Last June, the Abicyclette Voyages team set off to explore the Canal d’Ille-et-Rance by bicycle. Indeed, we were looking for an itinerary that would allow us to travel together for a weekend getaway. For me, it was the first time I was touring.
This Breton route was perfect: it links Rennes, the Breton capital, to the famous corsair city of Saint-Malo. Furthermore, the path is rather flat and therefore accessible to all. In two days, we rode some hundred kilometers on the banks of the Rance.
The first day promises to be good. It seems that there won’t be any rain today. In the early morning, we are even greeted by a bright sun. We therefore meet at the office, on the outskirts of Rennes, to collect our equipment. Working in a bicycle travel agency gives us the opportunity to borrow fully equipped bikes. It’s a real luck for me to get into bikepacking with good equipment. So we fill our bags with our personal belongings, take the time to take some photos and off we go!
At first, we ride towards Betton, north of Rennes. We take small country roads and after an hour, there we are. Our route on the greenway can begin. I am looking forward to it ! The landscapes are varied: nature and flowery locks give the day its tempo. We meet many ramblers, on foot, by bike, on horseback or by boat. The canal is a popular strolling spot.
Unfortunately, the days before our bike trip were not as beautiful as today… The storm has left its mark on the way. A few breaks are necessary to clean and clear the path. The small surprises along the way, that too, is part of the bike trip!
Noon arrived quickly. So we look for a place to have lunch. We found the perfect spot, by the water, between the trees. Everyone brought their sandwich and treats to share such as chouquettes or homemade cakes. We eat with gusto and enjoy a moment of rest before getting back on the saddle. The lunch on the fresh grass was very refreshing. When closing your eyes for a few moments, it’s easy to be lulled by the song of birds and the sound of water.
The day flies at full speed. We are riding peacefully, at a cruising speed of around 15km/h. A few drops trouble our afternoon, but we expected it. After putting on our rain gear, we set off again.
The landscapes are soothing: they are often wooded and numerous locks punctuate the life of the Canal. We spot a boat in the distance. We stop for a snack to see how the locks work. Indeed, this canal has a distinctive feature, on a little more than 2km, every 200 meters approximately, there are 11 locks which follow one another in order to allow the boats to cross 27 meters of height difference.
Before a final effort to reach Dinan, located on an imposing rocky outcrop, we cross Léhon, one of the most beautiful small towns with character in Brittany. We do not dwell on it because it is getting late, however, we all promise, on our own, to come back to discover the small houses, the cobbled alleys and the Abbey of the village.
We only have 2km left to pedal, on the towpath, before joining the port of Dinan. Here, we take a small sugar break in a cafe to congratulate ourselves on this beautiful day of cycling. I am proud of the road we have already traveled. We take the time to discuss the day we have been through, to share our feelings, to laugh and to enjoy the moment.
After this short break, a last effort is needed to reach our accommodation: climb to the old town of Dinan. The coffee break made things a little more difficult, for me at least. My muscles have been resting for too long, they are stiff and refuse to help me climb … but I manage because I know that a good shower awaits me at the hotel! When we arrive at the parking lot of our accommodation, we add up our distances: we have covered 78km during this first day of cycling in Brittany!
We take the time to rest and shower before going out for dinner in a small crêperie found by Fabien, the founder of Abicyclette Voyages. We had dinner at the Art’Bilig crêperie, rue Saint-Clair and it was an incredible discovery. The galettes were excellent and all the ingredients used were of great quality and sometimes unexpected: seaweed, scallops, andouille sausage … The decoration is also very well chosen: we feel at ease, at home, only better! The whole team is unanimous: it’s a crêperie not to be missed in Dinan. You should also know that we can trust Fabien, always on the lookout for the best places to eat on your journeys.
We take the time, after leaving our table, to discover the old town of Dinan and to go and enjoy the view from the ramparts. We quickly realize that this city has incredible architectural treasures, like the Basilica of Saint-Sauveur. That evening, we are even lucky enough to be able to attend a fireworks display at the Château de Dinan. The show was magical. Finally, a good night and a well deserved rest await us.
The sun rises slowly this Sunday morning. We prepare and enjoy breakfast at the hotel, before setting out on the roads. Today, we head towards the sea! Towards the famous corsair city.
We leave Dinan via small alleys and the famous cobbled street of Jerzual. We meet the canal again today. After the first kilometers, the landscapes evolve: this is the start of the Rance estuary. A small hill leads us to the village of Taden. Perfect for warming up and working the leg muscles! After this village, we take a greenway built on what was once a railway track. This second stage is very nature oriented: we even have the chance to see a friendly doe in a forest clearing.
At 12:30 p.m., we reach Dinard. We buy some provisions to picnic by the water, on the Priory beach. We end up having lunch by the sea and under the sun.
In the early afternoon, we take the boat to reach Saint-Malo. The Compagnie Corsaire handles the crossing and helps us to board our six bikes on the boat. The crossing lasts about ten minutes, during which we enjoy a large breath of sea air.
We disembark in Saint-Malo. We once again get on our bikes for a brief tour of the inner city. Actually, we do not drag on because we have a train at 3.30pm to reach Rennes.We take the train together. with our six bikes. After arriving at Rennes station, we each go our separate ways. Some go home, others continue to pedal to the offices. A few more kilometers, under an emerging rain, mark the end of this weekend. A weekend that is the first experience of bicycle touring for some, but far from being the last.
I loved riding along the canal: it feels good, it is calm and we are in the heart of nature. I also really liked the fact that there are almost no shared lanes: you feel alone in the world and you are not bothered by cars.
The route is very accessible and away from traffic. There are many points of interest along the way, such as the medieval town of Dinan.
Dinan is a very charming city. The route is rather flat, you can ride at a constant pace without getting too tired. I don’t like hills, it was perfect!
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