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are there any cycling Camino"loops" in France?

2020 Camino Guides

laineylainey

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
started in 2012, hooked ever since.
Hi, I am posting this on behalf of my wonderful husband who encourages and supports me every year on my "traditional" linear walking caminos. I mean supports me by the fact that he stays at home and looks after our dogs, hence the fact that we take it in turns to adventure alone.
Anyway, he is a keen cyclist and would love to cycle a camino route but one which means he would start and finish in the same place, because he wants to go over to France by car with his own bike and get back to the same place he leaves the car, hope that makes sense? Our limitation in travelling is that we live in Ireland so we can only travel by car by ferry to Cherbourg. Any suggestions?
 

Peregrinopaul

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
VdlP(2012) Madrid(2014)Frances(2015) VdlP(2016)
VdlP(2017)Sanabres (2018) Frances reverse(2018)
I've used the Cork to Roscoff ferry twice. Cycling the west coast of France is a dream. Most of the Vélodyssée is a Camino.
 

Peregrinopaul

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
VdlP(2012) Madrid(2014)Frances(2015) VdlP(2016)
VdlP(2017)Sanabres (2018) Frances reverse(2018)
@Peregrinopaul where did you start and finish?
In 2018 I bought a bike in Madrid and rode to Santiago, partly on the Camino de Madrid, and partly the Sanabres.Then I rode the Frances in reverse to St Jean, and on up the Vélodysée to Roscoff. I left the bike with my son who lives in Cork. (I live in W Australia).
This year, I took the bike over from Cork and did a big circuit through France. Roscoff to Nantes: the Loire Valley to Nevers: Cleremont Ferrand down to Le Puy en Velay: through the Ardèche to Avignon: Carcassonne to Toulouse: then across to the Vélodyssée and back to Roscoff. That was some trip! Since I am retired, I have the time.
Because I have chosen to base my bike in Cork, my "problem" is now similar to that of your husband. Not sure yet what I will do next year. (I always go in June).
 

Peregrinopaul

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
VdlP(2012) Madrid(2014)Frances(2015) VdlP(2016)
VdlP(2017)Sanabres (2018) Frances reverse(2018)
If he doesn't have much time, a fascinating route would be to take the north coast from Roscoff to Mt St Michel from where an "official" camino will take him to Nantes, or even Royan. Then back up through Brittany to Roscoff.
 

Peregrinopaul

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
VdlP(2012) Madrid(2014)Frances(2015) VdlP(2016)
VdlP(2017)Sanabres (2018) Frances reverse(2018)
@Peregrinopaul where did you start and finish?
This is a long post that might be of interest to your husband. Its the first part of an incomplete journal my son is encouraging me to write about my "tour de France". There are photos which I haven't included

Cork to Brittany
I've just returned from a 2600km tour around France. On a bike. I'm 74 years old, so I guess that's quite a feat. Mind you I am reasonably fit, I have a slight build and hence no weight problem, but like many people my age I have arthritic knees, which fortunately don't seem to mind the rotary motion of pedalling: walking is another matter, and running any distance at all is impossible. The trip was a life-affirming experience. And a wonderful way to to soak in the landscapes, culture, history, cuisine and alcohol of a foreign country.

I'm Australian, though born in England - I was what the Aussies call a "ten-pound Pom" back in the early 1970's, when approved immigrants were awarded an assisted passage to a new life on the other side of the world. But in my years of retirement, I've rediscovered a fascination for the old world, and a desire to see it anew, but in an unconventional way.

I'm not a cyclist. I'm just an old guy on a bike. But I've discovered that it's all about the bike - and the bags you put on it. A few of years ago I took a risk and bought a second-hand Scott mountain bike on EBay, carbon frame. It changed my life. When you ride a full-carbon bike for the first time it feels like you're wearing it. You ask yourself why you've spent all those years powering tanks. And it gives you ideas.

So, two years ago I flew to Europe with my beloved lightweight Scott and rode the Camino de Santiago across Spain. No sweat. But flying across the world with your precious machine safely (?) packed in a huge bike-bag is no fun. In my case I adopted an extreme solution, a second bike based in Europe, left with my son who now lives in Ireland. And I found the perfect machine on the internet, advertised by a bike shop in Madrid, a top-of-the-range Scott carbon mountain bike, irresistibly discounted by 30%. It still cost me €3000, but its specifications made me drool. So last year I flew to Madrid, hopped on my dream-machine, and rode it all the way to the ferry in Brittany that took me to Ireland, where I left it with my son in Cork, ready for this years epic trip.
If this were a journal about my tour around France by car, the first mundane sentence might be "I drove to the car ferry terminal at Ringaskiddy". Fair enough: that would involve a simple journey from Cork city by motorway, tunnel and dual carriageway - maybe 20 minutes tops. Convenient, sure.
But then I would have missed out on an introduction to the almost secret joys available to the 21st century traveler on two wheels.

