Mini tour of Brittany day 3 – Huelgoat to Roscoff

After yesterdays magnificent feast, breakfast today was bound to be a disappointment. With no food at the B&B and most of the town square closed, I only had a café au lait and some freshly squeezed orange juice to get me going.

It was more than enough. Despite my host’s assertion that ‘it’s all uphill out of Huelgoat’, the road I found myself on descended rapidly through a series of sharp turns, down through the woods and rocks in the hidden valleys below the lake. It was a fun way to start the day, though I made a mental note to never approach Huelgoat from the east. A climb like that at the of yesterday would have finished me off.

Enjoying the voie verte

On the valley floor near Locmaria-Berrien I sound found the voie verte that would take me all the way to Morlaix. Voies vertes are the greenways that criss-cross France, usually following the route of old railway lines or canal towpaths. It’s an invaluable off-road network for those without powered wheels: safe, fairly flat and well signposted. For all their benefits I don’t always enjoy riding on them on my road bike. The surface is usually sand or larger stones, so you can choose between getting grit in your chainset or a rough ride with occasional punctures. The views are usually obscured by embankments or trees, and you lose the immediate connection with the landscape that you find on the open road. Still, mustn’t grumble: an easy 90 minute ride, with just the one brief stop for galettes and jelly beans to avert a sugar crash, and I was in Morlaix.

Morlaix is a nice town, with lots of happy memories. The sheltered estuary is deep enough to attract some big boats, and it has a good marina that is straddled on either side by the hillsides, houses and shops. This tranquil scene is overshadowed, literally and metaphorically, by a huge viaduct that spans the river valley. Unfortunately most of the town centre is given over to car parking, but visit on market day and you’d never know.

I paused briefly to raise a glass and a thought to a few friends who have passed away, then it was on towards Carentec. The road on the estuary here is wonderful cycling, one of the best roads you can ride, with a great surface, big arcing bends and the estuary just unfurls in front of you. As a bonus, today the road was closed to cars and people were out enjoying it any way they could: walking, cycling, jogging, running, rollerblading, skateboarding, scootering, even a couple of horse riders. There were children on balance bikes and old men greeting each other. A bunch of people were doing yoga on a roadside verge. On any other day, the traffic would be too fast to do most of these things. It was wonderful, a really fun, family friendly, carnival atmosphere.

I stretched my legs up over the hill an into Carantec. Now time was pressing a little. I had to choose between a little extra digression I had planned, or lunch. I decided I could have lunch any day and headed down to the port.

From the port, there’s a little causeway that crosses over to the little Ile Callot, a small island that sticks out into the bay just east of Roscoff. At high tide, the causeway is submerged and the island is cut off, and I had about an hour until that happened. I carefully eased the bike onto the path, avoiding the seaweed and wet sand where I could. It’s a beautiful little spot, though busy with people, and a great side trip to finish the ride.

And then it was time for the ferry. I went back up through Carantec and found the coastal route to Roscoff, via St-Pol-de-Leon, and whizzed down the hill to the ferry port. I was done. Just time for a croque monsieur and a Leffe to officially end the trip, and then on to the ferry home.

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