- 5 days
About the challenge
Our exciting cycle challenge takes us from London to the south coast and then through northern France, tracing some of the region’s most significant World War battle sites, including the Normandy D-Day landing beaches.
Crossing the Channel to Caen, we cycle along the Normandy coastline, then inland through small villages and medieval market towns towards Paris. With long days in the saddle and some strenuous hill-climbs, the sight of the Eiffel Tower, our finishing point, will evoke a real sense of achievement.
Our challenge is designed so that our last day in Paris gives us the wonderful opportunity of witnessing the exciting final stage of the Tour de France, as it ends with its customary laps of the Champs-Elysées.
Dates & prices
|Departs||Days||Charity||Availability||Registration fee||Fundraising target||Payment option|
|22 Jul 2015||5||Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity (GOSH)||Spaces||£150||+||£1500||Or||—||Book now|
Day 1: London – Portsmouth – Caen (Ouistreham)
Cycle approx 120km (75 miles)
We meet at Chessington, on the outskirts of London, and set off early to avoid the morning traffic. It’s not long before we’re pedalling through the Surrey countryside and onto the North Downs near Guildford. Continuing through small towns and villages, our route undulates relatively steadily, though there are some steeper climbs to test our legs. Heading predominantly southwest, we enter Hampshire and pass through Alton. Look out for steam trains, as this old market town is also the terminus of the famed Watercress Line. We pass Jane Austen’s house in the lovely village of Chawton soon afterwards, where we stop for lunch. We then continue our ride south across the sweeping South Downs, where more climbs await us. We’ll be glad when we finally see the coast! Reaching Portsmouth, steeped in naval history, we ride to the ferry terminal and take our overnight ferry to Caen. (Dinner not included)
Day 2: Caen (Ouistreham) – Lisieux
Cycle approx 128km (80 miles)
We disembark from our ferry and ride west along the coast to the small town of Arromanches, heart of the Normandy Landings. Parts of the mulberry harbour built here can still be seen out at sea and on the beach. After visiting the museum here, we ride to Juno and Gold beaches. Leaving the Normandy beaches behind us, we then head back east on small roads towards Pegasus Bridge, near Caen, where the first house to be liberated from the Germans in June 1944 still stands. Now a café and museum, there is an opportunity to visit and see the original bridge. We then continue east, on quiet rolling roads that take us through farmland and apple orchards – this area produces lots of cider and calvados! We see Lisieux’s 11th-century cathedral as we approach the end of today’s ride; approximately two-thirds of the town was destroyed by allied troops in the D-Day bombardment but the cathedral survived unscathed. Night hotel.
Day 3: Lisieux – Evreux
Cycle approx 135km (83 miles)
Another long day ahead of us today, as we ride south through lovely countryside. Passing through picturesque hamlets and small towns, it’s hard to picture this peaceful countryside dominated by the battles of World War Two. We ride to the Falaise Gap, the site of a crucial battle in August 1944 where the Germans were very nearly defeated. We have a short talk about the battle and how close it was. Setting off again, we ride west through rolling farmland and wooded valleys to the ancient cathedral city of Evreux. Night hotel.
Day 4: Evreux – Paris
Cycle approx 112km (70 miles)
The Liberation of Paris followed the Normandy Landings and the Battle of Falaise, so it’s fitting that our last day of cycling takes us to the capital. We cycle east, crossing the River Eure and riding through small towns as we pass through the valley of the Seine. Nearing the city, we cross the River Seine and cycle through the suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt. As we head towards the centre of this legendary city, we look out for the distinctive landmarks of the Eiffel Tower and the Sacré Coeur standing out on the skyline. We pass the Arc de Triomphe and cycle down the famous Champs-Elysees to our finish beneath the lofty arches of the Eiffel Tower. After checking into our hotel we enjoy a great celebration to mark our achievements. Night hotel.
Day 5: Paris – London
After breakfast you are free to explore the city; popular attractions include the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Notre-Dame Cathedral and the Louvre. The Tour de France finishes on the 71m-wide Champs-Elysées, by far the best place to watch the sprinters in action as they circuit inner Paris for about an hour before the final lap. The atmosphere in Paris will be electric as spectators gather early to watch the world’s most famous cycling event arrive home, and if you want to get a good view you are advised to get there many hours before the peloton!
You are responsible for getting yourself and your bags to the Gare du Nord in good time for our Eurostar train back to St Pancras, where we meet the bikes. (Lunch & dinner not included)
Discover Adventure reserves the right to change the route or itinerary for safety reasons should local conditions dictate.
The cost includes all accommodation as well as transport (by ferry and Eurostar) and all meals except three as specified in the itinerary. It also includes full trip support of experienced Discover Adventure leaders, drivers and mechanics.
It does not include personal travel insurance, three meals as specified, transport around Paris on Day 5, a bicycle, drinks, extra food, personal items or entry to any optional tourist sites you may wish to visit. Remember to allow extra for drinks, snacks, souvenirs and other personal expenses. Please note that costs may fluctuate and we have no control over any changes. We strongly recommend you carry a credit card in case of personal emergency.
Accommodation is in 2-3* hotels, picked for their proximity to our route. The hotels are comfortable with en suite facilities; standards may vary between the hotels.
All food is included except three meals where specified. Lunches are generous buffet-style with plenty of energy food to keep you going! Dinners are generally eaten in the hotels.
