9 days en France 24th June-2nd July 2017 report

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9 days en France 24th June-2nd July 2017 report

#1 Post by rob m » Sun Jul 09, 2017 5:20 pm

Gerontious (Tony) had already started a thread here:

viewtopic.php?f=93&t=64113

I thought it would be better to have a separate thread for those who might be interested to read about our trip. Apologies for posting some of the same pictures again. I have lots of pictures so I'm going to write up one day at time.

Saturday 24th June

It was to be an early start from my flat, which is 74 miles to the Eurotunnel. Tony had already ridden down from Nottingham the night before. We set off at 6am in order to grab a 'nutritious' breakfast at McDonalds at Eureka Park, Ashford, before getting on the train. The bikes were also topped up at Sainsburys. We were booked for a 08:50 departure. We made it on time easily. I have to say it has to be the smoothest check in and crossing I’ve ever experienced. Straight through, no waiting, no hassle even with the extra passport check. There were lots of bikes on board, some touring, some going to the GP at Assen I think.

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Our destination for today was Avallon and to get there in good time it was going to have to be using the peage/autoroute. The first leg was almost trouble-free apart from Tony nearly breaking the Peage machine and requiring a very pissed off looking Frenchman to retrieve his ticket from the machine. I did laugh :lol: One of the things I was looking forward to was eating some French cuisine. So when we stopped at the services, we ordered Gammon (Jambon) and mash :lol: Although the mash was that lumpy kind they like over there.

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There isn't a lot to say about the ride to Avallon other than the weather stayed warm and dry and autoroutes are boring but they serve a purpose. We stopped to fill up on fluids and I had my Camelbak water bladder which was kept topped up with chilled water. Well recommended. Petrol was more expensive but not outrageous.

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We arrived in Avallon at about 6pm and rocked up at a Municipal campsite, which was cheap (about 8 euros each) but had great facilities. The site owner spoke a little English but none of his staff did. Still, we managed to get what we needed. Municipal campsites can vary in quality but this was a good one. Very clean. The weather was very hot and setting up the tents was a sweaty affair but helped by a couple of cold ones :D

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The campsite staff made us pizza which was welcome. The woman who gave us our change for the pizzas said something in French, and said 'Brexit' before laughing :lol: So far we had covered around 410 miles from home. It was one of the easier days though! We had a few beers and chatted about getting to Millau tomorrow and riding through the Morvan. It was flipping hot sleeping under canvas that night. There was a few UK couples there in campervans etc who were friendly and who were also bikers so we chatted to them for a while the next morning.

Camping wise, we both brought tents but also inflatable sleeping mats, pillows and light sleeping bags. There's no need to be uncomfortable while camping. A stove and kettle to make coffee was essential for us too. The main consideration is how much you can carry on the bike and whether it's needed. Next time I'll drop a couple of items but also use a bigger roll bag. Another thing we did was bring clothes for 5 days and then washed them mid week rather than bring 9 days worth. This worked well. It's down to personal preference but I had a microfibre towel which I thoroughly recommend. They pack down really small.

Anyway, we were looking forward to the ride to Millau on Sunday. I'll upload that report soon :D

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Re: 9 days en France 24th June-2nd July 2017 report

#2 Post by Gerontious » Sun Jul 09, 2017 6:04 pm

For my part... I really wanted to get a flavour of the Morvan as a possible destination in its own right for some time in the future and that included seeing how tedious (or not) the ride there was,, also what the campsite was like and what its facilities were. Was nice to see that it had a common room, with Fridge, Microwave and water chiller.. so somewhere to sit inside on cooler (or wet) evenings. there was also seating outside.. patio style. and a Swimming pool. The campsite was below the village in a little valley surrounded by rocks.. off a quiet lane. there was zero traffic noise at night. The place even had a proper swimming pool. so as far as Municpal campsites go it was right up there and on a par with some 4 and 5 star sites Ive stayed at. Security was high and the owners/managers lived on the site in a totally incongruous Alpine chalet type house.

We were a bit weary and didnt have either the time or the energy. But the town above looks very nice and is likely worth a visit if you're in that part of the world. a typical french fortified village that seems to have escaped the ravages of war to a great extent.

avallon-france-0.jpg

The campsite was called http://www.campingsousroche.com
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Re: 9 days en France 24th June-2nd July 2017 report

#3 Post by Baloo » Mon Jul 10, 2017 2:19 pm

Good report, cheers

I'd put money on the campsite staff speaking perfect English however, they just pretend they don't to get an easier life and do a gallic shrug every time a British person finds something to complain about.

