Early impressions of Corsica

_65889719_corsica-mountains

April 16, 2015 | Posted in Uncategorized | By

Corsica is the most mountainous island in the Mediterranean, and more mountainous than most of Southern Europe.

It also has the highest murder rate per capita in Europe!

Welcome to some early thoughts on Corsica, following on from Roscoff to Murviel le Beziers.

I rode 1000km around this island in 7 days back in 1998, and know how tough some of the hills are; therefore I will try to avoid the worst of them. However, you cannot make a cake without breaking some eggs, so we are going to have to tackle some climbs. I’ll keep the mileage down to the minimum possible.

I’ve prepared some early thoughts, but I really think that we should consider leaving our camping equipment behind and stay in motels / hotels. Riding up mountains is hard enough, without lugging kilogrammes of unnecessary luggage.

We will start and finish at the port of Ajaccio on the west coast after taking an overnight ferry from Toulon. It is my intention that we ride off the ferry, straight into day 1.

The following 3 itineraries are a very rough guide, I’ve not done any finessing.

I will of course look at other options to try and keep the hills to a minimum, but we may have to compromise on how much of the island we actually will be able to access without going over some hills.

 

Itinerary 1

This option gives us two hard days, then a a 3rd day where we complete a circular ride starting and finishing in Porto Vecchio meaning that we spend two nights in Porto Vecchio before two easier days up the east coast. Then crossing into the middle of the island to the former capital city of Corte before finishing with a long (45kms) downhill to the port of Ajaccio. Days 2, 3 & 4 are an approximation of day 1 of the Tour de France route from 2003.

Stage

Itinerary 1

Distance

Ascent

1

Ajaccio to Propriano

72

810

2

Propriano to Porto Vecchio

72

1010

3

Porto Vechio to Porto Vecchio

66

630

4

Porto Vecchio to Aleria

76

540

5

Aleria to Bastia

79

210

6

Bastia to Corte

67

1110

7

Corte to Ajaccio

80

1300

512

5600

Corsica 1

 

Itinerary 2

This option is shorter (by just 19kms) but has more climbing and includes a different location on each night. The first two days are the same as option 1. Days 3 and 4 are the same as days 4 & 5 from option 1 , but we dispense with the circular Porto Vecchio route. We use that extra day to ride across the north west coast from Bastia to Losari. Day 6 will also take us to Corte but by a different route and day 7 is the same as option 1.

Stage

Itinerary 2

Distance

Ascent

1

Ajaccio to Propriano

72

810

2

Propriano to Porto Vecchio

72

1010

3

Porto Vecchio to Aleria

76

540

4

Aleria to Bastia

79

210

5

Bastia to Losari

60

1220

6

Losari to Corte

54

1000

7

Corte to Ajaccio

80

1300

 

 

493

6090

corsica 3

 

 

Itinerary 3

This is as close to a tour of the island that I can get in 7 days.  It is about 25kms longer than option 1 but it is hillier, an additional 900m of climbing over the 7 days. We don’t get to see the old capital city of Corte or indeed any of the island’s interior. Nor do we get the long downhill finish.

Stage

Itinerary 3

Distance

Ascent

1

Ajaccio to Propriano

72

810

2

Propriano to Porto Vecchio

72

1010

3

Porto Vecchio to Aleria

76

540

4

Aleria to Bastia

79

210

5

Bastia to L’ile Rousse

67

1270

6

L’ile Rousse to Porto

92

1780

7

Porto to Ajaccio

79

1340

537

6960

Corsica 2

Days 11 and 12 Roscoff to Murviel

France

April 16, 2015 | Posted in Uncategorized | By

Day 11 Grenade to Mazamet (105kms) (320m ascent)

There are no bike path options today. And I failed in my attempt to limit our riding days to below 100kms. Sorry. We avoid the big city of Toulouse by staying north east along the valley of Le Girou river. There are no big hills, but a steady rise all morning until the only significant hill just before lunch in Puylaurens (70kms). Which means that we re-start after lunch with a downhill and continue with another 30 flattish kms to Mazamet our penultimate night and our last night under canvas (or similar lightweight tent material).

 

Route 2,977,880 – powered by www.bikemap.net

Camping tonight is in Camping La Lauze Mazamet

Campsite website:

http://www.camping-mazamet.com/

 

 

Day 12 Mazamet to Murviel les Beziers (87km / 870m ascent or 74km/680m ascent)

Last day, starting uphill from Mazamet following the Voie Verte Passa Pais bike path.

There are infact 3 options but I have discounted option 1 (although 2km shorter than option 2, it has more ascent, so by definition will be hillier).

