Moncontour – Hillion – Pleven
We said ‘au revoir’ to Pete this morning as he planned to go further along the coast than us. We were heading for Hillion, a short hop away. Quite a nice ride, but a bit of a hairy start, with a very steep descent followed by a narrow, hairpin sharp ascent out of town, which we climbed as fast as we could as there were plenty of large trucks on this road, with little or no room for them to overtake. I’ve never seen Chris pedal up a hill so fast!
On arrival in Hillion village, we indulged in two cups of coffee and a ratatouille crepe each. The campsite was a few miles further on, situated on the peninsula overlooking the Baie de Saint Brieuc. The campsite owner led us to his ‘best pitch for touring cyclists’ – a tiny but ideal spot, with good sea views and, most importantly, surrounded by hedges and sheltered from the wind. He was very friendly and suggested we try some of the specialist Breton dishes being served at the little campsite restaurant. This we did and had the most tasty ‘fish stew’ (for want of a better description) followed by a delicious Breton pud and, as always, the obligatory cups of coffee.
One good thing about cycle touring is that you can eat lots of fattening food without putting on any weight! However, we did feel slightly guilty about the number of calories we must have consumed so we went for a stroll along the coast, plus I wanted to take a photo of the sun setting over the large mussel beds in the bay.
The plan had been to follow the coast roads back to St Malo. However, from the text reports we were getting from Pete of noisy campsites and busy roads, we had a rethink and decided to head back inland, knowing that the roads would be a lot quieter and we would be away from the touristy beach resorts.
For most of the route, we were able to follow the contours of the hills, which also enabled good views at times. We stopped at a little village, St Aaron, to check our map when an elderly cyclist in his team strip pulled up alongside. When we explained to him that we were trying to follow quiet roads, he very kindly offered to cycle with us to lead us on a quieter route which avoided a particularly steep hill – Chris was all in favour of this! This kind old chap cycled with us for about 5 miles – we wondered if anyone in the UK would have been so helpful. The French do love cyclists!
On another occasion, unable to read the road number, we spotted a French farmer crossing the road holding a bucket of freshly picked peas. We stopped to confirm we were on the right road and he asked us why we weren’t back home celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee! As we cycled off, he shouted out to us ‘God save the Queen!’, which just goes to prove that some French do love us Brits!!
We managed to find our way to our next destination, the tiny village of Pleven. We almost missed the campsite, which was situated, most unexpectedly, in the grounds of the Town Hall (the Mairie). A very pleasant campsite with adequate facilities…and only just over €4 a night for two! A bargain!
The weather was becoming changeable – very breezy, overcast and with the odd shower. We awoke to rain, which fortunately didn’t last long so we were able to pack up in the dry. Today we were heading for the Rance river, to make our way back to St Malo over the next couple of days, and the ferry home…