Author Topic: 2022 European trip – A “tour de France”  (Read 2702 times)

Offline Rynglieder

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Re: 2022 European trip – A “tour de France”
« Reply #45 on: Friday, 09 September 2022, 03:12 am »
Those columns in the building look like they’re pock marked by perhaps gun fire ???
Stunning buildings that were made to last imho 👌👌

I can't tell you how pleased I am that someone is actually looking so closely at my pictures and ramblings  :smile2:

Someone on the GTR forum threw up the same question, I'd have to look into it more closely but I don't think this area of France was the subject of fighting or even German occupation - I think it fell into the area of the Vicci puppet government during WWII but I may be wrong...

Offline Eric GSX1400K3

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Re: 2022 European trip – A “tour de France”
« Reply #46 on: Friday, 09 September 2022, 11:30 am »
Always enjoying your stories and photos
I try to take one day at a time, however sometimes several days catch up with me at once.

Offline KiwiCol

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Re: 2022 European trip – A “tour de France”
« Reply #47 on: Friday, 09 September 2022, 04:32 pm »
Snap, I also very much enjoy your write ups & pictures Pete, long may they continue. :onya: :clapping:
😎  Always looking for the next corner.  😎

Offline Rynglieder

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Re: 2022 European trip – A “tour de France”
« Reply #48 on: Wednesday, 14 September 2022, 10:03 pm »
Day 17 Le Puy > Le Châtenet-en-Dognon (c.205 miles)

A very roundabout route had been plotted for this days ride, I wanted take in two national parks which I hoped would provide some attractive scenery and roads.
Before getting into my stride there was a brief stop off just outside Le Puy at Polignac so that I could take a look at its castle, albeit from a distance. I’ve no idea if it is open to the public and didn’t fancy the climb up the hill at my age. There then followed an hour or so on the N102, a fast well surfaced road carving through rural France.

I departed this trunk road at Lempdes-sur-Allagnon and so began the proper country road ride through the Parc naturel régional des Volcans d'Auvergne. Information from a guide book told me that the road between Ardes and Le Mont Dore through the landscape of extinct volcanic hills was something the motoring tourist should do and sure enough as the road began to narrow and twist it seemed like a whole new world to ride through.

Yet again I found I was having to resist the temptation to keep stopping and looking around and had to place my trust in the Innovv unit to capture some images. Chateaus, villages, hills and rivers were throwing themselves into my path but I did stop at Ardes though for coffee in a village café before getting any deeper in. The ride across the national park was every bit as good as the guide book suggested, an excellent motorcycling road which lead me to the small town of Les Monts Dore and shortly afterwards out of the park’s boundary.

It was only a matter of a few miles though before I entered the Parc naturel régional de Millevaches en Limousin. If the previous park had been like riding through the Staffordshire Moorlands, this afternoon ride was more like the Forest of Dean, with minor roads leading me through acres of woodland. I did pause briefly at Viam in the hope that I could take a rest at the lake shore, but it didn’t seem in any way accessible so I moved on.

The road opened up somewhat as my route joined the D940 which was just as well, I needed to pick up the pace a bit. Today was another of the few in excess of 200 miles, partly because the hotel I’d originally wanted had become unavailable due to the one year shift in the scheduling and the only thing I could find that looked tempting and was within budget was somewhat further on.

After Eymoutiers it was back to the narrower country roads and villages but still a very enjoyable ride to the Hotel Chalet du Lac on the banks of the River Taurion which at this point was so wide it looked like a lake. Having presented myself at reception a garage on the opposite side of the road was offered and opened up for me so the GTR was safely berthed for the night. I was then apologetically informed the restaurant was closed on that night but would I like them to order in a pizza for me? A short while later I was in fresh clothes sat on the decking with beer and pizza enjoying the view over the lake whilst reporting in to my current wife and warning her that a week’s washing was now only a two or three days away.

