It's almost impossible to resist the appeal of Brittany's spectacular Emerald Coast, with its pink granite cliffs and turquoise seas, wonderful white beaches and deserted little coves. Writers and artists, attracted by the stunning landscapes, dramatic views and vibrant Mediterranean-style colours, have been coming here for centuries, yet the region remains largely unspoilt with much of its original charm still intact. So you'll see locals with shrimping buckets wading the beaches and fishermen cleaning out shells by hand. Be sure to sample the region's signature dish: the seafood platter, piled high with shiny pink lobster, king prawn, silver oysters, scallops and clams, all washed down with refreshingly cold Breton cider.
The cycling routes we've chosen are mostly along uncrowded coastal paths and quiet country lanes with wonderful panoramic views. For much of the time, you're by the sea, with plenty of opportunities to swim from some of the most beautiful beaches in France. On your last day you'll pedal through the ancient Forest of Hunaudaye and have time to visit its imposing 13th century chateau. Other highlights include the gorgeously preserved mediaeval walled town of Dinan and the charming Belle epoque seaside resort of Dinard.
Throughout your trip, the family-run accommodation ranges from a lovely 16th century manor house to a modern 4 star riverside hotel, with pool, on the banks of the Rance. In Dinard, you will stay in the beautiful sea-view upgraded rooms, which look out over the idyllic expanse of blue to the old port town of St Malo.
Read more about this holiday in The Telegraph.
Your holiday starts at M. Jamin's 16th century manor house in the countryside, just 3kms outside the market town of Lamballe. With only 16 rooms, it's a lovely, intimate place to stay. The inner courtyard opens up on to beautifully kept gardens and an elegant terrace for al fresco dining on fine summer evenings.
You stay at Le Manoir des Portes (breakfast and evening meal)
It's gentle cycling today as you head first along quiet country lanes then out to the coast and the lively sailing resort of Pleneuf-Val-Andre. The deserted white sandy beaches here are simply gorgeous so make sure you take your swimming things with you! There are also some excellent ocean-facing restaurants where you can enjoy a long seafood lunch. Lovely beachside trails lead to the sleepy seaside village of Sables-d'Or-les-Pins where your hotel is just 200m from the sea.
You stay at the Hotel de Diane (breakfast included)
Relax on the beach or follow our 25km circular cycling route taking in the Cap Frehel lighthouse and the famous 14th century feudal stronghold of Fort de la Latte. Perched on a rocky promontory above the sea, it occupies one of the finest settings in northern France, and it's easy to see why it's been used on numerous film sets. A climb up to the gallery at the top of the tower will reward you with magnificent views extending as far as Jersey on a clear day.
You stay at the Hotel de Diane (breakfast included)
Today's route starts with scenic pedalling through pretty farming hamlets - wonderful views across the Baie de la Fresnaye. Perhaps stop for a coffee in the bustling market town of Matignon before you head on to the popular yachting village of Lancieux, with its impressive square bell tower capped by a dome and lantern turret. Continue to gorgeous St-Briac where Debussy composed his major work 'La Mer'. The final stretch takes you to your hotel in the seaside town of Dinard.
You stay at the Hotel Printania (breakfast included)
Once a sleepy fishing village on the estuary of the Rance, the English transformed Dinard into one of the most famous and upmarket seaside resorts in Europe. Although a little quieter now, it has not lost any of its charm and many of the Belle Epoque villas have become historic monuments. Walk out to the Pointe des Etretes for views of the off-shore islands, or take a 10 minute ferry across the bay to St-Malo to lose yourself in the narrow cobbled streets within Intra Muros (the fortified walls) of the ancient mediaeval city.
You stay at the Hotel Printania (breakfast included)
A complete change of scene today as you cycle inland and follow the banks of the River Rance. You'll feel like you're taking a trip back in time as you pass sleepy hamlets, forgotten fishing ports and postcard-pretty St-Suliac, officially rated as un des plus beaux villages de France. Enjoy lunch at the lovely sailing port in St-Hubert then cycle along the wonderfully flat towpath to Dinan. Your hotel here overlooks the river and picturesque port, and has a lovely outdoor swimming pool if you fancy a dip.
You stay at the Hotel Jerzual (breakfast included)
This beautifully preserved ancient walled town, with riverfront port and picturesque half-timbered buildings, is an absolute gem. Wander round the marvellously restored ancient squares and ramparts, visit the imposing 13th century castle (with dungeon), admire the flamboyant Gothic basilica and stroll the lovely cobbled streets packed with authentic artisan workshops. Maybe take lunch in the bustling Place des Merciers, where pretty triangular-gabled houses are further examples of Dinan's exceptional architectural heritage, then, in the afternoon, perhaps follow our 25km circular cycle route inland to the pretty village of Evran.
