Les Sables d’Or Les Pins to St Malo and back to Weymouth - Days 10 and 11

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The Blog

Les Sables d’Or Les Pins to St Malo and back to Weymouth

Sunday 1st and Monday 2nd May 2011

We now had a pleasant and easy ride into St Malo. It was however raining steadily when we awoke. This gave us an opportunity to have a leisurely breakfast and delay our start in the hope that the rain would stop.

The weather forecast offered a little encouragement that the rain would stop. These days weather forecasts often seem to overstate bad weather so we were therefore optimistic. We did text Emmanuel suggesting that the photo shoot should be called off in view of the weather.

We started with our waterproofs on but within the first hour they were no longer needed. We left the rather up market Les Sables d’Or les Pins by the sea front and then went inland via tiny country lanes.

To reach the large village of Matignon we had to do a short stretch on the D786 which can be rather busier than cyclists like. This was to be a recurring unavoidable feature of the ride into St Malo because we needed to cross many estuaries on the way.

From Matignon we took the “Rue du Petit Train”. This is poorly signed from the village centre but starts a pleasant ride for about 10 km off the main roads. At the end of the “Rue du Petit Train” is the “Rue du Halt”. Here there was an open space with a couple of picnic tables where we had our picnic and ate the excellent cakes we had bought in Matignon.

Our afternoon ride took us through the polders of Ploubalay and St Briac sur Mer, again mainly on tiny lanes but this time near the beaches.

Dinard contra flow

The management had planned a ride via the residential streets of Dinard direct to the ferry. On past experience and given more time the town centre and rocky shoreline is well worth a visit.

Embarkation for the ferry can only be described as bizarre and rather annoying. One wheels one’s bike up a ramp to the booking office and then carries it down some steep steps to the quay. In a way it is worse than Starcross because it is easily avoidable. With a slight improvement to the ramps on the ferry it would be viable for wheelchair users and much better for cyclists.

From the ferry there are stunning views of St Malo to the north and the Barrage de Rance to the south. We have in the past cycled over the barrage and enjoyed a guided visit around the power generation plants. These generated electricity both on the incoming tide and the out flowing ebb. We think they are now defunct, perhaps foolishly replaced by the dangerous and environmentally damaging nuclear option.

We checked into a very pleasant little hotel just inside the walls of the city and enjoyed a last crêpe nearby. We are frequent visitors here but the city and harbour justify at least another day’s holiday.

On Monday the hotel offered us a very nice leisurely breakfast and we had a gentle meander around the harbour area. All too soon we were checking in to travel by Condor. Unfortunately the crossing to Weymouth does not justify an overnight ferry.

We are lucky to have this crossing route but it has to be said that Condor are without a shadow of doubt the worst ferry company we have come across. That includes our travels on the other side of the Atlantic, and Europe from the Canaries to Norway and south to Turkey and Cyprus. This time the only problem we had was the unpleasantness associated with getting our bikes properly tied down.

St Malo - our hotel

We had an eight hour stopover in Guernsey, connections not being Condor’s strong point. Some may like cycling on the Channel Islands but we do not enjoy them much. True they have a maze of country lanes but in season these are filled to bursting point with lost tourists driving little hire cars.

For cycling Jersey tends to be better than Guernsey. If possible we recommend you change here. On Jersey it is possible to cycle all along the promenade and then on a disused rail track to the Corbière Lighthouse.

Stuck on Guernsey for eight hours we had planned a short ride to the white beaches on the north of the island. These beaches are very pleasant but we never made it.

As we left the ferry we were confronted with heavy rain and driving winds. We immediately went to a café for a light lunch. Then we were stuck for something to do in the dry. We wandered the streets and eventually finding nothing and being soaked asked the GPS.

The Garmin GPS directed us to La Piette Hotel. The receptionist was absolutely wonderful. She found us comfortable seats in reception, dried our wet clothes and even gave us the wifi code to check the ferry.

We had an excellent dinner at La Piette Hotel and then made our way to the ferry. By this time it had stopped raining. It was an extremely bumpy crossing and we secured our bikes ourselves as it was clear that Condor staff had no intention of doing so despite the rough weather. We were finally home in Weymouth at 1.30am.