I’m always a little hesitant about booking a hotel in a remote location as if you don’t like the meals on offer or the bar you are sometimes stuck with nowhere nearby to go. Fortunately not here, the room was outstanding with a lake view and my hosts could not have been more helpful. As well as the parking and organising a meal for me this was the only time on the trip anyone had picked up one of my bags and shown me to the room. It’s somewhere I’d be happy to stay again.

All in all a very acceptable day as far as a touring holiday goes.

Offline Rynglieder

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Re: 2022 European trip – A “tour de France”
« Reply #49 on: Thursday, 22 September 2022, 08:42 pm »
Day 18  Le Châtenet-en-Dognon > Samur(c. 155 miles)

If the previous day was a day for riding, today would be a tourism day – just over 150 miles on the bike but a four places I wanted to spend a bit of time on the route.  My obligation to breakfast was discharged from a table with a view of the lake and I was already being gently roasted by the sun again as the GTR was rolled out of the hotel’s garage.

And so began another day of riding through the French countryside under unbroken blue sky, sometimes on roads considered unworthy of white lining, sometimes on quicker broader roads but after just under an hour I found myself arriving as planed at the Tour de Bridiers. There didn’t seem to be a car park so the bike was locked up at the side of the road and I took the short walk past an open air amphitheatre and up to the ruins of the medieval castle where I spent half an hour with the camera and a cigarette.

Upon departure the Zumo chose an intriguing set of back streets through the town of La Souterraine before I was one again heading north on the D912. As I progressed the landscape was once more becoming flatter and more open with arrays of sunflowers for company. After a couple of switches of minor roads I arrived at my second destination of the day, Saint-Savin.
A quiet spot on the east side of the old bridge spanning the River Gartempe was selected to park the bike up. A short circular walk including the old bridge, town centre and new bridge gave me the chance for a few photos and to replenish my stock of cold drinks. The view across the river to Abbaye de Saint-Savin is a particular favourite from that visit.

There was still more to do so I pushed northwards on more enjoyable roads before skirting Châtellerault on a series of dual carriageways and exiting its orbit or the D749 when I saw the signs for Richelieu. For the next fifteen or twenty minutes I was not getting great value out of the steering yolk of the GTR, it was back to the arrow-straight roads that I had encountered during my first few days in France but a steady pace was kept up and I was soon entering the main square in Richelieu and picking an empty looking corner where I could dump the bike for a while.

Richelieu is a beautiful walled, planned town built by the famous Cardinal of the same name and was situated outside the huge palace he had built for himself. Nothing remains of the main palace building, it was lost as a consequence of the French Revolution but much of its parkland and gardens remain including some peripheral buildings and boundary wall and gates. It was this park I strolled toward first and spent a half hour or so taking it all in. I’d earned another drink by now so found a small bar just by the gate where I enjoyed an alcohol-free beer in the shade. And another.

Once again I was leaving another town without exploring as much as I would have liked to. There was not much further to go on this day but it was time to move on once more. More straight roads hemmed in by sunflowers and sundry agriculture lead me to the outskirts of Loudun. The bike was asking for a drink as a reward for its day’s work so I headed for the town centre in search of a petrol station, but fate threw me a curved ball. A “Route Barrèe” sign sat resolutely in the middle of the main road and I found myself diverted into the side streets trying to follow the Zumo’s re-calculations, but every other junction I came to seemed to have a man in a hi-viz vest with a “no entry” paddle in his hand. I soon realised that I had arrived in the middle of a major cycle road race but with a lot of twisting and turning I forced myself onto the route and then ducked into a handy filling station. Once the tank was full I had to feed myself into a quiet part of the race and followed the satnav until such point that I could break away. Indicating to take a turn for the main route out of town I was stopped by an agitated Frenchman indicating I was going the wrong way – it took me a minute to realise that he thought that I was one of the support motorcycles for the event and it took him about two minutes to realise that I wasn’t, and was just some tourist trying to get out of town. Probably 20 minutes wasted in Loudun and to cap it all, even with my 1400cc I only finished 19th in the race and was later disqualified for failing to follow the instructions of a marshall.

