Four go on a French Cycle Trip – The Tour de Manche – 763 miles!

Myself, Sheila, Ann and Rita had planned to go on a cycling trip to Mont Saint Michel and on researching the route discovered the Tour de Manche  which is a Green Velo route which goes from Roscoff  along the Brittany coast – via Mont Saint Michel – and on through Normandy to Cherbourg – across by ferry to Poole and from there back to Plymouth.

Thursday 9th May – Falmouth to Plymouth- 68 miles- 5640 ft 

Lunch at Looe en route to Plymouth

We thought it was a good idea to cycle up to Plymouth to catch the overnight ferry to Roscoff as we had all day before catching the Britttany ferry at 11pm! We set off early at 0745 from Falmouth to meet Rita at the King Harry Ferry. The weather was fantastic and we had first coffee stop in Tregony – on via the  Pentewan cycle way to Charlestown for another short stop and to the Bodannack ferry crossing  – at Looe we had a picnic lunch by the harbour and had arranged to recharge our  batteries at a friend Ally’s shop “ Purely Cornish “ – then a big climb and descent to Seaton beach and another stiff climb to cross the Rame peninsula and to the Torpoint Ferry ( free for bikes) and into Plymouth at 5pm in the evening sunshine ☀️ we went to another friend’s house near the terminal to have a cuppa and leave the bikes and went out for  supper with Rita before heading to the terminal to check in for the ferry – once onboard we could get to our cabin and recharge the batteries and get some limited sleep ready for the next day – Limited plugs in the cabin so had to use the lounge area to charge up so got to bed late !

Friday 10th May – Roscoff to Lannion – 62.5 miles -4275ft

Brittany coast to Lannion

Got up early for breakfast to disembark at 8am and set off on Day One of the Route Vert through lovely lanes via Morlaix on and off road – , then up the coast passing beautiful bays, houses and beaches and on via inland forest paths and gravel tracks – we bought amazing filled baguettes for our lunch from a local Boulongerie and found  coffee stops where possible!  The day was very hot and at the afternoon tea break at a beach café I nearly got stuck in the portaloo!  Managed to break out and after a lot of ups and downs we hit Lannion – a lovely small town – at 530 very  hot and tired – our B&B – most if them booked using – was clean, cool and comfortable and after showers and a  pizza meal we slept like logs! All our accommodation had a garage or lockable area to store bikes and recharge batteries.

Saturday 11th May – Lannion to Plouha –66.5 miles- 4275 ft

Lake to Plouha

After a  delicious French breakfast we set off at 0800 – the route was stunning and the day very hot so we would try and get the first 30 miles over before stopping – we had lunch by a lake then crossed the peninsula to the village of Tréguier for tea in the square by the cathedral- then via more stunning coastal scenery- cliffs and on to Plouha to our B&B – Sheila had adjusted out Komoot routes to take us to the door of our accommodation which was a blessing after a long day’s ride!  Our Scottish host Bill offered to drive us to the local beach for a swim and cool down and booked us a table in a family -run Creperie  for a great meal and beers and end to a fantastic day – home for showers – sort out and bed!


Sunday 12th May – Plouha to Saint Jacut de la Mare– 70 miles – 3490 ft 

To St Jacut de la Mer

Bill made us an English full-cooked breakfast and also drove me  to the local boulongerie to buy our baguettes before leaving at 830 to head via coast and country lanes and beautiful French villages for our lunch break in the shade at a café by the harbour in Port del la Duc- then inland crossing peninsulas again then nice flat roads to the quaint little resort of Saint Jacut de la Mare –

Our  host Alain was so friendly and the apartment beautiful and we walked into the town which was on a headland  to have dinner in a friendly Pizzeria in the evening sunshine – fab day again.




Monday 13th May – Jacut de la Mare to Mont Saint Michel – 65.9 miles – 2125 ft

Leaving St Jacut

Alain made us a feast for breakfast and we set off in high spirits at 830 again in the dry but with a strong southerly wind! We followed easy flat tarmac roads – a luxury –  via Ploubalay and crossed the estuary on a very windy bridge  to  get to  Saint Malo at 1130 – here Rita got her back tyre pumped up as it was losing air!  We had coffee in a lovely café by the old  city walls and sheltered from a light rain shower – the day was definitely much cooler especially with the wind chill as  we dropped down into  the pretty resort of Concale for a picnic sheltering in the pavilion from the wind ! The last 30 miles were following the coast east all on  cycle ways and inland forest trails to reach the village of Beauvoir a couple of miles from Mont Saint Michel at 430 – even though the route was much flatter my battery was nearly empty  because of the wind!! Our Air B&B for two nights was fantastic with lots of space and a courtyard garden for the bikes – after settling for an in we found the only restaurant open on a holiday Monday to have a welcome dinner and back for coffee and early nights!

St Malo lunch break








Tuesday 14th May – A welcome rest day & visit to Mont Saint Michel!

