Friday 14th July, Dinan to Saint-Onen-la-Chapelle, 56 km. (Bastille Day. And Mum’s 85th!)
A bit of everything (good) today. Back through town, carefully down the steep cobbled streets, to the river. Over the old bridge and along the Rance (now a canal), stopping to phone my mum in London to wish her a happy 85th birthday. Thick vegetation of varied rich greens lined the banks of the canal, with the occasional lock, nicely maintained and often a house nearby, everything well-cared for. We were quickly approaching decision time: take V2 to Rennes and then on to Nantes where we could join the Eurovelo 6, the main part of our route; or take V3 a little bit to the east, that ends in Questembert and then find a route to Eurovelo 6 from there. Our guide only describes V2 to Rennes, saying that further south the route is possibly overgrown and muddy, not measuring up to the highly-manicured standards of a ‘Greenway.’ Both routes, V2 and V3, have been the same thus far and, in true form, we had put off our decision making. We really didn’t seem to have enough information to choose one over the other.
We were poring over maps, where the routes split, when two men took the V3 option. Judging by the assemblage of bags strapped to their rear racks, it looked that they weren’t regular tourers, more mountain-bikes who had decided on a long distance ride. Good for them.
OK, there was a shortcut to V3 if we continued along the Rance for a couple of more kilometres. If we found it, then we would go with V3. If we didn’t find it, then we would be necessarily on V2 to Rennes. I’m not sure this decision was anymore scientific than a coin-toss.
We did find the short cut, stopped for lunch on a bench by a lake, and joined V3 for more white crushed gravel along an abandoned rail bed. Much of it was deep in greenery, providing welcome shade, with occasional sections through colourful fields. At some stage, the two men who had passed us to go on the V3 passed us again. Clearly, our shortcut saved us some time.
Then the Greenway ended and narrow country lanes took over, weaving our way through farmland where corn was ripening and the wheat had already been harvested. Wonderful landscapes. Old stone farmhouses, and some that appeared to built out of mud or adobe. What a perfect day!
Saturday 15th July, Loyat, 40.6 km
More country lanes through nice villages and pretty churches. Getting hot!
A one village, Le Tury, we rode through a wedding assembly. Happy faces, waiting outside the church, for (presumably) the bride to arrive. Getting even hotter.
Then back to the V3 Greenway and some welcome shade. This section is tarmac, easier riding than the crushed gravel. Camped at Loyat for the night.
Sunday 16th July, St Auberge La Grange, 42 km including riding to dinner
Said goodbye to the V3 which was going a little more westward, (towards Questembert) than we wanted. Now, we’re following the Nantes-Brest Canal along Eurovelo 1. This gives us two options: go across country to Saint Nazaire and the ‘proper’ start of the Eurovelo 6 which will guide us across France, or continue to Nantes and pick up the EV6 there.
We saw a family setting up camp at a site along the canal. They had been at the campground at Loyat the previous night. He was pulling a huge trailer, his wife had a small boy in a high chair behind her and their small daughter was on her own bike. They had rolled out of the Camp Merlin at Loyat as we were getting our tent down. Seemed like a pretty good family adventure.
We carried on towards the next campground, about 10 km further on. But we were distracted by an auberge along the canal. Another great location for the night.
After showering, we rode a kilometre further and had an excelllent meal at Chez Bernard. I may have been a little wobbly on the ride back to the auberge but I didn’t end up in the canal…
Monday 17th July, St Nicolas de Redon, 28 km
Stopped for lunch along the canal and lost all momentum. By the time we had visited the tourist office in Redon, it was after 4:00 pm and there was still 40 km to the next lodgings. So we decided to stay put. For two days, since Tuesday is forecast to be 33C and a sightseeing day seems warranted.
One of the locks today was particularly well (eccentrically) decorated.
Wednesday 18th July, St Nicolas de Redon
Here, the River Vilaine crosses the Nantes-Brest Canal.
Parts of the Abbey were built in the 1200s, making it almost 800 years old.