The Western front : From Amiens to Bruges by bike
Cycling trip details : The Western front – From Amiens to Bruges
The Somme, Northern France and Flanders were the scene of some of the most terrible fighting of the First World War! This cycling trip from Amiens to Bruges will allow you, by crossing the former battlefields, and by visiting museums and commemorative sites, to take the full measure of these tragic events and discover the history of the men and women who lived through them ! On happier notes and on comfortable cycle routes, you will also cross magnificent towns, witness to the prosperous merchant past of the region, and taste the gastronomic specialities of the North such as Welsh, Chips, Abbey beer or Flemish carbonnade !
Discover Amiens and the Somme battlefield
Amiens is the first discovery of your cycling holiday. Its huge cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. From Amiens, you can cycle almost 51 km to the town of Albert along the river Somme. On this route you will see the Australian National Memorial and the Franco-Australian Victoria School Museum, and walk through the Hamel battlefield where the Second Battle of the Somme took place in 1918.
In Albert, don't miss the Somme 1916 Museum, which is set up underground and describes the events of the Battle of the Somme, as well as its national necropolis. On the way out of Albert, you will pass the Thiepval Mound, a memorial to the British soldiers who fell in the Battle of the Somme in 1916, as well as the Belfast Tower, dedicated to the Irish soldiers of the Ulster Battalion, before crossing Longueval and arriving in Arras in the Pas de Calais department. Arras will seduce you with the architecture of its city centre, its magnificent belfry and its Vauban citadel, both of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
From Arras, you turn north across the Scarpe River to the hill of Lorette, where you will visit the cemetery of Notre-Dame-de-Lorette, one of the most famous French cemeteries. Further north, your historic bike ride will take you to Bethune where you will spend the night.
Dive into the beautiful landscapes between Béthune and Bruges
Leaving Bethune the next day, you arrive in French Flanders where you will discover the gastronomic specialties of the region. Continue towards the Belgian border, enter the Flemish region and go to Ypres. From this charming town, capital of the cloth industry, which saw 5 major battles during the war, the route takes you around Zonnebeke, Passchendaele and Langemark Poelkapelle, places of remembrance dedicated to the soldiers from all over the world who fought on these lands, before returning to the town centre.
Taking the north-eastern route, you will leave Ypres and follow the network of cycle paths to Bruges, the Venice of the North, with its belfry, romantic canals and chocolates! A magical way to end your stay!
Share the unforgettable moments of your cycling trips with Normandie Rando
Our bike travel agency makes your cycling trip enjoyable by offering bike rental suitable for bike trails. Visit the western front by bike in 8 days and 7 nights (accommodation included). We will accompany you on your discovery of the many facets of the region by providing you with a ready-made or personalised itinerary according to your requirements.
DAY 1 : Arrival in Amiens
Your hotel is located in the city centre, close to the Cathedral. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is the largest Gothic building in France. With the tallest nave, it could contain twice Notre Dame de Paris!
Untouched by the First World War, plaques have been sealed in memory of soldiers from the Allied front.
The city also welcomed Jules Verne, who wrote most of his novels here. Finally, Amiens is a pleasant city where you can enjoy a stroll along the canal before starting your journey.
Night in Amiens.
DAY 2 : Amiens to Albert
Distance : 51km
After picking up your bike, you head east along the Somme River avoiding the traffic. After about 20 kilometres, you reach the Villers Bretonneux sector where, from 24 to 26 April 1918, the Australian Expeditionary Force stopped the German advance, thus avoiding the capture of Amiens ! Immerse yourself in the history of the Australian National Memorial and the fascinating Franco-Australian Museum established in the Victoria School.
Continue eastwards, crossing the Hamel Battlefield to the other side of the Somme at Cerisy. Enjoy magnificent views of the river along the way to Albert.
Albert was the epicentre of the great Battle of the Somme and is the main industrial town in the Ancre Valley. The Somme 1916 Museum in Albert, housed in an underground air raid shelter, tells the story of military life during the First World War.
Night in Albert.
DAY 3 : Albert to Arras
Distance : 45km / 62km
After passing the National Necropolis you leave the town and follow the Ancre Valley northwards before climbing the Thiepval Mound. The offensive launched on 1 July 1916 killed 20,000 British soldiers, making it the 'bloodiest day in its military history'. Thiepval was liberated 3 months later on 27 September 1916.
