Channel to Med (France en Velo Route) St Malo to Nice

Discussion in 'Touring and Adventure Cycling' started by mikey951r, 16 Nov 2015.

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  1. mikey951r

    mikey951r Über Member

    Location:
    Newark on Trent
    I was advised to move this question to a new thread so here it is:

    I also completed LEJOG this summer (solo, unsupported, camping) and was looking for another challenge for next spring. I've done some research and have almost decided on the Channel to Med. I bought the France en Velo book, which provides a really detailed route description for a route that curves from St Malo to Nice covering around a thousand miles. In fact I nearly set off on it during the last week of September but decided against it, which was just as well because the weather in the South of France was shocking then. I priced the train from Newark to Portsmouth at £40, the channel crossing from Portsmouth to St Malo at £45 and the train back from Nice to London at £90 and £25 from London to Newark. All quite reasonable I thought. I planned to stay in camp sites or wild camp and use the odd hotel if the weather turned foul or at the half way point as a treat. Does anyone have any experience of this route?
     
  2. Onyer

    Onyer Senior Member

    No experience but I am contemplating this route for next year. I'll be using hotels/guest houses though as I don't fancy camping
     
  3. jay clock

    jay clock Massive member

    Location:
    Hampshire UK
    I would buy a Michelin 1:200 atlas rip out the pages and use that. Camping is great in France and a lot cheaper than hotels (Spain is the opposite)
     
  4. jay clock

    jay clock Massive member

    Location:
    Hampshire UK
    also a fairly straight route is 1100k, so 1600 seems excessive.
     
  5. StuartG

    StuartG slower but further

    Location:
    SE London
    Same here except Nimes/Montpellier/Sete might be a more attractive and less busy destination.
    I did Caen to Agde via Bordeaux mostly with the FNRttC last year which was great fun and about 1200km. Be nice to go the other way round the Massif Central.
     
  6. jay clock

    jay clock Massive member

    Location:
    Hampshire UK
    Nice is lovely. Or Antibes. I lived there for three years. The coast near Sete and Montpellier is grim.
     
  7. OP
    OP
    mikey951r

    mikey951r Über Member

    Location:
    Newark on Trent
    It is quite a long route because it takes a sweeping curve down to Nice, but I'm looking for a pleasant route, not necessarioy a short one and as i'm self employed there's no massive urgency to complete it quickly. I find 75 miles or so a day is just right for me and the book offers a two or a three week itinerary. Although I usually camp I don't carry any cooking equipment so always eat out or use supermarkets/shops to buy food each day. It also breaks the route down in to 20 or 30 mile (approx) sections with places to camp or stay in B&B etc at the end of each so in effect I could do a two and a half weeker. I have read lots and spoken to others that have done the M2M but all have used a different route, mainly shortest possible. I just can't seem to find anypone who's done this route. Perhaps there's a reason for that....!
     
  8. jay clock

    jay clock Massive member

    Location:
    Hampshire UK
    can you show us the route?
     
  9. PaulSB

    PaulSB Guru

    Hi Mikey - I rode the section St Malo to Les Eyzies summer 2014 and could not find any fault with the book and its value. There were a couple of parts which I didn't enjoy but I suspect, though I haven't checked, there was no real alternative as the rest is simply so good. Just to set the scene a little for you, I was 60 that year and this was partly a celebration; I'm a good club rider and would expect to average 15mph over 75 miles with the club, once my legs have settled in I can knock out 100 a day on tour if needed (only rarely I must add), I travel very light and do B&B.

    The directions in the book are so accurate a map is not necessary but obviously commonsense says carry them. The maps I used were a Michelin National map, No.791, 1cm = 10km for a sense of the general direction and the Michelin departments maps (yellow covers) 1cm = 1.5km. Every part of the route I rode was shown on the department maps and many on the national map (which doesn't mean they were busy). The book's route detail is excellent, just allow for the fact road improvements, new roundabouts in particular, may mean the book is not 100%. My strategy became if this looks recently built or improved ignore it!!

    Below is the post I made in response to another thread, it was only a week after my ride so everything was fresh in my mind;

    I rode part of it last week - St Malo to Les Eyzies - before heading off to Bordeaux. Overall the route is very good and the directions are so good it's almost unbelievable. I followed the directions all the way to Les Eyzies and didn't need, but obviously did, to consult a map once, which is quite an achievement on behalf of the authors. For example one direction was "turn on to the D913 but it will be signed D 1 because the 9 and 3 have fallen off" - that's true!!! There are a few points where a new roundabout has been built so use some commonsense as well.

    I had difficulty getting out of St Malo and couldn't say if that was the directions or me - more likely me as it was the first day. All you have to do is keep the sea on your left and eventually you pick up signs for Cancale which will get you on the route in the town. I did go wrong on a couple of occasions but this was my fault - see below.

    My strategy for using the book was to note each direction for each section in a small note book which I kept in my shirt pocket. I ran my Garmin to record the ride and calibrated this in miles and had a cycle computer calibrated in kms. I used the cycle computer to judge the distance between directions so if the direction was "4km out of xxx watch for a left turn" I had a good idea of when the turn was coming up. I then whipped out the note book and glanced at the next direction while still riding. The ONLY times I went wrong - and you get a gut feel before it happens - were the two occasions when I missed out a turn in my written notes which was given in the book. Both times I sensed something was wrong and stopped to consult the book before continuing.