Here I am about to pedal off from my son's front yard, the classic let's-wave-him-off shot. Note the bags incidentally: one orange super-lightweight backpack strapped onto the rear rack, and several small "dry bags" of various colours clipped to the frame. In fully loaded mode, there would be two others. A dry bag containing my tightly folded all-weather brown jacket - which I’m wearing - clipped to the side of my rack for easy access, and another containing my fleece jacket, which I’m also wearing, clipped to the opposite side).
I take a couple of turns onto Crab Lane - past the school where my daughter-in-law teaches, and I’m on Black Rock Road.

This (cold) ride to the ferry is a very different experience to that car journey. It will acquaint me with the peaceful exhilaration of cycle ways, or more specifically, greenways. That's the English word, but their importance is exemplified by the fact that every European country has its translation of that; in French Voies Verts; in Spanish and Italian, Vias Verdes - I could go on. We cycle-tourists are truly heirs of the Industrial Revolution, because these greenways are actually disused, usually centuries-old railway beds or canal tow paths, and they will facilitate my journey for more than 50% of the way.

If you look at any map of the British Isles, you'll see that Cork is situated on the coast. Well it isn't. It's on the north end of what is the second greatest natural harbour in the world - the greatest of course being Sydney Harbour. My ride to the ferry is basically a 20km run along the western edge of Cork Harbour and its inlets, and from Black Rock Castle it’s a greenway, consisting of a smooth bitumen track on the course of the old railway line to the evocatively named Passage West. The picturesque route hugs the waterline, so you can take it as read that it's flat the whole way, a quiet comfort-zone if you're pedalling under your own steam.

The ferry terminal is where I make my first acquaintance with fellow cyclists. We are directed separately along lane 28, the other lanes already building up with queues of cars, which lead to the booths where you collect a boarding pass. And while we wait, the litany of familiar questions begins. Where are you from/going? What kind of saddle is that? (We all have a bit of an obsession with our rear ends; any discomfort in that department will turn our tour into a unique form of torture). My machine gets the once-over. Carbon, huh? - a quizzical eyebrow raised, probably meaning I wish I had that kind of money. And we assess each other's bags and panniers. How many kilos? I get the "My, you're travelling light" compliment, because I am. As a veteran of six Caminos de Santiago in Spain since 2012, I now consider myself an expert in the packing department. Several of the others are very well equipped with pairs of bulging panniers, rear and front, and some even have an extra backpack or a tent neatly strapped over the two panniers on the rear rack. I smile to myself, knowing too well the agony of getting that lot up a mountain road. But to be fair, they're probably not going to encounter any hills at all on their idyllic run along the greenways of France; well, hardly any. A few of them are Europeans, on their way back from a cycling holiday in Ireland. One is a Dutchman who interests me - he's riding all the way back to the Netherlands along the Channel coast. We board the ferry together, and get to ride the ramp before being told to dismount and walk our bikes to a side wall of the vehicle deck, where a crewman ties them all together.

This is not going to be an ordinary ferry journey. The Brittany Ferries' flagship "Pont Aven" which we were supposed to be travelling on had serious engine problems three weeks ago on its way to Santander in Northern Spain. It's holed up in dry dock at Brest undergoing repairs. Our replacement ship is the Armorique, a fine vessel, but only half the size, and they're trying to pack on as many of the originally-booked cars and passengers as possible. And it is packed to more than capacity. Many of the passengers who had reserved cabins, - it's an overnight voyage - have had them cancelled. And my Dutch friend and I have lost our coach-style reclining seats. We are given a complementary "sleep pack" - an inflatable pillow, a thin blanket and eye mask, and told to make ourselves as comfortable as possible in one of the various bars or lounges. Well, they are already crowded with people. Plan B: we head for the cinema - there are no movies on this short-haul trip, and we settle into the comfortable seats, along with a few others.
Pacing the deck that evening, fortified with my first couple of vins rouges, I’m excited, and a little apprehensive, having committed myself to a largely pre-booked itinerary which will take me through Brittany, south to Nantes, then across to central France via the Loire Valley, down through the Massif Central as far as the Mediterranean. I’ll skirt the foothills of the pyrenees, and head back up north along the west coast. I’ve allowed myself 40 days, and from experience I know it is doable. Barring the unknown. Hah!

