr winds projection off and on during thé week, i decided the choosing the Decathlon foldaway wind shield thing in lieu of a proper cycling jacket to be a mistake, ont was leaving thé thermal haut behind.

I had specifically 61 minutes at Montparnasse avant my relier to Rennes, so ns ducked the end to aller Sport, fortuitously located one bloquer from the station (could no believe ma luck!), to volonté a ideal waterproof/wind evidence cycling jacket et another layer to wear under mien jersey. The magasin doesn’t oui a formidables cycling range cible it has tous the basics si you get stuck, consisting of a petit workshop and the usual range du inner tubes, lights et cycling tops.

I come (after 12 hours de trains et train stations) à be greeted through a fine welcome de Caroline at Chambre d’hôtes das Epinettes, a B&B near montagne St michel (see here for a review). She"s accueil velo accredited et has a lovely little shed for bikes. Mien "suite" to be palatial, v a spare bed et a preventive room et could have comfortably slept 5 jaune 6 smelly cyclists.

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The rest du the B&B to be a homely work – non posh soaps in thé bathroom, seulement a an essential to the front door and a really welcoming feel.

Dinner was at Hôtel les Beauvoir (where auto very friendly lady informed je that they also have a garage parce que le bikes et regularly welcome cyclists). I ate dinner while being watched by these guys.

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TOTAL supprimer MONDAY: 10km to station from home, 12 hours conditions météorologiques trains/in stations, 6km à Beauvoir from Pontorson (nearest gare to mont St Michel)

Tuesday

THE PLAN: We"re going à spin par Le Mont for a punctured around the ancient memorial – one ns France"s many visited vue de voir (there need to be a reason, right?) see here à la information nous arriving par bike and details du where venir park (don"t forget a lock).

Then have a date with Fantine Georges, indigenous the association that"s brought thé Grand commencer to Manche. I"m a signification littérale nervous the she"s speak the first day (that"s about 90km) with us and that she peut être be expecting toutes les personnes who can ride quicker than 20km/hr 15km/hr pour 6 continuous hours.

THE REALITY: Just stuffed myself senseless through pancakes and other homemade goodies that Caroline makes at Chambre d’hôtes das Epinettes. I"ve stolen extra gateau (the one with choqué chips, Caroline!) for my pannier in case I start dying nous today"s ride and need a pick-me-up.

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Still have fuel (I think) in mien belly from last night"s feast at hôtel le Beauvoir, though I"m no sure chris Froome ever before feasts nous warm goat"s cheese salad followed de steak followed passant par a cheese platter with seven different cheeses before an opening stage de the Tour aux France ... 

I got to mont St-Michel early, and I to be glad je did, because par 10am cette was obtaining crowded (must it is in crazy in summer; it"s seulement un April now).

But it was amazing. I rode up by bike avant returning to auto main car park/hotel preccint where there room three place de stationnement areas for bikes (parking bikes up at the mont itself is banned, though ns noticed some personnes had and presumably these are removed in high summer). Make sure amie bring a great lock.

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Look for signs favor this parce que le bike parking. Elle then catch a navette (free bus shuttle) to the montagne (or walk).

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The Abbey itself is important remarkable. Allow tant beaucoup, tellement of temps to see cette (the self-guided walking tour that takes elle around goes in one exécutif only). The views are impressive – even conditions météorologiques a hazy job – but the within is even much more impressive. There are also guided tours for a surcharge.

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When i made ce down et back to the bike parking bai to satisfy Fantine, ns found that she is without doubt a super ajuster cyclist who can aller much quicker than 15km/hr for six hours (she walk triathlons).

The next 6 hours were auto hardest I"ve ever spent conditions météorologiques a bike. Faire NOT believe the Tour ns France stage profile when it says phase 1 is "flat". It"s not level – well, not de mere mortal la norme (and Fantine, ns discovered, was no a just mortal). We"d climbed 630 metres (the many I"d ever before done in une ride) by the time my Garmin passed away a great 30km from the B&B.

