Cycling 500km with the family

A cyclist pulls a child trailer on the seafront road
A story by Morgane, travel advisor at Abicyclette Voyages

In April 2022, I enthusiastically joined the wonderful Abicyclette Voyages team. And what better way to get started than to go for a week of family cycling the week before my arrival?

500 km of real family cycling happiness!

Accompanied by my husband Victor and our little daughter Izia (one and a half years old), we set off for 7 days of discovery. Curious by nature, we were not satisfied with a classic cycling route. Instead, we opted for a happy mix of different routes that our region has to offer. Starting from Nantes, we cycle a little of the Vélodyssée, along the Nantes-Brest canal, then towards the Morbihan, the salt marshes of the Guérande peninsula, before finishing with a little of the Loire by Bike. A looping route that allows us to leave our home and return to our starting point.

So here we are, equipped with a gravel bike for Victor, an electric bike for me and a trailer for Izia (1.5 years old). As Victor is more athletic than I am, the use of an EAB gave me the opportunity to follow his pace, while enjoying the moment and making an decent physical effort. We took some camping equipment with us, even if we only spent one night outdoors, choosing a warm accommodation for the rest of the trip.

In order to transport all this, we will be travelling with 2 rear panniers per bike (clothes, kitchen equipment…), two luggage racks (mainly to attach the tent), a frame bag and a handlebar bag for Victor (water, tools…).

As for the trailer, we will be using a Thule 2-seater.

This one has the advantage of offering enough space for Izia to be comfortable, with her toys and books within reach. We have also found the trick of unfolding our blankets next to her to make the space a little more comfortable, especially for naps. The boot of the caravan is a great asset and has allowed us to store consumables, especially food, but also powdered milk and nappies for our little Miss!

Day 1 – from Nantes to Blain

A gentle start on a beautiful sunny morning. After a few urban kilometres to leave Nantes, we reach the banks of the Erdre. Our route then takes us to the famous Nantes-Brest Canal and its pleasant towpath. This is a very accessible route with no changes in altitude, although there are a few short but steep climbs to cross the bridges. The night will be spent in Blain, and in a tent. It’s a first for Izia, who quickly finds her bearings and falls asleep without any problem after this big day of discoveries for her and for us.

Day 2 – from Blain to Malansac

Izia woke at dawn, not used to the early morning light of nights in tents.

We set off again today with the land of Malansac in our sights. The canal is once again our guide until we reach Redon, where we have a windy lunch break. A few knee pains put a damper on things…

In the afternoon, we leave the canal for a route on beautiful secondary roads with a marked difference in altitude. We arrive at Malsanc, a small farm where we will spend the night, in the middle of the afternoon, so that we can take advantage of the good weather to meet the rabbits, chickens, ducks, donkeys and ponies that live there. A wonderful discovery, a peaceful place without any superfluous things.

Day 3 – from Malansac to Brech

Today we have a big stage ahead of us, the biggest of our journey with over 1000m of positive elevation gain. We travel inland on good roads with attentive and respectful drivers. The rainy and hilly morning puts a dent in our morale and the lunch break in Elven is more than welcome. Today Izia is probably a bit tired from the previous days as she is more restless and less patient than on previous days. Fortunately, the afternoon’s route is less hilly and the miles are easier on the pedals. Arriving at my brother’s house at the end of the afternoon in the sunshine was a good omen for what was to be a very pleasant family evening. The third days of a cycle tour are always my favourite: the body adapts, the rhythm is set, and there is a lot of enjoyment to be had on what was supposed to be a difficult day.

Day 4 – from Brech to Surzur

Family day today with my brother Nathan, my sister-in-law Zoé and their son Elie (2 and a half). The pace is mellow, very mellow (too mellow?). It’s pleasant but almost frustrating. I swap my electric bike for Zoé’s classic VTC for most of the day: it’s energizing, I love it! Today, our route takes us across the Gulf of Morbihan from the north, via Vannes in particular. What a pleasure to finally be in contact with the sea! The lunch break is on a beach in Larmor-Baden. After these few days of wandering, we are amused to discover that it is quite an adventure to have a daily picnic with a little girl of less than 2 years old, with such strict eating habits!

We arrive in Surzur in the middle of the afternoon, still with summer weather. Tonight, my mother joins us for the night and we take advantage of being all together to light some birthday candles for my brother’s birthday.

Day 5 – from Surzur to Mesquer

Here we go again, three of us, for a nice 81km stage, the second longest since the start of our family cycling journey. In contrast to the previous long stage, the difference in altitude is a little easier on our muscles and we don’t feel the kilometres. The route is really pleasant, with some small breaks on the sea. For lunch we adapted our picnic: what a wonderful invention, the sandwich bread, much more appreciated by Izia than the crispy baguettes…! With the aim of reaching Mesquer in the evening, we had no choice but to make this long stage, although if it had been shorter, we would probably have liked to make a few stops on the beautiful beaches of the Rhuys country. We can’t wait until tomorrow!

Arrival at the end of the afternoon with our friends and in good spirits.

Day 6 – from Mesquer to Saint-Nazaire

Today, the 50 km originally planned gave us the opportunity to make a few detours through the salt marshes and then along the Côte d’Amour: no regrets, magnificent landscapes! A lunch break at the end of the route, with our feet in the sand and a fabulous discovery for Izia: chocolate ice-cream. All that’s left is to head to Saint-Nazaire for the night.

Day 7  – from Saint-Nazaire to Nantes

The last day of our trip. As the Saint-Nazaire bridge is not accessible to bikes and the free shuttle bus is only available from the end of June, we take a ‘home-made’ route through the northern Loire. The exit from the very urban Saint-Nazaire, through the shipyards, is mostly on a cycle path. We soon come to a pleasant path in the countryside, alongside an old railway line. At the end of this beautiful stretch, we take side roads through a more classic countryside. The last few kilometres are windy and the arrival at the house is well deserved!

We will remember this family cycling adventure as a very varied discovery and a great human experience that made our family want to go on and on. It was incredible to see how Izia grew during the week (language, social interaction, motor skills…).

One year on from this first family ride, we are embarking on a new adventure: this week we are setting out on the Loire Valley trails to reach Angers from Blois. But these few days will only be a small warm-up for our big project of several months to discover Spain!

We can’t wait for Morgane to tell us about her next adventures, which are sure to inspire you for your next family cycling holiday.