Thursday 18th May
Josselin to Redon: 84.3km, 137m climbed, 4hr 43’
Total Distance 309km
Today’s section was due to end at Redon. Redon might be lovely place with delightful people and full of shops and restaurants selling all sorts of wonderful and enticing things; however it will not benefit from the Jones’ euros, in fact we have shut the door very firmly in its face. Why you ask in tones of surprise?
Redon’s campsite does not open until 1st June and even I do not cycle that slowly!
Instead, last night the expeditions strategic planning and overview committee decided that we would grace the pretty village of Rieux with our presence and cash as the good Burghers had the foresight to ensure that their delightful little campsite, right on the edge of the mighty river Vilaine by the marina, opened at the beginning of May. There were other sites available some closer to La Velodyssee, but Wendy had set her heart on us spending the night at Camping Parc du Chateau. And who am I to argue with her? It was an extra 5km on what was already going to be the longest cycle to date and I would have to navigate across country, but (as most of you know already) I am always happy to oblige!
I mentioned briefly yesterday, while my mind was focussed on the weather, how Madame the campsite owner had been kind enough to point me in the right direction. Wendy and her had got on famously on her arrival (I think Madame was intrigued at the way this one English woman threw the motorhome about without a care) and Wendy had been given the full tour of the site’s many virtues, including the bar and restaurant. Once I had dried out, we decided to dine at the restaurant. All our attempts to dine out since the start of the cycling had been stymied in one-way or another. When we turned up at the civilised time of 1900 there was no one there apart from Madame. She couldn’t have been more welcoming; she called her son, the chef, and laid a table for us. In no time at all we were given some nibbles, bread and a bottle of red wine. Slowly the bar filled up with locals. It was really interesting to watch these guys, as they seemed to typify the people we had met so far on this trip. As each one arrived there were “bon soirs” all round (to us as well) and handshakes. The French really have got good manners and friendliness off to a fine art. I know that Jamie is a strong advocate of the cheery “good morning!” in the UK and he will be pleased to know that here in La France I am routinely beaten to the “Bon Jour!” be they cyclists, fishermen, dog walkers or workmen.
Our steaks entrecôte were enormous, perfectly cooked and presented on a heap of chips and salad. Neither of us could finish it all.
As we enjoyed the rest of the wine, the other people in the bar were watching the news coverage on the TV of Macron’s announcement of his cabinet. As far as I could tell the ministers were met with both some surprise and general approval. It’s going to be interesting to see the paths France and the UK take in the next couple of years.
As part of her grand tour of the facilities, Wendy had seen that they had a fully stocked bike spares shop, including inner tubes to support their cycle hire business, so she went along this morning to get me some more inner tubes. After yesterday two isn’t enough! Madame was desolated to find that she didn’t have the size I needed (700×28 presta valve) so she sent her son off to the bike shop in the town to get me some – how’s that for service?
I rode off, channelling my inner Johnny Nash, through canal side Josselin. It looked really pretty, shame about the rain last night. On the way to Malestroit it was a smooth tarmac surface and I was able to work on my cadence again. As I did so I became entangled in the peloton of a local cycle club who were out for a Thursday morning jaunt. They became a bit annoying because they kept moving past me and dropping back. It was like cycling through a school of dolphins. In the end I feigned a sudden interest in a quirky flower display and stopped to take photos, long enough for them to get well out of sight.
Josselin Don’t you find this display interesting?
Today I saw the first canal cruisers actually moving rather than moored – the first in four days. There was a general air that the boating season was springing into life. I could tell that a new personal best for 40k was in reach and managed to reach it in just over two hours. The first record of the day! After a quick jam and banana sandwich I could see that I should be able to manage the remaining 28k well before 1430. As I got closer to Redon the path deteriorated and was soft and sludgy which slowed me down. It was no more than I expected of a town that cannot be bothered to open its campsite.
Redon styles itself as ‘the Carrefour of the Canalaux Bretagne’ which I think is like Sinfin saying it is ‘the ASDA of the Trent and Mersey Canal’
In the centre of Redon the path abruptly stopped and so of course there were not any Velodyssee signs anywhere to be seen. Fortunately my GPS came up trumps. Semper Deinceps, my GPS, and I have been getting on much better lately; we are beginning to understand each other’s funny little ways. Semper clearly showed the way through the town centre, which was gridlocked. This was good for me as I could safely weave my way through the virtually stationary traffic.
Out the other side I realised that I had underestimated the distance to Rieux and it was going to be closer to 10k to get there. I got close to where I thought I had to go and got my phone out to follow the map to get me to the bridge over the river by the campsite. The road got narrower and rougher. When I got to the river a campervan was parked up blocking the lane and its owner was fishing with three rods. It was clear that there was no bridge and never had been. Instead there were 40m of the mighty river Vilaine and plenty of boats. The angler confirmed that there was no bridge and he didn’t know where there was one nearby. Maps.me made amends for its glaring error by showing there was another bridge 5k downstream – the only one for miles in either direction. So 45 minutes and 10k later I finally arrived at the campsite. Notching up another personal best of 84k in a day in the process. Those big days I have planned later in the trip are now looking less daunting.
The Camping Parc du Chateau is one of our best sites so far. It is on the shores of the river in the shadow of a ruined 10th Century castle. The Donjon (keep) finally destroyed by an earthquake in 1799 but by then Richlieu had effectively closed it down. Rieux has a fine sense of civic pride, just like the other villages we have travelled through, and are in the process of renewing an interpretive trail around the ruins – right up Alf’s street.