20 views from our bikes on Brittany’s V4 cycling route

The V4 near Pointe de Primel

The V4 cycling route that we rode from Morlaix to Mont-Saint-Michel, in northern France, has its share of A-list attractions, but we quickly found out that the “stuff” in-between is pretty special too: charming towns, impressive cathedrals, historical sites, locals-only beaches… This post pays homage to the journey— roadside views and unexpected treasures depicted in 20 photos taken directly on Brittany’s V4 cycle route.

Our start in Morlaix couldn’t be more scenic; the V4 travels right through the centre of this lovely town. Morlaix’s distinctive landmark, a 292 m railway viaduct, towers over the half-timbered houses, narrow streets and gothic cathedral.

We are charmed by the scenery along the pretty Baie de Térénez, just north of Morlaix. Roadside bushes are covered with ripe blackberries, which become a daily snack on our Brittany ride.

En route to Locquirec we pass a series of gorgeous beaches. My travel notebook is marked with 5-stars and an extra bonus star for this one: Plage les Sables Blancs, one of Locquirec’s nine beaches.

Just past Locquirec, the V4 takes us alongside a castle on a bucolic property. We chat with an elderly man working in the garden who tells us the Maison de L’île Blanche is a seniors home and spiritual retreat. The building dates back to the 1600s.

There’s a pleasing aesthetic about the coastal towns of Brittany. Like St-Michel-en-Grève in this photo, many of them look over crescent-shaped bays, their church spires rising above stone houses with steeply-sloped slate roofs.

The medieval centre of Lannion is an atmospheric place for a pit stop and we’re delighted to find an abundance of crêperies serving delicious Breton galettes (buckwheat crêpes).

Attempting to cycle out of Lannion we get hopelessly turned around and keep circling back to this view: the 13th century Église de Brélévenez—not such a bad predicament.

The rural, non-coastal sections of the V4 are an unexpected pleasure. This peaceful country road north of Trébeurden is typical of what we experience when we’re not along the coast gawking at the beaches.

This is a strange picnic stop. We eat on a grassy expanse by the side of a quiet road at Kerguntuil. Just behind us is a dolmen (stone tomb) that is about 4000 years old! We are the only visitors at this extraordinary site and it’s only a few kilometres from the popular Pink Granite Coast.

Speaking of lunch stops, the beautiful square in front of Tréguier’s Gothic cathedral is an inspirational place to munch on our staple picnic items: baguette, pâté and fromage. The V4 passes right by this magnificent site.

Our route out of Paimpol travels alongside its scenic harbour. The colourful fishing boats and brightly painted houses make this harbour town pop, even under grey skies.

I’m cheating a tad with this photo as we need to get off our bikes and walk to the entrance of the Abbaye de Beauport, but it’s such an unexpected delight I just have to include it. We linger far longer than our time allows—the romantic remains of six centuries of monastic history have us captivated.

We stop a lot along the V4 route between Paimpol and St-Quay-Portrieux, which is perhaps my favourite cycling day. Not far beyond the Abbaye is this spectacular field of hydrangeas.

And then, just a bit further is this stunning view of the deep cove at Porz Pin. There’s a steep set of stairs that lead down to the enticing beach, but Mike is content with the view and threatens to leave without me.

Much of the route travels high above the beaches, so we’re happy when it turns steeply downhill and brings us to this beauty in the cute hamlet of Bréhec. I write myself a quick note: “would make a great spot to hang out on a future visit.” It’s back uphill on the other side!

Although most of the V4 is on roads, there are some interesting off road sections like this old railway track that skirts the edge of the Baie de St-Brieuc. Mike looks out over the enormous tidal mudflats that attract a huge assortment of seabirds.

The Viaduct des Ponts-Neufs, constructed 1913-1922, is another discontinued rail line segment that has been turned into a cycle path. The 237 m long expanse is cool to ride across but looking down is not for those with a fear of heights.

The River Rance is a small obstacle in getting to Saint-Malo, but the ferry from Dinard has us covered. The 15 minute trip is scenic and I’m giddy with excitement as the fortified city gets closer and closer.

