A fairly flat route through some splendid medieval citadels including lively St Malo and colourful, charming Dinan. A cycle path follows the scenic River Rance and Ille et Vilaine canal to Rennes, the grandiose capital of Brittany. After the fascinating old town of Vitré and the medieval chateau of Fougeres, another cycle path takes the route of a former railway towards France”s second most iconic tourist spot, the ancient and extraordinary island of Mont St Michel. A third cycle route, often on dykes, crosses beautiful and blissfully flat marshland. Next is a stunning coast road with a string of windmills and pristine sandy beaches. Once you have had your fill of oysters in Cancale, it”s back to St Malo for crepes or whatever else takes your fancy. Map here. Train lines in black
Day 1 Wed 16th May -St Malo
Meet at Tesco 7am. Train 1st class to London £25 8.30am . Arrive London 13:00. Lunch in The Willow Walk after cycle to Victoria. Portsmouth train at 15.02 leaves arrives 17:02. Get off at Fratton. £5. Visit to Asda to stock up, quick pint maybe, a photo stop at Charles Dickens birthplace, then check in about 19:00. Brittany ferry leaves at 20:15 Two twin cabins booked for £50 per person. Arrive St Malo 8 am
Day 2 Thu 17th May – Dinan – 21 miles
French bank holiday today. Leave ferry and have breakfast in St Malo. Take water bus to Dinard at 9:30 or every 40 minutes after. 10 minute journey for €10. Pick up food for picnic lunch. The route takes the old railway line to the beautiful Rance valley cycleway to Dinan. 21 miles to Dinan. Stay in Ibis Dinan for £25. Perhaps eat in Le Cantorbery with lamb and Breton dishes. Spend afternoon wandering this medieval town. Restaurant Le Pekin for Vietnamese food.
Day 3 Fri 18th May- 44 miles to Rennes by Canal or 32 road
Start at 9 am. From Dinan, pick up the Voie Verte cycle route number 3, just south of the Pont Gothique. The first few hundred yards through woodland are quite narrow and a bit bumpy but then it becomes a well surfaced towpath of the River Rance. The river later turns into the Ille et Vilaine canal which we take all the way to Rennes. After 30 miles there is a train option from Montrueil-sur-ille 13:09, 13:31,14:04,14:41and every hour
Tinténiac and Hedé with 11 locks69 – pleasant small towns – Less than a couple of miles from the canal, they offer food . There are some impressive and sometimes quirky lock keepers cottages along this stretch of the canal and if you are lucky you may spot a red squirrel. Non-canal route 32 miles. Stay in Adagio apartment with fridge £25. Various eating options ; Breton, Le sablier cheap or la pepe Italian cheap.
Day 4 Sat 19th May Fougeres 32 miles Football day
Leave early as need to see game and hilly day. 32 miles to Fougères. If bad weather then train north 7:30, 9:05, 9:30 then 20 miles east to Fougeres. Or 7:30 or 9:11 to Vitre and 16 miles north. This is the flatter route. Fougeres is old town boasting the largest medieval castle in Europe . The town is built on two levels separated by imposing granite cliffs. The public gardens overlooking the castle and the medieval part of town are spectacular. Stay in Balzac Hotel for £25. MIght visit the coq with 70 beers. Scottish Cup final at 4 and Champions League final at 8. See both in Le Cactus.
Day 5 Sun 20th May Mont-St-Michel 32 miles
There is a hill to get out of Fougeres but we soon pick up a cycle track which takes the path of a disused railway all the way to Antrain. The route then follows a generally flat river route through the beautiful Sougéal marshes. Pontorson – quiet, small town,
A cycle route along the River Couesnon starts from the town or behind the campsite and youth hostel. A wide road runs across the causeway to the Mont St Michel, suitable for cyclists Mont St Michel – hugely popular and magnificent fortified island topped with an imposing 8th century abbey. An entire town with a jumble of winding streets and the spectacular abbey, site of medieval pilgrimages, is crammed onto an outcrop of rocks. The whole rises to an impressive eighty metres and commands an imposing position in the bay between Brittany and Normandy.
Tonight we stay in the shadow of the Mont St Michel at the Le Relais Du Roy for £40. There is a supermarket across the street.
Day 6 Mon 21st May St Malo 30 miles
In contrast to the buzz of Mont St Michel, the reclaimed marshland land to the west, criss-crossed by dikes, is a haven of rural tranquillity and makes for perfect, unhurried cycling. After taking the bridge at Beauvoir, you can either follow the cycle signs to Cancale, which routes via a bumpy cycle path, or find your own way through the lanes. Look out for the many windmills along the coast road after Cherrueix. Lunch in Cancale – seaside resort and important oyster growing area. We will eat in Chez Victor set menu for €15. To the north is the windswept and incredibly scenic Point du Grouin. The road runs along the coast and offers stunning views. Stay in St Malo. Train alternative is 8:00 and 9:15 am from Ponterson to Dol-de-bretagne ( next train 16:14). Dol-de-bretagne to St Malo 10:16, 13:25, 14:17 and about every hour.
Day 7 Tue 22nd May – St Malo to Portsmouth –
Sail at 10:30. Arrive Portsmouth 18:30 £30 per person. Stay Portsmouth – Etap £20 each.
Day 8 Wed 23rd May
Need to go to Portsmouth Harbour to get bikes on train. Train to London 9 am £10 each arrive 11
13.00 London to Edinburgh £25 first class arriving 17:30