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Exeter to Die in France

briantrumpetbriantrumpet Posts: 5,931
edited August 2012 in Tour & expedition
Well, having had my week at Die in the French Alps, I'm now wondering if it would be practical to cycle there from Exeter. The idea would be: ride from Exeter to Portsmouth, ferry to St Malo, then this route: Any thoughts on the French route? Lots of D roads to keep it simple for navigation, going through plenty of towns so I can buy stuff as I go and find accommodation as needed (I'd aim to do the 530 miles in France in 5 days, but take it as it comes.) Looks like a nice climb near the end with a nice long descent. Any thoughts appreciated.


  • Why not head for Plymouth - Roscoff ferry which gives you the benefit of cycling through Brittany? I'm afraid I can't comment much on the route but it's hard to see how you could go wrong in France - it's a great place to be on a bike!
  • briantrumpetbriantrumpet Posts: 5,931
    I thought about it, but I have soft spot for St Malo, and just like the look of the route from there. Anyway, too late now - the ferry's booked - now just sorting out the flight back from Avignon to Exeter. Then it's all systems go.
  • briantrumpetbriantrumpet Posts: 5,931
    All systems go. Ferry booked, flight back from Avignon booked (just £94), and friends bringing my bike back with my bike carrier on their car. I'm going to split the journey to Portsmouth in two (138 miles, so at/beyond the limit of what I'd want to do in a day and still be up to riding 120 miles the next day), going via Shaftesbury, to avoid the A35.

    And after taking advice from friends, have decided not to pre-book any accommodation in France, but to make up each day as it comes, and to search out those small town chambres d'hôte etc. for my night-time stops. The worst bit is going to be having to eat and drink my way across France. Now, can someone organise some decent weather for me, please?
  • I'm jealous! Have a great trip and let us know how it went when you get back.
  • briantrumpetbriantrumpet Posts: 5,931
    I'm jealous! Have a great trip and let us know how it went when you get back.
    I might even heighten the jealousy with a snap or two en route. Probably of the food.
  • briantrumpetbriantrumpet Posts: 5,931
    Got here in seven days, as hoped. 727 miles, most of them glorious, though one or two of the roads in the first two days not for the faint-of-heart. The last day turned into a 141-mile epic, with a 4000-ft col thrown in, and a superb descent into Tournon.

    When I'm home I'll post the revised route with some notes, just in case anyone fancies a similar trip.

    In the meantime, my two shrines will be at the Intersport at St Maur in Chateauroux, who stripped and rebuilt my bottom bracket at 9.30am on Friday morning (and wouldn't charge), and the magnificent Chez Gillou at Boen, a most remarkable place that revived a flagging body, with dinner, bed, breakfast, brilliant company and a pool for just 40 euros.

    Anyway, more in due course, in case you're interested...?
  • GarryMGarryM Posts: 77
    Wasn't sure when I read the title whether this was to be your last trip... Good effort! I rode a similar route albeit the other way from Marseille to St Malo earlier this year. Your post reminded me how much I enjoyed it.
  • briantrumpetbriantrumpet Posts: 5,931
    GarryM wrote:
    Wasn't sure when I read the title whether this was to be your last trip... Good effort! I rode a similar route albeit the other way from Marseille to St Malo earlier this year. Your post reminded me how much I enjoyed it.
    I wouldn't mind doing it again, though might add a extra day to the French side (590 miles in 5 days this time) so that I could avoid one or two of the busier roads in the northern part of the route. Anyway, more details when I get home and do my review...
  • briantrumpetbriantrumpet Posts: 5,931
    I've split the route into the five days:

    Day 1 - St Malo to La Fleche
    Got lots of miles on the clock, but some of the roads weren't great - long, lumpy and with more lorries and fast-moving traffic than I'd have preferred, especially the run in to La Fleche - not helped by a tyre & inner tube cut up on glass with 20 miles to go.

    Day 2 - La Fleche to Chateauroux
    Another hard day, steady head/sidewind. Again, some busy main roads at the start, but I modified the route where I could to avoid the worst. The roads along the Indres were lovely. Bottom bracket started clicking very loudly near the end of the day.

    Day 3 - Chateauroux to Montluçon
    A brilliant meachanic at St Maur Intersport sorted out my bottom bracket (and wouldn't charge) and I was on the road by 10. I decided after two hard days (heat and headwinds) to do a shorter one, but Montluçon wasn't the greatest place to find a cheap decent hotel. I found a cheap one (28.50 euros), but I'm not sure I wasn't in a brothel. Lots of back roads en the route too, so a bit stop-starty.

    Day 4 - Montluçon to Boën
    A great day: the main road wasn't busy, had a great lunch in Thurer (having drawn a complete blank in Aigueperse), and an astonishing place ( costing only 40 euros for dinner, bed & breakfast in an amazing setting. Worth a detour, if you need somewhere to stay in the area.

    Day 5 - Boën to St Andéol
    I'd planned to split this day into two days, but a tailwind from Tournon and the incentive of seeing my friends spurred me on. Lots of climbing - could have eased that by turning left and getting onto the Rhone valley earlier, but a brilliant descent to Tournon.

    Overall, I wouldn't hesitate to do it again. Achieved with just a seatpost-mounted saddlebag, and just a T-shirt and shorts for the evenings, but, typically, I was on the road (or in cafés) from after breakfast till about 7pm, so no need to take much more, as I washed & dried kit each evening, and bought provisions as I went, and mostly ate in cafés. Next year I'm thinking about doing Roscoff to St Andéol, as that route would miss out the worst bits of this year's route, and would save me an overnight in England stop getting to Portsmouth. And would involve me eating more French food.
  • napoleondnapoleond Posts: 18,633
    Sounds fantastic mate :)
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  • briantrumpetbriantrumpet Posts: 5,931
    napoleond wrote:
    Sounds fantastic mate :)
    It was - truly life-enhancing. Except St Etienne. The pits - don't ever bother to go there. I just stopped for a coffee in the only place I could find open, then spent 50 sodding minutes trying to find the road out I wanted.:

    Oh , by the way, I got mentioned on the blog of some local cyclist I met en route down in the Alps... ... 75035.html (about half-way down) - seems the French are making a bit of a habit of praising the English. Very worrying.
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