Excellent hill walking possibilities - ask for details, there is too much to be said. The cirque de Lescun is a true beauty, but most walking on the GR10 is very good. Further east, other good walking possibilities around the Pic du Midi d'Ossau with stunning views. The area is generally nice in summer if you like flowers and wildlife.
In truth anywhere in the Pyrénées should be fine. No idea about MTB though.
> Thank you. Ariege will be going to the top of our list of destinations.
> Would you say that this area will be less busy than the Alps?
I have never been here (we are there at the moment) in 'high' summer but have at every other time of the year and it is always amazingly quiet, compared to everywhere else in southern France. There are a lot of large camp-sites scattered up and down the valleys - so it must get busy sometimes, I'm guessing July and August! Exactly how busy is hard to say, John Arran might be along with some info about that when he spots this thread,
There are online topos for Mortain, Fosse Arthour and Clecy - either look up old threads I've commented in on French climbing or google the place name + topo. Aiguille de Mortain is good although the bolting there and at Clecy is a bit 'sporting' at times. Which French port are you travelling from
In terms of Driving down the west coast, go and climb up the Dune De Pyla, it is a true wonder of Europe.
A list of other topos here, not sure where you can find the books though. http://krimpadenn.fr/articles/categories2/biblio/contenu/90-topos
The site tells you who sells the book, some of the bookshops probably have online shops as well (if people don't speak English or if you don't speak French, feel free to ask me for help).
I haven't decided which Ferry to take yet. Dover-Calais and then a long drive to Brittany or take something like the Plymouth-Roscoff. Which I believe is more expensive but less driving on the French side.
Can anyone comment on which would be more suitable?
Plenty of decent bouldering and sports routes around here in Brittany. The Krimpadenn site referenced above is still probably the most detailed and I think it still has active links to topos.
I've not taken the Plymouth-Roscoff ferry in years, because it is so bloody expensive (especially in the summer) and long, which is a real pain as I watch it sail past the house most days. Britanny ferries are only worth taking if you're on a night crossing and use that to rest (though this is arguably slower), but you've then got to pay for a cabin to get a decent night's sleep. Portsmouth-St Malo is probably the best compromise of price/distance (if you're coming via Britanny), followed by Caen. I'd have a look on a site like ferrysavers to see what deals you can find (add in fuel, motorway tolls etc on viamichelin). I'd also keep in mind that it's over 700km from Calais to somewhere like Brest, and a further 800+ down to the Pyrénées, when it's only just over 1000km if you drive there straight. So it would also depend on how much of a roadtrip you're into!
Cool. It's hard to offer advice at times when you don't know people's driving habits and intentions. My parents do the 700km from here to Calais in 3 days, whereas as I've been known to do well over a 1000km in just over half a day on a motorbike with no fairing ;-) I was keen to get there ;-)
In which case, you can easily save yourself well over 100 quid by going for some of the more easterly routes (Cherbourg, Caen, Le Havre, Dieppe). Hard to give a proper comparison without more precise details, but let's take, Britanny Ferries, 2 people + car, 1 way, 10th July (Thursday). Portsmouth -> St Malo (only 1 crossing per day, overnight ~12h crossing, cabin not inc.) = £234. Same info, travelling Portsmouth -> Caen (quicker ~8h daytime crossing 3h+ more driving in France) early morning crossing £139, afternoon crossing £99. Condor's prices to St Malo seem comparable. These differences will be even greater if you compare with the more Easterly ports mentioned above, especially if you are travelling with a bigger vehicle (campervan/mobile home etc.). Please also bear in mind the day you travel, that same crossing above from Portsmouth to St-Malo, costs £199 on the Wednesday, £234 on Thursday, and £324 on Friday 11th. That's a fair bit of drinking money and galettes in my book. I've probably done these crossing hundreds of times now :-/ You can also save a bit if you're a member of the Caravan Club and book via them.
Toerag is right that there is plenty to do around here and Ploumanac'h has got lots of nice bouldering. Basically, over a week, you could drive about an hour a day, working your way around BZH coast bouldering or sport climbing in a different location/scenery every day. I've not done a lot of mountainbiking around here (which my very lonely Kona can attest to), but I know people who have, and there are plenty of nice bits of singletrack; so as long as you're not looking for some gnarly downhill action. ;-) Around the Monts d'Arrée and Huelgoat would certainly be worth looking at. It's worth noting that Googlemaps thinks that lots of paths/tracks around here are roads, which can be both a good thing and a bad thing!
What you can never guarantee, is the weather; and the number of tourists varies greatly depending on the general outlook. However, it also changes very quickly, is extremely localised, and can mean a morning bike ride is a washout, but an afternoon climb on dry granite still possible (if the sun decides to come out and it is windy as it often is). Planning anything in advance is the tricky thing!
Hopefully some of the above will also be of use. Sorry I can't be of much help at all south of the Loire.