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Cycling the Canals in Brittany

4358 Views 10 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  mandyandandy
Just got back from a cycling holiday on the Nantes to Brest Canal, and another member is very keen to hear a few details . . . so in true MHF fashion I'll post on the forum in case others are interested. :blueflowerface:

Sailed from Dover to Dunkerque (£23 return) at midnight and spent the rest of the night on an Aire at Gravelines. I don't think it was the one most folk use - it was very small and tucked away down a side road - we found it by accident in the dark, thanks to the bloody SatNav sending us down back alleys again! :roll:

It was very quiet and only has two other vans on, so maybe worth a look. N 50.98326 : E. 2.14394

Drove down to Honfleur and stayed on the huge Aire there. (In all the books.) €7 per night and very crowded, but quiet after about 10.30pm. (Could have arrived after 6.00pm and stayed free in the adjacent short-stay car park, but a Dutchman warned that people are sometimes chased off early in the morning if they haven't paid up, or made to pay the charge plus a fine. (Not worth the hassle to save €7!!)

First three-day campsite at Josselin, a really delightful and interesting town with the municipal campsite right on the banks of the canal. A short ride toward town to pick up the towpath, which is tarmac or good hard gravel for miles. Great cycling in either direction, and the walk into town takes only 15 minutes either along a grassy path by the canal or a quiet road.

Camping Municipal les Bas de la Lande
Lat = 47.952752
Lon = -2.572936
Tel. 02 97 22 22 20

Next stop was at Le Lac de Guerledan at a campsite on the Beau Rivage, and it certainly is "beau"! Lovely pitches - some right at the lake edge. Large swimming pool with "underwater" observation windows, a sauna, a gym, several microwave ovens, tennis courts, etc. Not too expensive either for all that, at €20 including leccy.

A lovely walk along the lake edge from the "back gate" of the site leads to the leisure area with swimming beaches, motorboat launching, jet skis etc., plus several very nice and surprisingly inexpensive bars, creperies and a small restaurant.

Unfortunately it's not possible to ride by the lakeside in parts as the forest goes right to the water, but the walk is something special. There is plenty of riding anyway, and we went to see the hydroelectric plant (unspectacular from below) and had a picnic on the rocks overlooking the barrage and lake (wonderful views and scenery!)

Camping Nautic International
Lat = 48.206246
Lon = -3.050002

Then on to Gouarec Municipal site, run by David and Marion Baxter. Lovely people, and again the site is right on the canal. Four huge fields with Bornes all along the edges, and only €12 per night including hook-up.

Gouarec is another very nice town, with a Casino supermarket within walking distance of the site and several excellent eateries. We had the best pizza outside Italy on David's recommendation, but the proprietor (being typically French!!!) decided not to open for the evening on our first night . . . not unusual in rural France! So the next day we called in early to ask if he was going to open that evening? "Non Monsieur - ferme ce soir" so we ate at lunchtime - and it was really good!

The cycling was the best yet. The old monastery of Bon Repos was an interesting visit and there is an very good bar nearby which does an Omelette Simple for €3.50 for those with large appetites, and an Omelette Complet for €5.50 if you haven't eaten for a week!!

Camping Tost Aven
Lat = 48.226922
Lon = -3.182571
Tel. 02 96 24 85 42

Last stop was Tregastel, near Perros Guirec on the Pink Granite coast. (Plouman 'ach to be very precise). Lovely campsite right by the bay and port, with loads of interesting things to do, see, eat and drink!!

There's a cycling/walking route around the bay and a bit of coast which is quite spectacular, and includes a sculpture park which had a wide range of styles that even caught my interest. There was only one heap of "Turner Prize" boulders, but the rest was well worth a visit - and all free.

The Moules a la Creme and Cidre Pression went down a treat (on several occasions) and the local speciality was Moules au Lard. Moules in a lightly curried sauce with loads of fried Lardons. Very nice, but one of those dishes for occasional enjoyment - I wouldn't want it too often.

Camping Tourony.
Lat = 48.825534
Lon = -3.491441
Tel. 02 96 23 86 61

On the way home we stopped on a lovely free Aire at La Mailleraye sur Seine (Page 269 in "All the Aires") and watched the river traffic from the bar next door as we sampled his Pression.

It worked very well for us, and I think anyone who enjoys "Softy Cycling" would easily find loads of interest within gentle pedalling distance.

This is already a bit of an epistle so I'll stop here, but can highly recommend this as a holiday basis for like minded members.

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Thank you for that and welcome back.

It sounds just what we'd enjoy so duly printed.

Not sure about a swimming pool with underwater observation window - hope there are notices to warn you in advance ?

Thanks Dave - just what this softy cyclist is looking for.
Nice easy read and some good recommendations.

Thanks John :D
Thanks for an enjoyable write up Zeb, sounds like you had a good one :) .

One assumes one is going to enter all those loverly campsites into the database if they aren't already there? :roll:

peejay said:
Thanks for an enjoyable write up Zeb, sounds like you had a good one :) .

One assumes one is going to enter all those loverly campsites into the database if they aren't already there? :roll:

Thanks Pete.

Yes, it was good. A bit more sunshine and less wind would have made it perfect, but the weather didn't stop us doing anything so can't complain. :D

One assumes the campsites are there already, but one will check. :wink:

If one forgets, no doubt you will remind one!! :wink: :lol: :lol:

Thanks Dave

It's my turn now providing I can get that steering wheel to turn right when I get to the A16 roundabout! It'll be a first.
I think you'll enjoy it Tony.

There's such a diversity of interest you can't fail to find plenty of things that appeal. :D

The local "cidre pression" is well worth investigating. (Pression means "on tap" if your French is not so good?) It comes well chilled in a stoneware pitcher, and if the restaurant is really traditional you will get a cup with no handle to drink it from. (Hic! :oops: )

If you have a sweet tooth and like buttery cakes, try the Kouign Amman. It's a local speciality, and is a sort of sticky, buttery, bready sort of cake, and it's delicious.

Have a great time

Hi, there are 4 unfit adults and a fit 9 year old, can average between 15-20 miles a day. We are going around the coast of Brittany and ending up at Redon.

Will we find much on cycling in the different areas if we go to the local TI or do we need to find out more before we go. I am really struggling to find circular routes there are loads of cycling holidays if you want to go off for a week and end up at the start again but obviously this wouldn't work for us.

Having read your write up we are going to spend more time around the centre canals and hope to plan routes to do circuits rather than back and forth on same route.

Really looking forward to it now having read this,
many thanks for taking the time
Hi Mandy

Seeing the "backs" of the trees as we return never bothers us so we don't mind coming back by the same route.

The minor roads are very quiet in the area we were cycling, so you could easily follow the canal one way and return via a minor road. The roads cross the canal at frequent intervals so no problem there.

There are also some abandoned railway lines that have been made into cycle paths. The one at Gouarec is fine, and David Baxter, the proprietor of the municipal campsite there is English, so he will give you all the advice you need.

(At €11 per night he's not exactly expensive either.)

With the possible exception of Perros Guirec (Tregastel) you would find plenty of varied cycling at all three of the places we stayed, and at Perros you would be more inclined to walk anyway - and there are some cracking coastal routes nearby.

Hope this helps


P.S. Just noticed your list of markets in Brittany.

The one at Rostrenen is superb, and it's within cycling distance of Gouarec. Reckoned to be the best for miles around, and it occupies half the town.

You pick up the railway line just across the road from the campsite, and it takes you into Rostrenen. David has maps and advice, and he and Marion are really friendly and can't do enough to help.
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Excellent, thanks again!!

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