You stay at the Hotel Jerzual (breakfast included)
Your first stop today is the picturesque little village of Lehon, then it's on through quiet farming villages to the impressive 13th century Chateau de la Hunaudaye. The ruins of this huge chateau date back over 800 years, yet the five majestic towers are still in good condition and are surrounded by a water-filled moat. You finish the day with gentle, flat cycling through the forest back to Lamballe where you can relax in the gardens and enjoy a celebratory drink before dinner - a Kir Breton (cassis and cider) maybe?
You stay at Le Manoir des Portes (breakfast and evening meal)
Please note that cycling helmets are compulsory in France for children under 12. As we are unable to provide these, we strongly recommend that you bring your own.
Please see our Planning you holiday page for full details.
During your holiday you stay at the following hotels. If you'd like to extend your time at any of these or, if you'd like to enhance your stay with an upgraded room, just let us know at the time of booking. If you'd like to keep your bikes with you for any extra nights we can arrange this for you for just £ per adult per day and £ per child per day.
NEARBY:Situated just 3km outside Lamballe in the little hamlet of La Poterie, this charming 16th century manoir, run by the affable M Jamin, is the perfect place to get away from it all.
Room upgrades: Superior Room.
Superior rooms are more spacious with a balcony onto the garden.
Extra nights: Please contact us for details.
NEARBY:This lovely little hotel is located 100m from the large beach of Sables d'Or. The hotel is traditional in style and dates back to the 1920s, although it has had extensions and modernisations to the rooms since this time!
Room upgrades: Premium Room, Deluxe Room or Suite.
With its superb location a short 50m stroll from Dinard's main beach and situated right on the sea front looking out towards St Malo, the views from the Hotel Printania are fantastic! The hotel seems more like a museum in style: its quintessionally Breton public rooms - including a sitting room with piano which guests are welcome to play! - all feature the carved wooden furniture typical to the area, as well as paintings by local artists and Henriot Quimper porcelain.
Wtih a superb sea front location, just a stroll from Dinard's sandy beach, the 5* Hotel Castelbrac oozes charm, elegance and luxury. A converted 19th century villa, today guests can enjoy the sea facing lap pool, elegant lounge, exclusive bar - housed in a former acquarium - and gastronomic restaurant.
This modern and comfortable hotel is right in the heart of the picturesque port of Dinan. From the bar and restaurant terrace, you can watch the comings and goings of the pleasure boats on the river Rance. The hotel boasts excellent facilities: there is a jacuzzi and fitness room as well as a seasonally heated pool.
Room upgrades: Room with terrace/balcony.
We are delighted to have found this lovely hotel right in the heart of mediaeval Dinan. All the rooms are en suite and individually decorated with stylish soft furnishings.
Room upgrades: Garden Room.
If you'd like to extend your trip with extra nights at the start or end, or if you'd like to arrange a stop off point en-route, then we recommend the following hotels.
The 4 star Le Senat is simply stunning! There are just 41 rooms, all stylishly furnished and a couple of suites with terraces, if you really fancy splashing out! All have satellite television, mini bar, air-conditioning, safe and hairdryer, plus Internet access.
Everyone who goes on a Headwater holiday will be emailed a link to our post-holiday questionnaire where they can give us an honest assessment of all aspects of their holiday - everything from how quickly we answer the phone to how clean the hotels were - plus an overall rating and comments about their holiday.
Any feedback collected is posted to our website, so that people can make an informed decision based on past experiences before heading off on holiday. We don’t edit the reviews, the only thing we do is proofread them and alter any typos, where necessary, to ensure they are easy to read for everyone. All reviews will be published (except in certain extreme circumstances), and a member of the Headwater team will respond to any constructive criticisms/comments under the reviews, at their discretion. So, for the real tales, twists and turns of our holidays, look no further than the reviews from our previous travellers.
Everything we wanted when we chose the holiday. Steve could not have been more helpful. At our age we decided not to take up his suggestion of Nordic Skiing with Headwater this coming winter although he was very persuasive. He is a great asset for Headwater. Just what we expected from other reviews.
A fantastic insight into the delights of Brittany. Safe and quiet roads, lots of places to stop for refreshment, perfectly located hotels and fabulous food. Cycling is fairly challenging for weekend cyclists but doable. No monstrous hills and good distances. Support from Headwater rep was second to none. Would gladly do the whole holiday again.