The last stretch of our journey in Brittany is dead flat as the V4 runs adjacent to the tidal beaches of the Baie de Mont-Saint-Michel. Looking way in the distance, I can just make out the bump that is The Mont. I’m super excited. Unfortunately I get a flat tire and our spare is defective. I end up walking my bike for the last 15 km.

The tire is fixed and Mont-Saint-Michel floats like a mirage on the horizon. We have now officially entered Normandy, where our cycling adventure continues.

Credit: V4: a Brittany Cycle Route by Janet Moss & Pete Martin

For anyone interested in specific details on cycling the V4 route in Brittany, please read my post about planning and logistics.

Next post: The incredible Mont-Saint-Michel!

Categories: Biking, France | Tags: , , , | 36 Comments

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36 thoughts on “20 views from our bikes on Brittany’s V4 cycling route

  1. That “in between stuff” is absolutely stunning. I really can’t get over the beaches… and the architecture… and the flowers… 😏

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  2. Charm emanates from every image, but I am especially taken with the picturesque quayside at Paimpol. The houses are so well kept they look brand new. I have added to my ever-growing anchorage bucket list, as have Baie de Térénez, St-Michel-en Grève, Porz Pin, and Bréhec. The former gardener in me is mesmerized by those hydrangea fields. And while I do have a fear of heights, I would suck it up to take a ride along the Viaduct des Ponts-Neufs. And a gorgeous shot of the Abbey de Beauport. Thank you for the virtual trip to this magnificent part of the world. I hope you are doing well. I downloaded this article to bring along with me on our sailing passage. I am currently anchored off Punto Pulpito, about 33 nautical miles north of Loreto. We will post this comment when we sail past a cell tower.

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    • Thanks so much Lisa. Before our trip I expected to be awed by places like Saint-Malo and Mont-Saint-Michel but didn’t expect that so many little places I’d never heard of would turn out to be so great. The whole journey really was wonderful and there was never a day that felt like we were just cycling to get somewhere.
      I’m looking forward to hearing about what it’s like north of Loreto (that’s as far north on the Sea of Cortez that I’ve been) but have seen some gorgeous photos. All the best on your continued journey!

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  3. AWESOME trip! Sean would love this – maybe sometime in 2022!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The coastal and crescent bay views are stunning. Great weather too once again. Was it windy trail along the coast? I’ve walked high above along Australia’s beaches on lovely sunny days. I always thought there would be no wind but usually, there is some kind of gusty sea breeze on the most beautiful of days 😀 Hope that 15km walk wasn’t a long one. You got there in the end 🙂

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    • Hi Mabel! Great to “see” you. Surprisingly, it was not too windy when we were there. I know that part of France can get big storms and wind, but I think it’s mostly later in fall and winter. I’ve only seen photos of the walks above those gorgeous Australian beaches. Hopefully I’ll get to see them in real life one of these days. Take care!

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      • That’s great to hear it wasn’t too windy where you were along the coast. Maybe one day you’ll take a trip here and walk along our sunny shores. Stay safe 🙂

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  5. What gorgeous paths you discover on your cycling explorations! I still remember the smell of salty mud-marshes and the taste of flaky sweet kouign-amann during my time in Brittany.

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  6. The more you post about Brittany, the more I am convinced that I need to go there myself one day. I’m really intrigued by the flatness of the last stretch of V4 as it would be perfect for my mom — unlike my dad who’s able to conquer hilly tracks, my mom is more of a casual cyclist who prefers flat road. I can’t wait to read about The Mont!

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    • Hi Bama! Yes, that stretch along the Baie de Mont-Saint-Michel is ideal for those who prefer flat riding. A part of it is along the top of the dykes and is reserved for walkers and cyclists, making it especially pleasant with no cars to worry about. Another stretch that your mom would like is the ride between Saint-Malo and Dinan; the section along the Rance River is super peaceful. Coastal Brittany and Normandy are generally hilly, but I’ve read about other lovely, flat inland rides along canals and rivers. I think you could cobble together a nice itinerary that includes some riding and some car travel. You know where to find me if you ever want more details.

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  7. Ahhh Caroline you have made me feel very nostalgic and desirous of a return trip to France. Such a wonderful collection of memories and sights here, I cannot wait for Ben to finish his business call so I can share them with him. Oh the buckwheat crepes… YUMMM! Worth the trip just for those… Beautiful part of the world to be sure.

