St Malo to Nice - lots of advice sought

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Davidwd
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St Malo to Nice - lots of advice sought

Postby Davidwd » 12 Sep 2015, 8:37am

I have been reading the "France En Velo" book and I plan to ride the same route in May. I would love to hear from anyone who has done this and would like to offer advice.

I have a Kona Dew Deluxe with front and rear panniers and I am planning to use the Bike Express for my return journey.


Would I need to book B&B/hotels in advance or would that restrict me too much? I have thought about camping but at 50 years old I don't relish the thought of sleeping on the ground.

I am fairly new to this so any advice would be welcome.

Thank you
David

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simonineaston
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Re: St Malo to Nice - lots of advice sought

Postby simonineaston » 12 Sep 2015, 12:03pm

Davidwd wrote:Would I need to book B&B/hotels in advance or would that restrict me too much? I have thought about camping but at 50 years old I don't relish the thought of sleeping on the ground.

At the wrong side of half a century old, my views are fairly unusual - France is stuffed full of decent campsites and cheap places to eat decent food (although that is changing, fortunately slowly...), so I camp and have never taken any cooking equipment. This combo remains fully practical for me and I have no plans yet to change the way I cycle tour in France.
However, I have worked up to doing it this way with experience of camping and cycle touring going back decades,... I can see it wouldn't be for everyone - I am simply saying that it can be done! :D
(rides: Brompton nano & ever-changing Moultons)

Davidwd
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Re: St Malo to Nice - lots of advice sought

Postby Davidwd » 12 Sep 2015, 12:46pm

simonineaston wrote:
Davidwd wrote:Would I need to book B&B/hotels in advance or would that restrict me too much? I have thought about camping but at 50 years old I don't relish the thought of sleeping on the ground.

At the wrong side of half a century old, my views are fairly unusual - France is stuffed full of decent campsites and cheap places to eat decent food (although that is changing, fortunately slowly...), so I camp and have never taken any cooking equipment. This combo remains fully practical for me and I have no plans yet to change the way I cycle tour in France.
However, I have worked up to doing it this way with experience of camping and cycle touring going back decades,... I can see it wouldn't be for everyone - I am simply saying that it can be done! :D


Do you research book your campsites ahead or leave it to chance?

Polite
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Re: St Malo to Nice - lots of advice sought

Postby Polite » 12 Sep 2015, 12:52pm

I have done the route, it's fantastic! I just arrived at campsites and stayed the night, food is easy and plentiful so no cooking equipment needed for me. For me the camping is such a great way to sleep, municipal campsites in France are cheap, usually in a great and peaceful location and very clean. I'm not far off 50 but still love it. I treat myself to the odd night in a cheap b&b via booking.com every now and again, especially if lightning is in the air. Do it, you will not regret it!

ericonabike
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Re: St Malo to Nice - lots of advice sought

Postby ericonabike » 12 Sep 2015, 3:52pm

Two star hotels are abundant in France. I did st Malo to montpellier in six days four years ago and only booked the first night. A useful option now is to book online for the next day. Saves that slight feeling of desperation at the prospect of homelessness! Camping also good - depends how fast you want to travel and how much you want to carry. Whichever way you choose, just do it and the details will take care of themselves. The
Motorists' mantra: Cyclists must obey the law and the Highway Code AT ALL TIMES. Unless their doing so would HOLD ME UP.

Davidwd
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Re: St Malo to Nice - lots of advice sought

Postby Davidwd » 12 Sep 2015, 4:16pm

Polite wrote:I have done the route, it's fantastic! I just arrived at campsites and stayed the night, food is easy and plentiful so no cooking equipment needed for me. For me the camping is such a great way to sleep, municipal campsites in France are cheap, usually in a great and peaceful location and very clean. I'm not far off 50 but still love it. I treat myself to the odd night in a cheap b&b via booking.com every now and again, especially if lightning is in the air. Do it, you will not regret it!


Did you find the campsites by chance or did you have a guide book with you?

Did you use the bike express to get back?

Could you recommend a good tent please?

Thank you

David

PH
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Re: St Malo to Nice - lots of advice sought

Postby PH » 12 Sep 2015, 4:37pm

Do you use a GPS? I found mine brilliant in France, you can pre load all the municipal campsites on it and towards the end of the day just get it to direct you to the nearest. I don't think I've ever had to go more than about 15km and never been turned away, even when they've looked full.
Another approach that might appeal is to take the absolute minimum of camping kit and use it as a back up if you can't get in somewhere. Though personally camping is my first choice. I take minimal kit and spend the money saved on accommodation eating out. Plenty of threads about tents, you don't need to spend a fortune on camping gear, you can always upgrade later if you're going to be doing a lot of it. I've only been camping for the last 10 years, always used hotels and hostels before, wish I'd started years before. I'm a bit past 50 and sleep as well in my tent as I do at home, try it and see.
I've used the Bike Express and IMO it's a great way to get back.

