Tour of Brittany

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
Scruffysteve
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Re: Tour of Brittany

Postby Scruffysteve » 21 Mar 2015, 9:51pm

Thanks so much for all the information and suggestions. I had initially favoured the voie verges (I think that's how it's spelt!), but I like the idea of getting the train west. Looks like the wife has lost her bike for a week too.

bretonbikes
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Re: Tour of Brittany

Postby bretonbikes » 25 Mar 2015, 9:07am

RichardPH wrote:You could visit lac de Guerledan.. It's a hydro-electric lake that will be drained during the period April-September 2015 for maintenance work on the dam. This will uncover the canals and villages that were drowned when the lake was created back in the 1930s. If you like that kind of thing of course..


Yes it's already nearly empty with canal houses showing and the like - http://www.bretonbikes.com/generalartic ... ledan.html

A few points on what's been written above... Firstly on the coast about half the campsites will be open in May - inland 80%+ will be closed. Have a look here - http://www.bretonbikes.com/generalartic ... rance.html and follow the links to the camping guides etc and that section of the site has all sorts of info on touring the France/Brittany. The important thing is that you must always ring the campsite the morning you set off for it whether it claims to be open or not - because especially inland you may well be the only person on a campsite and the owner - not knowing you are coming - will be absent and everything locked up, this especially for municipal sites. Nothing is worse than cycling 50 miles to a campsite to find it closed and the nearest one 20 miles on...

Weather - likely to be mild, could be hot, prepare (as always in Europe) for rain. As a rough guide it's like a slightly warmer and drier Cornwall - and because the power of the sun is considerably higher sometimes overcast days will be 'burnt off' in a way that in Cornwall you'd be stuck with a grey day - then what rain falls does so at night. But it could chuck with rain for the week;-) Just ignore it you'll have a ball... I note 'wind' being mentioned above and I've seen it mentioned many times before in respect of Brittany. I'm a bit baffled because in 25 years of cycling here it's never struck me as a particularly windy place and because the roads tend to be winding, gently hilly and frequently sheltered by trees and hedges it's better than most parts of France. Granted at the coast it's quite different, but that applies to any coast.

Roads - off anything except red roads you'll find traffic very quiet almost everywhere inland, and drivers cycle-aware. The cyclepaths vary from tarmac, to cinder, to sand, to mud and what in some places I can only describe as rubble;-) I use 38 mm tyres on my heavy tourer and our hire bikes and on some sections you'll be very grateful for them. The road surfaces on the other hand tend to be better than the UK - and with them being so quiet there's little reason to use cyclepaths. With the exception of some sections of the North coast - especially around Plestin-Lannion etc - it's not hilly in the 'Cornish' sense - merely 'rolling' - hills being often long but well graded - usually around 5% and very rarely 10%.

Food - you've just got to eat at the 'Routier' type bar/restaurants - most large villages have one and for £9 you'll have 4-5 courses + wine and coffee - just don't arrive later than 1.00pm and expect to be fed. Ble-noir 'Crepes' or Galetes are not like normal pancakes - they are very delicious and very filling - a must try...

But May is a fabulous time to come - masses of wild flowers - Dawn Chorus you'll learn to hate - everything green and lush. Be flexible. If the weather is bad and it's wet and windy at the coast - cut inland where it's more sheltered and explore the towns, villages and countryside there - in many ways this is the really special part of Brittany especially for cyclists.

As always just get in touch for free advice - the more people I can get over here cycling the more chance there is of cyclists being treated as really important to the area and that benefits us!

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simonineaston
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Re: Tour of Brittany

Postby simonineaston » 25 Mar 2015, 2:32pm

OK, BB et al, you've succeeded in persuading me! I'm clicking on my Leave Booking app as we speak!!
ttfn, Simon in Easton
(currently enjoying a Moulton TSR & a nano Brompton...)

bretonbikes
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Re: Tour of Brittany

Postby bretonbikes » 25 Mar 2015, 2:49pm

simonineaston wrote:OK, BB et al, you've succeeded in persuading me! I'm clicking on my Leave Booking app as we speak!!


If you regret it you can sue;-)

JBB
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Re: Tour of Brittany

Postby JBB » 25 Mar 2015, 10:23pm

bretonbikes wrote:
simonineaston wrote:OK, BB et al, you've succeeded in persuading me! I'm clicking on my Leave Booking app as we speak!!


