CURRENT LOCATION: Camping du Migron, Frossay
It’s been a good day on the bike… and as I write this, it’s not quite over. At 5:30pm there remains about 15km (and a train and a ferry) to ride. All will become clear. With no convivial breakfast on offer at last night’s campsite as there had been back in Gouarec courtesy of Geoff and his team, I was the first off the site at around 8am.
The mist was hanging around the canal, it was cool, the sky was blue and the water in the canal glistening. Lots of boxes ticked already and I’d only just scoffed my morning croissant. That’s basically the story of most of the morning; lots of opportunities to stop, stare, take photos… The bucolic stuff of cycle touring. The only thing missing were a few snow-capped peaks in the distance but had I seen them, it would have been time to start worrying in a big way. The cycling was relatively easy although as the temperature rose throughout the morning I drained my stock of fruit, bread and water to keep me pedalling at a rate that would surely have me winning some kind of award if we lived in a fair world.
For the past couple of days, the town of Josselin was just a potential stopover on the map. I knew it had a campsite as I had been aiming for it for much of yesterday before I halted 24km short in Rohan. I really should do a bit more research. The city of Josselin – this was no town – described itself on the sign I passed as ‘Une Petite Cité de Charactère’, and it certainly was. The first thing I noticed was the spire of the church on the hill above the canal inviting passers by to investigate. Then came the three cylindrical towers of the chateau towering over the canal. A quick scramble for my guide book told me how wonderful the place was so I pushed Wanda up the short but steep hill to investigate. Beautiful! (It’s the reason why today’s video is over 5 minutes long.) Ruled by, ironically, the Rohan family whose name either derived from or was adopted by the humdrum place I stayed in last night, the city’s timber-framed houses and narrow streets decked with red and yellow bunting were Instagram gold (although I have yet to Instagram anything myself). Stunning! Why in all my years have I never heard of the city of Josselin?
Perhaps inevitably, after the double-whammy of highs provided by the canal north of Josselin and Josselin itself, it was always going to go downhill as I continued my journey south, and it did, slowly. The canal became gradually less appealing as I continued my journey and upon arrival in Redon, despite high praises attributed to it by the Rough Guide, it was all a bit average. Nice, but average.
Over a sandwich I started to think… Campsite in an ‘average’ town or keep going? It was still only 3pm. Consulting my map of cycle routes of France, which also includes railways, I noticed that trains run from Redon to Nantes. No surprise there. But they also run into Nantes from the west. (Alert: it’s about to get complicated…) Geoff Husband had mention taking a ferry to the west of Nantes to avoid having to cycle through the suburbs of the city twice. It would, however, require a detour away from the Velodyssée. Looking online I noticed that there was a train station close to this ferry and a couple of TER trains would get me there in well under 100km so not breaking my rule about trains. Was it the time to use the 4th of my ‘joker’ train rides.
Yes, it was! I bought a ticket, phoned a campsite about 15km west of the ferry that official campsite advisor Tim Sanders had mentioned a while back (no problem – no need to reserve) and headed for the station (via a trip to the local Decathlon to buy more gas and a tent lamp for the dinner parties that I’m planning).
The plan worked like a dream. I managed to arrive at the short ferry crossing west of Nantes within seconds of the ramp being lifted and pedalled the 19km west to the campsite along a road that was so straight you’d think it had been ironed from the side.
And that, my friends, is where you find me now: Camping du Migron on the south side of the Loire about 25km from the west coast, still on the Velodyssée / EuroVelo 1 but also, for a short while, the Loire à Vélo / EuroVelo 6 cycle route. Six of my ten train rides remain and I should be in with a good chance of getting to Bordeaux at some point early next week.
Tomorrow? Who knows… but I would have like to visit St-Nazaire. Is it too late?
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