We also rode right into a strong headwind almost tous day, reconnaissance it rained et we had occasional small hailstones. This part of the Normandy côte is really windy, but it"s additionally superb à la views, especially thé stretch avant Granville when elle can see montagne St michel across thé bay (I won"t write-up a picture because mien is a foggy haze marqué I"ll find une when I get home).

I"ll do de nouveau blog when I importer back patrie on good endroit to watch auto Tour aux France, cible if elle are after a northern stage then this is a serious contender. It"s magical.

Here"s Fantine after waiting for me at auto top ns a (another) hill, though i came venir notice through ma huffing and puffing that she sometimes walk training rides up and down thé hills while she waited parce que le me. As in she rode lock twice. Passant par choice. Also so, see comment energetic et comfortable elle looks?!

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Somewere around Granville (when Fantine had actually generously taken us conditions météorologiques a short cut to avoid de nouveau hill), i nearly gave up. I had a short recollection that auto stage déposer evened the end a bit so (with assist from Fantine"s dad, who was conveniently visiting her on holidays and who come by et collected ma panniers through 21km à go), nous soldiered on. The prochain 21km were tough into thé wind and I prayed the every hill was thé last (eventually it was).

I come at the B&B completely and utterly shattered. I sit here this morning typing through every muscle in ma thighs aching.

Restaurant Le énormément Herbet nous La côte at Blainville-sur-Mer was a saviour. Wonderful seafood and asparagus risotto and magical views out à sea. Si you are passing by, climate this is the carré to eat – et certainly over there were sufficient locals there à suggest je wasn"t the only une who believed so. Je sat inside nous a chilly and windy night, marqué you can just imagine how splendid this carré is in summer.

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Tomorrow I"m on mien own for the rest du stage 2, et the realist (no plus long the optimist) in moi is amending auto schedule to ensure i can make ce to Utah coast alive. I think je will cut the next 90km into autre two halves so i can stop et enjoy thé scenery a bit more en route. Stay tuned.

TOTAL distance TUESDAY: 94km (ish)

Wednesday

THE PLAN: Has gone out the window. 

THE REALITY: After yesterday"s 94km heroics (and hills), je took a reality check (the optimist gave means to the realist) et I decided venir split thé remaining stage 1 kilometres into two days/rides so ns could enjoy a peu more of the ride, et stop à take an ext photos, gain lunch etc.

So that additionally meant canning stage 2 altogether oui I"m going à run out du time as I need à be in Paris nous Monday for an appointment ns can"t change.

So today i booked a colourful B&B in Montebourg and rode 63.6 blissful kilometres indigenous Blainville-sur-Mer through Normandy listening out for seagulls near thé coast et sniffing in the farmyard odours de the countryside. Occasionally je was overtaken by a tractor, the driver cheerfully waving to me.

In reality thé riding was easy. Ce still had 367m de climbing, i m sorry is encore something of année achievement in one ride à la a recreation rider prefer me, marqué the hills seemed longer but steadier et better paced 보다 yesterday"s wave-like inclines that would certainly come and go one after the other.

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From Lessay, where ns stopped à la cake at the beach (above), the route follows the D900 through to Saint-Sauveur-le-Vicomte. This road is fast – cars et trucks to be really moving – but the road is likewise in brillants condition (Fantine told moi yesterday a lot of de largent is being spent nous making sure these roads are TdF top quality – and it shows; tous along the chemin there room signs du work in progress jaune recently completed). Thé lanes room smooth et wide, and not particularly busy. Je never felt vulnerable or at-risk.

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I come in Lessay at 11am and killed some temps writing et posting postcards while ns waited for the locale creperie to open. I then discovered auto lovely auditeur gardens at auto back of the tourist informations centre, and these were perfect for loitering for a an excellent half hour jaune so. 

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I ate a gamble (crepe) at the hôtel Le Normandy after depositing mien bike earlier at thé tourist informations centre, where auto kind masculin said ns could lock it to the railing. The restaurant wouldn"t let moi park cette in the plafond inside (even though i was the seul customer) and there was non other street furniture to use – with the TDF coming, bike terrain de stationnement is one thing Lessay needs à address.

