Cycling the Atlantic coast of Europe from north to south during the summer of 2017. View the archive, the route so far, or donate to MSF.

Sur la pont

By Stuart Lowe on

We all woke early. Not too early as sunrise is getting later. Breakfast was eaten. I had my usual porridge with banana and honey. We paid at the campsite office and were off in the cold, crisp, morning air. It was a glorious blue sky. I was frustrated that the forecast said it would change to rain in the afternoon.

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blue skies

In Vannes we visited the tourist information office. I had been worried about the bridge at Saint-Nazaire. Some people on the Internet said it was highly dangerous and should be avoided. Others suggested it was no worse than British roads but probably not to do it in gusty winds. The lady at the tourist information office found there was a bus that would take bikes. That would be my fall back plan if I got to it and it looked too dicey. [B Outside the office, as I was saying goodbye to my new cycling friends, a big group of Yorkshire tourists mobbed me. My new French friends found it quite amusing. I was told I should get my photo in the Yorkshire Post.

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What is the collective noun for Yorkshire folk?

I said goodbye to everyone and left the pretty city of Vannes wondering how long the blue sky would last.

Navigation is now via a combination of paper maps from tourist information offices, OpenStreetMap on my GPS (thanks Noel for sorting out the replacement!) and Google maps. I tried to follow the shape of the coast but was conscious that I should reach the big bridge before Friday evening rush hour which I presume the French have too. At Le Barrage I was about 10 minutes too late and the bridge was up. I had a half hour wait for the sailing boats to navigate the lock.

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Le Barrage

After Le Barrage the roads were flatter than I've been used to. Progress was good. The threatened rain was threatening but somehow I seemed to be gliding along between showers. My timing was clearly impeccable today.

On the outskirts of Saint-Nazaire a road was closed. I was diverted several kilometres. Despite the delays I reached the bridge by 4.30. Phew. Hopefully before rush hour. The bridge was big. But I reminded myself of the tunnels and bridges in Norway. Plus the traffic was limited to 70 kmph and French drivers are more courteous than British ones. It was actually better than commuting in Leeds but with a slightly scary and exhilarating view of the whole area. By the top I was enjoying it. It was a fast but relatively gentle slope down to the other side. I'd survived. I imagine it would feel much worse with gusty winds.

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After having completed the bridge

It was now 5pm. The Eurovelo 1 route had finally rejoined me on the coast after its inland jaunt from Roscoff.

I rode on the EV1 for a bit then lost it before Pornic. I stocked up on food for tonight at an Intermarche. The threatening rain clouds had now gone and it was a lovely sunny evening. I would need to stop soon. I seemed to be in an area lacking campsites on Google maps; the next ones would only be reached by sunset. However, a campsite appeared in just the right place. The reception had closed but there just happened to be a man who knew the campsite owner waiting to drive in. He insisted I get in his van and he showed me where I could pitch and where the shower block was.

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Blue skies at Pornic

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Pornic

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Coastal thingys

I ate lots.

At the back of my mind since Norway has been the idea that I might be able to wave at Mark Beaumont somewhere near Bordeaux as he gets near the end of his record breaking round the world ride. There are something like 380 km to go. He'll reach Bordeaux tomorrow or at some point on Sunday. I'm a day or two short, unfortunately.