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A modern journey through a historic land - By bike !

Jean-Luc Courcoult - La Maison dans la Loire

Ready to experience the gentle thrill of venturing from Nantes to Mont-Saint-Michel by bike?

This is an invitation to enjoy the excitement of nomadism on two wheels – from the Atlantic Ocean all the way to the Channel, through the historic lands of Brittany, all of which runneth over with countless wonders that you can stop and admire: from surprising artworks to XXL (or XXS) ports, wild marshes, bucolic waterways lined with the elegant houses of lock keepers, or unforgettably charming, atmospheric towns… all before reaching the fabulous Côte d’Émeraude and the jewel of the circuit: the timeless abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel, which stands above a boundless bay swept by the highest tides in Europe.

Choose your itinerary among the 5 different sections

Choose your itinerary among the 5 different sections, each departing from a city with excellent transport links. So, saddle up for A Modern Journey Through a Historic Land, to be enjoyed all at once or savoured over several smaller trips, many of which can be handled by everyone from the expert rider to the novice cyclist.
Jean-Luc Courcoult - La Maison dans la Loire

Nantes <> Saint-Nazaire, from the Loire to the Ocean

After joining the La Loire à Vélo circuit, A Modern Journey Through a Historic Land hits the ground running. Following a hair-raising adventure through Nantes (with its island of strange Machines), the former ports of the estuary and the bucolic Canal de la Martinière await you. Here, the sunlight adds a magical touch to the endless natural spaces all around. Prepare also to be greeted by a host of artworks from the Estuaire itinerary – like a “soggy boat” dozing on the bank of a canal lock, a “starry garden” (Jardin étoilé), an improbable belvedere overlooking the Loire, or a pacified “ocean snake” (Serpent d’océan) coiled up on the fine sands of Saint-Brévin.

Practical advice – 65 km (40 miles) – Level 1 (families) – 1-2 days

Itinerary marked with La Loire à Vélo signs from the centre of Nantes to St-Brévin-les-Pins. From the Machines de l’île, stay on the trail until Trentemoult, then follow signposts on the small roads zigzagging to Le Pellerin. Easy route to Paimboeuf via the La Martinière Canal, followed by a car-free bike path near the Loire that will take you to the Pont de Saint-Nazaire bridge and Mindin. From here you can cross the Saint-Nazaire bridge – not at all recommended for biking – by LILA shuttles or taxis equipped with bike racks.

Parc Naturel Régional de la Brière

Saint-Nazaire <> Redon, from the Atlantic to the Vilaine

From the gigantic and stunning port-city of Saint-Nazaire, A Modern Journey Through a Historic Land arrives in Brière where it stretches out toward islands that open up to a unique landscape of wild marshes – a true paradise for birds and water fowl. Here, surprising belvederes surge forth, allowing you to scan the Breton countryside, the old Canal de Nantes in Brest, and the beautiful Vilaine River – and all this before riding up to the former port of Redon that still echoes with the songs of sailors, both past and present.

Practical advice - 68 km (42.5 miles) – Level 2 (experienced) – 1-2 days

Itinerary n° 11 (marked with signposts) from St-Nazaire train station to St-Joachin (direction: Trignac). Connection to Crossac via D 16 is partly adapted to cycling. Be careful for the last 3 km towards Crossac (at the cemetery, to the left of rue du Bel ébat). From Crossac to Pontchâteau, the circuit is made up of small quiet roads currently being fitted with signs. In Pontchâteau, take the footbridge near the tourism office (rue du Port du four) in order to ride through Le Brivet and, on the right, take D 126 via Lycée des Trois Rivières high school (N.B., it is steep!). Small roads without signs run through Drefféac, Saint-Gildas-des-Bois and Sévérac for the Canal de Nantes to Brest (Pont-Miny). A car-free bicycle path (with signs) continues along the canal to the centre of Redon. Download the map.
Rennes

Redon <> Rennes, the historic countryside of Brittany to the flow of the Vilaine River

The port of Redon sets the tone for this leg of the itinerary – one that flows against the current of the Vilaine with its long maritime and fluvial history. This river – initially wide, open, and surrounded by preserved swamps – cuts through cliffs of schist as it approaches Rennes, surrounded by steep and craggy forests, offering dazzling sights. Along the way, 1,001 lively rest stops, brimming with authenticity or gastronomy, await you.

Practical advice - 90 km (55 miles) – Level 1 (families) – 1-2 days

From the centre of Redon, itinerary V2 (with signposts) of Brittany’s bike-path network (connection to Manche – Océan) continues along a car-free trail down the Vilaine River straight into the heart of Rennes – a delight for even the youngest cyclists. This historical navigation route, from the ocean to Rennes, is interspersed with several fluvial stops: La Chapelle-de-Brain, Guipry-Messac, Bourg-des-Comptes, and Pont-Réan. You will arrive in Rennes by the les étangs d’Apigné (“the Ponds of Apigné” – an aquatic outdoor activities centre) and reach the Écluse du Mail canal lock – and the eponymous neighbourhood. Here, you can (re)discover historic Rennes only on foot or by bike (careful on the cobblestoned streets).

Hédé-Bazouges - parcours Traversée moderne d'un vieux pays

Rennes <> Saint-Malo by way of the Canal d’Ille-et-Rance

From the capital of Brittany to the Côte d’Émeraude, far from anything with four wheels, this trail weaves its way through a bucolic landscape, complete with water mills and canal lock houses. It runs alongside the Canal d’Ille-et-Rance – the oldest in Brittany – then toward the magnificent Rance estuary. At its summit, you will discover the Onze écluses (“eleven canal locks”) of Hédé-Bazouges and an incredible hydraulic machine that powers the canal. This very easy itinerary is stuffed with gems and is so wonderfully exotic – all of it in the heart of timeless and romantic Brittany.

