Allies – Normandy to the Rhine

ALLIES - NORMANDY TO THE RHINE CYCLING TOUR OVERVIEW

Our Allies launch marks 100 years to the day since the armistice was signed to end World War I.

We start our Allies Odyssey with the tide out! Rolling across the bridge from Mont St. Michel to mainland Normandy, our trail is historic and relaxed as this Odyssey takes in more forgiving terrain and less kms per day (average 55 km) giving us time to explore the epic history all around us. As we pedal through France, Belgium, Luxembourg and into Germany, we traverse through the sensational regions of Normandy, Picardy, Flanders, The Ardennes and along the Moselle, following and examining the two greatest historical conflicts of recent times - WWI and WWII.

Starting with Normandy's low rolling hills, tiny lanes and historic villages, we skirt the D-Day beach landing grounds where the boats went the other way! This was the biggest seaborne invasion ever mounted and its aim was to liberate France from Nazi occupation in WWII.

Northern France is full of amazing produce, from local cheeses Livarot, Pont l’Eveque and of course Camembert to cider and calvados apple brandy. Off the rugged cliffs and sandy beaches, fishing boats bring in the catch which is a major and magnificent part of the local cuisine.

As we head east through Rouen (once home to Richard the Lionheart!) and on to Amiens with its exceptional cathedral, we head for the sorrow which is the WWI battlefields of the Somme and into Belgium at the Ypres Salient. We are surrounded by history - military and medieval, cycling as we trace the roads of the Paris Roubaix, Tour of Flanders and Liege-Bastogne-Liege which makes this area an exceptional place to ride through.

Belgium’s stunning roads and medieval villages greet us as we roll through the lush Ardennes, rightly famed as some of Europe’s best cycling. After traversing Luxembourg in a day we strike the magnificent Moselle River. We wind its course northeast admiring its sheer vineyards which cling to the cliff-like banks lining the river - but don’t worry we enjoy the valley riding (there are x-loops for the brave!)

Our final destination is Remagen, where the Allies first crossed the Rhine and entered the heart of Germany for the Allies' final assault to end WWII.  Across the only bridge on the Rhine, which the Germans failed to blow up, where the Allies won the race to the Rhine.

Outside Magazine Trips of the Year 2020

Allies makes Outside Magazine's Epic Trips 2021

We are hugely proud to feature not 1 but 2 of our Odysseys in Outside Magazines Epic Trips of 2021. Allies - Normandy to The Rhine and Othello - Marrakesh to Porto made it into this very exclusive list a year early!

ALLIES

NORMANDY TO THE RHINE

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Max Hofman Bike Tour guide
Tour Leader Max Hofman

Max is Australian-born and has guided with us for over a decade. He is the heart and soul of any tour he leads. His amazing attention to guests makes him much loved and valued by every rider who joins us on tour.

ALLIES BIKE TOUR HIGHLIGHTS
Stage 1- Mont St Michel -> Amiens -> Ypres

  • Astonishing Mont Saint-Michel which rises out of the ocean like a fairytale castle. We take a behind the scenes tour here before our departure on this historic Odyssey
  • Normandy, Picardy, all of Northern France! Beautiful countryside, tiny lanes and stunning villages such as Lyons-la-Floret, Bec-Hellouin, Gerberoy and Beuvron-en-Auge
  • History from the Norman Conquest of Britain to the WWII liberation of Europe which began on the beaches of Normandy
  • Ride the Route du Cidre through Pays d’Auge, stopping, of course, for tastings of traditional cider and Calvados paired with local Camembert and Pont-l’Evêque cheeses
  • Eat the best local food - luscious fresh seafood, local crêpes and apple tarts. Our favourite is Marmite Dieppoise - a creamy, cidery fish stew that encapsulates the flavours of the ocean and the farmland of Normandy
  • The Bayeux Tapestry - a 70 metre long tapestry from the 11th century depicting William the Conquerors feats!
  • WWII D-Day landings history with visits to Utah, Juno and Sword beaches as well as Pegasus Bridge and Arromanches, with local exceptional historian storytellers to keep you enthralled
  • Coffee in the scenic fishing port of Honfleur; painted by the the best impressionist artists Eugène Boudin & Claude Monet
  • Awe-inspiring WWI history as we ride through the Somme and sites such as Villers-Brettonneux, Pozieres, Bullecourt and Fromelles. See the simple but phenomenally moving memorial in Villers-Brettonneux painted on the school wall which simply states "Never Forget Australia"
  • Gothic Amiens, with its mighty Cathedral and lovely green spaces along the Somme river
  • Genuine cycling pedigree as we trace parts of the Paris Roubaix (with or without cobbles!) as we head north towards Belgium for mussels and waffles
  • Gentle rolling hills and flatter terrain - perfect for a historical and cultural exploration by bike
Ypres -> Cherveux -> Moselle -> The Rhine