You pass the Belfast Tower, erected in 1921 in memory of the Ulster Battalion which fought at Thiepval on 1 July 1916. Cross the Anchor and enter Beaumont Hamel Park. Here you will find the memorial to the men of the Newfoundland Regiment, who had just come out of their trenches to be 'swept away' by German machine-gun fire.
A few more kilometres will take you to the German cemetery at Fricourt and the South African and New Zealand memorials at Longueval. Your route then passes through the village of Pozières where the Australians, exhausted by constant artillery counter-attacks, were relieved by the Canadians. 14,000 names of soldiers are engraved on the walls of this cemetery.
You then leave the Somme department and drive 20 km through the countryside to Arras, the "Capital" of Artois.
In Flemish Baroque style, Arras was long renowned for the quality of its cloth and has since retained its wealth and influence! Your hotel is ideally located in the heart of the city. You will be seduced by the architecture of the city, from Flemish Baroque to Art Deco style. You can't miss the Belfry and the Vauban citadel, both of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Relax at the end of the day on the terrace of one of the cafés on the magnificent Heroes' Square.
Night in Arras.
DAY 4 : Arras to Béthune
Distance : 52km
You follow the Scarpe River and then turn north for about twenty kilometres to arrive in the great park of Vimy, which was, on 17 April 1917, the scene of a ferocious battle between the German army and the Canadian troops who lost more than 11,000 soldiers. Some would say that "modern Canada was born in the trenches of Vimy". The impressive monument built on the heights bears witness to this event.
After a break in the village of Souchez you climb the hill of Lorette where, in May 1915, French and German troops fought fiercely for the control of the Artois. The cemetery of Notre Dame de Lorette, home to over 40,000 soldiers, is still the largest French military cemetery.
You then continue north through part of the mining basin to reach Bethune where you will spend the night.
Béthune is a historically bourgeois town which drew its wealth from the surrounding agricultural land, from textiles in the Middle Ages and then from the mechanical and chemical industries.
The First World War led to the destruction of almost half the town. The German army, which did not occupy the town during the conflict, bombed the town centre on 20 May 1918, destroying it almost entirely except for the belfry.
Since 1964, the town has been twinned with the town of Hastings (England), known for having hosted the battle that made William the Conqueror the new king of England.
Night in Béthune.
DAY 5 : Béthune to Ypres
Distance : 61km / 82km
Welcome to the Flanders region or "Le Plat Pays" by Jacques Brel, a song that sums up this landscape without mountainous terrain.
As far as gastronomy is concerned, the specialities are just like the reputation of the inhabitants: warm! You will enjoy the famous Flemish carbonade, maroilles, welsh, potjevleesch or waterzooï, of course accompanied by home-made chips and a good abbey beer!
Flanders was one of the richest, most densely populated and most coveted provinces in France. It played a leading role during the French Industrial Revolution.
The long option takes you to Fromelles, a small village that was the scene of fighting between Commonwealth (mainly Australian) and German soldiers. Between 19 and 20 July 1916 there were almost 8500 casualties.
You then follow the short route to Bailleul, capital of the "Monts des Flandres", a series of small hills less than 160m high. From their summits you can enjoy splendid views of the surrounding area. Relax in an estaminet, a typical café in the region. Visit the Abbey of Mont des Cats where you can taste the cheeses and beers produced by the Trappist monks.
This is also the region where the French-American writer Marguerite Yourcenar grew up.
Cross the Belgian border and head for Ypres.
Night in Ypres.
DAY 6 : Loop around Ypres
Distance : 46km
In October 1914, the Front froze a few kilometres from Ypres, forming a salient in the German lines. The rich Flemish city will thus see 5 successive battles take place on its doorstep, for which soldiers from all over the world will be mobilised.
Your tour takes you in their footsteps, from Zonnebeke to Langemark Poelkapelle via Passchendaele. More than 300,000 Allies, including 250,000 Commonwealth soldiers, died in the fighting. There are some 170 military cemeteries in the surrounding countryside.
Back in Ypres, it is hard to imagine the medieval town being almost completely destroyed after the war. The town became prosperous in the Middle Ages and gained a reputation as the 'capital of cloth-making'. A remnant of this period is the Cloth Hall, one of the largest civil buildings in the Gothic style in Europe, which was destroyed during the German bombardment and then rebuilt identically. Here you can visit the 'in Flanders Fields' museum, where you can follow the life of a soldier or civilian of the time.
The city also has a number of excellent chocolate shops, some local specialities: waffles, Tapjesvlees, Cat's Paw and Cuberdon.