Mont Saint Michel

After breakfast from the local Tabac we walked the three miles over to Mont St Michel having bought tickets the night before online ( 13 euros ) and we wanted to get there early before the crowds! Still a very keen breeze as we crossed over the bridge and had a good look round the cathedral which was very beautiful- at midday we caught the shuttle bus back and had lunch in Beauvoir followed by a lazy afternoon in the apartment- washing and bike-cleaning- then made a easy pasta dish with vino for supper – the ! We were very fortunate it was a Tuesday as we hadn’t realised the cathedral was closed on Mondays when we booked the trip !!


Wednesday 15th May – Mont St Michel to Beny Bocage – 70.3 miles- 3025 ft – on to Normandy

Cycle path to Le Beny Bocage

I got up early to cycle to the Boulongerie for 7am to buy breakfast croissants and bread for breakfast and baguettes for lunch! We set at  off 815 in cool but dry and windy weather – the first 10 miles were pretty flat on  tarmac then went onto an amazing cycle route climbing gradually on the old railway track- we stopped off at Saint Hilaire du Harcourt for Rita to find the local cycle shop to get Rita’s flattish  back tyre sorted properly – she went  with Sheila and got a new valve and inner tube thankfully 😅 we all had coffee and a good rest which we needed due to the strong headwind ! Then continued on the cycle path eating our baguettes on  a sunny bench then on through Vire for a stop at Lidl’s to re supply on snacks etc! The last 6 miles climbed a little to Beny Bocage to La Maison del la Fontaine our hotel for the night – a beautiful place with a very welcoming hostess – we had predinner drinks in the lounge and then were booked in for dinner in the dining room- the madam’s husband was a Michelan chef and served an amazing three course dinner to the twelve of us guests around one large table – it was such a lovely atmosphere and dinner – a special evening indeed to end a great day . . Even though we had cycled 70 miles I still had enough battery for another 20 miles showing the difference on cycle ways and not so windy !

Thursday 16th May – Beny Bocage to Carenton – 61.4 miles- 2493 ft

Hotel in Carentan

Left 9am in beautiful sunshine – a few climbs in the first 10 miles before rejoining  the cycle path following the River Vire for about 30 miles – a very pretty route – we had a slight detour due to the path being blocked but rejoined the river and stopped for lunch at Saint Lo – the cycle path ended at 50 miles and we were back on roads  for the last 10 miles  – the last two miles  being on a very bumpy track besides the canal into Carantan ! We found  our Hotel Le Vauban where our host was Nabille a young Algerian- who was running the hotel single handed!  We ate at a nice  Pizzeria and had a walk to the harbour after dinner- the town was decorated with flags and bunting  and wonderful window displays in preparation for the 80th Anniversary of the D-Day landings as it was very close to the Normandy beaches.



D-Day celebrations







Friday 17th May – Carantan to Cherbourg – 52 miles – 1725 ft – an easy day!

Ferry Cherbourg to Poole

Yet another sunny day but it was cool in the early morning as we set off at 9am on the railway line cycle path all very easy and flat! There were so few people around  and so lovely and peaceful and it had warmed up by the time we reached a Boulongerie in a little village halfway –  after a delicious ham and cheese croissant and coffee we set off on a slightly hillier last leg to ferry terminal in Cherbourg checking in at 415 for the 615 ferry – we sailed in the evening sunshine and had a very smooth crossing as the sea was like a mill pond ! It took four and three quarter hours so time to rest and have a hearty Brittany Ferry dinner – go to the Duty Free shop and have a drink in the bar before docking at 945pm – then a ride in the dark on cycle ways for the 3 miles to the Premier Inn in North Poole getting there at 11pm – the staff  were so efficient at the hotel and it was so  handy being able to put your bikes in the room on the ground floor. Needless to say we all slept really well after a long day ! We had already made the decision to continue with our plan to cycle home from Poole as the weather looked good for the coming few days!

Saturday 18th May – Poole to Bridport- 54 miles – 2425 m

Leaving Poole

The route we were taking home followed the National Cycle Route 2 and was lovely and quiet and scenic- however the weather for Saturday had changed slightly and we set off in the damp but with light wind and with some showers forecast – we ate a big Premier Inn breakfast where Tom joined us – l he was visiting his family in Poole and had been on standby  to take our bikes home if we had needed to finish there! We left Poole on the ferry from Sandbanks which crossed over to the Purbeck peninsula- here we were off road on bumpy tracks for several miles before hitting Stoborough and stopping for coffee  there- Dorchester was the halfway point and was the only place we had a shower of rain so we sheltered there and had takeaway lunch from the bakery – then on through beautiful rolling Dorset countryside climbing up to Hardy’s monument where we had great views over the Purbeck hills – then an undulating route from there via Little Bredy and Long Bredy – passing Burton Bradstock and tea-stop at Litton Lakes campsite- it was a lovely sunny afternoon as we climbed again on in m  to Bridport where we were staying in the Wetherspoon pub-hotel The Greyhound- cheap accommodation and great food for our evening meal !

