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 » 5 Jun 2015, 1:43pm

Thought I'd do the decent thing and follow up after our tour round Brittany. Parked the car at Portsmouth - eventually found the port! With about 4 hours to kill, a local hostelry beckoned! Fairly early on the cheap pannier fixings let us down, but with a bit of inventive bungey use we arrived at a reliable system.

The ferry to St Malo was excellent. Struggled to find our way out of St. Malo, but once on the road and orientated we had no major issues.

Accommodation on a Sunday night also proved a challenge. We eventually pitched up at a hotel (closed) on the edge of an industrial estate. A quick call to the number on the speaker and within minutes an inebriated Frenchman came screeching onto the car park and opened up for us. Result!

The common issue that we will address next time is some sort of tech device for establishing where there is local eateries and accommodation. The Windows phone was good for telling us where we were, but only disclosed local amenities when within range of Wifi. Perhaps my (lack of) IT savvie let me down. The system settled in to:

- find where we are on the phone, then
- locate ourselves on the paper map, then,
- establish which way we are going with a pocket compass.

Low tech, but reliable!

Day 2 saw us finding the vioe vertes from St Meen to Mur de Bretagne. Now I know this type of terrain might be boring to some, but we found this to be sheer bliss; hours and hours of well-maintained cycle tracks amid a sea of farmland. No cars, very few people, beautiful scenery and wildlife. Next year we will definitely seek more of this out.

Camp sites and accommodation were, by and large, excellent. We travelled on road bikes, but next time I will opt for something more relaxed. I am prepared to sacrifice speed and distance for comfort and a more upright riding position from which to take in the beautiful scenery. The bikes coped admirably even though we were each carrying 40-50 pounds of luggage and camping gear.

We arrived back at St. Malo early for the ferry back - we had about a day and a half to kill! Unfortunately for us, this was at the start of a busy French bank holiday, so accommodation was scarce. A bit of searching and a lot of assistance from a few of the French consierges came up with a roof for a couple of nights, even if the 'plastic Santa' did wince a bit!

St. Malo was a great place to spend a couple of days of enforced laziness before an excellent fery back on Saturday morning. Over hte week, the weather was kind, only saturating us once; on the return trip to St. Malo.

Overall, an experience definitely to be repeated. Things to improve? CoPilot for the smartphone looks good, but I don't think it is available for Windows phones. Some sort of device that carries the maps in the memory, but uses GPS to show your location would be good. I don't really want to invest in a bike GPS such as a Garmin, etc. Am considering doing the next trip without a tent - perhaps relying on YHA/B&B-type places.

Brittany is a place that we will definitely return to. Thanks to all those who offered advice and suggestions prior to our trip.

Regards, Steve.

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jamesgilbert
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Location: Lyon

Re: Tour of Brittany

Postby jamesgilbert » 5 Jun 2015, 2:35pm

Sounds like you had a good tour and thanks for taking the time to post your experience on here, always nice to see :)

bretonbikes
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Re: Tour of Brittany

Postby bretonbikes » 5 Jun 2015, 3:53pm

Lovely write up - it seems that very few people ever come over here and not plan to come back - glad you spent so much time inland, for most tourists it's a 'lost world'...

If you can get Google Maps on your phone just search for Campsites and most will be on there - likewise restaurants etc.
Last edited by bretonbikes on 9 Jun 2015, 8:19pm, edited 1 time in total.

65BankEnd
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Re: Tour of Brittany

Postby 65BankEnd » 9 Jun 2015, 7:24pm

Hi - sorry to appear late in this conversation but as I am new to cycle touring and fascinated by the idea of cycling/camping down the West coast of France, maybe as far as the Pyrenees and worried about going on my own, are there any informal groups or organisation which arrange or lead tours

Thanks

stephen

bretonbikes
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Re: Tour of Brittany

Postby bretonbikes » 9 Jun 2015, 8:23pm

65BankEnd wrote:Hi - sorry to appear late in this conversation but as I am new to cycle touring and fascinated by the idea of cycling/camping down the West coast of France, maybe as far as the Pyrenees and worried about going on my own, are there any informal groups or organisation which arrange or lead tours

