What Surface Nantes Brest Canal Towpath

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iandennis
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What Surface Nantes Brest Canal Towpath

Postby iandennis » 10 Dec 2009, 11:00am

Can anyone comment please on the surface of the Nantes Brest Canal towpath. I want to cycle it between Carhaix and Blain using a road bike. I have read the two CTC trip reports. One report says the section between Carhaix and Malestroit is suitable for road bikes whilst the other describes the route as an ATB adventure. Any advice would be much appreciated. Thank you.

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braz
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Re: What Surface Nantes Brest Canal Towpath

Postby braz » 10 Dec 2009, 4:50pm

Hello, I hope this helps. I've ridden the canal towpath twice this year, once on a road bike whilst heading down towards Nantes and points south, and once on a hardtail semi-tourer with panniers and a tent.

The surface from Carhaix southwards is a little bumpy as far as Rostrenen, but after that good until Mon Repos abbey. You get a choice there, as you cannot cycle past Lake Guerdelan - either join VV6 for a couple of miles (which means crossing the main road twice) or stay on the towpath for 1km (small unmarked path that obviously follows the canal on the N side - left off the towpath (or right into the cafe!) at Mon Repos, over the bridge, and the path is on the R). You soon have to leave the towpath on the L and head up a steep zig zag. When you get to the top keep straight on - the VV6 joins from the L - and it's then all downhill past Caurel until you get to Mur de Bretagne. The surface is small stones, but decent riding. Be careful when you get to M de B - watch out for the old station on your L as you arrive and turn sharp R, almost back on yourself, and this will take you down to the towpath again. Bear L for Pontive.

This section is often old tarmac, and it's bumpy whatever you are riding - grit your teeth! As you get into Pontivy the towpath swings L and heads for Rohan - it's a bit rough and lumpy in places but quite ridable. Look out for the flight of 12 locks - downwards! - enjoy the ride! As you approach Rohan the path improves considerably, and from here until you get to Josellin it's about as good as it gets. After Josselin you will head for Malestroit and the riding is still good, but after that! - it gets a bit more difficult as the gravel gets a bit bigger. Still ridable on a road bike, but slow down a bit! Watch out for crossways drainage chanels across the towpath, or you will be in orbit! It's like this for a lot of the way to Redon, after which it gets a bit easier until you go past Pont Mini, where it gets a bit rough again. Stick with it - not far to go now - slow down and enjoy the solitude!

For a book on the canal try http://www.bicyclebooks.co.uk where they have a book about walking the canal - decent maps, just reverse the direction. If you do get fed up with the towpath there are many 'detours' where you can hop off and on again - and be prepared to be a bit frustrated at times as you find yourself heading in completely the opposite direction to he one that you want to go in - it does bend and twist about a lot. By following the canal towpath from Carhaix to Nantes you will do an extra 100km over the direct road milage!

Accommodation at Carhaix, Rostrenen, Gouarec, M de B, Pontivy, Redon, Josselin, Malestroit, Redon, Pont Mini, Blain, Nantes. Really make sure that you have food and water with you - it gets a bit isolated at times, and there are few facilites along the way, apart from the larger towns. Supermarkets at Carhaix, Rostrenen, Pontivy, Rohan (Proxi right next to the bridge), Josselin (although it's a long way out), Malestroit, Redon, Blain, Nantes. Camping everywhere - Carhaix, Rostrenen, Gouarec, M de B, Pontivy, Rohan (good site on the RHS as you enter), Le Roc st Andre (just past the bridge), Malestroit, Redon, Pont Mini, Blain, Nantes - or fly camp wherever you like!

If you are heading for Carhaix from the north coast the VV7 from Morlaix to Carhaix is also quite a decent ride, whatever you are on. (http://www.randobreizh.org)(http://www.af3v.org). A bit hillier than the towpath (Monts d'Arree 235m) but well graded as it's an old railway line.

How's that? - there are some other links to accomodation on the bicyclebooks.co.uk site, or PM me if you need any further help. I'm off in 10 days to ride from Roscoff down to Limoges, and the first part of the ride will be - on VV6 and the towpath!

kind regards, Braz.

iandennis
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Re: What Surface Nantes Brest Canal Towpath

Postby iandennis » 10 Dec 2009, 4:54pm

Wow! Thanks very much Braz, that has more than answered my question.
Ian

dodger
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Re: What Surface Nantes Brest Canal Towpath

Postby dodger » 10 Dec 2009, 9:24pm

I second what Braz says, although he's been there more recently than me.
My only gripe is that it does get a bit boring after a while and the surface slows you down quite a lot. That said, it's relaxing and peaceful.
Enjoy

Gearoidmuar
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Re: What Surface Nantes Brest Canal Towpath

Postby Gearoidmuar » 12 Dec 2009, 7:24pm

I've done a lot of it several times. It is boring, UNTIL you really relax and then it's wonderful. That's why I keep doing it. South of Carhaix it is literally a pain in the rear end, but lots of it is great.