On Brexit, the whole world is laughing at us, we've become even more stupid looking than the Yanks.

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Re: 9 days en France 24th June-2nd July 2017 report

#4 Post by rob m » Tue Jul 11, 2017 3:09 pm

Sunday 25th June

Up early and bikes loaded we ventured to the local McD's for breakfast (this was to become a theme :lol:). We filled up the bikes at the 24/7 unmanned automated petrol station. Being a Sunday there isn't a lot open so when we could fill up, we did. The plan was to ride through the Morvan, avoiding motorways as much as we could. Our destination for the day was Millau, home of the famous bridge. Heading south out of Avallon, we found some very nice roads and scenery but also came across the first of many roads that had been scattered with gravel. We would encounter more as the week went on, it got my nerves a bit to be honest! We both enjoyed the Morvan area though and would like to return one day. The only section of motorway we used was the free stretch of the A75 which takes you all the way to Millau. However it was an interesting ride with plenty of curves and the scenery becoming more stunning as we headed south. We could see the Auvergne from a distance and it looked impressive with the remnants of volcanoes to see. As we approached Millau the bridge looked very impressive, along with the mountains surrounding it.

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We arrived at the campsite at around 7pm. The weather was very hot. The site was run by a Dutch fella who was a bit of a joker. It was advertised as 4 star campsite but after looking around it really wasn't but we were there and pitched our tents then headed for the bar for pizza and beer. Beer was averaging £5 a pint :shock:

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Another hot night to sleep through but at least we were based somewhere for a few days so we could venture out without all of the luggage on the bikes.

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Re: 9 days en France 24th June-2nd July 2017 report

#5 Post by Gerontious » Tue Jul 11, 2017 5:55 pm

I was really quite sorry to be leaving the Morvan... it was exactly the kind of area I like.. pretty much undeveloped.. it has no major highways running through it.. No real major roads either, an area comprising of low mountains and roads that wind along valley bottoms.. through tiny villages and hamlets. The largest 'town' and 'capital' of the area is Château-Chinon and thats hardly a town with a population of just over 2000. Its a national park.. just under 800 square miles of 'nothing' aside from a lovely unspoilt landscape. 'Nothing' doesn't do it justice as I'm sure its full of little gems to be discovered.. but there is so little information about the place in english... its a bit of a mystery. one to be discovered... and within an easy days ride of calais. Definitely worth a revist with more time spent.

The gravel we encountered was very wearing.. but also, I found it really amusing that we had been encountering it for more than a few miles when suddenly there appeared (as if by magic) a sign warning us of loose chippings. So it went on for a good distance.. bits of road that were clear.. then chippings. then clear again. A couple of things really struck me though.. the almost complete lack of traffic and more unusual for such an area.. almost no Bicycles at all. This mid morning on a sunday.. a warm dry day was very odd.

But.. we were soon out of the area and heading south west. The idea was to pick up the Motorway south of Clermont Ferrand that would take us directly south into the Languedoc and to Millau. My intent was that we would stop for lunch at the Aire de Service des Volcans d'Auvergne... where we had lunch, a fairly late lunch.. but it was pretty good. By this time it was getting very hot and going inside to air conditioning was a joy. Once we left there and were on our way south again the view of the Volcanos was really eye popping... I was so tempted to pull over and try to convince Rob to go there instead.. despite the fact rain was on its way.
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From Clermont south.... its just as Rob described. The landscape on either side of the motorway became more and more stunning.. it also got very warm as the afternoon went on.. it must have been approaching 30c as despite a mesh jacket and very 'open' summer gloves.. there was no relief from the wind blast.. it was like riding into an oven. We stopped a few times for refreshements on our way and fuel. one thing that we passed that i was glad to see was an iron bridge designed by Eifel.... that i remembered from history lessons at school. we missed the viewing spot at the motorway side.. but we did get a good view as we went past.
viaduc-de-garabit-081m.1.jpg

We left the Motorway just before the toll plaza for the Millau bridge... by this time I for one was getting weary and just wanted to get to Millau and the campsite... get set up and then chill with a beer.

It was another 10 miles from the motorway to millau... but in that 10 miles i think we both knew that it really was worth the effort of riding down through France to this place.

I had chosen the campsite based almost entirely on its location and star rating... the location was great.. but the star rating was not what i personally would expect. it was alright.. but not by any stretch fantastic.

