Cycling in Brittany, or Karsten Looks at Things

I got away (yes, ‘away’!) for a few days to explore a tiny part of a huge region of France last week – Bretagne. You might think that I was there to watch the Tour de France (which started there on Saturday), and you’d be nearly right, but I never actually saw the peloton, other than on the tablet. We had other sardines to fry.

Here is the port of Douarnenez, where Karsten and Sarah were staying for a couple of weeks. It’s a working town with sardine boats sneaking out in the middle of the night, people who say hello to you on the streets, and plenty of creperies to keep the pedals turning.

This is Karsten looking at a near-full moon in the ‘pleasure port’ of Douarnenez.

With the welcome dinner out of the way, Karsten and I headed out for a 118 km ride along the lovely coast and through the bucolic countryside, crossing the following day’s TDF route a few times on the way.

I just thought this random pig was worthy of a photo. He seemed so content. Does anyone know why they would put a pig in with the cows?

If you watched the Tour coverage you might have seen this bridge. The commentators probably told you that it ‘won some awards’. What Karsten and I can say is that it ‘has a lot of concrete’. Find Karsten – he is having a good look at the workmanship.

There’s something a little Game of Thrones about the churches of Brittany. I suppose it’s the Celtic roots, but they are visually stunning and look much older than they sometimes are.

You all know this trick, I’m sure, but if you can’t find a fountain in the villages you are riding through (strangely the case in very damp Brittany), look for an unlocked door at the local cemetery. There are nearly always taps.

Karsten looking at another Brittany church.

Sometime later that day, Sarah texted Karsten to say that the light was great down by the harbour. Below is proof of that, I hope.

The next day K&S had other plans, so I went out for a Karsten-designed 60 km loop in the rain. It’s well known that rain comes and goes in Brittany, so of course I got totally soaked as it just got harder and harder as I rode. At least I wasn’t alone out there.

On my final day in Brittany, Karsten and I took one last spin to the west, where he looked at more churches. We escaped the rain on this morning, too, but it was always there, ready to turn on us.

Here is another port – Audierne – which is more for pleasure than for working. The fish burgers are also really great.

But this post is not all about Karsten. Here’s a shot of me (behind Karsten), scratching my head at how it could be that my legs felt so wrecked after climbing up to 210 meters.

This was a nice little getaway (if you call 12 hours of driving ‘little’) and I’m glad I know at least a few roads in this cycling heartland of France now. I can tell you this much; at least in the area around Douarnenez, there is pretty much zero flat. It is a constant up and down, with the biggest ‘peak’ being around 300 meters, I think. I enjoyed this a lot since my physiology is more ‘rouleur’ than ‘grimpeur’ these days, but still it was hard terrain. You can understand why Brittany has produced some of the hardest of the hard men – Bernard Hinault for one.

I’m back in Le Sud now, enjoying the sun, but missing the green fields of Brittany a little. You can’t have everything…unless you live and ride in France that is.

14 thoughts on “Cycling in Brittany, or Karsten Looks at Things

  1. Game of Thrones is a good way to describe those granite churches. Fortunately, the locals are a heck of a lot nicer than those in GoT! So glad you were able to make the trek up to le Nord and that your cycling kit (and yourself) were able to dry out without too much moissisure.

    • Thanks again for the hospitality. It was a nice intro to Brittany. Hopefully I’ll be making more trips to your Douarnenez house in the future…preferably out of the ‘seagull zone’ 😉

  2. I was just remarking while watching the tour yesterday how wonderful the churches, castles and countryside were up that way. Great pics.

  3. Lovely pictures. I’d say the pig eats something that the farmer would rather the cows didn’t. Here, farmers used to put a goat in with cows to eat Benweeds that either made the cow sick or tainted the taste of the milk.

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