Because of the complications of embarkation in Ireland, we are several hours late arriving at Roscoff on the northern tip of Brittany, and there we are held up again, because we need a high tide to navigate the channel. This is worrying, because my first night is to be spent in Morlaix, about 30km due south of Roscoff. By the time we wheel our bikes off the ferry it’s running late, and my plan to take a longer cycle track along the winding estuary has to be shelved. So I team up with my Dutch mate, who’s also a man in a hurry, and we hit the main road. Thirty minutes later we are presented with another problem. Without warning, the main road morphs into a motorway. No bikes! A quick look at the map presents us with no viable alternative, and we agree to take the risk. Fortunately the gendarmerie are not active and we arrive unscathed and unarrested.
In Morlaix I farewell my first companion of the trip, and seek out my hotel, which, being the Hotel de la Gare - the Station Hotel - shouldn’t be hard to find. It’s a typical French pub, and I look forward to celebrating my first day’s arrival in the bar.

Forget that. I’m the only resident, and somewhat inexplicably - this is France after all - the bar is closed on a Sunday. This has not been a good start.
There’s nothing for it but to do my homework. Check out the next days leg on the map.

I say “the map”, but this isn’t the paper variety, it’s a digital app on my iPhone. I’ve pre-paid for the IGN coverage of the whole of France, and I can zoom in to 1:25000 scale if I want, that’s 2.5cm to the kilometre, or about 1cm equals 2 minutes on a bike. My iPhone6 looks suddenly small and I say a silent prayer that I will not lose my reading glasses for at least 39 days.
Problem of the moment: find a route to my first French greenway, the Vélodyssée. Thats easy. It intersects one of the main roads on the edge of town. Done. Get some much needed sleep.
 

laineylainey

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
started in 2012, hooked ever since.
@Peregrinopaul thank you for sharing your cycling journey. It's a great story full of great information. I have forwarded it to "him indoors" who also had a fab carbon bike and loves cycling, but is only 72.
Was thinking of getting him a smart watch for Christmas as it might have gps/ map apps that could be useful for a cycling trip, but I always worry about buying a man something when he knows exactly what spec and model he wants and it's not the one I buy him! Best let you buy it yourself I think....😂
 

Peregrinopaul

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
VdlP(2012) Madrid(2014)Frances(2015) VdlP(2016)
VdlP(2017)Sanabres (2018) Frances reverse(2018)
Was thinking of getting him a smart watch for Christmas as it might have gps/ map apps that could be useful for a cycling trip, but I always worry about buying a man something when he knows exactly what spec and model he wants and it's not the one I buy him! Best let you buy it yourself I think....😂
I think you’re right about that. We seem to have a fair bit in common and he’ll probably enjoy browsing the Internet and getting exactly what he wants.
You certainly need a decent screen size for map apps. I use an iPhone 6s and find that a bit small, (and difficult to read in full daylight shadow).
A Christmas present? Buy him some IGN maps. If he’s interested in the Cork ferry option, the IGN Top 100 maps are fantastic for armchair dreaming. Sheets 114 St Brieuc, sheet 123 Vannes, sheet 124 Redon and sheet 131 La Roche sur Yon will have him drooling. I bought the maps at the end of the trip as a souvenir.
 

Peregrinopaul

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
VdlP(2012) Madrid(2014)Frances(2015) VdlP(2016)
VdlP(2017)Sanabres (2018) Frances reverse(2018)
And Mont St Michel is on sheet 115
 

Peregrinopaul

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
VdlP(2012) Madrid(2014)Frances(2015) VdlP(2016)
VdlP(2017)Sanabres (2018) Frances reverse(2018)
CB139996-1358-4C31-892E-302ACFFB0C89.png
Leaving my son’s house in Cork.
(I’m not sure I’ve posted correctly)
 

Matthew King

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances: StJPP to SdC March/April 2015 peregrino.
Camino del Norte: Santander to SdC June 2015 bicigrino.
Camino Finisterre: SdC to Finisterre/Muxia/SdC March 2016 peregrino.
Camino del Norte: StJPP then Irun to Santander August 2016 bicigrino.
Via Francigena Canterbury to Rome June/July 2017 bicigrino.

Xali1970

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2016
I would leave the car in Ireland. I did a cycle tour in France, getting the ferry from Rosslare to Rosscoff and then from Cherbourg to Rosslare.
Reached Rosslare by train
The Irish ferries accommodates bicycles.
 

Peregrinopaul

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
VdlP(2012) Madrid(2014)Frances(2015) VdlP(2016)
VdlP(2017)Sanabres (2018) Frances reverse(2018)
[QUOTE="Xali1970, post: 800044, member: 57957
The Irish ferries accommodates bicycles.
[/QUOTE]
But unfortunately not the one from Cork to Santander.
 

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