A couple of weeks after an amazing road trip in West America, we were getting serious itchy feet to go on another adventure. It was also around this time that we realised that we had definitely had enough of Paris and we would leave before the end of the year.
Sure, Paris is a great city to live in for a short period of time, but we are country bumpkins at heart and right now we want to spend more time surrounded by trees.
Anyway, back to the itchy feet. We ended up looking for a train to anywhere and booking return tickets to Saint-Malo, a firm favourite weekend trip for Parisians.
Of course, in true Frog and Freckles style, we were hardly going to make the trip simple. Not only did we decided to rent bikes and cycle to Mont-Saint-Michel, we chose to do it on a tandem.
Is it difficult to ride a tandem?
When Frog called to rent the tandem bike from Les Vélos Bleus, we were immediately asked if we had ridden one before. “No, but we know how to ride a bike”, we replied. The conversation finished with the guy laughing and telling us to be there at 11am the following Friday.
Now we understand why he was amused. Riding a tandem is like setting foot on a bike for the first time again. So be prepared to put your friendship/couple to the test! But with a wobbly start and a bit of determination, we were soon cycling out of Saint-Malo with a tent strapped on the back.
What you should know about riding a tandem
- You have to stay aligned. As soon as one of you starts wiggling around or turning your head, the whole bike wants to topple over.
- The smaller person has to sit at the back. We did try swapping half way through the trip, but it was never going to work!
- It gets easier the more you cycle. Before you know it, you can start turning your head, removing your hand from the handlebars and even get through small spaces while riding the tandem. We found that it got easier after 100km.
- You will probably want to buy one at the end of your trip. So you know, if you’re looking for Christmas present ideas *hint hint*.
Cycling from Saint-Malo to Mont Saint-Michel – The Itinerary
We decided to bypass main roads where possible and stick to cycle paths when we could find them.
Leaving Saint-Malo, we made it to Cancale in no time for a spot of lunch, then powered on through to near Saint-Anne to camp for the night. We got to Mont-Saint-Michel by lunch the next day, spent a few hours there, then started heading back on an alternative route.
The said alternative route took us through the countryside for a bit and to Mont-Dol where we camped. To be honest, the ride to Mont-Dol is worth it just for the Crêperie at the top. Le Moulin du Mont, aka best crepes on this earth, is a run by the sweetest family and they even invited us to put our tent up in what was basically their garden. Many thanks again if you happen to read this!
The third day was by far the hardest. If sore bums and legs were not enough, the wind in our faces slowed us down no end! We also had the pleasure of going past each and every marker that counted down the kilometres to Saint-Malo. There has to be something wrong with them because they were definitely too far apart 😉
How long does it take to bike to Mont-Saint-Michel?
It took us about 2 days in total (Friday lunch to Sunday lunch) on a tandem. It would probably be much faster on normal bikes…like we said, those first 100km take a lot of getting used to!
Things to do in Saint-Malo
Explore the streets in the old town, then walk along the walls surrounding it. There are lots of restaurants to choose from, but unfortunately we can’t recommend you one because we chose a bad egg 🙁 . We do however highly advise you to get a Kouign-Amann pastry from one of the bakeries. They are seriously delicious!
When the tide is out, you can also walk across the beach to a little island where Chateaubriand (a famous French writer) is buried amongst the rocks. All in all, you can visit all of Saint-Malo in one day and maybe spend 2 days there if you want to hang out on the beach.
Things to do in Mont-Saint-Michel
Mont-Saint-Michel is much smaller than Saint-Malo and you can easily visit in just an afternoon. Walk through the small streets until you reach the abbey at the top. This is the main attraction and it costs about 10 euros to get in. Overall it is quite a nice visit and not too museum-ey.
Of course, there are lots of places to eat in Mont-Saint-Michel but the majority of it is overpriced and catered to tourists. We ate there, but once again, wouldn’t run back to the restaurant.
Getting to Saint-Malo from Paris
Direct trains run from Paris to Saint-Malo daily and it takes about 3 hours. Some trains will require you to change at Rennes, but this is easy! You are highly recommended to reserve in advance for the best price and guarantee a place. Look out for ‘prems’ prices which start from 20 euros per person. All prices can be found (in English) on the SNCF website.
Would be do it all again?
Absolutely! We already can’t wait to get back on a tandem, have another Kouign-Amann and stuff our faces at Le Moulin du Mont! Oh, and if you’re wondering, yes we did get into a slight tandem tiff but we’re still best friends 🙂 .
Tell us about your tandem or bike escapades! We’re looking for another 2-wheeled adventure…