3 Options:

  1. 50kms bike path to Mons then downhill / undulating to Murviel les Beziers via Cuasses et Veynan. This option is the second longest but has the most ascent.
  2. 50kms bike path to Mons then downhill / undulating to Murviel les Beziers via Cessenon sur Orb. This option is slightly longer but has less ascent than the first.
  3. 32kms bike path to Saint Pons de Thomieres then down-up-down to Murviel les Beziers via Saint Chinian and Cessenon sur Orb. Shortest of the 3 options, with the least amount of total ascent.

Before I started planning the route, Mark asked me to incorporate the Voie Verte Passa Pais bike path into the last day.  The first two options utilise 50kms of the path compared to only 32km in option 3. I will leave it up to you guys to decide which option we should take.

 

Option 2. Stopping in Saint Pons de Thomieres for coffee, probably Mons for lunch and then 35kms of undulating downhill for about 3 hours to  arrive at Mark’s late afternoon in time for a beer or two.

Route 2,977,716 – powered by www.bikemap.net

 

Option 3.  Stopping in Saint Pons de Thomieres for coffee, before tackling the major hill (It isn’t too daunting. It is only 300m of ascent in 8kms, average less than 4%) and then stopping in Saint Chinian for lunch, pushing on for less than two hours to arrive at Mark’s mid/late afternoon in time for a beer or two.

Route 2,977,746 – powered by www.bikemap.net

Days 7 to 10 Roscoff to Murviel

France

April 8, 2015 | Posted in Uncategorized | By

Day 7 Rochefort to Jonzac (86kms) (60m ascent)
A shorter day than yesterday. Flat as a pancake and lots of farms and tiny villages to see today.
Depending upon where we start this morning, we may get to use the Pont Transbordeur for the 4 and a half minute crossing of the river La Charente. It is one of only 8 transporter bridges in the world, two of the others are in the UK (Newport and Warrington).

A quick fly through on Google maps has me thinking that this might be my favourite day so far.
After today the mileage (kms) will increase slightly, but hopefully none of the remaining days will be above 100kms.

Tonight’s campsite is Camping Castors:

 

Route 2,960,716 – powered by www.bikemap.net

 

 

Rochefort-MartrouTransporterBridgeGondola

 

Campsite website:
http://www.campingcastors.com/camping/?lang=en

entree-camping-castors

 

Day 8 Jonzac to Rauzan (90kms) (350m ascent)
A longer day with some undulations but no major climbs. We stay east of Bordeaux and cross the Dordogne River at Lavagnac. Before that river crossing we will also be crossing La Livenne (at Corignac) and the L’isle (at Guitres) today.
There are no bicycle paths that we could follow today.

Tonight’s campsite is Camping du Vieux Chateau, in the Bordeaux vinyards, sat in the grounds of an old castle with a heated pool and a Jacuzzi, about 1/4km from the village of Rauzan.

 

Route 2,963,300 – powered by www.bikemap.net

Camping Rauzan

hotel-du-vieux-chateau

 

Campsite website:
http://www.camping-levieuxchateau.com/

 

Day 9 Rauzan to Agen (98kms) (280m ascent)
The preferred option (part bicycle path) is only 3 kms longer than the shorter road option. But, the bike path is significantly flatter (only 280m ascent, compared to the road route of 660m ascent). Which evber route we take, the day does however start with a small climb up to about 120m and then another short climb of about 40m at 12kms. The last of the “big” hills comes at 20km after which it is pretty flat for the rest of the ride.
The bike path that will be using is the V80 which we pick up just south of La Reole after crossing La Garonne river. The bike path follows the Garonne canal and river. About half of today’s ride is along the V80 cycle route.

Tonight’s campsite, Camping Moulin Mellet is a few kms short NW of Agen.

Route 2,964,839 – powered by www.bikemap.net

 

Campsite website:
http://camping-moulin-mellet.com/home-uk.html

 

CampingleMoulindeMelletcamping-empl

 

Day 10 Agen to Grenade (98kms) (60m ascent)
There are options today.
A full 100kms on the V80 bike route, which follows the Garonne river and canal all day and which might be a little boring.
An alternative of about 3okms on the bike path and the rest on roads, which is about 98kms in total but which has 660m of ascent, or my preferred option which is about 50kms on the bike path and the rest on rural roads. This allows us to get a feel for the area, rather than blindly following a canal tow path.

Today’s campsite is Camping des Lacs, approximately 25kms North of Toulouse.
We are just south of the village of Grenade, where we might have to do our shopping as I’m not sure what facilities are available on-site.

Another pancake flat day of cycling, whichever route we take. Don’t get fooled into a false sense of security, our last day before we arrive Chez Mark is hilly.

