Bike Trip to Normandy 2013

In July 2013 we took a short trip to Normandy on the VFR, or Black Beauty as she became known as on the trip.

We left home on Wednesday morning to catch the Eurotunnel service at 09:50.

An uneventful crossing which is what you always hope for in a tunnel!

The weather was overcast when we arrived in France, but with the promise of great things as the week unfolded.

Our first stop was at our favourite Aire at Abbeville, where we fuelled up and decided to make the most of the Autoroutes and get to our destination, St. Quentin Les Chardonnets, as soon as possible.

We crossed the fantastic Pont De Normandie near Le Havre in what can only be described as "Blustery" conditions. You sure feel a long way up over the Seine when the bike seems to want to lean over on a straight piece of road! But we managed OK and pressed on.


We left the Autoroute at Caen an travelled south towards Tinchenbray, by this time fuel was getting a bit low, but we were confident on finding a petrol station along the relatively major road. After 20 miles, our confidence was starting to wane as the fuel indicator was showing less than 10 kms range an no sign of fuel. Fortunately we found fuel in a one horse town, where even the horse had left (brings back memories of Hari Hari in New Zealand!) I never was any good at forward planning! Anyway freshly filled up with plenty of SP we continued on our way, to pass, almost inevitably, a Le Clerc with fuel at a fraction of the cost just paid.

We approached Tinchenbray and saw a turning for St Quentin at Monsecret and arrived in the village at about 5:30pm. Having ridden around the village several times looking for the Gite, we happened upon a farmer and asked if he knew where Orchard Gites were. I spoke in poor French and he replied in poorer English and this went on for some while until we established the direction to take. We did find the Gites and what a find!

The Orchard Gites are 3 separate Gites, La Ciderie (ours), one bedroom; La Laiterie, a joining, one bedroom with 2 double beds; and Le Pressoire, a separate building with 2 double bedrooms.

The situation was ideal for us, with confidence that the bike was secure and the accommodation just perfect for two.

Alison, the owner was on hand to welcome us with coffee and cake which was gratefully received.


After unpacking, we jumped on the bike again to wizz into Tinchenbray to get some provisions, with Red Wine being a priority!


Able to relax for the evening after a long ride, 370 miles in total.


We had some unexpected visitors the today! luckily they seemed to be house trained!

They were called Ken & Barbie, abbreviated from Kentucky Fried Chicken and Barbecue! But we felt the Fred & Ginger was kinder.

The weather had improved from the previous day and we were able to relax in the morning sun before taking a walk to stretch our legs.


We took a walk from the gite along a footpath and eventually through the village then back to base. After a short rest and a chat with Alison we decided to walk into Tinchenbray, by this time the sun was hot, but a gentle walk through the countryside was just perfect.


It was good to stretch out after the long ride, but by the time evening arrived, I was eyeing up some nice looking roads on the map for a ride out the next day.




There was a market in Vire on Friday, so we decided to go there first (not sure why, no room on the bike to take anything back, but the cherries were good!)

From Vire we rode on to Granville on the west coast. Granville has a large harbour and fishing fleet as well as long golden sandy beaches. Despite the beautiful weather the beaches were deserted!

After a satisfying baguette lunch we rode down the coast road to Avranches, with glimpses of Mont St Michel to our right. At Avranches we took the D911 inland which took us, eventually, back to Tinchenbray. A lovely road with sweeping bends and great scenery.

We picked up some provisions, and then back to base to enjoy some afternoon sunshine in the garden.

On Saturday we again woke up to wonderful blue skies. We decided to take a ride to Bagnole sur Ornes via Domfront. We set off early so that we would not spend too much time riding in the heat of the day.

Domfront is a hill top village with commanding views all around. There are ruins of an ancient castle dating back to the 1200's.

Whilst there we stumbled across a small dwelling cut into the hillside that was the hiding place for 2 RAF pilots for 500 days! Brought back memories of the characters in 'Allo 'Allo!

From Domfront we rode on to Bagnoles sur Ornes, a very upmarket town which boasts Thermal Springs, and a very nice hotel or two!

The lake between the Casino and the Hotel.


A great ride again back to base, it is interesting the way that the speed limits are posted through villages, and easy to get caught out if not aware of the signs.


In the evening we did our circular walk through the narrow lanes and into the bustling village of St Quentin Les Chardonnets. This time we didn't see anyone! We were barked at by a few yard dogs, but that is as close as we got to interacting with the locals!

On Sunday we decided to take a ride into Suisse Normandie. Although it was very picturesque, it was not a great route on the bike. The roads were very narrow and twisty, and to be honest I daren't take my eyes off them for a minute.

We stopped at Pont d' Ouilly which was very pretty.

People were enjoying the river in canoes, and riding the weir.


Again, back to base with time to enjoy yet more sunshine and relaxation. We must be getting older, realising that it's not a crime to sit and relax when on holiday!

On Monday, our last day, we decided to take a ride into Mortain, where we had been recommended some good level parking (always a bonus on the bike) and some good walks through waterfalls. Alison was right about the parking, but unfortunately it was inaccessible, blocked by a JCB and a few Frenchmen who looked like they might get around to digging the hole sometime that week! So we parked on the road and walked down past the pristine, inaccessible, level car park and on to le Petite Cascade, which was very pleasant in a shady valley. From there we walked to Le Grand Cascade, which was equally as pleasant.


We left Mortain and headed for Vire with lunch in mind. We were not disappointed, find a very good restaurant called Le Robbery, and it wasn't the daylight type either.

Omlette and Chips, so typically French!!

Back at base I thought I would check out the weather for our return journey. I was dismayed to see heavy rain and thunder forecast for Tuesday. Fortunately I was mistakingly looking at a week Tuesday, and the fine weather was set to continue.


So with fond farewell to Fudge and Alison, we set off home on Tuesday and enjoyed a brisk ride back to Le Tunnel.

A lovely break in a wonderful part of France, we will be back! hopefully with Alan & Rozzie because we just know they would love it!


Here's to the next one!!


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