EuroVelo 4

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EuroVelo 4 is a long-distance cycling route connecting the Atlantic Ocean to the Black Sea, spanning approximately 4,000 km through diverse landscapes and cultural sites across Europe. I only biked the part in France, which is also known as Vélo Maritime, here are my experiences based on the 1156km I biked on the EV4.

After pedaling through the South Coast of France and crossing inland, I finally reached the North Coast of France. The stages on the Eurovelo 4 were leading me from Morlaix to Calais where I would take a ferry to England. I was not sure exactly what to expect, but the time I had spent years ago in the Bretagne was amazing. The coastline is stunning, the food is great and from my experience, the cars drive very considerate towards bikes in France.

France seems to be keen on attracting bike tourists. The EV4 is marketed in this region as the Vélo Maritime and a lot of information can be found on their official website. The signage along the route is as well extensive and while it's mostly on small country roads and not Voies Vertes it should be suitable for the majority of bikers. Personally, I prefer small roads. You can go faster, it's usually not busy and there are no pedestrians you need to share the road with.

One tiny word of caution though, or something to be aware of. The coastline is not flat. There are quite some steep hills along the way. Nothing that can't be handled by pushing the bike, but I did not expect it when I started and thought I would share. But in the end, at least for me, the hills added to the fun. I spent a lot of time along flat canals and was very excited to see a bit more dynamic route.

The first stages in the Bretagne

EuroVelo 4 - Ship graveyard near Plougasnou, Bretagne, France
EuroVelo 4 - mural in Primel, Bretagne
EuroVelo 4 - misty morning on the coast of Britanny
EuroVelo 4 - Beautiful view on Pointe de Bihit
EuroVelo 4 - Tréguier
EuroVelo 4 - My Surly Disc Trucker parked at the coast, close by Plouézec

Arriving in Morlaix, my break was no longer working, so I planned a rather short ride to get the cable fixed. Mor'les Cycles had it quickly fixed and I can only recommend them. In Morlaix itself one thing is clear, you're very close to the coast and oysters and other seafood is present everywhere. Something to look forward to on this rather short stage. The first few kilometers along the coast are not yet very spectacular, but this is changing very fast, the latest at Primel. Primel has an absolutely great campsite, directly at the Pointe de Primel with great views and access to the sea. In the afternoon I made a quick trip to Plougasnou to get some food. And while getting there, I had a huge smile on my face, these views along the way were absolutely fantastic!

The next morning started with a bit of fog, which was fitting for the landscape. Very beautiful ride along the coast before getting into Lannion. Which offered lots of lunch opportunities along the river. The city itself had quite some steep parts, but I fondly remember how some people were standing along the road and cheering me on. But all hills are so worth it, when arriving to an absolute stunning place, the Pointe Bihit. There are at times places that seem unreal in their beauty, and the Pointe de Bihit is certainly one of them. Followed by the Côte de Granit Rose, which is quite spectacular as well with it's pale pink rocks. I stayed at the campground close to the Plage de Trestraou. The campsite was great, but the location too touristy for my taste.

The next day I was again met with absolute beauty. Tréguier with the Pont Saint-François and the direct area around, no words. I was very lucky to be there in spring and the whole area was covered with white flowers. On to the coast near Plouézec, which again had me smile big times. Stunning area with great cliffs and views! And hills covered with gorse, absolutely beautiful sight.

Binic was a cute little town, and had a great bar, the Le Chaland qui Passe, to have a beer and look at people walking by.

Next stages in the Bretagne

EuroVelo 4 - A beautiful beach in Brittany
EuroVelo 4 - Oysters in Cancale
EuroVelo 4 - view on a beach in Brittany
EuroVelo 4 - The mighty Mont Saint Michel
EuroVelo 4 - strawberry cake in Brittany
EuroVelo 4 - view on a far away Mont Saint-Michel

The stage to Les Sables d'Or was a bit unspectacular. In the dimensions of the last days. In normal dimensions, beautiful coastlines and beaches. Absolutely a great bike ride. And it's great to see regional traditions along the way. As it was the 1st of May, people were selling lilies of the valley along the streets.

From Les Sables d'Or starting, I did a bit of a detour to the Cap Fréhel. Great biking in this area! Long stretches of going up or downhill, country roads, hardly any traffic. And then off the coast to Saint-Malo. While it's not a large town, it was actually quite a stretch to get to the old town. Rewarded though with oysters!

Oysters were as well the highlight of the following day. The rest was not so pleasant. First, it took quite some time to get out of St. Malo. Once I arrived at the coast I could see the Mont Saint-Michel already. Far far away. And I don't know about you, but I find these rides crueling. All flat and you can see your goal already, but you seemingly don't make any progress. On and on, hard, especially with a headwind, which I had. To reward myself I stopped along the way and got some really cheap and really good oysters! No surprise, the area around Cancale is famous for its oysters. Closer to Mont Saint-Michel the road goes South, which is really irritating as you bike away from it. Eventually, it goes up North, directly towards it. And the closer you get, the more busy the roads get. Be warned, the path is clearly dominated by pedestrians and biking is not a lot of fun. I had my one and only accident on this stretch. The combination of pedestrians and inexperienced bikers, forgetting all rules and looking around lead to me having a very bloody hand. And eventually a broken right handlebar. Very definitely not my fault, but still something that made the next few days not so joyous. I decided to bike to the island but was rather unnerved by the amounts of tourists, so I didn't go in, but set up camp.