Back on the road, ns saw the first signs ns things to come as I ventured closer à Utah Beach: an imposing war monument marking the essai of US forces in La-Haye-du-Puit. Auto flags to be big et noisy in the wind, et for the second time today je remembered comment small ma bike ride yes, really is in the vaste scheme de things. End breakfast at Blainville-sur-Mer, I"d stared, captivated, at a framed certificate and Légion d"honneur given à a relation amoureuse of ma host.

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In thé end, the roads were haricot de soja good – auto last 20-odd kilometres v beautiful Normandy farmland impossible to dédié soaked in blood and bullets – that mien legs most likely would ont made cette to Utah coast today. But I"m pleased to oui stopped when i did. A brief day awaits tomorrow, leave more temps to discover thé real heroics of yesterdays more horrific than mine.

TOTAL supprimer WEDNESDAY: 63.6km (including a detour à a village where auto B&B wasn"t)

Thursday

I come at the wonderfully tranquil Le énormément Hard, just a few kilometres indigenous Utah Beach, after a day invested sightseeing. Today ns was very much the périodes tourist, hopping from une D-Day page? ˅ to thé next as I fabriqué my way venir Utah Beach. In tous it took moi This yes, really is a spectacular coast and the slaughter that went nous here on juin 6, 1944 – et the horrors ns war before and after that cétait une date – room unimaginable ont you sit feather out à sea.

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And i spent a parcelle of temps looking out to sea. Firstly at the fascinating Mémorial de la Liberté retrouvée with its se concentrer on tons under occupation et in thé days complying with liberation.

The museum is a endowment trove de old wartime posters, old photos et memorabilia, and there"s année interactive corridor that shows what the empty streets du the city must have felt prefer under curfew. This is a real "local" museum (in fact i found most du the museums aujourdhui carried a actual "local" feel, telling auto stories de people that lived with one ns the an excellent dramas ns the 20th century).

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Quinéville is at auto western edge de the landing peninsula, et this musée can conveniently be overlooked in the se presser to get to thé "main" D-Day beaches, marqué find time parce que le a stop here si ever amie are passing.

From here je rode nous along the stunning seaside road et then venir the Musée Airborne at Sainte-Mère-Eglise, wherein Allied paratrooper landings paved auto way à la the coast assaults.

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This is a stunning piece ns modern musée design, mixing héritage (there is a totally preserved Waco glider reconnaissance a C-47 place) with a captivating interactif display in thé "Operation Neptune" exhibit the recreates what cette was like on the night of the D-Day landings when paratroopers to be dropping from thé sky et bombing raids were weakening auto German lines. That means it"s dark, it"s noisy et it"s completely terrifying; it"s (almost) faisabilité to créé being there.

By the time i got venir Utah Beach, ns was in rather a sombre mood. Sauce soja much so that i almost forgot i was approaching the finishing line à la Stage 1 ns the 2016 Tour du France. Almost.

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It can look a précis different in July (today i was the only une there).

The finishing heat is seul a hundred or so metres from thé Utah beach Musée du Débarquement, i m sorry is Utah"s showcase display, marqué already ce was going to have to be great to live up to auto previous two museums I"d to be today.

So i put my ombragé hat ago on et went in.

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Among thé guns et the landing equipment, the emphasis again is on the personal stories, the human stories; histoire about and from the people who were there, one of two people landing nous the beaches jaune bearing witness to a night that adjusted the arttaserse of a war, the artaserse of history. 

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Humbled, i set off for a walk follow me a coast now ont peaceful and relaxing oui it is quiet, thé memorials and plaques dotting that edge also numerous à mention.

And then i hopped ago on ma bike et pedalled earlier 3km to Le vaste Hard, where s different type of tranquility awaited in thé form ns a long, nom est shower and a cup du tea.

TOTAL distance THURSDAY: 43.8km to Utah beach from Montebourg + 3km ago to thé hotel 

Friday

THE PLAN: today is a "link" ride to get from Utah Beach à Saint-Lô, where ns was meant to have started phase 2, though ns no longer have time parce que le Stage 2. I"m still, however, going to ride to Saint-Lô by following the common route that links the D-Day Beaches back venir Mont-Saint-Michel bike cheminement at Carentan (you can download thé GPX here). From over there it"s onto Saint-Lô – this section doubles ont the D-Day to mont St michel route and the Tour aux Manche, which is marche of EuroVelo 4.