  • A Merckxian, post-Ypres roll through Flanders covering many roads of the famed Tour de Flanders - again the scenery is spectacular!
  • WWI history in depth. The Fields of Flanders and Ypres. Listen to the eerie Last Post which has been played at the Menin gate every evening since WWI finished
  • Belgian Ardennes with rolling hills, cliff-perched towns, epic monastic breweries and hard-to-beat roads
  • Optional cobbles! The Spring Classics are renowned for their cobbled sections. We offer the chance to ride a few of the most famous sections (or you can ride around) including Kwaremont, Koppenberg and Taaienberg.
  • Did anyone say beer? Or waffles? Or chocolate? Belgium does these staples like no other country in the world - and we test them all - at Leffe and Achouffe breweries and in the ‘Capital of Chocolate’ - Flanders
  • Breath-taking riding through Belgium which has beautiful villages like no other - Rochefort, La Roche en Ardennes and Celles just to name a few
  • Cycling history as we rest in Bastogne, the turning point for the epic Ardennes Spring Classic - the Liege-Bastogne-Liege
  • We return to WWII history as we follow General Patton’s advance from the Battle of Bulge to the Rhine. We ride to Remagen made famous by WWII as the only bridge left standing when the Allies arrived
  • Historic Trier with 8 UNESCO listed monuments is the perfect place for an evening wander and dinner!
  • Our route is a little different to the tanks - we ride through the steep vine clad hillsides, picturesque wine villages and craggy castles that line the Moselle River Valley - a cyclists' paradise
  • Moselle Reisling! Wine tasting at Bernkastel-Kues and of course a glass at our Castle hotel watching life go by on the Moselle
  • Arriving at infamous Remagen, site of the Allies first breach across the Rhine into Germany and the final push to Berlin
2026 Tour Dates and Prices
Tour Essentials
  • Grading Notes - Allies averages 66km and 650m per day on tour. The roads are quiet and relatively flat. The second stage is hillier than the first.
  • Rates are based on twin share. Single supplement = €75 EUR per night.
  • For bike rental options please click here.
Tour Accommodation

Fittingly on this historic Odyssey, we stay in Chateaux, Schloss and historic abodes.  Here are some places you will stay at on the tour:

Bourgtheroulde, Rouen
The Hotel de Bourgtheroulde and Spa is a classic 15th century listed historic property in the heart of the ancient capital of Normandy, Rouen.
Chateau d'Urspelt, Clervaux
Classified as a National Monument, this castle offers you charm, elegance and serenity on your rest day in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.
Schloss Lieser, Moselle River
Schloss Leiser
A grand and noble fully restored 18th century castle on the banks of the Moselle.
Do you fancy a massage?
What could be better at the end of a day on the bike than a professional sports massage? When our groups reach 18, one of our Soigneurs joins the Odyssey!
Food and Wine

From lamb, seafood and dairy in Normandy, to the hearty stews and ciders of Germany, the Allies Odyssey takes you on a gastronomic whirlwind. Picardy, Wallonia, Champagne-Ardennes, Moselle and Rhineland all have their specific specialities which are amazingly diverse and delicious! You ride through these areas and see what you will be eating on the table that evening - fresh beautiful produce plucked right from the land.

