This 14-day Premium Adventure includes six countries and emphasizes European history from the middle ages to today. The Adventure begins in Strasbourg, France and ends in Copenhagen, Denmark. Cities that prospered during the times of the Hanseatic League, such as Bruges and Ghent in Belgium as well as Lübeck in Germany, are on the itinerary. So too are such historic cities as Strasbourg (France), legendary Amsterdam (Netherlands) and colorful Copenhagen (Denmark).
Riders will visit several of the most famous sites of the First and Second World Wars: Verdun, Ypres and the landing sites of the Allied Forces in Normandy. These visits will provide a fascinating insight into these dark chapters of history.
The famous Champagne region in France, the dikes in Netherlands and Northern Germany and windmills in Denmark will add to the attractions that this tour has to offer, not to mention the culinary delights of six different European countries.
Riders may wish to arrive a day early in Strasbourg to fully enjoy this historic city at the French and German border. Our first riding day leads us on twisty roads to one of the smallest European countries (and the world’s only remaining grand duchy): Luxembourg. On the journey to our next destination we’ll visit Verdun, one of the largest battlefields of WWI.
We’ll also stay in Reims – a city that is more than 2,000 years old and which is an ideal place to enjoy the most famous product of this region: Champagne! We’ll walk the champagne cellars of the city and have a sip – or two!
We’ll spend two nights in Deauville in Normandy. The free day provides the opportunity to visit the landing sites of the WWII invasion of the Allied Forces – Omaha Beach being the most famous one. The afternoon can be dedicated to exploring the medieval city centre of Deauville.
We’ll take a step back in time as we visit Bruges, Belgium, which prospered during the time of the Hanseatic League and is today a World Heritage Site. We’ll spend two nights and on the free day we’ll have the option of visiting the city and also another WWI site which can be reached within an hour’s ride: Ypres. We’ll be able to visit the renowned WWI trenches.
We’ll also visit the beautiful city of Ghent on our way to Amsterdam, where we will enjoy a two-night stay.
From Amsterdam we’ll continue to Germany, where we’ll spend a night in the beachside city of Wilhelmshaven, and another night in Lübeck, once the capital of the Hanseatic League. Riding along the shore of the Baltic Sea will bring us to our last country: Denmark! Ribe, the country’s oldest city is an interesting and attractive overnight stay.
Colorful Copenhagen will be the final destination of our tour. We’ll enjoy a walk along the waterfront, before we meet for the final dinner!
Features of this exciting Adventure include:
- A historical & cultural survey of 6 European countries
- Verdun/Normandy/Flanders: famous WWI & WWII battlefields
- Bruges, Amsterdam and Lübeck: historic cities of the Hanseatic League
- Back country lanes through picturesque villages
- The Champagne region of France
- The dykes and windmills of Holland &Denmark
At a Glance Your Normandy and the North Sea – riding the Milestones of History Adventure
Welcome to Strasbourg, capital and principal city of the Alsace region in eastern France and official seat of the European Parliament! Strasbourg’s historic city centre, the Grande Île (Grand Island) is classified as World Heritage Site; the city itself is immersed in the Franco-German culture and although violently disputed throughout history, has been a bridge of unity between France and Germany for centuries. The city’s Gallicized name is of Germanic origin and means “Town (at the crossing) of roads”. Towards the end of the third century BC, it developed into a Celtic township with a market called “Argentorate”. The city celebrated its 2,000th birthday in 1988.
Our first riding days leads us through the northern Vosges Mountain Range, the French counterpart of the German Black Forest. Twisty roads through forests are a good warm up, before we cross from the Alsace region into Lorraine, the only French region to have borders with three other countries: Belgium, Luxembourg, and Germany. We pass by Metz, the capital of Lorraine, which has a rich 3,000-year-history and from here we head north to Luxembourg, the world’s only remaining grand duchy. Its capital (of the same name) has a remarkable old town, which is strongly influenced by its military past.
Leaving Luxembourg direction southwest and crossing the border into France and Lorraine again, we will spend some time today to visit the region of , where in 1916 one of the most gruesome battles of WW I took place with a total of about 800.000 casualties. Numerous war cemeteries and memorials remind of this 11 months lasting battle between French and German soldiers.
We continue our ride into the Champagne province, located near the northern limits of the wine world along the 49th parallel. Different climatic and geologic factors are the reasons for the production of world famous sparkling wine, which is only allowed to carry the name “Champagne”, if its origin is exactly in this region. Reims, capital of this province and our destination of today, is home to many of the largest champagne-producing houses, known as les grandes marques. Most of them are open for tasting and tours. Champagne ages in the many caves and tunnels under Reims, which form a sort of maze below the city. Carved from chalk, some of these passages date back to Roman times.
We will have a longer distance to cover today, so an early start makes sense and hopefully yesterday’s Champagne – tasting didn’t take all night…! “Go west” is our motto today – and that’s what we’ll do! We touch 4 of the 27 French provinces today and pass by Paris in a distance of about 31 miles. We avoid diving into the capital’s chaotic traffic, because it would cost us all day to find our way out again! Country roads through mostly flat, sometimes hilly scenery will be our company today. Rouen with its famous gothic cathedral and place of trial and death of famous Jeanne d’Arc is on our way and maybe we have time for a short visit. Our destination Deauville with its race course, harbour, international film festival, marinas, conference centre, villas, Grand Casino and sumptuous hotels is regarded as the “queen of the Norman beaches” and one of the most prestigious seaside resorts in all of France. The wonderful old town and the historically important surroundings make this place worth staying for two nights!
