St Malo. A Beautiful Start to our European Road Trip
St Malo. I nearly didn’t come this way as the cost of the ferry was quite high, but when I looked at all of the logistics it had to be this route for us. It enabled me to get Lola into bed at a reasonable hour and parks us firmly in the best port for the start of the trip. Every mile counts!
Before I talk to you more about the day on the road here’s a little background. St Malo is a walled town and one of the ports in Brittany, France. It is accessible from Portsmouth on the south coast of the UK with Brittany Ferries, and is a great place to disembark if you are planning to travel the western side of France. There is no need to negotiate the M25 to get to Portsmouth as you do for Dover which makes it an altogether more pleasant experience!
The town is adorned with lots of restaurants, some say the highest concentration per head in Europe, but then I heard that about Lyon too so we’ll stick with the facts – there are plenty of places to eat in St Malo.
I am afraid I personally have not spent any length of time in the town, so it is really unfair for me to tell you my opinions right now; that will come when I am in a position to do so. Instead, I shall refer you to St Malo Tourism website and carry on with my account of our drive to the Loire Valley. I hope you enjoy.
The Drive from St Malo to Onzain
So today is the first real day on the road. Starting off with one of the shorter stretches of driving we are to encounter on our trip. Today takes us from St Malo to Onzain.
Although the motorways would take about an hour and a half less, we have to remember that my car is slow and steady! I am also planning to avoid tolls so it’s the old roads for us. That said, this is the whole point of my journey, enjoying it and making the most of it. I’m not going to see much if I’m on a French autoroute!
I’m off to find coffee before we disembark in St Malo. It’s going to be a long day, so I’ll write the rest of this post a little later down the line.
St Malo to Onzain on the Beautiful Back Roads of the Loire
Today has been exhausting, no other way to put it. I am really happy to be here at Domaine de Dugny in Onzain because it is a stunning location. This Siblu holiday park is set in a rural location in the Loire Valley; it’s next to far reaching fields of sunflowers and couldn’t get much more stereotypical if it tried!
It was such a relief to get here. It took seven hours, and I managed to stick to the plan of taking minor roads without many issues. High points included the rise and fall of the long straight roads through beautiful countryside, a low point was the public toilet we found along the way. That’s a whole chapter of the book in itself.
Having arrived here safely I shall now tell you the route we took…just in case you feel the urge to to do the same one day.
St Malo to Rennes
Stage one of our drive today took us on a fairly easy drive south to Rennes, straight down the D137. Most of our fellow ferry travellers disappeared on the ring-road as we approached the city, but I decided to drive into the centre of town – it was a decision made in part by the need for a toilet.
Being Sunday, the town was very quiet and no, I did not find a convenience. This made my next decision, to depart the town and head on south, very easy. There is a better chance of finding a road with a layby than a town centre toilet, so we followed the autres directions signs and left Rennes, just as unnoticed as we arrived.
Rennes To Onzain
The D775 was our chosen road for this leg, heading south before cutting across country from Le Lion-d’Angers where I took a detour across to join the D770 to Chateauneuf-sur-Sarthe. From there, we joined the minor roads across to Chateau Renault before turning south to Onzain, home of Domaine de Dugny – our first stop.
It was an easy drive but very tiring, I think our average speed would have been around 40 mph as we slowed down to pass through villages and towns along the way. I underestimated today, but at least it is over and we are here in wonderful surroundings to recover for a couple of days! My head is pounding, but we are on our way.
I will post a link to the map along with a route card for those who are interested once I am back in the UK. For now, the floor feels like it’s moving so I think I need to lie down. Wasn’t expecting that- I feel like I’m still on the ferry!