Backroads of Brittany was our 4th holiday and they have all been fantastic. Our tour leader Steve was excellent and gave us plenty of ideas for where to stop to eat or what to stop and look at. The moving of our luggage went smoothly; the bikes were great, the APP made life so much easier compared to the previous 3 trips when we had to use the maps and instructions on the handle bars; the staff at the accommodation were very good. We like the concept of staying 2 nights at each hotel. We liked the mixture of modern and authentic French buildings.
Interesting routes, individual hotels, and some wonderful scenery. A great holiday for artists, photographers, and lovers of seafood.
Extremely well-planned and well-paced cycling holidays, at a price that is great value for money. I enjoyed staying two nights in each location rather than moving on every day.
The local agent Steve Barrington was 100% more helpful than previous agents and that made a difference
Our tenth Headwater cycling holiday and we decided to repeat the first one we did. It was nice to see the Blue Book in Le Manoir des Portes and to see our previous comments. It was also nice to see Steve, our holiday rep, again. We flew from Southampton to Rennes where there was a long delay to get through passport control but Steve waited patiently to pick us up. The cycling routes have been improved and the RideWithGPS application was very helpful. There was an excellent choice of places to eat in Dinard and Dinan; where the Hotel Le d'Avaugour did not have a restaurant. The Evran loop (on the rest day at Dinan) was very pleasant but take a picnic, as we didn't find a shop in Evran.
the organisation was excellent and we benefited from having a rep on arrival and departure-steve helped us in many ways and was always contactable.the food choices were too limited but the food was always acceptable.
The Backroads of Brittany cycling holiday was SO enjoyable! The countryside was spectacular, hotels lovely and the food amazing! The Headwater Rep , Steve Barrington, was very helpful and provided us with many local sites of interest, walks and restaurant recommendations. We have been on 8 cycling holidays with Headwater and they have all been very excellent. We enjoy the varied styles of hotels (all to a high standard) and Headwater are very helpful and efficient.
This Brittany cycling holiday allowed us to explore an interesting and lovely part of France, though it was harder than the published rating would have us believe. Headwater's local rep was absolutely excellent with his advice and help. Altogether this was yet another splendid Headwater holiday!
Fabulous holiday. Very well supported.
We had a brilliant time
Great way to explore, great fun in a group.
Recovering from recent back surgery, this was the ideal rehabilitation program for me and my family. We had never visited Brittany before and found it an excellent introduction to this lovely region of France; the route for the week was perfectly balanced with activity and rest days and the hotels very well located to explore the ancient and historic towns of Northern Brittany. Our nine year old daughter was very proud of covering 163 km in a week without having to get off her steed 'Scooby' and push once - and the excellent cycling app took about an hour a day off the cycling time as the navigation was almost faultless. Also - the one day it rained, Steve the rep appeared like magic at the restaurant where we had holed up for lunch with the offer of a lift for the last soggy stretch to the hotel - very much appreciated!
It was simply beautiful. Wonderful food, cycling and scenery.
Our first visit to this part of France, Beautiful coast and countryside, our first cycling holiday, glad we had battery assisted bikes, it made us feel 18 again each time we came to a hill, not bad for two seventy year olds.
Lovely route, lovely hotels and great bikes - some of the hills were longer and steeper than anticipated, the last day is particularly tough for a 1+ ride.
A well organised cycling tour thoroughly enjoyed by us both. Hotels were very well selected for the type of holiday, with much good food to enjoy whilst there.
The luggage transportation was good and the Headwater Rep, Steve was amazing! well done to him for all he did for us!
Excellent area to cycle. Beautiful coastline and an excellent way to experience the area.
Bikes and Cycling routes excellent. Very good choices of varied hotels - all very good locations. The Brittany coast is best seen by bike!
Great cycling. Authentic hamlets, nice quiet route.
Careful consideration of grading and your own physical ability. Whilst every care is taken - cycling can be strenuous. Using electric bikes solves everything! ( But less exercise- but great for hills and admiring the country side! Using e-bikes helps multi generational inclusion and would enable less strong cyclists to participate easily on harder routes.
E bikes were excellent although son enjoyed physical demands of ordinary bike. Need to see them on more routes and more routes on an easy grading. Hotels can be a bit variable, all had their plus points but especially French Hotels can be a bit shabby. Need detailed larger scale maps are necessary to support the route notes which can be confusing. Food generally very good. The e bikes need to be able to manage demands of terrain and the needs of the riders.
I would advise potential customers to double check that the cycle rating reflects reality. For the Brittany Coastal holiday there is clearly a major discrepancy which completely ruined our holiday.