Next up was another long straight run to Fontevraud-l'Abbaye. I found my way to the abbey car park and then walked back out of the gate and into the town where a rather underwhelming church presented itself for inspection. I took its photo as that is what it seemed it wanted me to do and then sat down at a small café with a café au lait and wondered why I had included this place in my plans. It was only when I got home the following week that I realised I had given my attentions to the local church and not the vast impressive abbey that I would have found if I had walked the other way from the car park. Yet another place that is going to need revisit next time I’m passing this way.

Around fifteen more minutes on the bike later I was passing the Chateau at Samur and descending through the town to the banks of the Loire and my room for the night at the SoHotel. At least I knew the routine here having stopped at the same place on my way to the Pyrenees some years ago. There’s a bit of pay and display parking on the corner which is free on an evening, it’s just a case of having to remember to stick an hour’s rent for the space on the bike’s screen whilst you have breakfast the next morning.

Once showered and changed it was time to reacquaint myself with Samur and try and pick out a few bits new to me. Firstly I walked past the Cavalry Memorial and the headquarters of the French Cavalry which of course is mostly mechanised these days as evidenced by glimpses of green military vehicles though the boundary fence. I looped back around and walked alongside the Loire back up to the centre of town and then up the hill to view the chateau from a direction that I didn’t catch on my last visit. A couple of beers at “Le Liverpool” bar alongside the river and another day was done.

Just one last full day in France to look forward to.

Offline Rynglieder

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Re: 2022 European trip – A “tour de France”
« Reply #50 on: Thursday, 06 October 2022, 01:27 am »
Day 19 Samur > Saint-Malo (c. 170 miles)

A very similar routine to the previous day lay in front of me - no spectacular roads to look forward to, but some pleasant secondary road riding and three stop offs that held the prospect of some interesting sights.

The ride was pretty routine – fast, flat, straight, blue sky, sunflowers, the odd Gravellon – but at least overtaking slower moving traffic is easy and in under an hour and a half I was picking my way through the centre of Sable sur Sarthe and rolling into my predetermined parking spot on the bank of the river opposite the chateau. There was time for a short walk, a coffee, seeking out a cash machine and taking some photos before setting about the second stint.

The next ride followed the same pattern as the first; not challenging but not unpleasant and after circumventing Laval there was even the odd gentle bend just to make sure a rider is awake. The beautiful medieval town of Vitrè was soon reached, although it took several minutes to track down a motorcycle parking bay once I was happy the bike was safe it was time to take another walk away from it.

I didn’t have much time to really explore Vitrè, my camera picked up a number of ancient buildings and streets as I strolled around, once again I was struck by the number of places that seemed to be shut – I can’t really get my head around the French way of closing for about two hours in the middle of the day.

Back on the road again, there was only a short ride on the schedule along the D178, another non-descript French road to my next stop-off in Fougères. I was soon picking my way through the town centre and parking up alongside the moat below the chateau. A few more photos were collected for the album and I finished off my visit outside a quiet café opposite the monument.
And so to a final mundane ride back to Saint-Malo where my French adventure had begun almost three weeks ago. I was booked in at the same hotel that I had stayed in on my arrival so finding my way there and where to park up were easily dealt with and I was hauling my luggage of the bike for a walk in the heat for one final time.

After check-in and a shower I just about had enough fresh clothes left for another walk around town. I’d arrived at a reasonable hour as I’d enjoyed my first evening in Saint-Malo and wanted to dig a little deeper. I picked up a meal at a snack bar and made my way onto the town’s walls for a walk around them above the sea and down by the breakwater before strolling back into the town and to the same bar as before for a couple of beers to finish the day.

The riding had not been stunning and there had been a bit of “end of holiday blues” settling on me during the day, but I’d enjoyed the places I’d visited.

