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Geotag Icon Ten things we’ve learned in Brittany

Blog posted by on Mar 16th, 2009

Huw enjoys a Hamlet moment

After ten days and 380 kilometres (300 of them in generally the right direction), we rolled through the marshes of southern Brittany and into Saint-Nazaire on Saturday evening. It’s a bit of a landmark for us; Saint-Nazaire sits on the Atlantic coast, which we’ll be following all the way to Bordeaux, and through much of Africa.

Brittany has been a wonderful reintroduction to the “rigours” of travel. We’ve met brilliant people – from caravan dwelling families and barfly journalists to war veterans and cycle touring campaigners. We’ve slept in campsites, wood-beamed gîtes and farmers’ fields. We’ve pedalled along hills, woodlands, towpaths, hills, farmland, marshes and hills. We’ve eaten, well, anything and everything really.

So, as a tribute to Brittany, here are ten things we’ve learned while we’ve been in the region:

Signpost to Er

Exactly

1. France is more user friendly than the UK. It just is, in hundreds of tiny ways. There are picnic benches and bins everywhere, canals and locks are well maintained, campsites are profuse and well signed, and farms actually have welcome signs at the gates.

2. ‘Gîte d’Animaliers‘ doesn’t necessarily mean a gîte with a few friendly goats and dogs. It might mean a kennel. Just in case you’re planning on spending 15 hilly kilometres and your last reserves of energy following signs to one.

3. We have muscles. Huw even has ribs.

4. Bretons love Wales – the seven founding saints of Brittany were from Wales and the Breton language is very close to Welsh. They even seem to like English people (although that bit may be a symptom of Breton politeness).

5. People still travel across the whole country by pack horse. And are catered for.

6. Sarkozy is not well liked (but our audience may have been self-selected).

7. If a campsite manager shows you a string of medals from the French Foreign Legion and then informs you that your communications system is inadequate, it’s best not to argue the point.

8. Cyclists will buy anything edible that comes in lightweight, well sealed containers or tubes. (Therefore our diet mostly consists of chilli, coffee and mayonnaise.)

9. Leathermans don’t have corkscrews.

10. If you’re exhausted, it is possible – even with a good map and a compass – to get lost on a towpath.

That’s all for now – time to pedal off in the general direction of Bordeaux, exploring the Bay of Biscay on the way. From Bordeaux, we’ll turn inland towards Toulouse for some rest and recuperation with friends living nearby. And from Toulouse, we’ll pedal onwards to Sète, and the ferry to Morocco. More soon.

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Tags: , , , Geotagged: Lat 47.2743187, Lng -2.2136145. View on map »

8 comments
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  1. Are you going to cross over at Royan? If you go down the coast that way then call in to Euronat – a place we have had many happy naturist holidays in the past:
    http://www.euronat.fr/en/index.asp

  2. 9. Leathermans don’t have corkscrews.
    We learnt it too. The Swiss version one (stronger i think) hasn’t got one too.
    We approched solutions while cycling in Switzerland…hum-hum but still any corkscrew on our Swiss leatherman…

  3. I swear that when I bought the Leatherman, it had a corkscrew!!
    I didn’t realise you two were into naturist holidays!!

  4. …and thats why you always need a swiss army knife. you adventures sound great, loving following them. chris is still wishing he got that ferry with you xx

  5. Mike: Ooh, ta. Yep, we’re crossing over at Royan, I think. But with the evening temperatures here at the mo, we’re more concerned with finding layers to put on than taking them off :-) (So don’t worry, mum!).

    On corkscrews and Leathermans, we found a supermarket corkscrew, so everything is under control :-) A definite Leatherman design fault though.

    Daf: If Chris had got the ferry with us, I suspect we’d be in the Sahara by now! But he (and/or you) are very welcome to come and pedal with us any time – although we’ll have to impose a daily kilometre limit on Chris…

    xx

  6. Cycle limit on Chris? You don’t know the half of it.

    When cycling with Chris, he will cheer when he sees a hill, cycle up it, then cycle back down with the excuse of checking I’m OK, just so he can cycle up again….

    Take care x

  7. Heh, why am I not surprised?! It’s wrong, I tell you :) Take care Cat x

  8. You just need the right sort of Leatherman! (sadly, the Flair is no longer made.)

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