12 Jul Bicycling along the Euro-Velo 1 route – France
Day 120/121 (6/7 July 2013) – The next morning we wake up refreshed and ready to head north along the coast of France. Luckily for us, all we have to do is follow the “Euro Velo 1” path right outside the campsite to get us there. This cycling path leads all the way to northern France, where a Ferry connects it to the same named cycling path in the UK and Ireland.
We could not ask for better cycling conditions: the path provides a stress-free environment with very little car traffic to bother with, the terrain is mostly flat, and there is plenty of shade along the path to keep us somewhat cool through the high afternoon temperatures. Since there are several other cycling paths crossing our route and the signage is not always clear, we occasionally have trouble following our route. However, it seems that most other cycling routes connect back to the EuroVelo somehow. Bike touring through Spain, Morocco, and Portugal made us feel a little like “unicorns” at times…that is, we only met very few other fully loaded cyclists along our journey. Not to mention the looks and cheers we got from the local folks at times. Here however, on this path, we are just another touring couple among many other people bicycle touring.
There are teenagers with makeshift trailers touring with friends, older couples, and whole families with small children and grandparents on fully loaded touring bikes traveling along this cycling-interstate to their next destination.
As we travel through a pine forest along the coast, we keep checking the campgrounds along our path for pricing. We have a hard time figuring out the whole camping situation here. There are private campgrounds ranging from 30 to 40 Euros ($39.30 – $52.40) and municipal campgrounds, which only seem a margin cheaper. For some reason it costs less to camp in a campervan using electric, than it is to tent with bicycles.
No matter where we go, the campgrounds want to charge us the car prices. When we enquire on the campervan prices, we are told we have no campervan, but for some reason nobody wants to hear that we do not have a car either. On the other hand we encounter some “Aire Camping” which seem to be only reserved for campervans—no tents and camping trailers allowed–which only charge between 6.50 and 10 Euros ($8.50 – $13.10) a night. Go figure!!!
Unfortunately, the campsite prices are not really harmonizing with our budget, so we contemplate wild camping for tonight to offset the cost of the nights we are unable to find a suitable spot.
After riding a full day and having to take a couple detours due to flooded bike paths, we start looking for a spot in the woods late in the evening. Soon we find a place, close to the path, but out of anybody’s sight in the woods to spend the night.
In the morning, we tear down our camp quickly to get going. Not only do we not want to be seen but also the mosquitos in this area are viscously sucking every bit of blood out of our veins.
Today comprises of another uneventful ride along the path, following the coast. Since the sun does not set until after 22:00, we have plenty of time to take some short breaks along our way to enjoy the ocean views. At some time we discover a sign pointing us to a “camping naturelle” which we go to check out. Apparently, France has a few of these “naturelle” camps, which are basically primitive campsites. This one was actually an old farm, turned into a campground. There are even showers and toilets and the price is right, so we stay for the night.