Offline GSXKING

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Re: 2022 European trip – A “tour de France”
« Reply #51 on: Thursday, 06 October 2022, 07:14 am »
What an awesome journey @Rynglieder thanks for sharing it with us 👍👍👍
Pictures are amazing so much history 🧐🧐
GSXKING 3:^)
Chris

Offline Speedy1959

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Re: 2022 European trip – A “tour de France”
« Reply #52 on: Saturday, 08 October 2022, 03:51 am »
Really excellent photos anbd descriptions of the places you visited..
I am impressed you took the time out to post your adventures on here...
What a great adventure you have had (and shared)..
Thank you for taking the time and the trouble to post on here.
Power is how hard you hit the wall....
Torque is how far you take the wall with you !

Offline Eric GSX1400K3

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Re: 2022 European trip – A “tour de France”
« Reply #53 on: Saturday, 08 October 2022, 11:21 am »
Thanks for sharing mate, I like the photos form the bike mounted camera.  Lots of history around that part of the world too, fascinating.  I backpacked around Europe in the nineties and spent a lot of summer time in northern France, was excellent. Your trip reminded me of that time, so thanks for the trip down memory lane.
I try to take one day at a time, however sometimes several days catch up with me at once.

Offline Rynglieder

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Re: 2022 European trip – A “tour de France”
« Reply #54 on: Monday, 10 October 2022, 02:22 am »
Thanks @GSXKING @Speedy1959 @Eric GSX1400K3

Just wrapping this up now...

Offline Rynglieder

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Re: 2022 European trip – A “tour de France”
« Reply #55 on: Monday, 10 October 2022, 02:25 am »
Day 20 Saint-Malo > Stourbridge (c.  160 miles)

Although my hotel was very close to the ferry port I still made sure an a alarm was set on my phone so that I had plenty of time to sort myself out in the morning, mostly to ensure that I would have everything I would need for a six hour crossing in one bag that I could take up on deck with me. I declined breakfast at the hotel, I may as well get something to eat on the ferry –it would kill a bit of time on board as well.

It was a good job that the bike was loaded back up and ready to roll with ample time in hand, as soon as I rolled out of the motorcycle park I was confronted by a matrix sign stating that the swing bridge between me and the port was closed. There was no clue as to how long the delay would be so I decided to try and work my way around it with half an eye on the Zumo’s map display but ignoring its directions. It was no big deal, but I confess to a bit of unnecessary panic for a moment.

I slipped through the port without any great drama and as I expected the two other bikes in the queue and myself were loaded on first and I was soon upstairs settling myself into my breakfast in an empty café before the car drivers could smell the coffee. I had booked a reserved reclining seat for this crossing as it was a daytime sailing in order to keep the cost down a bit although I soon regretted not booking a cabin. The cabin prices are quite reasonable for daytime sailings, presumably as there is less demand and I wished I’d forked out the extra few quid. A cabin would have allowed me a change of clothes, somewhere to relax a little better and maybe even a bit of a nap bearing in mind I was going to be late in the night getting home. If taking a group of bikes over I would recommend booking just one and splitting the cost for the extra convenience. As it was I dumped my bike jacket on my reserved seat in the manner of placing a beach towel on a sun lounger and resigned myself to clumping around the ferry in my bike boots and trousers at those times when I was not sat with my paperback.

By mid-afternoon we were rounding the Isle of Wight and soon after disembarking at Portsmouth. Last off of course and even further delayed as the bikes were boxed in by a car with a discharged battery that had to be shocked into life by the ferry crew’s defribulator. At least I sailed through the border controls, I think the bureaucrats had considered their working day done by the time I got off.

The trip was finished off by a 160 mile run home along the A34 and M40 broken into four manageable chunks by strategically placed coffee breaks and by around 23:00 I was pulled up on my drive and trying to quietly unload.

Little did I realise that after sweltering for three weeks in France I had arrived back home just at the start of a long heatwave the like of which the UK rarely sees.

