The overnight ferry from Plymouth brought us to Roscoff on the North coast of Brittany.
We had planned the route we were intending to follow in advance. There is a Tour de Manche website which provided some information but generally it wasn’t very helpful. One of the main problems was that we were riding it backwards, in that we had decided to ride the French section of the TDM with the prevailing wind and the route is described on the website from Cherbourg to Roscoff, which is against the wind. The downside of this idea was we would have the wind against us in Southern England.
The route is mostly well signed. However, the signs did tend to peter out just when we needed them most.
We were riding our normal touring bikes which have sturdy steel frames with 28mm Continental 4 season tyres. We carried the small amount of stuff we needed in panniers.
We were not camping or applying heat to any food and that meant we were travelling light.
We expected to be riding on good surfaced roads the whole time and had only brought one spare inner-tube each. We expected to pass plenty of bike shops in France if we did need help with any mechs.
As it turned out the route alternated between tarmac and off road sections some of which we would have been more at home on our mountain bikes.
There were no bike shops! Luckily the Continental 4 seasons did not let us down and we did not have a single puncture despite the rough tracks we were riding on.
The route along the coast of Northern Brittany was very scenic but constantly undulating with some challenging hills. We took time to enjoy the scenery and points of local interest.
On the fifth day we decided to take the waterbus across the Rance from Dinard to St Malo rather than riding up to Dinan on the Voie Vert where the official route went. We did this because a boat trip was more interesting than a city!
On reflection the first five days of the TDM from Roscoff to St Malo was the best bit for us. The cycling was interesting and the coastal scenery spectacular.
After St Malo we detoured to Concale and then we started the ‘Petit Tour de Manche’ which is much flatter with long sections of Voie Verte – the green roads.
Coincidentally, I start the TdM tomorrow! Heading out from Poole towards Plymouth tomorrow. 😁
Hi Graham. What a coincidence! I hope the weather improves for you and the winds ease. We didn’t follow the prescribed route through Dorset and Devon. We decided to go over Dartmoor from Exeter which turned out to be very scenic. We really enjoyed Roscoff to the Rance but were surprised just how much the official route took us off paved roads. The coastal scenery was superb. The Normandy section is less scenic but very enjoyable nonetheless . Have a great time.
Shame you took the ferry from Dinard to St Malo as Dinan is a beautiful medieval town with a wealth of timber frame buildings and cafes along side the river.
We have been to Dinan a few times and I agree it is an interesting town. After we left the prescribed route the D786 into Dinard was very busy so we would have been better on the Voie Verte up to Dinan. We did enjoy the waterside at Dinard though and the ferry across.
Great ride. Thanks for this. I’m thinking of riding it – such useful information.
If we were doing it again we would put gravel tyres on the bikes.We didnt follow the route religiously and stayed close to the coast. The coastal scenery was superb in Brittany.
Thanks for that Barbara. Plymouth Roscoff in a couple of weeks and see how it goes.