Thanks

stephen


Not that I know of - personally cycling down the coast isn't really my idea of a cycletour - too flat, some long drags through pretty boring countryside - for me it's better to cut inland and discover the real France - it won't take much longer;-)

Always happy to offer advice for free for people doing themselves but this may help a little - http://www.bretonbikes.com/generalartic ... rance.html and maybe - http://www.bretonbikes.com/generalartic ... route.html as a nice little tour to find out if you want to do it again;-)

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jamesgilbert
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Location: Lyon

Re: Tour of Brittany

Postby jamesgilbert » 10 Jun 2015, 7:30am

bretonbikes wrote:Not that I know of - personally cycling down the coast isn't really my idea of a cycletour - too flat, some long drags through pretty boring countryside - for me it's better to cut inland and discover the real France - it won't take much longer;-)


I know a number of people that have done this route that wouldn't agree: http://www.velodyssey.com/

It's all signposted and there are guidebooks available, would be very suitable for a first tour. It's probably best to avoid July and August though.

bretonbikes
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Re: Tour of Brittany

Postby bretonbikes » 10 Jun 2015, 9:14am

jamesgilbert wrote:
bretonbikes wrote:Not that I know of - personally cycling down the coast isn't really my idea of a cycletour - too flat, some long drags through pretty boring countryside - for me it's better to cut inland and discover the real France - it won't take much longer;-)


I know a number of people that have done this route that wouldn't agree: http://www.velodyssey.com/

It's all signposted and there are guidebooks available, would be very suitable for a first tour. It's probably best to avoid July and August though.


Absolutely - that's why I said 'personally'. Just like some people like cycling on the flat, I can stick it for about an hour;-) It's the bit from La Rochelle that I don't like but then that's just me...

Samuel D
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Re: Tour of Brittany

Postby Samuel D » 11 Jun 2015, 9:55am

Scruffysteve wrote:CoPilot for the smartphone looks good, but I don't think it is available for Windows phones. Some sort of device that carries the maps in the memory, but uses GPS to show your location would be good.

You could try HERE, which I believe is made by Nokia. Available for Apple iOS and Android as well as Windows Phone.

The interesting thing about it is (a) it’s free but much higher quality than most free software in terms of user-interface design and probably map quality (b) maps for regions, countries, or even the whole of Europe can be downloaded to your device, provided you have enough storage space. Once you’ve done this, you can toggle a data switch to prevent the app attempting to use a data connection to improve search results, etc. (And searches still work with the local data.) In other words, you get maps that work with your phone’s GPS receiver even when you’re beyond cellular coverage or wish to avoid roaming charges.

I am a little surprised at the criticism of IGN’s TOP100 maps in this thread. I’ve found the new-style TOP100 maps to be very good for planning trips around the Paris area. Maybe the odd misplaced village is done deliberately to track down copyright infringements?

I am fairly tech savvy and have a Garmin Edge 800, but there is no substitute for a large paper map with contour lines when planning a trip. Do the Michelin 1:200,000 maps have contour lines?

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jamesgilbert
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Re: Tour of Brittany

Postby jamesgilbert » 11 Jun 2015, 10:22am

I also find the IGN Top100 maps to be very useful. The only problem, as I think is mentioned above, is that they don't show any voies vertes or other cycle routes, despite having a nice bicycle logo on the cover.

The Michelin maps are generally very good at showing cycle routes. My 1:60,000 Michelin map of Lyon doesn't have contour lines, just a bit of shading, so I'd be surprised if the 1:200,000 maps do.

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al_yrpal
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Re: Tour of Brittany

Postby al_yrpal » 11 Jun 2015, 3:42pm

bretonbikes wrote: seems that very few people ever come over here and not plan to come back


Spot on, after my shoulder op its too painful to ride far at the moment so we are borrowing a friends house at Loquirec for a week soon, perhaps longer. I shall take the Brompton and go for a few rides whilst tbe Mrs is on the Kindle. Brittanys' a place I have returned to over and over again over the years. Great coast and countryside, good seafood, at the moment weak Euro. :D

Al
Touring on a bicycle is a great way to explore and appreciate the countryside and towns you pass through. What do you do to make a difference?