La vélo Francette: from Caen to Angers.

Good French cycling roads: they exist! Although it can be a challenge to find them. After spending some lazy days in Arromanches it was time to move on. After spending a night in Caen, I headed South, hoping to get a bit closer to the sun. This last mission failed. The rain slowed down my speed, but not my mood.

Caen

Caen to Domfront, La Suisse Normande

I’m from the north of Belgium. In my area the cycling lanes are really good. It’s also right next to the Netherlands, a paradise for everyone who moves around on two wheels. I knew it was going to get worse once I got into France. Until the coast of Normandy I had been following a lot of national roads, full of heavy traffic. When possible I followed some of the ‘Voies Vertes’, green trails. Those are roads only accessible for cyclists and pedestrians. Often I have been tricked by them, because suddenly you arrive on what is basically a hiking trail, where you cycle trough the weed. Not this time! France gave me an asphalt cycling lane. The cycling lane is a part of La Vélo Francette, going from Ouistreham, close to Honfleur, to La Rochelle. This cycling lane follows an old railroad.

This part of Normandy is called ‘la Suisse Normande’ because of it’s hills. Yet, they didn’t give me much troubles. I was cycling in a valley, with a small river and a railroad. The road was flat. The cycling road lead to Thury-Harcourt first. This place is known for its destroyed castle.

In Thury-Harcourt this nice asphalt cycling lane stopped… at least according to a sign. I moved a fence, and there it was… a brand new lane allowed me to to proceed my trip in the most comfortable way.

Unfortunately not forever, because after a while I had to face the hills again to get back to the green way, from Clécy to Domfront. Some rain slowed me down, and I had to spend an extra night in the beautiful village of Domfront to wash to dry everything that got wet.

Some pictures from along the way :

Domfront to Angers

I found my way back to the ‘voies vertes’ and I had a short trip planned for the day: I found a place on Couchsurfing in Laval. The first leg went very smooth. Until The city of Mayenne I was following the railway track I was following before. From Mayenne on the cycling lane started following the river Mayenne. Beautiful landscape. But the weather had blocked the road. Bad karma for crossing the fence earlier? I don’t know… but this was the mess I had to cross…

Luckily I was wearing shorts, because I was in the mud until my knees. On top of that it started raining like hell. I was planning to go to the Decathlon shop in Laval to replace my back tire, and I was hoping to reach it before it completely broke down, but it didn’t… It broke down 10k before. Luckily there was a warm shower waiting for me in Laval. I was hosted by Charline and Alexandre. Alexandre used to do long cycling trips as well, and right now he’s a chiropractor on a bicycle: he carries his massage table around on the trailer of his bike, and he’s visiting his patients like that. I forgot to take a picture…

The next day I continued following the river, in the direction of Angers. Beautiful scenery, but the weather France had to take the last couple of days had made the route quite challenge. On a lot of places the river had expended making the cycling lane a part of it. On my Facebook page you can see a movie of that. Quite fun I must say!

Later the road was blocked again by a fallen tree. Luckily there were 3 bicycle travelers coming from the other way. We all passed our bags and bikes trough the branches to each other at the other side of the tree and we were all set to go.

About the route along the way: the scenery was beautiful. Have a look…

I arrived in the beautiful city of Angers. My host was Mathieu and he likes wine. And so do I! A small impression of Angers:

In my next blogpost I will talk about the route along the Loire and about Nantes, an amazing city.

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