French Trails

Our first stop on our recent tour through France and Spain was with our friends who live just outside the town of Pre-en-Pail, near Alencon, where they run a B & B. They live up a single track lane off the main road between Alencon and St. Malo. A couple of hundred yards up, the lane crossed an old single track railway line, via a level-crossing.

As recently as our last visit in the spring of 2019 the track was still in place though rusty and overgrown, not having seen any trains for years. This time however, after a good eighteen months since we were last there, we noticed that the rails had been removed and the disused route had been turned into a cycling, walking and horse-riding route and only recently opened. Apparently this is part of a new long-distance route from Paris to Mont Saint-Michel. It is not yet complete, there is more work to do but we were keen to explore it.

We had bikes with us as we were to do La Pedals de Clip classic cycling event in Spain a few weeks later. For this we had solo bikes with us, but we also had our trusty George Longstaff tandem and this is what we used to to explore the new route. Of course we didn’t have time to ride the whole thing, but we did sample several miles in each direction from where it crosses the lane to our friends’ house.

Hubby looking up the trail towards Mont Saint-Michel
Me on the trail towards Alencon
Should you wish to ride it here is a Km marker showing the route length.

In some places as yet the route crosses the main road which is rather busy but at one place in the Alencon direction an underpass has been built, possibly as a test case for others. The problem with this is that it is goes quite steeply up and down under the road and in wet weather the gravel tends to get washed down into the dip. As we went through and put on the power to get up the other side we came to a sudden standstill as we slammed into the deeply piled gravel! We just about managed not to topple over.

Having said that and, despite the complaints of some locals (according to our friends) this route is a great use of an old railway line. It has also been advantageous to our friends as they have already benefited from several walkers and cyclists visiting their B & B. Maybe another time we will be able to explore a bit more of this new route, though I think the whole distance would be a bit ambitious for us!

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. ladysighs
    Nov 27, 2021 @ 16:01:02

    What a wonderful adventure to share with us! And your picture too!
    Biking: nice and slimming! 🙂


  2. Missionarysights
    Nov 27, 2021 @ 16:13:47

    French Trails. On Saturday, November 27, 2021, By The Wobbly Dum-Dum Tree wrote:

    > Libby posted: ” Our first stop on our recent tour through France and Spain > was with our friends who live just outside the town of Pre-en-Pail, near > Alencon, where they run a B & B. They live up a single track lane off the > main road between Alencon and St. Malo. A co” >


  3. Jules
    Nov 27, 2021 @ 18:47:00

    We have several rails to trails here. Recently I read that the last parcel was gotten for an extended trail along one of our rivers.

    Maybe they could just pave those low dip areas. But still when the rains come I bet it would be muddy. Looks like you had a grand time. Sad to say I didn’t get my bike out once this year. Maybe next year. 🙂


    • Libby
      Nov 28, 2021 @ 11:24:57

      It is a good use of disused railway lines and we have lots of them too. I think perhaps making the dip less steep would have been better, and possibly paving it as you suggest, but it could then as you say get muddy or even have in impassable puddle! No simple answer perhaps.


      • Jules
        Nov 28, 2021 @ 14:19:47

        We had a one lane bridge that always flooded. I am not sure how it got resolved, rather who finally paid for it since it basically connected two different townships, but it was finally widened to two lanes perhpas raised just a bit, but I don’t think enough so when it rains hard I always take an alternate route.

        Some rail to trails – like some parks are better maintained than others. Either by volunteers or the counties they exist in.

        I know when I went kayaking in autumn that volunteer groups were taking trash out of the waterway. So if it was within reach Hubby and I picked up some trash too. We didn’t have any bags. But the gal we rented the kayak from didn’t mind that we did – she filled three trash bags with what we had collected.

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