    Peta

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Peta! As I think I’ve mentioned before, it’s kind of sad that we always gobbled up those crepes before thinking about taking a photo. It’s such a simple meal but ever so satisfying and filling. We’d often eat both a savory and a sweet one. I haven’t seen a lot of France but this region has set the bar very high for us. Thinking of you guys in sunny Mexico. Cheers, Caroline

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  8. Uncool Cycling Club

    Beautiful! That was bad luck about your puncture though…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, there was a bit of cursing going on, especially after our replacement didn’t work. But at least it was a lovely day and, for once, no hills.

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  9. I’m reading along and enjoying the photos, and then the mention of baguette brie and pate and I’m completely transported.
    Alison

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Ouch, 15 k’s of walking. I think I am falling in love with this area. The beaches are divine, the villages stunning and of course the food sounds sensational. Lovely photos. Lyn

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Lyn! The 15 km of walking was a bit of an extra workout but at least it was flat with beautiful sunny weather. I remember indulging in an extra large dessert that night.

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  11. Wow, fantastic photographs, Caroline, and I can’t believe you had to walk the last 15 km 🙈🙈🙈! But I can only imagine the feeling when you are cycling towards Mont Saint Michel and you finally get to see it for the first time. We had two full days devoted to the Mount and I could have easily stayed for more. Thanks for sharing and have a good day 😀 I hope there are more posts coming our way about your cycling adventures in Brittany and Normandy. Aiva

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Aiva! Cycling towards Mont Saint Michel was a huge highlight for me. That wonderful anticipation with the Mont getting bigger and bigger will be part of my next blog post. You are lucky you got to spend two full days. I would enjoy returning, perhaps mid-winter on a bleak day with few people around. Yes, lots more to come. Thanks for your enthusiasm.

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  12. Wow! Such lovely pictures! I loved Morlaix … it was one of the first places I stopped at after cycling from Roscoff. It’s all so pretty there … your pictures are making me want to go back!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Katie. Morlaix was an unexpectedly pretty surprise. I guess I hadn’t done much reading about it. I’m sorry I missed out on Roscoff…perhaps I’ll start out in England next time and take the ferry across..

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      • I didn’t see much of Roscoff as I had broken my bike within two minutes of being on the ferry so was a tad stressed (!) but loved Morlaix and all the little lanes I took to get there … so pretty with glimpses of the sea at the start. Beautiful ❤️

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        • Wow…I would be stressed too!

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          • Yup … it was a schoolboy error too! I tried to lift the bike into position on the ferry by the handlebars and seat … seat came off in my hand with force and punched myself on the chin! Ooooh I nearly cried!! Everyone around me though was amazing … other cyclists trying to help! People are lovely 😊

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  13. josypheen

    Wowza this looks like such a gorgeous coastline to explore. It’s funny that you mention the dolmen as a picnic spot. My parents love searching for ancient standing stones and tombs. They also mentioned that the really good ones in France were almost always devoid of tourists. It’s pretty cool that you get get so close to them!

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    • Hi Josy! When we were sitting next to the dolmen I was thinking that if this was in Canada there’d be no way we could walk right up to it, let alone explore the inside. Plus there’d be all sorts of signage/interpretive info. Perhaps Europe has so many of these ancient treasures that it’s almost not a “big deal”. Without our detailed cycling guidebook we probably wouldn’t even have noticed it was there. That’s cool that your parents seek out these ancient tombs. I read about several sites in the northern Brittany region.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I’m loving your Brittany posts. This area looks so perfect – cute towns, lovely coastal views and great architecture. I can’t decide which is my favourite from this post, but the picture from Baie de Térénez grabs me. The intense blues with the bright white buildings and red boats is an awesome shot. I definitely want to travel there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Maggie. The Baie de Térénez was on our first full day of cycling and we were pinching ourselves about what a great start it was. It set the bar very high. Living by the ocean in Vancouver I wondered whether we’d be ‘wowed” by ocean scenery in France. I was.

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  15. Great post. We look forward to seeing and biking this lovely coastline one day! Thank you!

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