The next day, the first full day in the Normandy, brought me inward, away from the coastline. Nice change, hardly any people, small hills, and great views. And lots and lots of bluebells.

Going up north

EuroVelo 4 - Beautiful hills in the Normandy
Eurovelo 4 - Utah Beach
Eurovelo 4 - Carentan in Normandy
Fisher boats in the harbour of Barfleur
Eurovelo 4 - White flowers everywhere
Eurovelo 4 - Lunch with oysters and white wine in the Normandy

Under other circumstances, I would possibly have skipped going up North, but I had to bridge some time, so I could meet my visitors. But these days were not my favorites. My hand was hurting, a very annoying bike mechanic cut through my light cables and there was a lot of rain in the beginning.

Nevertheless, the route itself was beautiful. The first day was quite hilly, but I'm sure the views would have been great, unfortunately, I hardly could see anything due to the rain. The area doesn't seem to have a high-density in population and I found it hard to get some food. But eventually my hosts brought me to the Crêperie Les Roches De Ham, which had excellent crêpes and an even better view!

The next day, similar. But I had a flat tire, which took me a long time to fix, only to realize that the tire itself needed to be changed. With a little detour, I found a great and very friendly bike mechanic who helped me with that, a big thank you! A lot of rain followed, and frankly, the only thing I remember is that there were millions of fishermen on the little river I followed. Carentan though, was a friendly little town, with a great campsite.

From Carentan to Barfleur, I did not follow the Eurovelo route, but rather biked along the coast. Very doable, not too much traffic and I got to see many of the war memorials, like Utah Beach. A highlight though were not the big historical sites, but a little imbiss, La longue rive. Super great place, with great oysters and fries. I would definitely recommend that as a pitstop!

Barfleur is a beautiful town. Very small, but very idyllic. I decided to stay there for two days, I was in a bad mood and came to the conclusion that I would take the train from Cherbourg to Carentan. A little shortcut.

Stages in the Normandy

Eurovelo 4 - Landing beaches of Normandy
Eurovelo 4 - Beautiful harbour of Port-en-Bessin
Eurovelo 4 - steep descend into Port-en-Bessin
Eurovelo 4 - Katharina Birkenbach in Etretat
Eurovelo 4 - Sea fruits
Eurovelo 4 - Cows in Etretat

Carentan to Port en Bessin was a beautiful stage. Especially the part that is called the Voie verte de la Liberté. It's directly situated on the coast, high up the cliffs. And it is calm, very calm. Almost nobody around, great bike path, an absolute pleasure. This stretch of the coast played a significant role in the Second World War, and while I found some beaches too populated by tourists, here it felt a lot more calm. And giving a great opportunity to reflect on the state of things. To get into Port en Bessin you need to master a very steep downhill stretch. It was so steep, that I actually walked my bike, because I was worried that my brakes would not hold. Port en Bessin itself is an absolutely adorable little town, very inviting to walk around and explore.

On the stage to Houlgate, I had to hunt down again a bike mechanic. I invested a bit of money to get two new Schwalbe Marathon tires. Definitely a good investment, they lasted without a single flat tire until the end of my trip.

The big beach towns are starting and the architecture is starting to change significantly. Very interesting to see. Deauville and Trouville were two towns where I took some breaks. I spent quite some time watching the training on the race court in Deauville and had some sweet treats. From Deauville on, I decided to go directly to Honfleur. The weather was changing to the worse and I was meeting my family in Honfleur. Very good decision, just when I arrived at the camping place, it started to pour.

I did not bike from Honfleur to Dieppe, as I had visitors. But the area is absolutely beautiful and a rest day in Etretat is definitely worth it. The cliffs on top of the town, can't be biked, but are within reach from the local camping place.

En route to Calais

Eurovelo 4 - Beach front in Dieppe, Normandie
Eurovelo 4 - my Surly Disc Trucker in Dieppe, Normandie
Eurovelo 4 - Architecture of the Normandy in Treport
Eurovelo 4 - Surreal hills on the way to Calais
Eurovelo 4 - cycle route signs on the streets of Boulogne-Sur-Mer
Eurovelo 4 - rapeseed fields in the Normandy

I was glad to be on the bike again!

Along the coast, with its ups and downs, literally. This stage definitely had quite some steep hills. Quite naturally, as the towns usually lay between two cliffs. When I reached the end of the last hill, my gear cable broke. Lucky, but well. On the Eurovelo 4 I definitely had quite some things that broke on my bike. It has nothing to do with the route though, but I believe it's simply due to miles I got behind me. The good news though is, that it's very easy to find somebody who can help with fixing the bike on the route. Plenty of bike mechanics!

Shortly after Boulogne-sur-Mer, with good weather, the White Cliffs of Dover are visible. Similar to when I got a first glimpse of the Alps, this was very exciting! And the stretch from Boulogne-sur-Mer to Calais is quite exciting as well. Beautifully rolling hills, covered in yellow and green, giving very surreal vibes. They almost look like a computer start screen. The hills are no to be underestimated though.

Calais marked the end of the EuroVelo 4 for me, I was getting a ferry to Dover. But I was a bit sad, I would have definitely liked to continue further. But not on that trip, maybe on a later one!

Mood: happy :)