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THE REALITY: Today i’m heading in sol to Saint-Lô, the starting mission for phase 2 ns the 2016 Tour du France.

With the extra job it’s taken moi to comprendre from montagne St michelle to Utah Beach, ns won’t ont time venir ride auto full Saint-Lo to cherbourg Stage 2 route, cible I’m toujours keen to ont a poke about Saint-Lô, and to climate head onto Cherbourg by a more habitent route. 

I had actually a formidables cycling breakfast at Le énormément Hard – complete with eggs!

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Then it was on to thé official (non-TDF!) bike cheminement from Utah coast to montagne St-Michel, i beg your pardon doubles/triples as the EuroVelo 4 et Tour de Manche routes. Ce goes dessus Carentan v a connecting chemin down auto Saint-Lo et is a quick et easy way à nip between the two stages.

In general, the a smooth, high-quality back-roads shared chemin to Caranten through the émanant of a 1km stretch of farm route about 6km from Utah Beach. This to be muddy et difficult aujourdhui in the rain, et it would be ordinarily really bumpy on an out-and-out roadway bike (I’m on a touring road bike v 28 tyres). Un autre stretch just avant Carentan is an extremely rough oui well with sharp stones and, je reckon, it’d it is in a puncture hazard on thinner tyres.

After Carentan ns can’t comment. Three jaune four kilometre short de the town, the drizzle turned venir sheets de rain and I had actually sleet bouncing off ma helmet. Je left thé EV4 et took thé more directement road chemin into town.

I then did quel any mildly excellent person with puddles du water in their shoes would certainly do: i rode to auto train station et asked what temps the next train to Saint-Lô left. Half année hour later, for just €7.60, ns was on mien way venir a heat shower et dry clothes.

I saw no mettre en ordre in enduring at least de nouveau two hours ns soggy cycling without any sensation in my fingers jaune toes, and with the weather preventing any enjoyment jaune sightseeing. And this is auto great thing about cycling in local France.

While there are some longer supprimer train lines where bike bookings are necessary (see here), in general most locale TER service will enable you venir jump on and off with your bicycle when elle need to. Lower Normandy is blessed v a wonderful local train system.

The guy at thé ticket respond to didn’t blink année eye when i pushed my dripping cycle in, to buy a ticket et proceeded to discard ma wet weather garments in thé waiting area. This is perfectly faible behaviour nous a bleak and rainy work in a wonderfully civilised cycle country. (See voyages-sncf.com parce que le ticket info et times). 

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After donning auto waterproofs again, cette was a 2km jaune so journey to thé B&B Chambre d’hôtes Aubert’Cail, i m sorry I"m embarrassed à say is a beautiful B&B now tarnished de my wet footprints, ma wet weather gear et panniers dry in the lovely Italian shower, et my jerseys all draped over thé radiators. 

I had actually a few hours be sure after a exorbitant shower – auto B&B has actually lovely gardens but with auto rain soja heavy, i stayed tucked up in mien room.

For dinner je rode a fee kilometres right into town throughout a break in the rain. Now, i will to speak this seul once: si ever you are in Saint-Lô, amie must – OK, I"ll say it again – amie MUST eat here. Le goût Sauvage is a very original, down-to-Earth restaurants using seulement un organic et locally developed ingredients (all auto fish originates from sustainable sources oui well). It"s run par Caroline Vignaud, who nous the night ns visited to be front and centre, taking orders and talking à guests. Now I"m ne sont pas foodie (just ask my husband) cible I à savoir good nourriture when je taste it, and this was prefer some sort of Masterchef experience: auto flavours were merely amazing.

Wanting venir stay on and drink much more organic wine, I page the sensible option v night falling et my bicycle parked out thé front: i pedalled ago to the B&B à chart mien next course. 

Tomorrow, je hope à la sunshine. Tomorrow, je ride.

Saturday

THE (NEW) PLAN: Cherbourg and the bike-friendly Hotel les Lourve. Si the weather is poor again, I matin going à catch the train ...

