Published by Andrew on 16 March 2018
If you're cycling the EuroVelo 4 (Tour de Manche) bike route between Roscoff and Mont St Michel, then the V4: A Brittany Cycle Route could be the guidebook for your pannier.
Review by Richard Peace.
V4: A Brittany Cycle Route
by Janet Moss & Pete Martin
Published by Red Dog Books
Available direct from Red Dog Books (£11.50 or €14 at the time of writing)
This guide is produced by Red Dog Books, who are based in Brittany, and covers the signed 406km (252-mile) V4 route between Roscoff and Mont-Saint-Michel, weaving its way on minor roads and more occasional tracks and trails along much of the length of the northern Brittany coast.
As it comes from a ‘local’ producer, you would expect the kind of detailed insight into the area that can only come with the experience of being immersed in the local culture – and it really delivers.
Everyone with a passing acquaintance with France will have heard of the incredible Mont-Saint-Michel and might even know that Roscoff and St-Malo are two of the main ferry ports of Brittany. But if you want to know in which cathedral the remains of a Welsh saint lie, just what Onion Johnnies might be and where the most spectacular coastal scenery can be found (including the best swimming beaches), then this is the guide for you.
The French route from Roscoff to Mont-Saint-Michel is labelled 'V4' locally. It's also part of the marathon that is EuroVelo 4 between Roscoff and Kiev and, rather more realistically, part of the cross-Channel Tour de Manche (for that entire route, including the UK sections, there is a two-volume French guide here and here).
Lovers of wild coastline will no doubt love the route as will those with an interest in the Breton culture, deeply rooted in Celtic history. Highlights of the V4 include Morlaix bay, the Granite Rose and Emerald coasts, Dinard, St-Malo and, of course, the magical Mont itself.
As mentioned, Red Dog is a locally owned and operated English-language publisher that concentrates on walking and cycling guides within the borders of Brittany. It is also the publisher of the very excellent Brittany's Greenways guide and a Nantes-Brest Canal guide for walkers and cyclists.
This particular guide contains all the practical information you might need. A comprehensive introduction answers all those questions cyclists want answering before they set off about any route: how difficult is it?, what kind of bike will be suitable?, how is the route signed?, and much more.
The book’s format is excellent. It is divided into 26 very short sections each based around an area of 1;50,000 mapping that will comfortably fit across one or two pages. The maps are nicely detailed right down to the type of cycle route and surface to expect.
While there are no contours, there are route profiles at the start of each short section. There is a detailed key showing features such as parking, toilets and picnic tables, plus details of where other bike routes (national, regional and local) intersect.
This being France, the guide also outlines all manner of eateries and shops for stocking up en route, as well as detailed accommodation listings (like much else these are located on the maps) making up a good range of hotels, B&Bs, hostels and campsites.
There is also a helpful listings section for bike hire and repair shops, and a great table showing distances between a plethora of points along the route.
Another handy feature of each section outlines any potential difficulties, whether it be a steep gradient areas or where signing is sparse. There is also direction text tied into each map on the opposing or the same page and colour photos to add to the tempting descriptions of places.
About our reviewer
Richard Peace is the author of the official English-language guidebook to the Veloscenie Paris-Mont-Saint Michel bike route and the Sustrans guide to the London-Paris Avenue Verte. He also contributes to A to B magazine, Bike Europe and Eurobike Show Daily.
The entire EuroVelo 4 route through France
The V4 is the section between the Roscoff ferry port and Mont St Michel. See here for ferry information to France.