Practical advice - 104 km (64 miles) – Level 1 (families) – 2-3 days

Itinerary V2 (Brittany’s network of bike paths – connection to Manche – Océan) travels from the centre of Rennes along Canal Saint-Martin, then down a car-free path along Canal d’Ille-et-Rance until Dinan – which everyone can ride! Cycle through Betton, Saint-Grégoire, Saint-Germain-sur-Ille and the Onze écluses de Hédé (the “eleven canal locks of Hédé”). From Dinan (Cove of Taden) connect to the car-free bike path that leads to the centre of Dinard (a bit steep at first!): signposts for V3 of Brittany’s bike-path network. Dinard – Saint-Malo: seasonal ferry (April-October) to the coastal city. Alternate cyclable connection (with signposts) from Saint Malo to Plouer-sur-Rance until the La Rance dam.

Le Mont Saint Michel

Saint-Malo <> Mont-Saint-Michel, from the Côte d’Émeraude to “la Merveille”

From the walled city of Saint-Malo, where one crosses paths with travellers of all stripes, this seaside trek will first take you to Cancale – jewel of the Breton coast – via discreet side-roads. From there you will soon find yourself among the polders of the Baie du Mont-Saint-Michel – the climax of A Modern Journey Through a Historic Land. Calm and impassive, the abbey and its “Merveille” rise 150 metres above a bay swept by the highest tides in Europe, beneath skies directly out of a 16th-century Flemish painting.

Practical advice - 68 km (42.5 miles) - level 2 (experienced) – 1-2 days

La Vélomaritime (EV 4) – a temporary itinerary in the process of being signposted – from the centre of Saint-Malo to Mont-Saint-Michel. N.B., this circuit currently uses roads shared with cars, with sizeable slopes via Cancale. There are car-free paths running alongside the banks of Baie de Saint-Benoît-des-Ondes in Cherrueix, then next to the Digue de la Duchesse Anne embankment (she’s back!) until Couesnon and Mont-Saint-Michel. Connections are indicated by signposts pointing to the train stations of Dol-de-Bretagne and Pontorson, along with a network of tiny roads leading to lovely villages you can visit. We advise families to take the TER regional train from Saint-Malo to Pontorson, then follow the adapted path along Couesnon to Mont-Saint-Michel. Download the map.

How to use GPX ?

On your computer

  • Go to: https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/
  • At the top right, click on +CREATE A NEW MAP button.
  • In the menu on the left, click on Import
  • Select your GPX file from its location, or click-and-drag it into the window, then import it to Google Maps.

Opening a GPX file:

  • Open Google Maps on your computer
  • Click on the three horizontal lines in the upper left corner
  • Select Your Places from the side menu
  • Go to the Maps tab to view all your created or imported routes

 

On your phone

If you use an Android or iOS smartphone, the process is virtually identical:

  • We recommend you import the file from a computer, as described above.
  • Open Google Maps on your Android smartphone, iPhone or iPad and make sure you have logged in with the same Gmail account you used to import the map.
  • Press the three horizontal lines in the top-left corner to open the side menu – or simply swipe right from the left edge of the smartphone.
  • Go to Your Places from the side menu and then to the Maps tab.

You can now access all your created address lists and maps, as well as open the GPX routes imported into your account.

An acclaimed itinerary!

You can find 2 stages of the Modern Journey through a Historic Land circuit among the bike trips suggested in the new Guide du Routard “Les plus belles escapades à vélo en France”! (In French.)

  • Nantes <> Saint-Nazaire, From the Loire to the Ocean
  • Rennes <> Saint-Malo by way of the Canal d’Ille-et-Rance
The Accueil vélo label references service providers guaranteeing quality service throughout France’s bicycle itineraries. For more information on these businesses, please visit here.

Nantes

Repair Shop
L’atelier du POUPOUPIDOU
21 Quai Ernest Renaud, 44100 Nantes
+33 (0) 6 79 35 83 89

Bike Rental
Bike N’Tour
Riverside café “Drôle de barge”, Quai de Malakoff, 44000 Nantes
+33 (0) 2 55 10 11 74

Rennes

Repair Shop
Guédard
13 Boulevard Beaumont, 35000 RENNES
+33 (0) 2 99 30 43 78

Bike Rental
L’échoppe du 2 roue
16 rue Saint Louis 35000 RENNES
+33 (0) 2 23 46 30 01 

Redon

Bike Rental
Repaire des Aventuriers
Quai Jean Bart, 35600 Redon
+33 (0)6 30 59 45 21

Saint-Nazaire

Repair Shop
Raconte-moi un vélo
13 Avenue de la République, 44600 Saint-Nazaire
+33 (0) 6 12 05 97 43

Bike Rental
Vélycéo
8 Place Pierre Semard, 44600 Saint-Nazaire
0 800 10 51 10 (within France only)

Saint-Malo

Repair Shop
Alex Hinault Cycles
Avenue de Launay Breton, 35400 Saint-Malo
+33 (0) 9 81 95 57 98

Bike Rental
Les vélos bleus
19 Rue Alphonse Thébault, 35400 Saint-Malo
+33 (0) 2 99 40 31 63

Dol-de-Bretagne

Bike Rental Repair Shop
Cycles Romé
32 Boulevard Deminiac, 35120 Dol-de-Bretagne
+33 (0) 2 99 80 96 26

Destination Saint-Malo Baie du Mont Saint-Michel
Saint Nazaire Renversante
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