If you regret it you can sue;-)


I think you'll have a great time. Brittany is fantastic place for cycling and if you do get 3 days in a row of rain there are always the cheap chain hotels or if you speak a little French go for a chambre d'hôtes for an experience of real Breton hospitality. I have cycled out there at all times of the year and never found the wind to be a problem. You'll be fine.
Julia

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simonineaston
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Re: Tour of Brittany

Postby simonineaston » 26 Mar 2015, 7:56am

Rain or not, I'm off!
On that subject, a small confession... Up thread, I posted a couple of pictures, pointing out - or so I thought - that there's lots of rainy days in Brittany, indeed, I said confidently,"Looking at the columns for May you can see that (although) Brittany gets almost 2x as many days when it rains...".
Well, what a silly chap I am! When I looked again yesterday, I see it's the other way round. Sorry if I misled anyone. :oops:
ttfn, Simon in Easton
(currently enjoying a Moulton TSR & a nano Brompton...)

bretonbikes
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Re: Tour of Brittany

Postby bretonbikes » 26 Mar 2015, 8:16am

simonineaston wrote:Rain or not, I'm off!
On that subject, a small confession... Up thread, I posted a couple of pictures, pointing out - or so I thought - that there's lots of rainy days in Brittany, indeed, I said confidently,"Looking at the columns for May you can see that (although) Brittany gets almost 2x as many days when it rains...".
Well, what a silly chap I am! When I looked again yesterday, I see it's the other way round. Sorry if I misled anyone. :oops:


It's OK - even the French weather forecasters have the same problem - if they're not sure they go to default and put 'rain in Brittany' - many's the time we've had a lovely weekend that was supposed to be wet. There is a court case brought by a hotel against 'Le Meteo' going on for that reason! Last year we had the best weather in France for much of the summer (the South had flooding) but no-one ever mentions it) much the same the year before - Grrr. But really all you can say about Brittany is that generally it's 'moderate' - you don't get massive storms, flash floods, heat waves or blizzards - if you can survive a bit of rain then that's the worst that's ever going to happen...

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BeeKeeper
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Re: Tour of Brittany

Postby BeeKeeper » 27 Mar 2015, 9:53am

bretonbikes wrote:
simonineaston wrote:Rain or not, I'm off!
On that subject, a small confession... Up thread, I posted a couple of pictures, pointing out - or so I thought - that there's lots of rainy days in Brittany, indeed, I said confidently,"Looking at the columns for May you can see that (although) Brittany gets almost 2x as many days when it rains...".
Well, what a silly chap I am! When I looked again yesterday, I see it's the other way round. Sorry if I misled anyone. :oops:


It's OK - even the French weather forecasters have the same problem - if they're not sure they go to default and put 'rain in Brittany' - many's the time we've had a lovely weekend that was supposed to be wet. There is a court case brought by a hotel against 'Le Meteo' going on for that reason! Last year we had the best weather in France for much of the summer (the South had flooding) but no-one ever mentions it) much the same the year before - Grrr. But really all you can say about Brittany is that generally it's 'moderate' - you don't get massive storms, flash floods, heat waves or blizzards - if you can survive a bit of rain then that's the worst that's ever going to happen...


I think I might have been guilty of spreading these rumour too! But in my defence, living in South Devon I always consider the weather in Brittany will be similar to the weather at home - and there is no month you can't expect rain. :D

Scruffysteve
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Re: Tour of Brittany

Postby Scruffysteve » 21 Apr 2015, 1:44pm

Okay chaps, thanks for all the comments and helpful information. Thought I'd post a quick update as we are getting closer to launch date.

Ferry booked, car park booked, passport renewed, EHIC card replaced, tyres pumped up, and almost ready to lay all the kit out on the spare bed. Talk about organised?

Contrary to what I concluded above, both my mate and I have decided to do the trip on our road bikes. They are both set up for audax-type events, so luggage carrying should be okay. As the deadline for leaving approaches we are gradually building up the miles on the bikes, and the weight of luggage on the back!

Last time I did something like this I picked up a map on the ferry over. Given it was an after-thought, it proved to be the single most useful thing we took with us.(I think my original map had been photocopied from my road atlas). Does anyone have any suggestions for the best map to get, (in advance, this time!) that would show sufficient detail for cycling, possibly disclose campsites (notwithstanding that they may be closed!) but not be too large or unwieldy for managing (possibly in a stiff breeze)?

I have to say, compared to our last trip over to France on £50 mountain bikes, light walking boots, etc - this times trip seems much more 'professional' - better bikes, cleats and clipless pedals, BROOKS saddle (lush). It is just the '2-wheeled vagrant' culture that remains the same. The idea is that the improved kit will make the miles easier and add to the pleasure.

