- Travel and Places
France in a Ferrari: Loire Valley, Brittany
Road trip: Brittany, Loire Valley, France
The Loire Valley is a wonderful part of France, with many old picturesque towns and villages, beautiful architecture including some very impressive chateaux and of course fantastic food and wine. Brittany, by the coast and not far from Cornwall in the South West of England, just the other side of the water has a very different feel to most other parts of France.
After buying myself an old classic car as a 30th birthday present (a red 1985 Ferrari 308 GTS: A premature mid-life crisis) I decided to take it across the channel by ferry (from England) and go for a bit of a road-trip. Driving between vineyards and tasting wine is not a good idea, but it is possible to stay at some stunning hotels and chateaux where you can taste wine to you heart's content.
This article is about the journey and some hotel recommendations, travel tips and advice and of course a few photos (although I took a lot of the car and not enough of the scenery and architecture)
Map of Loire Valley and Brtittany, France - French Road Trip Route Map
French Road Trip Itinerary
The Loire Valley and BrittanyFerry: Portsmouth, UK to Saint Malo, FranceSaint Malo to Roscoff: Hotel ReginaDrive to Quimper: hotel Mascotte Quimper.Quimper to Vannes: Hotel MascotteDrove to A11 via Nantes then N152 to Onzain: Hotel Chateau des Tertres, OnzainDrive to Amboise: Le Fleuray Hotel, Cangey, AmboiseDrive to Auxerre via Blois, Orleans: Hotel: Petit Manoir des BruyÃ©res, 89240 Villefargo,Yonne.Drive to Auxerre.back to Brittany via Paris to Dinnard: Crystal hotelDrive to Saint Malo: Hotel Oceania
Getting to The Loire Valley and Brittany (from England)
There are many routes across the channel to France from England, but if you want to start in Brittany the Portsmouth to Saint Malo route is good and allows a bit of rest on the boat...theoretically
We used Brittany Ferries which cost Â£346 return, with reclining seats (i.e. no cabin or bed) I didn't sleep well. I wish we'd got a cabin, but they were all booked. It would have been worth the extra money. The price varies a lot depending on the time of year etc.
Food on the boat was ok, but over-priced. We had breakfast in the "posh" restaurant on the boat - over-priced rubbish
Beautiful French Country Hotels
We drove from Saint Malo to Roscoff along the coast, stopping for coffee a couple of times. A very pleasant, relaxing journey, especially given the chance to use my classic car on quiet roads. On arrival we walked over a strange foot bridge into the sea, about 500m long that just goes nowhere. One of the highlights of Roscoff, perhaps, but it is a wonderful place to enjoy French beer (Pelforth Brune is my favourite) at a cafe by the sea or to watch old men playing bowls. Very atmospheric and French.
Quimper is a lovely city/town with wood-framed houses (14th Century perhaps?) Not much to do, but atmospheric and relaxing. The terrace bar near the cathedral is a splendid place to sit and watch the world go by.
Hotel Chateau des Tertres, route de Monteaux, Onzain
Nice chateauy place - not too expensive (about $70 for the room) near a small village. It doesn't have a restaurant, but does have a bar and Onzain village is just a 1.5 mile walk away, where there is an excellent restaurant. Very good food. Real French, non-touristy stuff.
Here's a picture without a car in it
More wonderful places to stay
The town of Amboise has the excellent Royal Chateau, which is definitely worth stopping to visit.
Le Fleuray Hotel in Cangey near Amboise. Quite remote. Not as interesting as some "chateau" style hotels, in fact more of an old farm-house or large cottage. It was run by English people and has a nice atmosphere.
A nice place for a G&T in the garden, although rather a captive audience, as there are no other places to go to nearby.
Dinner: English-ish/French cuisine - good,but quite expensive: $160ish
Breakfast. $22 for coffee & bread!
Expensive, but very different to your average US/International style hotel
Beautiful French villages - O.K. so I took loads of pictures of the car and not enough of the surroundings
Petit Manoir des BruyÃ©res Villefargo,Yonne.
Great atmosphere. Very different establishment with one huge room downstairs. Felt like house-guests rather than hotel guests.
Dinner was excellent. One dish served to all 7 guests at one large table.
We were going to go to Alencon as a suitable mid-way point, but decided to go all the way back to Brittany instead. Took motorway route via Paris. A long drive, but there's no point going somewhere for the night just because it's on the way Intended to go to Dinan, but the other half was map-reading, so we went to Dinnard! Oh well: a beach resort instead of a medieval town.
Crystal hotel on sea-front.
Beach-side bars. Actually not bad here, although I expect Dinan would be better. Easy mistake to make (if you can't read)
Compact Digital Cameras
This old port was heavily bombed during the war, but has been rebuilt exactly as it was. It retains its character and is a great place to stay for a couple of days. It also has a ferry terminal with ferries to England, making it an ideal starting point for a driving holiday in France.
Beautiful French Villages
French Cuisine... and booze
Wonderful French seafood at Saint Malo. The "Plateau du Fruit du Mare" (i.e. Seafood Platter) is often enormous and quite expensive... That is a portion for one person (O.K. to an Englishman like me that looks pretty big)