Being vegetarian or having other dietary requirements is not usually a problem provided you let us know well in advance. Bear in mind that being vegetarian is not generally well-understood in France, so meals may not be as varied as you are used to. If you know there are plenty of foods you cannot eat you may wish to bring extra snacks from home so you can top up your energy supply. Any meals not included are listed in the itinerary and are generally when we are in towns or cities where you are free to explore and find something to suit your budget.
Discover Adventure Crew
Your trip will be led by experienced Discover Adventure leaders. Our leaders are selected for their experience in harsh wilderness environments, knowledge of travel in remote areas, friendliness and approachability, sense of humour and ability to safely and effectively deal with any situation that arises. They are also trained in expedition first-aid. You are in very safe hands with a Discover Adventure leader.All our leaders are from the UK or other English-speaking countries. Most work for us on an ad-hoc basis and have ‘real’ jobs in-between trips! We never send our leaders to the same destination for months on end – we want them to be as enthusiastic about your trip as you are. The number of crew and support vehicles looking after you will depend on the final size of your group, but the team will be looking after every aspect of your trip whether that’s transporting your luggage, ensuring your route is well-marked, making you lunch and sorting out any mechanical problems. At Discover Adventure we pride ourselves on our high leader: cyclist ratio and believe it leads to greater trip enjoyment as well as excellent trip safety.
Support vehicles are with the group all of the time. All luggage and spares will be carried in them. Space is limited and hard-sided luggage is not suitable, so it is essential that your kit is packed in a soft sailing bag, rucksack or expedition kitbag. Ask us about our specially-designed low-cost kitbags if you don’t have one already. You should also bring a small daypack or large waist-pack to carry items needed during the day as you will not have access to your main luggage until the evening. Your bikes will return in our vehicles in time to meet you at St Pancras. They will be well-packed and protected during transit in our vehicles, but if you have an expensive or delicate frame, you may prefer to bring extra lagging to protect it more, or a soft bike bag. Hard case bike bags are not suitable as we do not have space to store them. We offer a bike courier service for those who prefer not to collect their vehicle at the station; further details and costs will be sent to you nearer the time.
Your safety, and that of the rest of the group, is our highest priority. Our trips are designed and planned with safety in mind. Your crew will be equipped with radios and emergency mobile phones, first-aid kits and other safety apparatus where necessary. They always have access to our 24-hour emergency back-up in the UK. Our leaders are responsible for safety on the trip, and will make any changes to the itinerary they deem necessary should local conditions dictate. Pre-trip administration – such as compulsory medical questionnaires and travel insurance – is all done with your safety in mind.
Preparing for the challenge
The cycling is mainly undulating. Distances are fairly long, varying from 112 - 135km per day; you should make sure you are fit enough to manage these distances. The first day is particularly strenuous with some tough climbs. We ride mainly on small country roads. Traffic is light on most of the roads but when we pass through busy areas we may go through as a group. French drivers are generally far more considerate to cyclists than here in the UK.
We strongly recommend that you ride a road/racing bike (rather than a mountain bike) for this trip due to the long distances involved on well-surfaced roads. However Discover Adventure can provide hybrid or mountain bikes at an extra cost if you wish.
There will be a range of spares in the vehicle along with a full tool kit. However it is impossible for us to carry spares for every eventuality so it is vital that when bringing your own bike it is in good order before departure. It is imperative that you supply your own helmet and wear it at all times while cycling, with the straps done up. We are always happy to talk through the trip in more detail with you if you are worried about your fitness at any stage.
Clothing & Equipment
We could be exposed to bad weather at any time so be prepared for quickly changing conditions and temperatures. We provide you with a detailed packing kit-list on registration, as well as details on useful discounts you are entitled to as a Discover Adventure customer.
The climate of northern France is very similar to that of southern England. Temperatures can vary widely, rain is always a possibility and it may be windy in flatter areas.
Our challenges attract people of all levels of experience and fitness, all ages and backgrounds. We expect all participants to train hard in advance to achieve this challenge, but we respect everyone’s limits. We design our challenges so that everyone can go at their own pace: this is not a race. For logistical and safety reasons we sometimes need to re-group, so the front-runners will find themselves waiting for the slower ones. Please relax, and remember that this is a team effort that enables people to achieve their personal goals and earn sponsorship.
Passport & Visa
A valid ten-year passport is essential; it must be valid for at least six months after entry into France. There is no visa requirement for UK citizens. Other nationalities should check entry requirements.
We insist that you have had a Tetanus injection in the last ten years, and highly recommend protection against Polio. You should always check with a GP or travel clinic for up-to-date travel health advice as it does change.
Worldwide Sustainable Tourism
Long before ‘Responsible Tourism’ became a recognised phrase, we designed and ran our trips to ensure they made minimum impact on the environment and a positive impact on the local communities we pass through.
Discover Adventure Projects
We are supporting a tree-planting project in Peru and a children’s home in Tanzania on a long-term basis. If you would like to ‘give something back’ please consider donating £5 to our projects when you sign up. Please see our website for more details.
We encourage all our customers to offset emissions connected with their trip. You can offset at any time in the lead-up to departure by visiting Climate Care via our website and making a donation to a worthwhile project supported by them.
Alternatively, if you wish to take more practical action in the UK you can volunteer for a day with TCV and work on an environmental project local to you. Work may include construction footpaths, dry stone walling, creating wildlife habitats or planting trees in your community. Volunteer today at www.tcv.org or call 01302 388883.
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