with tips for cycling & hiking
This is the second ride in the Seine valley between the estuary and Rouen and whereas the first had a castle, this one has an impressive abbey.
We stayed at Camping La Foret, which offered incredible value in the off season.
The site has had mixed reviews but we could not fault it.
There is also an aire, as you head on the road to the river and if you want to just call into the Abbey, there are plenty of parking spaces.
The village is a short walk down the hill; it is limited to a couple of restaurants, which are on the higher price side and a baker’s.
The town is famous for its imposing abbey ruins. It was founded in 654 but suffered under the Viking raids before it was rebuilt it its grand style by the Normans and consecrated in the presence of William the Conqueror.
This was its heyday but it eventually fell into ruin. As with many French buildings it was subject to restoration after the French Revolution, when many buildings were left to go to ruin or converted to other uses.
With regard to cycling you turn left out of the site and go downhill to the village, turn left, past the Abbey and then immediately turn right, down to the river.
When you pass the Auberge du Bac, reserve a table. This is a superb restaurant very reasonably priced and with excellent views of the Seine and only a very pleasant half hour walk from the site.
The restaurant gets its name from the Bac or ferry that crosses here to the Forest of Brotonne. Until the 1950’s these ferries were the only way to cross the Seine, between the estuary and Rouen.
We did go down to the other side to see if we could cross here and were waved away before we got anywhere near the ferry. When you see the ferry you will see why.
As far as cycling is concerned there are a couple of options:
Firstly you can turn left at the Bac and follow the road around. Initially you follow the river but then lose it until you meet up with the D982.
Though this is a D road, it is straight and French car drivers give you plenty of room and it is not that busy.
You then follow this road all the way as it hugs the river until you reach the pretty old river port of Duclair. There are informative legend boards tracing its past along its banks
This is a pleasant day’s ride if you combine it with lunch at Duclair. It is about an 18 mile round trip.
The Bac or ferry at Duclair - do not turn up at lunchtime and expect to cross. Do not expect to do anything at lunchtime in France, other than what it was designed for i.e to eat.
The Bac at Duclair will take a motorhome . In the end we crossed at the Pont de Brotonne, the only toll free bridge between here and the estuary.
Another alternative is to take the ferry and cross to the other side and immediately turn right and follow the road around until the Pont de Brotonne, which is about a 14 mile round trip or you can continue onto Vieux Port, which is about a 30 mile round trip.
Or you can just go and explore the quiet roads of the Forest of Brotonne, remembering which way you went for the return journey. You have to climb up from the river, and it is a steady old climb, before you meet the main road, where you turn left and virtually immediately right into the forest.