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Welcome to our Guest Blog Spot

Cycletourer logoAs several people have asked us we thought it would be great to have some guest bloggers contributing to our site. If you would like to be a guest blogger on this spot and write an article that is relevant to cycletouring then please get in touch. As this is a non commercial site we are looking for articles from genuine touring cyclists, therefore no commercial articles please.

Fench Flagcolmandsamstreks - Two Beginners in France

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A conversation through the Alps. 

By Colm & Sam

Our trip is still on going, just waiting out the pandemic in Greece! Let's start at the beginning. We are an Irish couple who got engaged in March 19 and began to save towards that until we decided to use the money to take a year out and travel Europe by bicycle!! Surprising decision as neither of us were big bikers!

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Surrounded by the cent of lemon trees. 

Our trip started on the 20th of July 2020 from Dublin Ireland to Cherbourg France. We cycled off the boat and mapped our route from village to village towards the velo 4. We used this route to get us on to the velodyssee, which would take us all the way to Irun in Spain. Once we reached velo 4 the cycle became leisurely, nice tracks with great signage we were in heaven and never felt freedom like it! From day one we asked ourselves "why did we not do this sooner" Colm 47, Sam 35 so no spring chicken's!! Our highlight of velo 4 was getting to see Mont Saint Michel something I would recommend to everyone, definitely take the day to see this, its simple beautiful. 5 cycle days later we reached La Velodyssee (Velo 1) close to Josselin Malestroit. Major high point for us this is what we had talked about for so long and we finally made it 10 days after landing in France on the 30th July. We took our first break in a campsite for 3 days in Val d'Oust, on the 1st of August, it was gorgeous we had beautiful evening walks along the canal and around the cute village, we ate well and a few drinks may of been had also! By the second day we were restless and itching to get going again. We had some beautiful cycling the next few days with amazing routes along canals with a few detours to check out the many little villages along the way.

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The never ending forest of Gascogne national parc. 

Another highlight was crossing the St Nazaire Bridge, we had read it wasn't possible to cycle it but upon arrival we realised there was a cycle path so we went for it (all legal). There is a free shuttle bus that crosses it for anyone who doesn't want to cycle it, but if you are confident on a bike with a bit of experience we say do it. We reached a beautiful spot in Prefailles, the beach was perfect with not many people, it felt like your own little paradise and just to top off the experience we got a free campsite. Life couldn't be any more perfect at this point. The following day we cycled towards Pornic. We cycled through an entrance to what felt like a private little city, stunningly beautiful " Château de Pornic" we spent a bit of time and took a lot of photos here another place I would recommend not to miss. Yet again we reached another crossing. This one was abit different! It was at Maree Montante,the passage du gois, there was a big sign flashing DANGER cross at own risk! The road gets flooded twice a day with tide change but once you cross at the right time there is no problems, it was where the tour de France had a very bad crash in 1999. That evening we stayed at our favourite campsite to date called Camping La Darotta, it was a 2 stars campsite. It had a bar with cheesy music and a nice pool, the perfect chill grounds.

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The medieval town of Pornec port. 

A few days later we were cycling along Saint Jean De Monts, with its endless stunning beach that goes on forever, another pinch me moment. Its hard to comprehend on such a trip after coming from the hustle and bustle of busy jobs and commuting that this is our life now! We stayed at Saint Hilaire that evening, another lovely town but very busy, we opted to leave the bikes at camp and walk around, ice-cream, sunset perfection at its best. The following days were hot hot hot we were cycling in August after all luckily along canals which made for perfect cool down swims. We made our way to La Rochelle another focal point we wanted to really see and it was beautiful, we got a campsite just 5 minutes walk out of the city for a really good price. We spent two days there to explore as much as we could, it is another harbour that shouldn't be missed. It was here we had the scariest thunderstorms that make you appreciate four walls and a roof while camping. We continued on the velodyssee all the way to Irun Spain, passing some amazing places and breathtaking coastlines.

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A warming fire for our wild camping nights.

While cycling through the beautiful Gascogne national park we ran out of water, it was a another heatwave and the closest Colm got to passing out but a very valuable lesson while touring. We also had some pretty big climbs in the south worth every bit of sweat, once you reach the top the views are something else and the endorphins were certainly on high. Once you reach Bayonne the climbs begin then onto Biarritz, St Jean de luz, and the Pyrenees, which was our toughest so far, and eventually into Haydaye. Your eyes will be jumping in delight the whole way. Then from Haydaye we cycled over the bridge to Espanol, a feeling like no other. In just over a month we managed to cycle from Cherbourg all the way South to Spain with only our trusty tent for shelter, our stellar Trek 520's as transport and leg power as fuel. As two previous non-cyclists we recommend to all beginners and more experienced cyclists to do this route. It has everything from stunning coastlines and beaches to seductive forests, flourishing canals, the best quaint villages and at every turn Boulangeries which have ruined us, notting will ever compare to the pastries we had in France.

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The Disney castle of mont Saint-Michel.
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Taking in the views of La rochelle.

We have continued our trip along the Velo 8 and are happy to answer any questions. We have set up Facebook and Instagram pages to capture our trip something we highly recommend as well and we can be contacted through them @colmandsamstreks.