Archive for the ‘France’ Category

First few days

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

(by Emily) Having left in a state of organised chaos and nearly missing our Eurotunnel train, we then had a fantastically smooth first few days riding down through France; beautiful weather; courteous road users; great camp sites. The perfect start for me as a novice rider and great for Matthew, who had taken some time off work to join us on our first leg.

Heading towards the Alps, I was slightly apprehensive about tackling the passes, having been pillion over the world famous Stelvio Pass last summer and thinking ‘there’s no way I could ever do this myself’… Luckily for me, most of them were closed so we had to go by way of the Gotthard tunnel. However, this was not before hitting the Juan Pass – hairpintastic!!! Am certainly experiencing a steep learning curve…

Day two – our first full day on the road in northern France

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

(by James) We awoke after a freezing cold first night to the welcome sight of Matthew making porridge (probably the only thing that would have got us out of our sleeping bags!) Spent longer that we expected packing up the bikes – something that we no doubt will become more proficient at over the coming weeks and months. It was a beautiful day and we were soon enjoying empty roads as we wound our way through the heart of the Champagne region. Our modifications to the bikes proved their worth when Em dropped hers trying to do a three point turn on a steep cambered side road. Both bike and Em, who effortlessly stepped away as it dropped, were fine. That incident may have knocked the confidence of a lesser person, but Em is clearly made of tougher stuff and was soon back on the road as if nothing had happened.

Stopped for a picnic lunch by the side of a lovely river in the sunshine and had to drag ourselves back onto the bikes before we fell asleep! Continued south into the Burgundy region and found a superb municipal campsite in the tiny village of Precy-sur-Til. Again, we were the only people there and enjoyed hot showers, free electricity, and a pitch for two tents and three motorbikes for the grand total of 11 euros!!! Cooked up a hearty sausage and tomato pilaf washed down with a well-deserved bottle of local red wine and watched the moon rise. Perfect!

And we’re off!!!

Monday, April 26th, 2010

(by James) Well, we managed to prove the old adage about never really being ready to leave for a trip like this to be true by being up packing (and repacking) until 3am before rising at 7am to get ready for a planned 9:15 departure which eventually happened at 9:50! It probably wasn’t a bad thing in the end as we really didn’t have time for everyone to get too emotional!

By the time we left it was looking highly unlikely that we would make our 11:20 deadline for the Eurotunnel but we made good progress on the now post rush hour roads and were the last people to sneak on the train.

After a hour blitz on the autoroute to escape Calais we stopped for lunch in Arras where Em was able to get her hands on a kilo of Moules Marinere which made her morning’s stress somehow worth it – she had never ridden on motorways until this morning and was now having to ride on the right hand side!

After lunch we continued south, finally taking to the b-roads. Our normal practice of having no real plan and just heading in the general direction we want to go left Matthew a tad bemused, and to be fair, it wasn’t looking good when we had only spotted two campsite signs all day. However, fortune favours the brave, and the French obsession with camping didn’t let us down. We pitched in a little place in the back of beyond, munched on sarnies made by Em’s mum that morning, and were soon snoring away…