Hardy’s Tower en route to Bridport








Sunday 19th May – Bridport to  Lympstone- 50 miles – 4000ft

B&B Lympstone

Another very hot day as we left at  830 after a good Wetherspoon’s breakfast only p£7- and headed inland on narrow lanes through picturesque Dorset villages – a huge climb before hitting Axminster then crossing the A35 at Kilmington  for coffee- Seaton was halfway at 25 miles but after a quick stop on the seafront in the sun for photos- we carried on via Beer and through the very narrow lanes for another big climb and steep descent to Branscombe which is a beautiful old village with many thatched cottages and we had a tea stop at the Old Bakery Tea Rooms which was a National Trust site – after tea and scones we had revived and had another climb from Sidmouth which had  newly- laid  gravel on the top section- a nightmare! Then an easier ride into Exmouth on the old railway line and along the picturesque Exe estuary to our luxury B&B in Lympstone – after tea in the garden we had a walk to the pub and nice roast to finish the day on a high !

Monday 20th  May – Lympstone to Lydford – 3059 ft – 42 miles 

Exeter Canal to Lydford

We had a later breakfast as today was a bit shorter and supposedly easier which was the case as far as Exeter as we were on the flat cycle way following the estuary – but then another huge climb to the edge of Dartmoor with superb views over the moors in the morning sunshine- quick stop at Tedbury St Mary and a gradual descent towards Oakhampton now on another cycle route – however a few miles before there at Sticklepath Rita got a puncture- luckily there was a nice pub with friendly staff and locals who came to the all rescue and drove her to the bike repair shop by Sourton on  the A30 just off  the Granite Trail where they put on a new tyre!  We had cycled the six miles round to meet her so we all got our tyres pumped up and rested before the last 5 miles to the Fox & Hounds hotel at Lydford where we had a very cheap but nice family room and had drinks in the beer garden and a good meal in the bar.

Tuesday 21st  May – Lydford to Looe via Plymouth –51 miles – 3400 ft

Granite Trail Lydford

Our first section was along the granite trail for a few miles then followed Cycle Route 27 on pretty country roads into Tavistock at  10 miles –then we went  out of the town by the river and had  a very steep climb now off Route 27 and decent to a wooded area- the tour then hit a steep hill which was very rocky and we were completely unable to cycle up it so  had to push up the steep and bumpy path for 1/3 rd of a mile which nearly killed us especially with the weight of the panniers too! The path then levelled out on a grassy plateau to skirt round the edge of the moors with beautiful views as our reward before descending into Yelverton to a welcome stop at the famous pie shop The Larder for coffee and lunch and much needed rest!  After that we were on the Plym Valley Cycle Way for the 15 miles into Plymouth- we had one heavy shower en route but the sun was out when we crossed Plymouth to get the ferry at Torpoint at 4pm – here we had finished the official Tour de Manche route but had decided to cycle on home as the forecast was good for the next few days!  We took photos to celebrate before the last 15 miles from there which crossed the Rame Peninsula- one heavy unexpected shower before Seaton and then  a big climb out of there to reach our last night’s accommodation- a Glamping site at St Martin’s two miles short of Looe which was a very interesting experience! It had a shower of sorts  and a ‘“composting loo” and was a short walk from the Coddy  Shack – a fish bar –  where we’d booked our meal and met up again with my  friends to celebrate our last night on tour and mbeing nearly home ! We slept ok in our tent which had four beds and a stove to make tea!

Torpoint ferry back to Cornwall
Last night camp near Looe



Wednesday 22nd May – Looe to Falmouth- 48 miles – 3800 ft  – Ride home !

Charlestown on the way home last day

The weather was dry as we left early from our campsite at 0730 and stopped at the bakery in Looe for breakfast and the Coop to re-supply for our last days ride! It wasn’t too bad a climb out of Looe then on to the Bodannick Ferrry and from there out of Fowey and to Charlestown again for coffee- then a nice ride over the Roseland via Tregony to the King Harry Ferry for 1230 – we crossed over and had a stop for lunch at Trelissick where we had arranged to meet Rita’s partner Dave and Rita left us there to cycle to Truro and we then rode the last 12 miles home to Falmouth all in the dry !””

King Harry Ferry – 12 miles left!


We totted up we had ridden a total of 763.5 miles in thirteen days and climbed 43, 525 feet!

The route was approximately 40% off road so a tourer or bike with sturdier tyres is recommended!

It was an amazing trip and real adventure as we had no idea what each day held in store and  we were so lucky with the weather – also the Brittany coast is definitely not flat!

Thanks again to Sheila for being our Komoot expert and administrator  and toAnn and Rita and Sheila for their cheerful company and for putting up with me bossing them around for a fortnight!!




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