Marmite Dieppose, Normandy
A classic mouthwatering Normandy dish made from fresh fish and crustaceans from the English Channel on its east side combined with its world famous dairy products from its farmlands
A classic mouthwatering Normandy dish, made from fresh fish and crustaceans from its coast combined with its world famous dairy products from its farmlands.
Chocolatiers, Belgium
Belgian Chocolate on tour
Belgium chocolates are loved worldwide, but there is nothing like choosing from piled high platters of them right where they are made!
Moselle vineyards, Germany
Moselle Valley Wines Bike Tour
Pedal through the spectacular vineyards on the banks of the Moselle River, then the Rhine, working up a thirst only to quench with local refreshment.

Read more about the Food and Wine of the regions we ride through

 

 

Food and Wine

Normandy 

Agneaux de pré salé (Meadow-salted lamb) comes from the Bay of the Mont Saint-Michel and is a great dish to start off the mouth-watering treats you will encounter in Normandy. Normandy is known for its abundant seafood on its Western edge as well as fish from the Somme River which flows through it. No matter what type of meat you eat though, it will most likely be accompanied by a luscious type of dairy;  “A la Normande” refers to a sauce, something which is usually very rich in butter or cream. Marmite Dieppoise is a must try here - a delicious seafood dish cooked in a creamy broth of butter, cider and crème fraîche. The quality of dairy farmland is the basis for such acclaimed cheeses - Pont-l’Évêque, Livarot, Neufchâtel and of course - Camembert, which needs no explanation!

As well as seafood and dairy, Normandy produces apples which are famous throughout the world. You mustn’t pass through here without trying a Tart de Pommes a la Normande (apple tart) for dessert or an apple cider to accompany your meal. Normandy is almost famous for its lack of wine production, but makes up for it by producing excellent cider, a beautifully refreshing treat after a day's ride, though sometimes too easy to drink!

Picardy

Picardy is known for much more basic food, but no less delicious as so many vegetables are grown right there, like carrots, watercress, endive, rhubarb and apples. This northern region of France boasts more country dishes like Le pâté de canard (duck pâté) from Amiens and a leek pie called Flamiche.

As for dessert, you cannot go past the Macaroons d’Amiens. You will want to stuff them in your back pockets for pedalling snacks ahead! Picardy’s main wine is the Champagne; a part of Picardy’s vineyards being allowed to produce this outstanding wine. But again, this area is more famous for its great beer and cider.

Flanders

Belgium is best known for its chocolate, waffles, fries and beer. That covers all areas doesn’t it?! Mosselen-Friet (mussels and chips) is a classic Belgian dish to eat here. The most common way mussels are served in Belgium is steamed in white wine, in big black mussel pots. In addition to wine, they can also be served with shallots, parsley, butter, cream, beer, or even mustard sauce. Any which way is delicious and the fries just go so incredibly well with them! As to what to wash them down with, some of the world’s most famous beers are brewed in Flanders, including Stella Artois, Leffe and Duvel. But Flanders has so much more to offer than just its mass-produced beers - they are famed for many varieties of typical regional beers, whose popularity continues to grow,  including Geuze, Kriek (made from cherries) and Lambik, Trappist and Abbey beers. However, white cold climate wines are making a comeback here - chardonnay grapes making up 90% of their produce.

Ardennes

Luxembourg's cuisine is international, due to its sandwiching between so many influential foodie nations. Probably its most popular dish is Judd mat Gaardebounen, a hefty heart-warming dish of smoked and salted pork with broad beans. Good fuel for pedaling legs, and certainly you have to have an appetite, as they are often huge helpings! Jardon de Ardennes is a cured ham which is lovely and for a snack along the way, you can’t go past their Gromperekichelcher, grated and fried veggie fritters that are scrumptious that you will find at markets and fairs everywhere. For our sweet teeth, tart aux quetsches (plum tart) or Les biscuits roses de Reims – these little pink biscuits are designed to be dipped in a glass of champagne - what better way to eat dessert!

Cider is again a favourite here, although a little more acidic than from Normandy, but just as thirst quenching. The Champagne-Ardenne region is known the world over for the quality of its vineyards and wine cellars, which cover an area greater than 30,000 hectares, and employ the talents of several thousand wine-growers. Producing more than 300 million bottles each year, the Champagne-Ardenne region has certainly proved its aptitude for making wine and of course its famous bubbly beverage!

