Reader Q&A: Cycling from St Malo to Pontivy on voies vertes

Published by Lyn on 27 August 2014

I received the following email from Hilde, who is planning her next French adventure. (See here and here for some of her previous ones). She's keen to get to Pontivy, but wants to avoid big hills. Here's our email exchange.

St Malo Rennes Pontivy map

Click to enlarge. Map thanks to Brittany Tourismavailable here to download.

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Hi Lyn!

Wonder if you could help please? We have just received an invitation to visit a little village 25km south of Pontivy next summer and thought we would try and do some cycling there. We thought we might be able to get the train to Pontivy and then cycle down/round. Train is no problem – St Malo-Rennes-Pontivy – BUT none of these train to Pontivy take bikes. 

So, we thought we might try to get the train to St Brieuc and cycle the whole way down, on the V8 – but all the info says that the 40km from St Brieuc are 'expert' (it looks really really hilly, which I don't fancy).
I thought I might ask the chap who wrote the book you recommended Green Ways – he might be able to tell me just how difficult that first stage is.
Our only other option is to take the train and then hire bikes at Pontivy – not listed on your site but I will contact the bureau de tourisme to ask them.  Any suggestions from you would be very welcome!
Thank you!

I wrote back:


Of course I can help.

I emailed Harold at Red Dog Books last night and he's come back with this. He specialises in nice, flat green ways (voies vertes) so he's a good person to know.

I hugely recommend his book as it'll give you lots of advice and inspiration, especially as you are such a regular visitor (and don't like hills!) You can get the book direct from him here, or click here for the book at the excellent Stanfords Travel Bookshop.

Here's what Harold said when I mailed hims your query:

Hello Lyn,

Sorry, I can't help much with this as I haven't cycled or even driven the first part of the V8 route because it isn't a green way.

However, taking a quick look at the current information online I can confirm that the 40 odd kilometres from Yffiniac (near St Brieuc, on the V4 coastal route, east of St Brieuc) to Allineuc and the start of the Rigole d'Hilvern is a hilly route. It rises to about 256 metres before dropping down to the Rigole d'Hilvern at about 176 metres. I see there is a station at Yffiniac and if you can find a train that stops there it would be nearer to the start of the V8 than St Brieuc station. 
I think the best information you are going to find online is probably here.

I fear your enquirer is going to be put off by those first 40km. Perhaps a taxi with a bike rack might be the answer.

The rest of the way to Pontivy, on Green Ways, is an idyllic doddle.

Another suggestion is to get a train to Hennebont (on the Nantes to Quimper rail route) and cycle up the Blavet canal – it's level all the way to Pontivy except for the locks. This is the southern end of the V8 route.

Hope that helps

Red Dog Books


Hilde, let me know what you end up doing and if I can help further.

Chat soon,


PS General info on cycling in Brittany is here, which you've no doubt seen. See Brittany's green ways info here. Bike hire in Brittany is here - I'll endeavour to add some in for Pontivy when I get time. As usual, let me know if you find any bike-friendly places to stay and I'll add them to the map below if I can.

*** UPDATE ***

Kevin has posted on our Facebook page in response to this blog. He writes:

"Cycled a lot of this route in reverse (i.e. going North) a few weeks ago. You can take the greenway from Dinard to Medreac (I cycled to Evran and then back roads to Le Quiou). Medreac to St Meen is an easy cycle along a couple of rolling hills - nothing too extreme. Then a good greenway along the old train line to Mur de Bretagne and the canal to Pontivy."

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