Fantastic service from Steve and great routes to cycle. The Manoir des Portes served the most wonderful food. Both the Manoir and the Hotel Printania were full of character and gave wonderful service. Thank you!
This area of Brittany is excellent for cycling with lots of off road cycling to interesting towns with lovely views. The long time Headwater rep here goes out of his way to provide support. He is the best rep we have had after over a dozen Headwater holidays.
The holiday overall was good with two provisos
It is a misnomer to call it a coastal cycling holiday. Very litle time was spent cycling along the coast or even close to it.
It is harder than a 1 cycle holiday. It fits into the description of a 2 cycle holiday without a doubt. Too many times were spent walking the bicycle uphill. Only one of the 5 days could be considered 1 cycle.
I am only learning to cycle, so some of the route was hard for me but the rep, Steve, was brilliant, very supportive and made sure I relaxed and built my confidence. The scenery was stunning and the route varied. Lovely holiday.
This was my 16th cycling holiday with your company in the last 12 years! Had a really good time but the grading should be a 2 bike holiday as it was tough with lots of really steep hills. I was with my daughter and she found parts of it challenging. We stayed in the walkers hotel in Dinan as the cyclists was full at the time of booking. I paid 100 euros to upgrade to a room at the back of the hotel as the front was too noisey. The room was small with a large bathroom but not really worth the amount extra I paid. I think you should maybe look to have a different hotel in Dinan as there seemed to be lots of good hotels with more competitve rates which would be better. The proprietor and staff at the Hotel d'Avaugour were not welcoming and at times quite rude. There was no hot water on the first morning. As for your rep STEVE - he is amazing. So helpful, kind and thoughtful. You need to look after him. He is taking lots of photos for your monthly competition! I hope to book with you again next year. Josephine Ball
I appreciated the choice of routes given on one of the days and the rep gave us many tips to add to our enjoyment eg a restaurant off the beaten track and certain view points. He also made sure we were aware of any obstacles on our route such as road closures.
Really good holiday, challenging and rewarding.Loved the routes through the byways, hamlets and villages.
Steve gave us lots of confidence, we felt that if there was a problem, he would soon sort it.
However we did think it was quite expensive and the hotels and meals though very good did not quiet reach
the standard that we might have expected. In 2007 we did a Loire valley cycling tour with Inntravel and their
hotels and dinners were superior
I am truely impressed with Headwater , Steve was fantastic , we rode together on 2 days.
Mick the film maker/photographer joined on the last day , really great company.
I'd love to see the movie you made of me cycling to promote Headwater .
The easy way to enjoy a cycling holiday abroad
This was a good holiday made more enjoyable by perfect weather throughout. The cycling was varied and the terrain different and interesting. We spent two extra days in Dinan (we prefer 10-night tours) and found plenty to do. There were lots of opportunities for cafe stops throughout the tour. There were some hills but we four pensioners just walked up them - the countryside would have been less interesting without them! None was longer than 700 metres - nothing like the 3-km walks onto the Lot Valley causses or the 5-km slogs in the Jura. The rep, Steve, was excellent. We had heard good reports of him from other cyclists on earlier Headwater holidays and he fully lived up to his reputation. The loan of large-scale maps (1:25,000) was an excellent idea and should be taken up everywhere. And when we had our first bike problem in four years of Headwater cycling (a seized wheel bearing), he had the problem fixed with a new wheel within 30 minutes of the call for assistance. Informative, interesting and always cheerful, he is the gold standard to which every Headwater rep should aspire.
We find Headwater a very professional organisation. The cycling routes and notes are well thought out and the reps are knowledgeable and very helpful.
Varied locations made for an interesting cycling holiday, time given for exploring some of locations on foot or otherwise. Helpful information given
This was our nineteenth Headwater cycling holiday and once again they delivered.
An excellent selection of hotels in a variety of locations with accurately classified routes in between.
We drove through the Tunnel but with the benefit of hind site we might have considered travelling to St Marlo as foot passengers, to be collected by their representative and taken to the first hotel.
The countryside is charming, the coastal views amazing and once again it was rain free - that's only 3 days rain in 152 days of Headwater cycling holidays.
I would not hesitate to recommend this holiday, but do a little practice on the bike before you go to get the full enjoyment.
An excellent holiday with beautiful countryside and varied activities. Steve was the best rep we have ever had and his extra maps, information made the holiday that much more enjoyable. It was reassuring to have a spare inner tube and the bikes were well maintained.
Great bikes, great service and a great holiday...thanks!
Splendid! An escape from the normal!
Overall, this was a very enjoyable experience, one of the best we have experienced in France. We really appreciated the sea view room at the Hotel Printania.