Offline Rynglieder

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Re: 2022 European trip – A “tour de France”
« Reply #56 on: Monday, 10 October 2022, 02:34 am »
Final thoughts

The object of the trip was to get to know France a little more rather than just passing through it to get somewhere else and I think I certainly achieved that.

Going solo for the first time worked out OK, of course I missed the wife and having someone to share the experience with, but there were certainly parts that she would have struggled with - mainly the discomfort from the heat. At least on my own I was afforded the time to explore some places that would probably not have interested her. I’d do it again, in fact I’ll probably have to.
The route planning that I had done seemed to work out well on the whole. With the experience I have gained I could probably condense the best bits into two weeks or less for a purely motorcycling experience. The northern part of my trip was not too inspiring on a bike, the roads are too long, straight and flat, for the future I’d leave Saint-Malo and motorway it down to Rocamadour where the fun really started, scratch out the Cote d’Azure and head straight for the alps from Avigon before a motorway blast back from Samur – that would catch all of the best bits. The three days around Nice were originally included to give Carole a break when I thought she was coming with me, I don’t recommend it as part of a motorcycle trip but at the same time I have no regrets – having an afternoon ride to Antibes is nothing to be ashamed about, it’s all experience.

The hotels all worked out fine, some were better than others but there was nowhere I would refuse to go again even the city centre ones had parking available or nearby and I was surprised by the number of times I was offered secure parking even though I had not booked it.

The GTR performed brilliantly aside from the issue of being shut out of the top case and its impromptu lie-down. Generally it was comfortable enough, any fatigue I had was from the heat, but that’s not the fault of the bike. Tue, it’s a bit heavy around the mountain passes and city centres but with no one to please except myself I could drop the speed to a level that I could handle.
All of the kit I took was OK, I never found myself in need of anything that I hadn’t packed and thankfully all of the emergency stuff I took (hi-viz, triangle, bulbs, tyre weld etc.) remained unmolested in the bottom of the top case. Apart from the one day when I was caught in torrential rain that penetrated the Weise jacket sleeves heat was the biggest problem. If I had known I would not have hauled round the jacket and trouser linings and made a bit more room for fresh casual clothes, but you never can tell.

The Zumo was OK now I have learned some of its tricks when to ignore it. I recall riding though Nice and it directing me off a roundabout into what was clearly a multi-storey car park but having chosen to disoblige it I found myself up the hill at the back end of the car park and passing the exit at another roundabout. I soon realised what it had been up to – enter the car park, buy a ticket go 2-3 floors around the car park, stick the ticket in the exit barrier and save 100m on your journey. It’s just a tool, I don’t have to use it.

After the disappointment of the Spain & Portugal trip the Innovv camera seems to have worked out well this time. Almost all of the trip has been recorded, a quick check has found just two mornings when it did not fire up at the start of the day and only started recording after my first stop. That’s a bit of a result really, if it had been left to me to switch the camera on manually I’m sure I’d have missed a lot more. Over the winter when the bikes aren’t being used so much I’ll start to plough through it all and edit it down to 45 minutes or so of highlights from each day that I can watch in my old age.

It’s been a trip that I will look back on with fond memories, but thoughts are already turning to 2023. Perhaps it’s time to go back to the Pyrenees, there’s still chunks of Germany that are unexplored and Romania looks tempting if I can afford the petrol  :smile2:

One final photo for you - As I rode though some of the alpine passes I noticed photographers stationed at some of the bends capturing bikers, sports car drivers and cyclists as they passed and displaying their web addresses on banners or the sides of vans where you could purchase their efforts. It’s a bit of a vanity thing I suppose and I probably would not have gone there except for my daughters asking what I wanted for a birthday present – as I couldn’t think of anything I suggested that they pick one out for me from the two or three places that I had been snapped so here’s another image with me in it!

Thanks for taking the trouble to read though this and your kind comments.

Pete.

 

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