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Cycle camping: day 1 - John C. Kirk

Jul. 4th, 2010

11:00 pm - Cycle camping: day 1

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I went on a cycle camping holiday in Brittany from 3rd July to 10th July (via Breton Bikes). I'm backdating my blog posts for each day, based on notes I made at the time.

I slept a bit longer than I'd intended, so I didn't have time to take a dip in the canal, but I did go into the village for pain au chocolat before Geoff and Kate (the bike people) arrived. They have a list of routes here, and the map at the top of that page gives a useful overview of where I went. I was booked on the Island of Adventure route (heading south), while Lucy was going north to the Isle de Brehat. However, Geoff said that one of the campsites on my route had closed, so I'd have to do a double day to reach the next one along; alternately, I could try a different route, and he suggested going to Brehat. I didn't want to gatecrash Lucy's holiday, but she was happy for us both to head in the same direction, so off we went.

The ex-pat we met the previous evening had told us about a market nearby (at Bon Repos), and our route took us through there, so we stopped off to buy some supplies: I got bread/cheese/cider/apples, although it was a bit of a struggle to cram everything into my panniers.

After that, we resumed our journey, and reached St Nicolas du Pelem at 14:00. We stopped at a pub and bought drinks but ate our own food; apparently this is common practice in Brittany, and I suppose it's the equivalent of people smoking cigarettes that they've bought elsewhere.

According to our directions, that was it for the day, so we should go to the campsite. However, Lucy suggested that we could keep going, and make a start on the day 2 route. Since it was so early in the day, that seemed sensible, and we continued to Chatelaudren, arriving there at about 17:45. There was a campsite that we were supposed to use at the end of day 5 (on our return trip), so we stayed there. Looking at the description on the website, it's interesting that this recommends doing exactly the same thing! I think there are a few mismatches between the website and the printed instructions, certainly for the routes I looked at.

Unfortunately, most of the local shops (including restaurants) were closed because it was a Sunday evening, but we found a pub that was open. There was a sign on the door saying that you can't smoke inside, but none of the staff made any effort to enforce that. We split a bottle of wine between us, although they served it by the glass; by Brittany standards, we each had 3 doubles! While we were there, we got chatting to an English couple who run the B&B opposite the campsite. Apparently they get cyclists from Breton Bikes (who prefer to stay in hotels rather than camping); I haven't actually been inside their building, but I'd recommend a visit if you're staying in the area.

The campsite was next to a lake, so again I was quite tempted to go for a swim, although I was a bit concerned that I couldn't see anyone else in there. Talking to the English couple, they said that people aren't allowed to swim in there (although nobody would stop me) due to the high levels of silt. I decided to give it a miss, and try somewhere else.

This campsite was slightly more expensive than the last one: €2.80 for an "emplacement" (site), and then €2.80 per adult. Since Lucy didn't have the right change, I paid for both of us (i.e. lending her the cash), and that made it a bit cheaper because the campsite owner only charged us for a single site, so we paid €4.20 each. That's fair enough, since our tents were close together, and we didn't use up any more space than a caravan or motorhome. Each pitch/site had its own water tap, and there were toilets/showers nearby, so I was quite happy with the facilities. (The toilets were normal except that they didn't have seats, which was an improvement over the first site!)

Distance cycled: 62.7km.