We are in our mid seventies and we wished to see if we could still manage to cycle the routes. We managed but found there to be more hills than anticipated and on reflection we would have been better to have taken our own bikes, particularly for my wife, this was not a reflection on the bikes provided but just what we were familiar with.
We have used Headwater a lot in the past but cannot remember the division created by those who paid extra for higher standard. It was strange in restaurants seeing some being given better located tables thus removing any possibility of conversation, they also received much superior rooms. I suppose it reflects the age we now live in but in the past there was more a feeling of adventure and sharing it with other travellers.
Hotel rooms and area were great. We did upgrade every night. But don't expect the hotel food to be enough to keep you cycling the next day. Funky food with drizzle. The menu was repeated each night. We could have done with twice the amount we were given each night. Very expensive wine at all the hotels. Pleased we have been there but would not go on this holiday again.
Brilliant holiday, made us exercise!
Hills were a challenge.
Although there was an unexpected change to the accommodation at the end of the holiday the helpfulness of Steve meeting me off the St Malo ferry on the first day of the trip removed any further obstacle to the enjoyment of the holiday as my car was already located where I needed it to be for the return trip to the ferry on my last day. The bags were always present at the hotel to which I was moving when I arrived. The whole trip was made very enjoyable by the glorious weather and after the first transfer day any worrries I had about my baggage being transported were gone and I was able to enjoy the whole of the trip with a relaxed frame of mind. I would definitely consider a similar trip with Headwater now I am confident about their efficiency.
My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed the holiday. It was very well organised with varied routes on almost deserted roads through beautiful countryside and coastline.
Because it was very windy we found it more tiring than expected. Although the landscape is fairly flat there are some steep climbs.
All the hotels(which were very different) were comfortable and the food of a high standard.
As you can tell from the above 'excellent' rating we had a very happy and memorable holiday and returned home feeling relaxed and fit. The holiday exceeded our expectations and we appreciated the level of planning and preparation that had been done by Headwater and by Steven (our Rep in Lamballe) to ensure that we had a trouble free and carefree time in Brittany. We loved it and are already thinking about which Headwater cycling holiday we could do next summer.
With regards to the rating for 'level' of cycling - it was perfect for us, we are regular cyclists and 30 miles a day is a good average for us, but when we booked, we wondered if we would fine it too easy as it was classed as 'easy' and ok for people who hadn't been on a bike recently. I don't think I would have found it very enjoyable if I had been in that category. That's my only constructive criticism of the brochure - otherwise, we had a ball!! Many thanks.
All in all we enjoyed the holiday. Helped that weather was good. Rep was good. Cycling was not easy at times but there was nothing that we could not manage (Even though walked up a few hills). Scenery was good but we were disappointed that two of the cycling days were not coastal routes. Sable D'0r Le Pins to Dinard particularly dull.
We were two 'grand old ladies' travelling together, the other quite inexperienced with this kind of holiday, and cycling every other day she met with great approval! Steve, the Headwater representative did absolutely everything to make the vacation a perfect one, and also his wife joined in. His historical and geographical knowledge is unique! The landscape was beautiful, and so was the people we met. The route was calm and easy to follow, except from some misunderstandings, but that I am used to, and is also the charm about it : ) Headwater was a new and good experience. Coming from Norway, this was my first cycling tour with a non-Scandinavian company.
I have told a lot of friends about the walks and the cycling tours Headwater has :))
You can be confident that our pricing includes all the standard requirements of your holiday and many additional extras. Always ensure that you are comparing like for like when booking your holiday.
This 8 night self-guided cycling holiday includes:
Hotel-to-hotel accommodation in a mix of , and hotels
All buffet breakfasts and 2 evening meals
Management by your local Headwater-appointed agent
GPS route directions and maps
Headwater navigation app
High quality bikes
Standard transfers at the start/end of the trip (if booking inclusive flights)
Luggage transfers between hotels
Headwater cider service
How to book:
We do not currently have departure dates and prices available on-line. The season may have ended for this tour, or we are still in the process of adding these details to our website. Please contact us for further details.
Tour only from £1139. Flight inclusive prices from £1349. Per child when sharing a room with 2 adults.
Self-guided cycling Managed locally by Headwater appointed agent.
All buffet breakfasts and 2 evening meals
It is possible to hire electric bikes for this holiday at a supplement of £100 per person. As these are available on a first come first served basis, we recommend early booking to avoid disappointment.
Transfers can be arranged at a supplement from Lamballe train station at 17:23 and back to Lamballe train station at 10:15