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simonineaston
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Re: Tour of Brittany

Postby simonineaston » 21 Apr 2015, 2:00pm

I take this...
http://www.stanfords.co.uk/Cities/Aix-e ... 000297.htm
Stanford's page helps get a feel for the map, but it's cheaper off of Amazon ;-)
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Finist%C3%A8re- ... 275852967X
I like the detail these show but you may want something with a smaller scale - St Malo, out west and back to St Malo again could mean you needed three to cover the whole area...
ttfn, Simon in Easton
(currently enjoying a Moulton TSR & a nano Brompton...)

bretonbikes
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Re: Tour of Brittany

Postby bretonbikes » 21 Apr 2015, 4:12pm

Have to say I don't like IGN maps generally - they aren't the most accurate (had whole villages in the wrong place in the past) and though in theory they show slightly more detail than the Michelin 1:200000 the minor roads are all the same size on the map creating a 'cobweb' effect and I find it impossible to follow - the Michelin reflect the widths of the roads and routes seem to leap out at you. Now this is very very personal and your favourite map is going to be the one you are most used to so to those who prefer IGN, stick with what you're used to and ignore me;-)

The one other advantage of Michelin is that they are available everywhere as indestructible - waterproof maps (indechirable) - you can even use them to sit on when it's wet;-) This is the one we use for our customers -http://travel.michelin.co.uk/map-512---brittany-scale-1200-000-1133-p.asp

They don't mark every minor road, but most of them especially if they actually go somewhere rather than farm roads and the like and the scale is such that they'll cover a whole tour on one map.

If you are going to cross several maps there comes a point (quite quickly) where a 1:200000 michelin road atlas comes in handy as it's easy to tear out the pages;-).

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simonineaston
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Re: Tour of Brittany

Postby simonineaston » 21 Apr 2015, 4:36pm

This is the one we use for our customers - http://travel.michelin.co.uk/map-512--- ... 1133-p.asp

Got that one too, although not in indechirable form - I like the sound of that :-)
I'm a sucker for maps of all sorts - the other day, I stumbled across some large-scale military maps of Bristol where I live, published by Soviet Russia - scary!
http://www.britishempire.co.uk/article/ ... clejoe.pdf although in fairness, I dare swear our own armed forces probably still have equally detailed maps of Russia!
ttfn, Simon in Easton
(currently enjoying a Moulton TSR & a nano Brompton...)

tatanab
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Re: Tour of Brittany

Postby tatanab » 21 Apr 2015, 5:17pm

bretonbikes wrote:Now this is very very personal and your favourite map is going to be the one you are most used to so to those who prefer IGN, stick with what you're used to and ignore me;-)
IGN 1:100000 for me (TOP100). None of these regional maps. On that scale I see all the minor roads I like (not enough on 1:200000 for me) and in the mountains I can even tell you which hairpin bend I am on. I find the more recent ones with the yellow/green cover clearer than older issues except that waterways are not so clear. My average tours mean I carry 8 or more sheets that might be covered by 3 in Michelin 1:200000 - a whole extra 500gms or so. I changed to IGN only about 15 years ago after many years on Michelin. If you think IGN France maps are poor in places, take a look at IGN 1:1000000 for Belgium. They are awful. Like the old Bartholomew's maps of UK just because a minor road is shown as a wider line than another minor road does not mean it is the main route, that skinny little one might be, and junctions can be 400 yards or so from where they appear on the map.

bretonbikes
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Re: Tour of Brittany

Postby bretonbikes » 21 Apr 2015, 7:08pm

tatanab wrote:
bretonbikes wrote:Now this is very very personal and your favourite map is going to be the one you are most used to so to those who prefer IGN, stick with what you're used to and ignore me;-)
IGN 1:100000 for me (TOP100). None of these regional maps. On that scale I see all the minor roads I like (not enough on 1:200000 for me) and in the mountains I can even tell you which hairpin bend I am on. I find the more recent ones with the yellow/green cover clearer than older issues except that waterways are not so clear. My average tours mean I carry 8 or more sheets that might be covered by 3 in Michelin 1:200000 - a whole extra 500gms or so. I changed to IGN only about 15 years ago after many years on Michelin. If you think IGN France maps are poor in places, take a look at IGN 1:1000000 for Belgium. They are awful. Like the old Bartholomew's maps of UK just because a minor road is shown as a wider line than another minor road does not mean it is the main route, that skinny little one might be, and junctions can be 400 yards or so from where they appear on the map.


You're not going to get maps like th OS or Barts over here I'm afraid...

ChrisF
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Re: Tour of Brittany

Postby ChrisF » 24 Apr 2015, 11:46pm

If you're taking a smartphone download an app that uses OpenStreetMap / OpenCycleMap and then download an offline map of Brittany (e.g for Android, I use Locus Pro). Far more accurate and detailed than any paper map, and you can tell exactly where you are (and where you've gone wrong). Keep an IGN or Michelin map as backup in case of rain or flat battery.
Chris F, Cornwall