Since we first started Breton Bikes in 1989, this village has
been the base for all our French cycling tours, just 3 kms from our house. It's
also the base for our gite and fixed centre camping tours (tent below is only for these fixed tours)
I'd like to be able to say that we arrived at such a wonderful
cycling base after many months of searching but in fact it was down to
pure chance:-) We were lucky...
The fixed centre hotel tours are based from the Hotel Jardin de L'Abbay at Bon Repos, just 3 km down the towpath from the centre of Gouarec
Gouarec campsite is 'Camping Tost Aven'. The campsite is now run by an old family friend which is even better for our campers. This is a big campsite in terms of area, it covers about 6 acres, and yet there are rarely more than 100 campers. That means there are (literally) acres of grass for children to play and you are never hedged in by caravans all around which makes it perfect for our fixed centre holidays. The facilities comprise an excellent toilet block, a huge sandpit and a play area with slides, swings and climbing frame - parents know that a big sandpit will keep an under 6 occupied all day especially if there are other children there... There's also no 'through road' on the site, just a lane in which means traffic is slow and safe. For those without kids who are starting to shudder, the sheer size and openness of the site mean you're not in the centre of some 'Lord of the Flies' scenario and you'll have no problem finding a quiet corner. The campsite is bordered on one side by the Nante-Brest Canal (one of the prettiest in France), and on the other by the River Dore (d'ore - the river of gold, the river still contains enough gold to attract the odd prospector...). These two waterways teem with fish and if fact a large number of the campers will be there simply for the fishing. The canal runs for 172 miles and has a cyclepath along it - one of the main attractions for cyclists staying there because the canal, and it's scenery are stunning.
What the campsite doesn't have is a late night disco, bar or similar, essentially it's quiet, friendly and homely - those looking for French nightlife will be disappointed...
Gouarec has every amenity you could want. A medium sized and a small supermarket, two bakers, a lunchtime restaurant (4 courses for 11€/$ (£10) including wine), a superb pizzaria, a creperie, five bars and of course bars and restaurants at Bon Repos are a 20 minute cycleride away along the canal towpath ... The village, our gite and the campsite are tucked away any big roads. The centre is Napoleonic and in parts much older and a real picture with several magnificent houses, the arched marketplace of 'Les Halles' and the actual square is the sort of place a dog can sleep in the road... Late night activities are limited to bars, the pizzaria and creperie and in the week most will shut after 10-11 pm leaving it the sleepy little village that it is. again, if you are looking for wild nightlife this isn't the place for you:-)
As already mentioned the jewel in the crown of Gouarec is the Nantes-Brest canal which flows through the village. The towpath is obviously pretty flat and the surface 'cinder', our bikes ride over it very well. It gives you the chance to cycle either way, East takes you to stunning 'Bon Repos' - the perfect picnic spot with a ruined abbey, restaurants, bar and play area, and a lovely little Sunday morning market. A short climb up from Bon Repos takes you to some of the best preserved megalithic tombs in Europe. Then on to the 'Lac de Guerledan', a large 'estuary like' lake where at Beaux Rivage you'll find a beach where even small children can play in safety and there are bars, restaurants and Creperies.
Going West takes you through forgotten French countryside that has to be seem to be believed - ultimately all the way to the town of Carhaix if you feel like a longer ride (20 miles each way).
As if that isn't enough there's a cyclepath from Gouarec that follows the old railway line. This is an easy ride to the town of Rostrenen where on Tuesday there is a wonderful street market, then on the lake at Mael Carhaix.
Besides this totally car free cycling there are a mass of little quiet lanes where you can meander for hours and arrive at tiny Creperies hidden in the wood, or cycle to another little market town - there really is too much to do...
So please don't see our 'fixed centre' routes as a poor relation to the 'real thing':-)
See Breton Bikes new venture! For those wanting a place to drive their sportscar...!