Cycling hotel review: Le Grand Hard, Utah Beach

Published by Lyn on 1 May 2016

I stayed at Le Grand Hard, a hotel a few kilometres from Utah Beach on the D-Day Landing Beach peninsula, when I was cycling in the Manche department of Normandy. Here's what I thought of it.

Le Grand hard

Hôtel Restaurant le Domaine du Grand Hard
La Rivière, 50480 Sainte-Marie-du-Mont
Book online

This is easily one of the best bike-friendly hotels I’ve stayed at in France. It carries the accueil velo label, and justifiably so. 

The hotel has its own fleet of mountain bikes for exploring the D-Day beaches, and you can ask for maps for the numerous offload trails in the area. Guided rides are also available on request – lots of cycling groups pass through here. There is a full bike workshop and plenty of parking.

Le Grand Hard

Le Grand Hard Hotel

Le Grand Hard was originally set up as a small B&B specialising in hosting the equestrian fraternity, but as it has grown, it has diversified to concentrate more and more on people exploring local bike routes (the EuroVelo 4/Tour de Manche route runs nearby) and also on people visiting the area for the D-Day beaches. 

When Jo and Katrien bought the place almost 20 years ago it was rundown and in a state of disrepair. They have faithfully restored it to its former glory – and then some.

Le Grand Hard Hotel

Le Grand Hard Hotel

Granted the rooms cost more than your standard hotel (circa €100 for a double), but this is a tourist area, so you’d expect to pay more than an average city room anyway. 

But you get what you pay for: the rooms are beautifully presented, the shower in my room was hot and clean, there was a kettle with tea and coffee supplies (and milk!!), and the wifi was fast and free (no dreaded wifi registration here). 

Picking just 5 things to like is therefore a challenge, but I’ll give it a go …

5 things we liked

1. The breakfast. Say what you like about rooms and showers, but a hotel that hosts cyclists can be 100% let down by its breakfast. Le Grand Hard is no such hotel. If offers a wonderful spread of cereals and yoghurts, the option for free range eggs cooked to order (I had mine perfectly scrambled), and a selection of juices and fruits. 

Le Grand Hard Hotel

2. Location. Just a few kilometres from the gentle waves of Utah Beach, this is an ideal base for exploring the the D-Day sites at the western end of the landing beaches. On my ride here, I stopped en route at the Musée de la Liberté Retrouvée at Quineville, the excellent Airborne Museum at Sainte-Mère-Eglise, and then at Utah Beach itself. From Le Grand Hard it's around 47km to the American cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer, 44km to Omaha Beach or 33km to the German cemetery at Le Cambe. 

3. Setting. After a day of visiting war sites, the tranquil setting of Le Grand Hard is hard to beat. It’s peaceful here, set among the trees, and an ideal base for a journey of remembrance.

4. Friendliness. The people here are nice. There is a real international feel, with the hotel seeing so many international visitors to Utah Beach – predominantly Americans but also lots of English people and Germans.     

Le Grand Hard Hotel

5. The restaurant is truly superb, serving regional produce to an excellent standard (the wine list isn’t bad, either, with a good selection of France’s best appellations for all budgets). The quality of a restaurant (and its affordability) is important when you’re staying somewhere so isolated (eating elsewhere really isn’t an option in this area), and the menu here is filled with a few different set menu options, as well as a la carte.

When can I move in?

Hôtel Restaurant le Domaine du Grand Hard
La Rivière, 50480 Sainte-Marie-du-Mont
Book online

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