The Perfect Family or First Bike Tour
We cycled this tour from August 14-21, 2017 and loved it! We’re intermediate bikers who normally ride for recreation on the weekends and this tour fit our style perfectly. Although our 8 year-old was a pretty experienced rider compared to most kids her age, we were a bit concerned whether she was going to be able to hack the entire tour. No worries. She did great. It was mom and dad who occasionally needed to stretch the backside. While the majority of the cycling was on bike paths and lonely county roads, there were some segments along busy roads and village intersections. Anyone doing this tour should have a lot of experience behind them and a good cycling awareness.
We were impressed with the organization. At our first hotel in Fougeres, we received a complete package with maps and directions for each segment, and a booklet of vouchers to submit/pay for every portion of the tour. These vouchers included hotel stays, dinners, and baggage delivery. In all, the hotels were very nice, particularly the one in Dinan. More about that later.
The bikes we rented were sturdy and dependable. We would have preferred to ride our own, lighter hybrids, but the sturdier rentals we received functioned perfectly and were what we expected. In particular, we were very pleased with the 24 inch bike they delivered for our daughter. It was very similar to her bike at home. One thing, in the future we’re going to be a bit more specific with our rental desires. I think we’ll try to specify frame size and whether we want a front basket. My wife and I got the exact same bike, which meant her seat was all the way down, while mine was all the way up. The good news was I was able to adjust the handlebar stem to ameliorate the sitting position. Also, our bikes came with baskets and rear panniers. I ended up taking off my wife’s basket and strapped it on top of the rear pannier. One detriment was the simple odometers which came with the bikes—They didn’t work.
The route? Fabulous! We particularly enjoyed the first day’s ride along the old railroad trail and the second to last day towards Combourg along the Rance canal. I found the directions adequate, but not great. I would have preferred some general guidance, such as, “You’re going to follow the green Bike Path signs for the next 15 kilometers.” Those who have a Euro data plan and can use Google maps on their phone will have no problem. I used the old fashioned map and compass method (wish the odometers would have worked). We made a few wrong turns along the way but were always able to navigate our way forward. The maps they provided were printed from a color copier and displayed the general route, but they were difficult to navigate with. I would have preferred a smaller scale map to go with my preferred method of navigation.
We particularly enjoyed our visit to Le Mont Saint Michel on the second day of riding, St Malo on the third, and Dinan on the fourth. The wide beach in St Malo has full of British tourists. The water was cool, but we swam anyway. Dinan was the shopping experience. For all riders of this tour I recommend not to buy anything until Dinan. We found Dinan a romantic, cobble-stoned jewel full of little boutiques, shops, and wonderful restaurants. Also, the hotel we stayed at, Hotel Arvor, was probably the nicest hotel in Dinan. It was centrally located in the middle of town, the service was wonderful, and the ambiance was like an old French chateau. The whole experience in Dinan was the highlight of the trip for us.
In case you couldn’t tell, this might have been our best family vacation ever. The biking was just difficult enough to give us a bonding experience, while the joy of spending the time together on the leisurely route was invaluable. This may have been our first bike tour, but it’s not going to be our last.
A great family experience and perfect for the intermediate rider. We'll leave the south and central part of France to the serious... The flat farm country of Brittany was not only beautiful, it was safe and well, relatively flat.
Another reason why I love to cycle in France!
Brittany is a marvelous destination, full of culture, scenery, history and of course, great food and wine!
We saw some amazing places on this trip. The scenery was varied -- towns, farms, churches, castles, sea, canals and "polders".
Mont Saint Michel was our highlight. We took an extra after-dinner 7km trip to see it illuminated. It was pitch dark on the bike path coming home, but the bikes were stocked with lights and hi-viz vests.
We took another side trip to see a Dolmen outside Fougeres.
There were a few spots where we were riding in fairly busy traffic, especially near St Malo. The turn sheets were sometimes unclear and the maps did not have enough detail -- we had to rely on google maps. Make sure to bring a portable battery/charger for your phone.