So finally after talking about it for five years we are off on our bikes again, but this time with Mia and Pippi in tow and Gampy (Russ’s Dad) couldn’t resist coming too! For our first trip with the girls we decided to choose an area and country we are familiar with and it was a good way to include a visit to my Mum, so France here we come!
Bags packed, already for the ferry From Portsmouth to St Malo
We took the night ferry across to St Malo the girls were really excited about sleeping on a boat, although not sure if Pippi could work it all out!
As soon as we arrived we caught another boat, a short 15 minutes across to Dinard, a popular ferry for cyclists but we managed to squeeze the bikes on and it was nice to find out where other cyclists were heading.
France is perfectly set up for cyclists. Brittany is full of different cycle routes, we were straight on to Route 2, a cycle path all along to Canal d’Ille et Rance, from St Malo to Rennes. It was easy riding with the girls as there was no worry of any traffic.
First stop, the cobbled streets of Dinan. A steep climb up through warrens of narrow streets (we left the bikes at the bottom!) leads to the main square, which is full of craft shops, galleries, cafes and tourists, but it is really pretty and well worth stopping!
At the first campsite, there has to be some reward for cycling 35miles!
Canal d’Ille et Rance
The canal, although very peaceful and traffic free we did find often bypassed the villages and towns and we missed cycling through little french villages and finding ourselves by the boulangeries and tabac, so we ended up mixing the canal with routes on little roads which were relatively traffic free.
A bit of a wet start but Mia’s spirit wasn’t dampened….
..especially with blackberries to keep us going. Before we left I was worried how Mia would be, but she really was amazing, uncomplaining just chatting and pedalling away as long as we kept her well fuelled with pain au chocolat and nougat!
I had also worried how this little one would be for hours in a trailer. But she was great, Pippi really just spent her time singing or….
Unfortunately unlike last time we didn’t have unlimited time, and we had promised my Mum a visit so we left the canal at Redon and caught the train to Nantes, the start of the cycle route along the Loire. Catching the train was not as easy as we thought, buying the tickets was no problem with all the bikes, we didn’t have to pay any extra, which we thought was great until the train arrived and it was too full for us to get on. We were told to wait for the next one 3 hours later! We then discovered that trailers are not even allowed on the trains! Luckily we had three hours to spare so packed the trailer right down and then discover the train standing empty on another platform was in fact the next one to Nantes! So it was possible to get us all on in the end but it does seem to be bit of a lottery whether or not you will.
As we knew from before the Loire is cycling paradise especially with a young family, easy quiet roads, beautiful scenery, plenty of place to camps.
Old fishing boats.
Beaches of the Loire! The water seemed much lower than normal and although there are often beaches along the river they seemed so much bigger.
The Pirates of the Loire were happy!
The cheeky one!
Debating a swim!
With the long summer evenings it was great for the girls who still had plenty of playtime after a day cycling!
Mighty Mia the last one to sleep every night…
…and the last to wake up!
The Loire is busy with cyclists but you can easily see why, and there are lots of side routes to take as well, through vine yards…..
…over draw bridges…
..and off the beaten track.
And the Chateaux never cease to amaze.
A steep climb but always worth it for a good view! The Loire at Saumur.
The Chateau at Montsoreau.
Cycling up through the troglodyte villages is like stepping back in time.
For the girls it was like being in a fairytale, Castles, kings, queens, and little windows and doors carved into the cliff!
Chasing dragons in Chinon…
..and dressing up as princesses!
Chinon, a bit of a detour from the Loire on the banks of the Vienne but really worth doing, with a lovely hiker/biker section in the campsite!
The view from the top of the clock tower is amazing!
Breakfast time! we quickly got into the routine of touring life, and porridge and nuts for breakfast is always a good start!
And suddenly a lot more bedding when there is four of you!
Really its not about the views but the food! Perfect summer supper for hungry cyclists!
The Chateau at Langeais.
Treehouse at Langeais.
Unfortunately we cycled past the Chateau d’ Usse before opening time, but still a photo opportunity!
We made it! A few days off at my Mums, which was lovely.
Beautiful gardens at the Chateau du Clos Luce, definitely one of my favourite places to visit.
Impressive trees at the Clos Luce and a nice memory of other cycle rides!
Although Mia spent most of the time attached to my bike, she was happy to ride on her own while we stayed at my Mum’s and it has given her a lot more confidence about being on the road.
I really found the Follow me Tandem a good way to cycle with Mia. Even on the off road parts it felt really stable and is so simple to connect and disconnect Mia’s bike. It is a bit heavy but Mia’s pedalling definitely kept us rolling along!
With only three days left before our ferry home, we had planned to take the train to Rennes, but not wanting to risk the lottery of whether or not we could get our bikes on, my super star of a mum offered to drive our bikes while we took the train and we were back on the road north.
To the Seaside! We took a lovely route along the coast roads back to St Malo.
The most important thing to have in your panniers!
Our trusty shelter! The Nallo 4 Gt really lived up to our expectations.
Dancing in the street.
Hot days, a moment of quiet in the busy Dol de Bretagne.
Dol de Bretagne.
Old windmills and big blue skies.
The Pip Squeak in her trailer! Think all the castles has given her the idea of behaving like royalty!
Trying to avoid the main road to the sea, a few fields…
…and a dead end…
…but we made it in the end! Cancale.
It always feels nice to reach the sea.
Misty morning ride into St Malo….
and early morning on the beach.
Through the old town.
Inside St Malo’s walled city.
On the way to our last campsite.
Then some well deserved time on the beach.
Just a few stones to add to the weight!
The impressive old town of St Malo.
The superstars who made this trip…
…and Pippi Willow!
Hometime, but we are already planning the next one!