Moselle Valley and the Rhineland

The state of Rhineland-Palatinate is more known for growing wine - two-thirds of the wine produced in Germany come from this region alone! Its food takes a back seat, but is very hearty and substantial, mainly because the recipes were developed by the physically hard-working population or in times of poverty. Nearly all meals are served with potatoes in some form - mashed, in pancakes, or balls. You won’t escape them but neither will you want to, they really do them well! Their most famous way to deliver potatoes is their Himmel und Erde (Heaven and Earth) which is mashed potatoes (from earth) with an apple sauce (from heaven). Rhineland-Palatinate is Germany's number one wine-producing region. Its mild, sunny climate and nutrient-rich soils are perfectly suited for growing grapes. The vineyards are planted along the river Rhine and its tributaries, with the oldest plantations going back to the Roman era, making for spectacular cycling along the Rhine’s banks.

When we cycle up the Moselle river, Friture de la Moselle is a must - small fish from the river, fried and eaten with one’s fingers! And of course we must not pass up the chance to imbibe the world-loved Moselle wines at its source.

 

The History

The Allies Odyssey is richer with history than any of our tours before, with in-depth WWI, WWII, Medieval, Roman and cycling history! We will experience all of this accompanied by expert local guides to give us genuine insight into the history of the footsteps in which we are traveling.

To summarise the history of these periods is impossible. However, we will visit some of Europe’s most significant WWI and WWII sites. For WWI we traverse the Somme, Siegfried Line and Ypres Salient visiting many of the battlefields and monuments including Villers-Brettonneux, Pozieres, Deville, Bullecourt and Fromelles. For WWII we ride along the coast where the D-Day Landings were made, visiting Utah and Juno Beaches, the Pegasus Bridge and many more sites. We also visit the site of one of the biggest and bloodiest battles of the war - The Battle of the Bulge and arrive on the Rhine where the troops first crossed into the heart of Germany. Beyond this recent history, we ride through so many spectacular medieval towns - we visit Amiens Cathedral and view the astounding 70 metre long Bayeux Tapestry, which records William the Conqueror's activities before the Battle of Hastings in 1066 when he became the first Norman king of England.

Testimonials

The best guides in the business. 5 star everything with exercise, sightseeing and an historical banter from a real live Indiana Jones.  This is a must-do company if you want a small, intimate, unique travel experience.

Kelly Slater, Allies 2017

I could not recommend these guys more highly.  Always friendly, professional and very organised.  What they offer is an experience of a lifetime and I can’t wait to get out on the trails again soon!

 

David Donnelly, Allies 2017

This was my third trip with Bike Odyssey and I would give it a perfect score. The guides were absolutely superb. They worked seamlessly as a team and as individuals. The riding was completely lovely and if you like to ride extra, the guides were very flexible in working with you so you could do as much or as little as you wanted. The combination of lovely riding and amazing history is unique to Bike Odyssey. I can’t think of a single negative thing to say.
PS the picnic lunches every day were a completely unexpected highlight.

Bob Goyette, Allies 2023
See all our testimonials
Some Light Reading
Ryan
D-Day Ryan
Written in the 50's, this book is impossible to put down. Even with so many histories written since it still holds its own.
FitzSimons
Villers-Bretonneux recommended reading bike tour
A great storyteller, FitzSimons' account of Australia's horrific battlefront is gripping.
Spielberg
Saving Private Ryan Bike tour
With a genuine sense of chaotic realism, Saving Private Ryan won five Oscars and remains one of the best D-Day movies around.
Beevor
Beevor recommended reading bike tour
Beevor is one of our favourite historical non-fiction authors and this is another excellent account of this horrific battlefront.
Friebe
Merckx recommeded reading bike tour
We ride through many of Merckx's stomping grounds so this account is perfect reading material to get you in the mood!
Stiles
A touching and beautifully written memoir which follows the American bomber forces in Europe around D-Day.