The French had their own version of the UK's Doctor Beeching. In fact I think our much maligned doctor's French counterpart was probably his inspiration. For, in the early part of the 20th Century (rather than the 60s) when it became obvious that road transport was supplanting railways as the better means of shipping goods and travelling deep into the hinterland Railways were rationalised and roads began to take their place... Knowing the French and their striving toward maximum efficiency they probably combined it with reparation of the roads after World War 2 too (but that's another blog)... So, there was a great pruning of branch lines which quickly gave way to the redundancy of many lines and, of course stations. Stations became houses or town and village museums, business premises and the like and the lines were stripped of their hardware to become leisure facilities. It's a process that, although almost complete, is still going on and being improved. Of course Green Ways (Voies Vertes) takes in not just ex railway lines but also the towpaths of canals and river banks and coastal paths. With true efficiency the French have numbered them all and mapped them and describe them in minute detail as well as keeping a close eye on their maintenance.
We get a great deal of enjoyment from our own local section of the Rigole d'Hilvern (V8) which runs from Lorient on the south coast to St Brieuc on the north side. Given that we still spend short stints in Brittany that route will do just fine for a few kilometres each day or so. But, when we have the planned camper van and a bike rack and maybe even stay in France for longer than just two weeks at a stretch... Well, look out Jules Verne (he was born in Nantes)... It'll be 'Around the Bretagne Peninsula in 80 days'!
Give us a wave! And Bon Voyage if you get out there too... (btw I got the book detailed below, out of the library recently... well worth buying if you move to Brittany and love to cycle).