Guest blog: Gary & Rachel cycling Roscoff to Nantes

Published by Lyn on 20 May 2015

Gary and Rachel Corbett, who are attempting to set a world e-bike record, have just cycled Roscoff to Nantes. Here's their ride report.

ebike france

I'm posting regular updates from Gary on the blog.

With the south-west of the UK and now Brittany ticked off our to-do list, we have finally arrived in Nantes and are primed for the ride across the Loire to Switzerland and on to Austria via EuroVelo 6.

And what a journey it has been through Brittany after starting the French leg of our adventure in Roscoff.

Brittany in a word is a ‘stunning’ region littered with picture postcard villages, amazing scenery, grand churches in even the smallest of villages, charming people and, of course, the Nantes-Brest Canal, which also forms part of EuroVelo 1 or Velodyssee.

cycling roscoff to nantes

Built during the 19th century, the canal features 238 locks – all with lock houses in various states of repair – with EuroVelo 1 faithfully following every twist and turn of the canal from near Gouarec. 

After following the canal for more than 300km through to Nantes, we can certainly vouch for three things: the genius of the French engineers who designed and built the canal (read about its history here), the beauty of the surrounding landscape, and the suitability of the canal as a bicycle highway through Brittany.

ebike france

What we didn’t realise before cycling on this section of EuroVelo 1 from Roscoff  – especially on the final day coming in Nantes - was that we would require the detective skills of someone of the calibre of the incomparable Sherlock Holmes.

While most of the time navigating your way is a simple case of following the Velodyssee signs, the interesting bit is when there are no longer any signs to follow.

“Do we go this way, that way or maybe even another way,” we all too often found ourselves asking.

After too many wrong turns, head scratching and confusion, in the end we worked out what proved to be a workable solution to the problem – think like a detective.

This would see us look at what clues we had, scout ahead, ask questions and generally go with gut instinct.

Sometimes it was the glue from the back of a Velodyssee sign that was still visible on a pole after being removed (or fallen off), sometimes it was a case of cycling a kilometre or so ahead to look for more signs and, on other occasions, it was our trusty compass that provided the necessary clue as to where to head.

cycling roscoff to nantes

The end result was that we always did find the right track eventually, with each clue found along the way the reason for high fives. After all it would be all too simple if every sign was where it was meant to be, wouldn’t it?

Anyway, after a well deserved rest day, we are now heading towards the grandest châteaux of the Loire through the aptly named Valley of Kings to Orleans in central France.

The region is a fairytale land of 300-plus Medieval and Renaissance chateaux along the length of the Loire, Maine, Vienne and Indre rivers, with no visit complete unless it contains visits to as many massive chateaux as possible.

The plan at this stage is to base ourselves in Nantes, Angers, Saumur, Chinon, Tours and Blois for two or three days at a time to enable us to e-bike to the various chateaux in the various regions.

Basically it doesn’t get any better than that. Cycle touring for a day at a time without having to tow our heavy cycle trailers, get a dose of French history and generally immerse ourselves in everything the Loire Valley has to offer.

We'll be following Gary and Rachel as they make their way across Europe – including France – on their e-bikes. You can see their website here.

See our electric bike touring article for more top tips.

On the blog

French map and book sale

French map and book sale

The very excellent online Stanfords Travel bookshop is having a sale on all things French, including cycling maps.

Posted: 20 May 2019

Read more


More books

Cycling in France?

Search for tours & accommodation

Nantes Brest Canal guide

Brittany's Greenways guidebook

© 2011-2017 Freewheeling France | Copyright, Cookies, Privacy and Advertiser T&Cs