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braz
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Re: What Surface Nantes Brest Canal Towpath

Postby braz » 12 Dec 2009, 10:15pm

Hello again, just found a picture for you!

regards, Braz.
Image Attachments
Brest-Nantes Canal, June '09.JPG
Near Rohan - my 1978 Raleigh Clubman!

keyhavenpotterer
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Re: What Surface Nantes Brest Canal Towpath

Postby keyhavenpotterer » 13 Dec 2009, 4:12pm

Just read about the Voies Vertes in Brittany. 800 km of routes along tow paths or disused railway lines. They plans many thousands of miles of these routes by 2014.

http://translate.google.co.uk/translate ... 3%26sa%3DX
[url]http://www.voiesvertes.com/images_web/cartes/cartes_nationales/carte_accueilSN_130308.gif/url]

Brian

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simonineaston
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Re: What Surface Nantes Brest Canal Towpath

Postby simonineaston » 1 Jan 2010, 5:14pm

Last summer I cycled the westerly section as far as Gouarec. The surface on the path was mixed, ranging from paved, through concreted, but mostly loose gravel. If you have cycled on UK canal towpaths, you will get the idea.
The preceding posts have something in common, which is the mention of the idea of interest. This canal differs from UK canals, which are in the main, purpose built. The Nantes to Brest is really 4 canalised rivers, and so doesn't have quite the slightly industrialised feel that our canals can have. My recollection was of surroundings that had a great sense of rural tranquility, but in terms of cycling terrain, I have to admit that after the first day, I was somehow rather bored. I am not a strong, 70 miles-a-day sort of chap, but even so, I was soon missing the simple idea of changing gears, and the variety of climbing up one side of a hill and swooping down the other.
My Moulton's suspension coped well with the mixed ground, but the few other folks I met on the way told me they found the ground slightly rough going rather actually tiring, as well as sharing my slight sense of, if not actually being bored, what the French might call "ennuie" :?
Woud I return? Yes - it's very quiet, pretty and there are lots of opportunities for camping, both "wild", as well as municipal. But it's not the most exciting cycle-touring you'll ever do... perhaps I'd sum it up by saying it'd make a great place to go if you're with someone who is new to cycle touring and needs to build their confidence. PS Don't take the kids / dogs if they aren't strong swimmers - the banks are very high in places, and it's deep water!)
ttfn, Simon in Easton
(currently enjoying a Moulton TSR & a nano Brompton...)

Gearoidmuar
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Re: What Surface Nantes Brest Canal Towpath

Postby Gearoidmuar » 3 Jan 2010, 9:56am

Note:

There can be trouble with accommodation in Carhaix. I've twice turned up there and had to cycle a good distance elsewhere as the hotels were full or not open. Check in advance if you want to stay there.

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simonineaston
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Re: What Surface Nantes Brest Canal Towpath

Postby simonineaston » 5 Jan 2010, 11:15am

[quote="braz"If you are heading for Carhaix from the north coast the VV7 from Morlaix to Carhaix is also quite a decent ride, whatever you are on. (http://www.randobreizh.org)(http://www.af3v.org). A bit hillier than the towpath (Monts d'Arree 235m) but well graded as it's an old railway line.
kind regards, Braz.[/quote]
The interactive map on this site is cool - you can select the sort of going you want to see :-) It's easy to miss the 2 small routes up by Roscoff though :-o
ttfn, Simon in Easton
(currently enjoying a Moulton TSR & a nano Brompton...)

tiredlegs
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Re: What Surface Nantes Brest Canal Towpath

Postby tiredlegs » 11 Jan 2010, 11:17am

The surface is ridable all the way. At the lake take the north way over roads to Beau Rivage.
There is a GR on the south side but don't think about it with a bike.

As a tip, I camped my way along and it is clear from the fire remains that many people just wild camp along the canal. There are regular camp sites along the canal which are dirt cheap for cyclists and worth it for the showers and clothes washing facilities. I think I paid about 4euro per night.

Don't expect a great change in scenery. I used a trangia and self cooked most of the way.

John

looe
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Re: What Surface Nantes Brest Canal Towpath

Postby looe » 6 Jan 2011, 3:29am

Thanks all for your posts. I am riding this canal end of May 2011 :D

ceeteebee
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Re: What Surface Nantes Brest Canal Towpath

Postby ceeteebee » 11 Mar 2011, 7:23pm

I'll be riding a bit of it from Carhaix to Pontivy at about the same time. Good luck!

slowpeddler
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Re: What Surface Nantes Brest Canal Towpath

Postby slowpeddler » 12 Mar 2011, 5:34pm

Agree with everyone except that I wan't bored at all.

If you get to the lake, take the roads to the north. I was stupid enough to push a loaded bike over the GR on the south side. Don't do it. Going north past the lake there is a wonderful cafe past the ruined abbey, just look out for the bikes

You are far better to have the book than the tourist office leaflets. Remember to explore some of the towns and villages just off the canal.

Enjoy it all

John

slowpeddler
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Re: What Surface Nantes Brest Canal Towpath

Postby slowpeddler » 8 Apr 2011, 11:25am

Sorry to resurrect an old thread but I have just noticed that there is a new guide to the Nantes Brest Canal on the Cartevelo website

Check out

http://www.cartovelo.fr/en/france-breta ... 21_62.html

I think it might be better than the Red Dog guide although that guide is in English but the Red Dog guide isn't that good for cyclists (IMO)

John