You can dedicate today to an extended visit of Deauville, or go for one of the most famous sites of the Second World War: about 62 miles west of Deauville is Omaha Beach, the most heavily defended out of five landing sites of “D-Day”, the Allied invasion of German-occupied France on 6 June 1944. The largest seaborne invasion in history, the operation began the invasion of German-occupied Western Europe, led to the liberation of France from Nazi control, and contributed to an Allied victory in the war. Numerous memorials (like the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial) are located in the 50 miles stretch of the Normandy coast and we can dedicate the day to visit some of them, before we return to Deauville. Dinner tonight is on your own – we recommend some nice restaurant in the medieval city!
Another long distance to cover today, but as it is between two rest days and some French “autoroutes” will help us, it shouldn’t be too tough… Heading northeast, we will cross into Belgium and on the way we have the option to visit another famous WW I site: Ypres (dutch: “Ieper”) was the centre of intense and sustained battles between German and Allied forces. Being the third largest city in the County of Flanders, it was the place of 3 major battles between the allied forces and Germany (1914 – 1917), only the last one at the cost of nearly half a million lives. The Sanctuary Wood Museum 1.8 miles east of Ypres gives us an insight of those days and a preserved section of the British trench lines are located behind the museum.
Today’s destination Bruges (Brugge) is – along with a few other canal-based northern cities, such as Amsterdam – sometimes referred to as “The Venice of the North”. Located at the crossroads of the northern Hanseatic League trade and the southern trade routes, this city flourished in the middle ages and became nowadays one of the world’s first tourist destinations due to the renaissance of its original medieval city.
If we didn’t have the chance to visit Ypres yesterday on the way, we can do this today – it’s about 100 miles both ways and will take around half of the day. Bruges, however, is worth a full day’s visit! With most of its medieval architecture intact, the historic centre of Bruges has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since the year 2000. The medieval bell tower (belfry), the beguinage, the basilica and the cathedral are only a few of the many sights in this beautiful city… Dinner tonight is on your own – there are many choices in the medieval centre!
Today is characterized by flat terrain and some busy traffic – but nevertheless there are some highlights! If we want to spend as much time as possible in our destination Amsterdam, we can make it there in about 3 hours. However, there is the city of Ghent on the way – and it is just as beautiful and famous as Bruges. It started as a settlement at the confluence of two rivers and in the Middle Ages became one of the largest and richest cities of northern Europe growing to a population of 175,000 shortly after 1500 AD. Much of the city’s medieval architecture remains intact and is remarkably well preserved and restored. Its centre is the largest car-free area in Belgium. A visit here will take some hours for sure!
The third option (~167 miles, 5 hours) is a route that leads closer to the coastline, through some typical villages and across 4 major bridges once we’ve crossed the border to Netherlands – certainly a good way to see the Dutch coast! Depending on our arrival time in Amsterdam, we can go for some sightseeing right away…
Who hasn’t heard about famous Amsterdam and its reputation? Find out, whether it’s all true (or not) by spending the day in the city, getting lost in its alleyways, visiting its monuments, going for a canal cruise, tasting its Heineken beer etc. etc. This city WILL stay in your memory for sure…!
Leaving Amsterdam northeast along the coastline gives us some more impressions of the region and its constant live with the ocean and its tides. Beautiful villages with their typical brick stone architecture as well as numerous windmills line our way and we hardly notice the absence of hills and turns. Riding here isn’t boring at all! We cross the border to Germany and one of its characteristic regions: Ostfriesland as Germany’s north westernmost corner is as different to its southern end (e.g. Bavaria) as a different country. Thatched roofs, dykes and windmills as well as a very different dialect and local food make this region very special! Our overnight location in Wilhelmshaven will be right at the beach with a beautiful view to the North Sea…
East we ride today through northern Germany! The scenery and architecture here is more like in the Netherlands or Denmark – wind and water have a big influence on people’s life. On small country roads we will approach the mighty river Elbe on its way to the North Sea; we will take a small ferry to cross it. Only about 24 miles separate us from Hamburg, which we will pass by on our way to our destination Lübeck. Just like Bruges and Ghent, Lübeck had a rich and glorious past as “Queen of the Hanse” – for centuries it was the capital of the Hanseatic League. Because of its extensive Brick Gothic architecture, it is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Our hotel is very close to the city center and the famous Holstentor, one of the four city gates.
Our way through the northernmost part of Germany into Denmark will bring us through the so-called “Holstein Switzerland Nature Park”. The biggest lake of this region – the Plöner Lake – is right on our way; it is a popular recreational area for residents of the metropolitan areas of Kiel, Lübeck and Hamburg as well as a centre of tourism within Holstein Switzerland. We pass by Kiel (departure point for ferries to Norway) and ride along the south western shore of the Baltic Sea, which is a mediterranean sea located between Central and Northern Europe. Bays and beaches characterize this stretch. Having crossed the border to Denmark, we proceed to the country’s oldest city: Ribe, about 1200 years old, has many well-preserved old buildings. Ribe Cathedral, and about 110 houses are under Heritage Protection and our hotel is located right in the city centre.
On our last riding day we will cross the southern part of Denmark from west to east! Two major toll bridges, which connect the islands Fyn and Sjaelland will make us feel like flying across the water! Wide open ground and brick stone architecture characterizes this part of Denmark. Our final destination Copenhagen, Scandinavia’s second largest city and one of the most bicycle-fiendly cities in the world, is well worth arriving not too late: the historic centre of the city, Indre By or the Inner City, features many of Copenhagen’s most popular monuments and attractions. We are within walking distance to the waterfront, where we will also find a restaurant for our final dinner!
We hope, you enjoyed riding with us through 6 countries and visiting some of Europe’s most historic sites! We will provide you with an airport transfer and hope to see you again soon!