We were fortunate to have a period of very comfortable slightly overcast skies that made the ride very pleasant. The previous week had been quite hot, the beauty of the Canal de Nantes a Brest is that much of the tow paths are lined with large mature trees that provide shade and keep the path cooler.
If cycling is your thing, the countryside in the Finisterre is a feast of beautiful rolling hills and stunning coastal viewpoints connected by quiet country roads.
One excellent bonus is the old rail line from Quimper to Douarnenez that was decomissioned in the 80’s has been converted to a trail for pedestrians and cyclists. Called a voie verte it is not easy to find the trailhead just outside of Quimer.
I found some good maps that have the directions from the Quimper train station. To the voie verte.
Map Leaving the station: http://www.voiesvertes.com/images_web/cartes/zooms/ZQuimper.pdf
Map Finding the route verte Start at Ty Planche; http://www.voiesvertes.com/htm_partenaire/detaille29QuiDo1.htm
Arriving in Douarnenez: http://www.voiesvertes.com/htm_partenaire/detaille29QuiDo2.htm
And the map of the last section to our house: http://www.voiesvertes.com/images_web/cartes/zooms/ZDouarnenez.pdf
This is about 25 km of well graded gravel path which is a pleasure to ride. We’ve used it to do a nice day trip to Quimper.
If you are on the bay of Douarnenez in May, then it is imperative to come down to the beach of St. Anne la Palud for the Festival Breizh Wind. Taking place May 9th and 10th.
Then La Semaine du Golfe festival kicks off on the 11th of May and runs all week to the 17th with a jammed schedule of events. The Morbihan Golfe is just south of Vannes which is 144km from Douarnenez.
This is one of the greatest opportunities to see one of the worlds largest wooden boat gatherings. Throughout the week there will be innumerable cultural activities and beautiful boats to see. This year the honorary guest is Croatia and they will bring their traditional gajeta falkusa to the festival.
It is always fun to discover the region through community events centred around an activity. For eleven years now the community of Rosnoën on the Aulne river, just 43km by road (on the way toward Brest) from Douarnenez hosts a small boat festival in June retracing the path of sand barges bringing up sand to Chateaulin.
This year the Route du Sable will take place on the 13th & 14th of June 2015 and they have mapped out the itnerary with great viewpoints along the way. Or if you plan ahead you can get on as a passenger on some larger traditional wooden boats starting in Port de Tinduff and Brest.
This is a beautiful canal ride called the Kreiz Breizh that connects the Loire Atlantic, through the Morbihan to the Finistère. The route design begins in Nantes and ends in Brest, it appears fairly easy to connect to other cycling routes that would end in Douarnenez.
320km of the total 360km journey are along the canal towpath through the countryside, far from the busy roads and beach-side destinations.
Tourism Brittany, has published a full colour map book of the canal routes with all the information you might need to plan your trip.
The SMATAH has developped a guide for the Finistère portion of the canal with lots of maps and additional information http://www.smatah.fr/