Route 2,965,848 – powered by www.bikemap.net

 

Campsite Website:
http://www.camping-des-lacs.fr/

 

Days 4 to 6 Roscoff to Murviel

France

March 31, 2015 | Posted in Uncategorized | By

Day 4 Rieux to Port Saint Pere (76kms) (190m ascent)

A short day, to take into account an afternoon ferry trip across the Loire River. And to provide some rest. It is flat again today! I hope that when we do encounter some hills that riders are not put off.

Today we will not be riding on the bike path at all. There is no bike path option. Instead we ride south east towards Nantes along rural roads. We avoid the traffic and stay out of the city to cross the Loire River at Coueron. The free 20 minute journey takes us to Le Pellerin.

After the ferry ride, we have about 3/4 hour cycling through flat farmlands to reach Port Saint Pere. Our campsite tonight is Le Camping de la Moriniere, overlooking the L’Acheneau river.

Route 2,945,649 – powered by www.bikemap.net

 

Ferry+a+Le+Pellerin+(Couëron)

Port Saint Pere
website link:

http://www.mairie-port-saint-pere.fr/spip.php?article640

Day 5 Port Saint Pere to Saint Vincent Sur Graon (91kms) (230m ascent)

Once again there is no bike path option today.

It is a longish day, but another flat day, although a little bit more undulating than the past 3 days. We will be cycling in the western plain. Staying out of the big towns (east of Challans and west of La Roche sur Yon) but nipping through enough smaller towns and villages to get the full French rural experience.

Today’s campsite is in a wooded enclave behind the small town of Saint Vincent Sur Graron. It looks like there is a bar in town. Whose round is it?

 

Route 2,947,246 – powered by www.bikemap.net

 

 

website link:

http://www.ateepeek.fr/

 

Day 6 Saint Vincent Sur Graon to Rochefort
Mark’s beauty sleep day. It is a longish day, but the additional time on the bike will be compensated for by not having to erect tents and having a bed to sleep in. It is also another pancake flat day. There are options today. Tonight we finish in the coastal town of Rochefort.

Option 1 (Majority bike path) (113kms) (50m ascent)
We pick up the Bike Route #8 at Lucon where we ride alongside the Canal du Lucon to Triaize where the towpath merges with bike route EV1 alongside the Canal du Marans a La Rochelle. This takes us into the seaside town of La Rochelle where the bike path follows the coast for a while before winding inland to finish in Rochefort. This is the longest of the options, but is also the flattest.

 

Route 2,951,335 – powered by www.bikemap.net

 

Option 2 (some bike path) (96kms) (70m ascent) (preferred option)
17kms shorter and negligibly more ascent (20m over option 1). This route utilises about 27kms of bike path #8 and EV1 from Lucon to Marans. From Marans it is rural riding all the way to Rochefort.

 

Route 2,951,371 – powered by www.bikemap.net

 

Option 3 (no bike path) (92kms) (90m ascent)
This is marginally shorter and doesn’t involve any bike paths, so it will be a quicker ride. There are also no significant hills. We ride into Lucon, but instead of taking the canal path we remain on roads and pretty much follow the same route as option 2.

 

Route 2,952,780 – powered by www.bikemap.net

 

Hotels in Rochefort
There are the usual chain hotels:
Ibis and Campanile who are both charging approximately 50Euros per night (not incl. breakfast):

http://www.accorhotels.com/gb/hotel-5595-ibis-budget-rochefort/index.shtml

http://www.campanile.com/en/hotels/campanile-rochefort-sur-mer-tonnay-charente

I also found a small ‘mom & pop’ type hotel which appears to be offering rooms at about 35Euros, but not much information:

http://hotel-rochefort-leforban.fr/index.html

There are a plethora of more expensive hotels ranging from about 70 – 100Euros per night.

 

So at the end of Day 6, if we follow the preferred option routes this is how our map looks:
France 1-6

The first three days of Roscoff to Murviel

France

March 16, 2015 | Posted in Uncategorized | By

Here are my proposals for the first three days. There are options for each day. I have included a short description of each route, together with a map, a webpage link  and photos (where possible) of the campsites.

Day 1 Roscoff to Carhaix-Plouguer
Option 1 full bike path (82kms) (700m ascent)

After leaving the ferry we work our way around the bay and then pick up the paved bike route EV1 / V7. It follows small roads and La Rivere de Morlaix to the town of Morlaix, where join the Voie Verte Ancienne Voie Ferree Morlaix Carhaix, and we remain on this rural bike pathway for the rest of the day to Carhaix.

The Voie Verte Ancienne Voie Ferree Morlaix Carhaix is a dedicated bike path, created from an old 19th century railroad. It is traffic free, part paved and partly packed gravel.

Despite being a bike route there are some lumps and bumps but never to more than 230m above sea level. The most significant being a gradual rise of 200m which starts after 32km.
The last 3kms of the ride is through the town of Carhaix-Plouguer to our campsite overlooking the L’Hyere river.

