Le Grand Voyage — Day 29 (Bicycling in Brittany)

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The bicycle delivery was an hour earlier than expected, but it all worked out fine. The bicycles were… pretty outstanding, actually. Much nicer than the junkers we rented in Amboise (more expensive too, but completely worth it). The hotel staff helped with translation.

For breakfast, we had what the French called beignets, and what we called creme-filled doughnuts. Filled with sugar, but oh-so-good, they are baked hollow and then the creme is injected inside; you choose your flavor. I couldn’t eat this every day, but it was nice for a change.

We started to get our bikes ready when an older British gent came out to say hello. He had an apartment facing the same courtyard as our hotel. We chatted about our destination, and he took one look at our awful, awful map and went inside to fetch his own. He gave us detailed instructions on how to ride to Dinan, our destination for the day. While we still had our share of troubles, his advice and his map were invaluable.

So we set off and immediately got lost. Saint-Malo is a beach town, there was a lot of traffic, and the shoulders of the road were not especially big. It was a little nerve-wracking. Our friend had miscounted roundabouts, and it took us awhile to navigate correctly. In fact, the first few miles were one course correction after another. I was especially stymied by my attempts to cross a major highway, and maps, both paper and computer, weren’t helping much. Eventually we crossed underneath the highway, and then followed it on a frontage road for a short distance. And then, finally, open road.

It was hot and the hills were frequent but the scenery was very nice. We cruised through a nice village and then dropped down a very steep hill. It had taken us too long to get out of the city, and the unexpected hills were slowing us further. We weren’t going to make it to Dinan. Instead we dropped down to the beautiful coastal town of Saint-Suliac. Like any seaside village in America- just replace the plywood beach house shacks with beautiful stone buildings and cover the place with flowers.

We found a little roadside stand with food. I chowed down on a galette with ham, egg, and cheese, along with fries, a sparkling water and lemonade. French lemonade isn’t like American lemonade- it’s carbonated, and much tastier than the bland so-called “lemon-lime” sodas of America. It was a refreshing stop.

The hills felt longer and steeper on the way back, but at least we knew the way. Once we were back in Saint-Malo, we followed the roads directly to the coast. We stopped to hike on a trail alongside the water. It was a dense jungle path, but led to an interesting area of beach. Once back on the bikes, we hugged the shore all the way back, which was much more interesting than the busy inland roads.

We ate dinner at Les Voyageurs, a seafood restaurant in Saint-Malo. I had fish, rice, and cider, Nate had mussels, and even Dorinna had a fish burger. That night I walked around the ramparts, taking pictures and watching the sun slowly sink into the Atlantic.

This day wasn’t as much fun as biking in Amboise, but I still enjoyed it a lot. I can definitely see myself doing a multi-day bike trip across France in the future.