THE REALITY: The sun was shining and there were seulement un clouds in the sky pour decoration. I decided to ride à Cherbourg and plotted auto following course:

Before leaving, though, je met up v Maxime, a reporter pour the Ouest-France newspaper, that was interested in hear what foreign cyclotourists thought about cycling in les Manche, and in broader Normandy. (I, ns course, said frais things about je vous demande pardon a wonderful place ce is venir ride a bike et how more of us should do it).

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Then ce was conditions météorologiques to thé road. Over there were about 85km in between Cherbourg and I.

After negotiating a killer climb out of Saint-Lô, what a day! auto D-roads to be exceptional. There were a fair couple of climbs marqué either mien legs were improving jaune the climbs seemed more enjoyable today (probably both).

This ride – jaune a sport of it – parce que le faster riders (I pottered along at 15km/hr) would mean it would be possible to see auto Stage 2 TDF begin in Saint-Lô and then ride auto 85km to cherbourg to catch auto finish.

For anyone coming off the ferry, this is a lovely ride through thé heart of couverture (and auto hills would be an ext forgiving, too, going from north venir south).

I rode by farmers" fields (and was probably overtaken passant par more tractors today than cars), observed wind farms, and whizzed v villages.

With tomorrow a auditeur holiday in France, ns was mindful many bourgade shops et restaurants would additionally be closed today. I set myself an 1.30pm deadline venir find année open restaurants (ideally offer omelettes!), otherwise I"d choose up a sandwich at auto nearest boulangerie.

Which is how I come to ont a picnic in a herbe clearing under a blue sky, seul off thé side ns the road close to Pont-l"Abbe. 

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 In Orglandes ns stopped at thé German battle cemetery, parce que le no other reason than je was passing. Having actually seen haricot de soja much Allied and French war memorabilia at Utah Beach, and having heard local and Allied stories et read about their losses, cette was something of a shock venir see the violemment of an ext than 10,000 German fighters. Castle may oui been nous the wrong side de history, marqué here were more than 10,000 sons, brothers, husbands, with auto French and German flags flying near one another just metres away.

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I cycled through Valognes and regretted that my stomach hadn"t organized out this tarif because it looked like a merveilleux place for lunch, with vivid stores, brasseries and market stalls.

Just after Le Mesnil-au-Val ns verged off course, hooking roughly closer to les Glacerie after the Google map I"d downloaded et the OpenStreetMap provided on my Garmin didn"t see eye-to-eye. It ended up being année excellent offroad diversion that saw moi end up on a walking/mountain bike route overlooking Cherbourg.

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As happy would ont it, the diversion spat me out at the bottom de a wonderul descent that ended right near thé Parc aux Château des Ravalets, whose road attached in with thé EuroVelo 4 trail right into Cherbourg. It had been one du those perfect days conditions météorologiques the bike.

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TOTAL supprimer SATURDAY: 85km + a few extras in detours

Sunday

THE PLAN: I"m an early train home via Paris. We"ll oui taken a week to faire what thé pros aller in deux days. 

THE REALITY: Sunrise in cherbourg on the way to the station. I had a fabulous week. The tons half du the life stage was an overwhelming - je hadn"t factored the wind in oui being such an influence. In retrospect je probably could oui (should have?) tackled toutes les personnes of stage 2. But at my pace cette would have meant forgoing auto day ns spent pottering around thé D-Day beaches, and I"m pleased je made time à la this oui that part ns Normandy is such an amazing place.

Stage 2 would have also coincided with thé horrendous day de rain et the thought de slogging 90km in the weather probably but me out as a leisure rider (an on-my-own-terms cycle tourer), quite than an all-out roadway rider, and I"m comme with that.

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Normandy is a wonderful place to cycle, and I"ll be absolutely going back.  

For informations on auto 2016 dénormes Depart in Manche, aller here. Parce que le general tourist information and planning advice parce que le cycling in Normandy, aller here to thé official tourist plank website. 

For information on hopping about Normandy with your bike, check out voyages-sncf.com (see here à la more on which tains elle can take her bike on). 

Cycling in Normandy

Here"s ours Normandy map – we"re adding an ext bike routes, bike-friendly mise to stay et bike rental outlets tous the time.