Route 2,926,059 – powered by www.bikemap.net

 

Option 2 part bike path / part rural roads (76kms) (680m ascent) [Preferred Option]

Although the full bike path option from Morlaix is traffic free, that will be more challenging as the surface is packed gravel and the route is likely to be punctuated with gates. This, therefore is my preferred option. We leave the ferry we work our way around the bay and then pick up the paved bike route EV1. It follows small roads and La Rivere de Morlaix to the town of Morlaix. In Morlaix we leave the bike path and take the D769 which follows the Le Queffleuth river and a number of other smaller rivers all the way to Poullaouen. We stay on this road all the way to Carhaix-Plouguer. Our campsite is situated on the SW of the town overlooking the L’Hyere river.

Route 2,928,638 – powered by www.bikemap.net

 

Carhaix campsite

 

Website Link:

http://www.brittanytourism.com/accommodation/campsites/camping-municipal-de-la-vallee-de-l-hyeres

 

Day 2 Carhaix-Plouguer to Rohan
Option 1 full bike path (112kms) (400m ascent)

A Long day, but flatter than yesterday. After 5km we re-join bike route EV1, then stay on the traffic free bike route alongside the Nantes – Brest canal all day. There are three hills at about 15, 55 & 90km, with a downhill finish into Rohan. The route does not rise to more than 210m above sea level. The campsite is next to the canal, making for an easy get away tomorrow morning.

Route 2,926,070 – powered by www.bikemap.net

 

Option 2 part bike path / part rural roads (100kms) (500m ascent)

This first option is 12kms shorter but we still follow the traffic free canal side route EV1 for 66kms before leaving it at Mûr-de-Bretagne and taking a more direct route on quiet roads (D767 and D2) through the small towns of Neulliac, Pontivy and Noyal-Pontivy. The reduced distance is achieved by avoiding some of the meanderings of the canal towpath.

Route 2,926,074 – powered by www.bikemap.net

 

Option 3 part bike path / part rural roads (87kms) (500m ascent) [Preferred Option]

This second option is shorter still (reduced by another 13kms and therefore a full 25kms shorter than the bike path only route). Again we follow the canal towpath route EV1 but leave it after 40kms. We then take the D31 and D764 to Silfiac and then the D764 to Pontivy followed by the D767 and D2 through the small towns of Neulliac, Pontivy and Noyal-Pontivy to arrive at Rohan. This is my preferred option; it gives us greater opportunities for refreshments as it passes through more villages. It still provides us with a traffic free start to the day and is no hillier than the other two options.

Route 2,928,364 – powered by www.bikemap.net

 

Website Link:

http://www.campingfrance.com/uk/find-your-campsite/brittany/morbihan/rohan/camp-municipal-le-val-d-oust

 

Day 3 Rohan to Rieux 
Redon was my intended stopping point, but the campsite closes at the end of August. Fortunately I was able to find another campsite in Rieux just 5 or 6km further on. Today, if it is even possible, the route is flatter still, with the full bike path option being only 60m of total ascent (although 9kms longer than the preferred option).

Full bike path option (94kms) (60m ascent)
We start the morning by cycling for about 37kms along the EV1 bike path alongside the Nantes – Brest canal to Le Roc Saint Andre. Here we change onto the V3 which is an old rail-trail for about 7kms before re-joining the canal towpath route. This section of V3 may involve some packed gravel trail but is slightly shorter than staying on the canal route as it is a more direct route eliminates some meanderings. We then re-join the EV1 canal bike path all the way to Redon. In Redon we pick up the V42 bike path which follows La Vilaine river to Rieux.

Route 2,931,320 – powered by www.bikemap.net

 

Part bike path / part rural road option (85kms) (230m ascent) [Preferred Option]                             We start the morning by cycling for about 37kms along the EV1 bike path alongside the Nantes – Brest canal to Le Roc Saint Andre where we change onto the V3 old rail-trail to just outside Pleucadeuc. This portion of the ride may involve some packed gravel trail but it is only about 15kms long. We then leave the bike paths and take the D774 to Pleucadeuc and on to Rochefort-en-Terre. Here we change on to the D21 to Malansac and then onto the D775 to Rieux. The route is very gradually downhill for the first 40km after which come the only hills of any significance (one at 44kms the other at 52kms). It is gently downhill for the last 4kms into town. The campsite is in the grounds of Le Parc du Chateau, overlooking La Vilaine river. This is the preferred option because of the additional opportunities it gives us to get refreshments and to see rural life.

Route 2,927,227 – powered by www.bikemap.net

 

Rieuxcamping_1

Website Link:

http://www.rieux-morbihan.fr/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=23&Itemid=126