Gouarec Campsite on the Nantes-Brest Canal
Breton Bikes' very own campsite
For the 25 years we've been based at the campsite we've been aware that the campsite at Gouarec is really special – more than that - it's unique... Being set on the Nante-Brest canal towpath would be enough in itself – this is the most famous and beautiful cyclepath in Brittany and now forms perhaps the prettiest section of the Vélodyssée. But there is another major cycle-route that runs through the village – the V6 which follows the route of the old narrow-gauge railway through the heart of Brittany.
All this would be of little value if Gouarec itself wasn't the lovely, unspoilt Breton village that it is. The village has everything you need, restaurants, bars, supermarket, baker, bank all set round the central covered marketplace. You really never need leave the village – but of course you will...
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 covered tombs at Liscuis. Then on to the 'Lac de Guerledan', a large 'estuary like' lake where at Beau Rivage you'll find a beach where even small children can play in safety and there are bars, restaurants and creperies. Also within easy riding is Forge Des Salles the Buddist monestry and the Forest de Quenican - just opened is the museum of the narrow-gauge railway at Bon Repos - there's a lot to see.
Going west takes you through forgotten French countryside that has to be seen 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 the V6 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...
Gouarec campsite is actually built on an island. On one side the limit is marked by the Nantes-Brest canal, on the other flowing from the canal, and then rejoining it to form the island is the D'Oree river split by the weir at the top of the campsite. The total area is 28,000 m2 or 7 acres – for a campsite with a maximum occupancy of 100 Emplacements that is huge. It means that space, no matter how busy, is never a problem and neither is finding a quiet corner to pitch your tent. Likewise those with caravans and motorhomes will find hook-ups that allow them to have a large area open to themselves.
The campsite has been in existence for nearly 50 years and is characterised not only by its island nature, but also masses of mature trees giving shade and calm. Because the occupancy is such low-density the grass stays good and you don't have to pitch tent on some scarred area devastated by vehicles. Hot showers, spacious facilities, washing machine etc all go without saying, but it is our aim to specialise in making cycle-campers and other 'lightweight' campers very happy...
Kate and I have been cyclecamping for over 30 years and running Breton Bikes for 25 so no-one better knows what we cycle-campers are really looking for in a campsite! So here goes...
1 – The campsite is huge and divided into four 'fields' - three are open to all, but one is an area of the campsite where all motorised vehicles are banned – no lying in your tent as someone maneuvers around you and grass that has escaped the ravages of motor-homes;-) The idea is to make a real 'village' feel where cycle-campers can feel they are being looked after.
2 – On the 'lightweight' area there are picnic chairs and tables and a large covered area.
3 – A fully equipped camp kitchen with gas stoves, fridge, pots, pans and crockery/cutlery is available (for free) and has a small covered area in front and picnic tables under it.
4 – We carry a stock of spares and tools for cycles and camping equipment both new and second-hand.
5 – For a change our campers have free access to canoes, fishing equipment – even electric bikes;-)
6 – The campsite has 'emergency' stores for those times when the shops are shut (for example if you arrive on a Sunday afternoon).
7 – One corner of the campsite has a fire pit where people can sit around the fire in the evening and maybe barbecue their dinner – and of course other barbecues are available for hire.
8 – We provide free, detailed route plans for anyone staying at the site to help them explore the countryside and visit the attractions of the area.
As well as this we will have as much available at the campsite as possible, with people coming in to run weekly courses for children (gold panning, fishing, archery etc) acoustic musical evenings and so-on.
For those doing our fixed-centre option there are several alternatives
Canvas 'Sibly' tents – These are 5m diameter traditional canvas tents and are huge inside. They can easily sleep 4 (our teenage son slept 18 in one) and come equipped with beds, chairs, table etc This is a zero-cost option for people doing fixed-centre cyclecamping week.
Classic caravans – These are in two varieties. The first are two small caravans from the 1960's that we have stripped all the kitchen etc from to leave more room for sleeping and sitting. As with the Sibly tent you have full access to the campsite kitchen so you don't have to cook or wash-up in the caravan. This is a zero-cost option for people doing fixed-centre cyclecamping week.
New for this year - a converted Lock-house by the campsite - sleeping up to 10 this is a good option for those looking for larger group and perhaps single people wanting more 'solid' accommodation... This is a zero-cost option for people doing fixed-centre cyclecamping week.