Davidwd
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Re: St Malo to Nice - lots of advice sought

Postby Davidwd » 12 Sep 2015, 6:33pm

PH wrote:Do you use a GPS? I found mine brilliant in France, you can pre load all the municipal campsites on it and towards the end of the day just get it to direct you to the nearest. I don't think I've ever had to go more than about 15km and never been turned away, even when they've looked full.
Another approach that might appeal is to take the absolute minimum of camping kit and use it as a back up if you can't get in somewhere. Though personally camping is my first choice. I take minimal kit and spend the money saved on accommodation eating out. Plenty of threads about tents, you don't need to spend a fortune on camping gear, you can always upgrade later if you're going to be doing a lot of it. I've only been camping for the last 10 years, always used hotels and hostels before, wish I'd started years before. I'm a bit past 50 and sleep as well in my tent as I do at home, try it and see.
I've used the Bike Express and IMO it's a great way to get back.


Thanks for this, some really great advice from all of you.

I have a garmin 810 touring, where do you get the municipal campsites download from?

I have been trying to get the god files for the st Malo to nice routes, hopefully someone might let me have them before I go in May.

Thank you

David

PH
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Re: St Malo to Nice - lots of advice sought

Postby PH » 12 Sep 2015, 6:51pm

Here you go for the municipals
http://www.doyourdream.co.uk/2011/06/mu ... eyond-gps/

And for all campsites
http://www.archiescampings.eu/

The only possible fly in the ointment is I've read on here that not all sites are open before June and I notice you're going in May. Others will be better able to advise, I tend to go at the other end on the summer in September.

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simonineaston
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Re: St Malo to Nice - lots of advice sought

Postby simonineaston » 12 Sep 2015, 9:10pm

Davidwd wrote:Do you research book your campsites ahead or leave it to chance?

Bit of both... research - yes, book - no. I have come to depend on the municipal campsites, which are all over the place - nearly every town of any decent size has "camping municipal" - they're subsidised by the French govt. - and I simply check before I go to see that the places I am likely to pass through have at least a municipal campsite. I favour them not only 'cos they're all over the place, but they're also cheap and clean enough for me. They are often 2 or 3 star and no more and to be honest I'm usually so knackered all I want is a shower and my bed, with maybe a trip to the nearest bar for a swift half in-between, so cheepNcheerful suits me fine. :-)
In all the years of cycle touring in Brittany and Normandy I have only come unstuck a couple of times and in those cases I used either hotels or chambres d'hote... can't go wrong!!
Have never wild camped in France, but others on this forum will extol the virtues of this activity...
Last edited by simonineaston on 13 Sep 2015, 10:26am, edited 1 time in total.
(rides: Brompton nano & ever-changing Moultons)

Barrenfluffit
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Re: St Malo to Nice - lots of advice sought

Postby Barrenfluffit » 12 Sep 2015, 11:10pm

The problem with booking ahead is that you lose flexibility. If you want an extra day somewhere or serendipity proposes and interesting diversion you have to throw away all your plans. Or even if you have a mechanical problem that takes time to sort out.

In theory the profile of the ride would prepare you for the hills of the centre but France can be very hilly. So the flexibility to stop when you've had enough is marvellous. :)

aquilo
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Re: St Malo to Nice - lots of advice sought

Postby aquilo » 13 Sep 2015, 8:37am

PH wrote:Here you go for the municipals
http://www.doyourdream.co.uk/2011/06/mu ... eyond-gps/

And for all campsites
http://www.archiescampings.eu/

The only possible fly in the ointment is I've read on here that not all sites are open before June and I notice you're going in May. Others will be better able to advise, I tend to go at the other end on the summer in September.


Hi Ph at the risk of hijacking the thread, those links are very helpful, thanks. But how do you get those POIs onto your Garmin?

pwa
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Re: St Malo to Nice - lots of advice sought

Postby pwa » 13 Sep 2015, 10:02am

I've just come back from Provence where we were cycle camping, and we pre-booked all the camp sites. But we didn't need to. Every camp site had free spaces. Outside peak season (which May is) camp sites will have spaces if they are open. Some will not be open, so that is worth researching.

EBE is useful, but I found that most users complain of sore bottoms or back ache. So don't expect a completely comfy ride with plenty of sleep.

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Re: St Malo to Nice - lots of advice sought

Postby PH » 13 Sep 2015, 10:20pm

aquilo wrote:
PH wrote:Here you go for the municipals
http://www.doyourdream.co.uk/2011/06/mu ... eyond-gps/

And for all campsites
http://www.archiescampings.eu/

The only possible fly in the ointment is I've read on here that not all sites are open before June and I notice you're going in May. Others will be better able to advise, I tend to go at the other end on the summer in September.


Hi Ph at the risk of hijacking the thread, those links are very helpful, thanks. But how do you get those POIs onto your Garmin?


Clear set of instructions here
http://www.cycletourer.co.uk/cycletouri ... pois.shtml

Or even better find a geeky twelve year old and bribe them :wink:

nirakaro
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Re: St Malo to Nice - lots of advice sought

Postby nirakaro » 13 Sep 2015, 11:23pm

If you have a smartphone, you can download offline mapping. I use MapsMe, which is searchable for campsites, hotels, shops, bars, ATMs, etc. You can bookmark the campsites on your route, and then you have a choice of places to aim for.