France

Introduction

Two visits to France, both attracted by the Semaine Federale, an annual cyclists gathering with a selection of tours each day, during the first week in August.
(1) First to the north east to the Ardennes area.
(2) Second to the north west, to Brittany.

Getting There

Being quite a long way from the English channel the choice was limited. Fly from Manchester or take the car. Deciding on the car, we also decided to take the caravan as we would be staying in one area.
(1) We drove to Dover, ferry to Calais, then on to Charleville Mezieres.
(2) Drove to Poole, ferry to Cherbourg, and on to Rennes.

The Weather

Being in the north, tends to be similar to the UK although we found it very warm in the Ardennes area. There was rain on one day. Brittany was similar to the UK, and dry for our visit, until the last day when it was very stormy.

The Terrain

(1) North of the city it was mostly hilly in the Ardennes and quite challenging at times. To the south it was much flatter, more of a gentle rolling landscape.
(2) Some hilly, some flat.

Maps

We were supplied with maps by the organisers as part of our registration for the weeks events, on which the routes were clearly marked.

Food and Lodgings

At Charleville, we caravaned at the municipal site in city, beside the river and only a few minutes walk from the city centre. The site fees were less than on UK sites. Most days we dined out, as we tend to sample local fare.
At Rennes again on the municipal site, again less than UK, some days we dined out.

Other

The Ardennes were the more scenic but Brittany has its moments as well. The biggest attraction for us was that it was organised events, with thousands of cyclists of every type, and a really fantastic atmosphere. However cycling in France is much more pleasant as the French people have a different outlook towards cyclists anyway.

Update

We have some photographs in Gallery5 and Gallery5a of later visits to France.