    Overall the route is excellent though there are two horrible sections on the part I rode. Segre to St Georges-sur-Loire on the D961 - this is dead straight for 20km, quite fast traffic and boring as can be. The other REALLY tedious bit is Fountevraud-l'Abbaye to Loudon which once you hit the main road is 22km straight with one blissful climb to break the monotony, after this there are more very long, boring straights en route to Parthenay. At the end of this day I was cursing the authors, the Romans, the French, myself, everyone and everything. I found these long straight roads mentally exhausting as you can see the next village 10-12kms ahead and never seem to get there!

    The tough bits above are more than compensated for by some glorious riding which truly made me well-up emotionally at times. It was just fantastic in places. The Loire stretch and Val de Vienne especially so.

    Overall there is more climbing than I had anticipated but I found nothing that couldn't be tackled with a nice steady climbing rhythm.

    if you camp I guess anywhere will do. If you want accommodation I suggest researching this carefully. I literally slept in a hedge one night as there were no rooms to be had in Parthenay. The recommended hotel in Hautefort is closed but fortunately there is a brand new travelodge style hotel (Euro 55) about 4 km away in St Agnan as there is very little else for a long way. I would definetley book accommodation ahead in the morning or the previous evening. If wanted I can post the details of the places I stayed.

    Some of the riding is very rural and you will need to carry the basic spares. I strongly suggest carrying at least three litres of water all the time and replenish at every opportunity. Also be sure you are carrying enough to eat with one spare meal, i.e. if you've eaten lunch be sure to have your evening meal with you in case you get really stuck and can't find a shop.

    Anything else just ask. If the whole route is as good as the part I rode you will have a great journey. DO IT!!

    The book is advertised in places as coming with GPX files but I couldn't find anywhere that actually had these. I've now got them as far as Les Eyzies. This route is the one Saddle Skedaddle advertise. There main trip is 16 days with I think two rest days. Based on my experience to La Dordogne area I think I could ride it in 13-14 days.
     
    Polite, mikey951r and StuartG like this.
  10. Simon_m

    Simon_m Über Member

    hi there, I bought this book, lovely read. It seems like some of the stages are long and hard work with not much time to take in the sights. That's why I made my own route from the North to the South which I am riding next year with friends. I have advertised on here before if anyone wants to join us.
     
  11. OP
    OP
    mikey951r

    mikey951r Über Member

    Location:
    Newark on Trent
    PaulSB

    many thanks for your post above which is excellent. I made up my own route on LEJOG using ideas from lots of other people's routes and travelogues and was very happy with the end result. For this challenge I quite fancied following this route because it looks like one I might choose myself anyway were I to plan it myself. I think I'm already sold on this trip in my mind now and am going to plan to do it in spring/early summer next year.

    Jay Clock

    this is the over view of the route. You can see how it takes a long sweep down to Nice and ends up being a thousand miles

    [​IMG] 002.jpg
     
  12. PaulSB

    PaulSB Guru

    Just one other point partly as a response to Simon. I didn't follow the daily sections but started and stopped when I wanted. My longest day was 109 miles, the shortest 40.

    I found plenty of time to sightsee, generally on the road by 8.30 finishing 5.30 to 7.00 depending on how I felt.

    My only word of caution is the long straight sections do require a mental toughness. Dig in, focus and do it. It adds to the achievement and doesn't detract from the trip.
     
  13. Simon_m

    Simon_m Über Member

    Oooooo that is still too long for me. I like to get in to my stops early'ish so I can wash, unwind, eat and go explore the local town. I guess it is what you are used to and don'#t mind doing. That is what is great about touring, in that you can create your own routes and do it at a pace you want to. I think my longest day for this trip is 84miles, of which most is downhill. Shortest day is around 25miles so we can stop off at the chateaus and not feel rushed.

    I certinaly know about having to dig in on long rides as I found out on the flat straight roads of Kansas in 2012.
     
  14. Onyer

    Onyer Senior Member

    After asking a few mates if they were up for this trip I couldn't find any takers. Mainly because they couldn't/wouldn't commit to two weeks away. As I don't fancy doing it on my own I have been looking at companies who organise the trips and I have found four.
    Saddle Skeddale follow the route outlined in the France en Velo route, but they are a bit expensive.
    Pedal Adventures also seem to follow the route but I can't get in touch with then by email or phone, so maybe they are not operating any more.
    Green Jersey offer St Malo to Sète
    Great Bear Tours http://www.great-bear-tours.co.uk/#/st-malo-to-nice/4581577603 are the one that I have booked with. I have been with Carl on LEJOG and he is very good with the organisation and support. Also he will pick me up with bike on the way down to Portsmouth and deliver the bike back on his way home. I'll probably fly back from Nice to Gatwick.

    Looking at the Green Jersey site they have a Calais to Nice trip, which looks tempting!!
     
  15. Simon_m

    Simon_m Über Member

    could have come with us, only costs are what it costs. ie it is not a company but friends doing it at cost. High milage ;)
     
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