At 8 p.m., we meet at the Menin Gate (Menenpoort in Dutch) where every day since 1927 the buglers of the fire brigade play the "Last Post" in homage to the Commonwealth troops.
Night in Ypres.
DAY 7 : Ypres to Bruges
Distance : 60km
After a good Flemish breakfast, you leave Ypres by the northwest and leave the battlefields behind. The great network of cycle paths will take you through farms and villages without traffic to finally reach the historic centre of Bruges...
If time permits, take an extra day to visit this jewel of Flanders.
Night in Bruges.
DAY 8 : Bruges
End of the tour in Bruges after breakfast
Our 15 years of experience has enabled us to build strong relationships with all our hotel partners. Some of them have become true friends and we have a real trust in them.
Their priority is to make your stay unforgettable and carefree.
And because everyone has their own budget, we offer you different categories of accommodation.
One thing is certain, from small family accommodation to large 5* hotels, a warm welcome is always reserved for Normandie Rando clients.
Because we organise sporting holidays, we attach great importance to breakfasts.
All the establishments we work with offer a varied and copious breakfast made up of fresh and local products.
You stay in small family-run 2* or 3* hotels.
The welcome is always friendly and the rooms simple but with all the comfort.
We know that a walking or cycling holiday requires a good rest between each stage and the bedding is always of high quality.
You stay in 3* or 4* hotels.
The rooms are spacious and the hotel offers many services.
The bedding is of very good quality and the decoration is well thought out.
You stay in a 4* or 5* hotel.
The establishments are often part of the historical heritage (old houses, castles...)
The rooms are very spacious and have all the necessary equipment.
The bedding is excellent.
Different bikes available for rental
Because we are not all equipped and because travelling with a bicycle is often not easy, Normandie Rando offers its clients the possibility of renting quality, fully equipped bicycles.
Our bikes are robust and light so that your stay is as pleasant as possible.
They are delivered with a complete equipment:
Repair kit including puncture-proof spray, spare inner tube, tyre levers, patches.
Front and rear lights
An anti-theft device
Front pannier with map holder
We have a perfect knowledge of the terrain and can therefore offer you bikes adapted to the chosen tour.
Depending on your experience and level, you can choose between several types of bikes: They are all available in different sizes in men's, women's and children's frames.
Perfectly adapted to our tours, it is efficient, reliable and very easy to handle.
It is the ideal bike for a successful cycling trip !
You are tempted by a cycling adventure but you are afraid of the unevenness? The electric bike is for you.
With its great autonomy, it will take you with ease on all roads!
This type of bike allows you to cover long distances at a sustained pace.
Perfectly suited to regular cyclists.
Our cycling trips are also for families! Of course, we have robust and manageable "Kids" bikes, so that the whole family can enjoy the ride!
We can also offer you additional equipment on request:
Trailer bike / baby carrier / trailer...
Do not hesitate to contact us for more information.
Standard accommodation starting from 1285€
Single room supplement : 340€
Comfort accommodation starting from 1480€
Single room supplement : 400€
You do not wish to benefit from our luggage transport service ?
200€ discount (cannot be combined with the "group travellers discount")
Bike rental for 6 days :
(Delivery and relocation at the end of the tour)
Hybrid Trek : 250€
Road bike : 330€
E-bike : 330€
Solo traveller : 350€ supplement
Group traveller (4 pax & more) : 120€ discount
Departure every Sundays
If departure any other day, 80€ supplement
All prices, discounts and supplements are per person.
The list of our partner hotels is available on request via our contact form.
Included in the tour price :
- 7 nights in standard or comfort accommodation with breakfast and daily tourist taxes.
- 6 days cycling.
- Luggage transfers between each stage.
- Bicycle delivery, detailled tour explanations, advices...
- Travel documents : roadbook, detailled maps and GPX tracks (on demand)
Not included in the tour price :
- Lunches and drinks.
- Entry fees and tickets for cultural and historical sites.
- Travel insurance.
- Single room supplement.
- Bicycle rental.
How to get there ?
Coming by train from Paris :
Paris – Amiens : 1h20 min (Direct)
Coming by car :
A16 or A1
Free parking lot in Amiens.
How to go back ?
Getting back to Paris by train :
Bruges - Paris: around 3h (via Brussels)
Get your car back at the end of your tour :
Train Bruges - Amiens : around 4h30 min (via Brussels and Paris)
8 days/7 nights
From 1285.00€Book your stay
All included tours
Roadbook + GPS