Tents were soon up and then it was look for food time.. we gave the onsite restaurant a go.. too late for a proper meal.. but pizza was offered.. followed by a big shock. almost £5 for a 500ml glass of beer. That was the first and last time we ate or drank at that restaurant. too rich for me.
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Re: 9 days en France 24th June-2nd July 2017 report

#6 Post by Snod Blatter » Tue Jul 11, 2017 10:34 pm

No snails or frogs legs? Yet you say you wanted to try French cuisine??

More pics please 8-) (not of Rukka and BMWs though, yawwwnnn)

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Re: 9 days en France 24th June-2nd July 2017 report

#7 Post by rob m » Tue Jul 11, 2017 10:57 pm

I had moules marinere at one point! I think McDs have overtaken the traditional stuff, they were everywhere. They should combine the two. Egg and snail mcmuffin? Mmm. More pics on their way, can't guarantee no BMWs though..or Rukka :D

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Re: 9 days en France 24th June-2nd July 2017 report

#8 Post by Lateralus » Wed Jul 12, 2017 8:50 am

Looks a fantastic trip. Very much whetting my appetite!

@rob m what size Oxford Aqua bag are you using? Think I need to get myself one, since the actual capacity of my panniers is much smaller than their bulk would suggest, and taking the wife's helmet out with me is going to pretty much fill one of them!
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Re: 9 days en France 24th June-2nd July 2017 report

#9 Post by bonio » Wed Jul 12, 2017 9:06 am

Nice write up lads. Keep it coming.

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Re: 9 days en France 24th June-2nd July 2017 report

#10 Post by rob m » Wed Jul 12, 2017 10:50 am

Lateralus wrote:
Wed Jul 12, 2017 8:50 am
Looks a fantastic trip. Very much whetting my appetite!

@rob m what size Oxford Aqua bag are you using? Think I need to get myself one, since the actual capacity of my panniers is much smaller than their bulk would suggest, and taking the wife's helmet out with me is going to pretty much fill one of them!
I have the 50l and frankly I wished I bought a bigger one for camping gear. For clothing I imagine 50l is fine. A great tip is to measure across your panniers and buy a roll bag to fit that measurement and pack your heavier stuff in the middle where it is supported by the seat.

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Re: 9 days en France 24th June-2nd July 2017 report

#11 Post by rob m » Fri Jul 14, 2017 6:48 pm

Monday 26th June

I was awoken at 8am by Tony shouting 'Morning Rob!' Always welcome :up: After a fresh cup of coffee and a shower (no need for male/female separation on this site :shock: ) we were ready to go. Breakfast was provided by a familiar American restaurant chain. Today we headed out of Millau and upwards. Weather was a little iffy but not too bad. We found a lovely twisty road which provided us with a great view to take a couple of snaps of Millau. The view was stunning.

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Jealousy is a terrible thing...

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To the east of Millau.

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...and the town with the Millau Bridge in the background.

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Tony's sat nav found some amazing roads and scenery and I was really starting to fall in love with France. We stopped on a road with multiple hairpins to take in the view this pic was taken overlooking Peyreleau. We made our way to the top and across a plain (with a deer narrowly missing me while darting across the road) but then we made a diversion due to the weather and headed down one of the most dangerous descents I've ever ridden. Loads of hairpins, narrow and gravel strewn all over the place. It was not fun anymore :shock: Anyhoo, once we were at the bottom I felt much better. Once we got into the Gorges Du Tarn things became much more interesting. The views were jaw dropping and one road in particular, the D996 was fantastic to ride. It was a little damp and I'm sure if it was dry, we would have really made the most of it, although we weren't hanging around as it was. This was followed by the D998 which was equally as good but I preferred the D996. After that, we headed for a small town called Ispagnac for lunch.

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We both had the same salad for lunch. It was epic, lots of blue cheese involved. Afterwards we ordered coffee and came to realise that coffee in France almost always comes in a small cup, even if you order large. It was about a thimbleful. Lunch chomped, I took a few more pictures of this nice little town. The afternoon was about to get much better.

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From Ispagnac we hit the D907BIS which follows the River Tarn through the Gorges. It started to rain quite heavily so we stopped in a small town called St. Enimie for a coffee. Beautiful little place.

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After the rain stopped we continued along the D907 where the Gorges became more spectacular. We couldn't resist stopping here to take a picture. Laval Du Tarn.

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I really wish I had brought my Drift video camera as the roads were fantastic, at one point becoming one way and very similar to the Combe Laval we would ride later in the week. All in all, we had scratched the surface but what we had seen certainly made us think about coming back one day.

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Once back in Millau we decided to walk to the local Lidl for supplies. On the way we had a pint in town and I took a few pictures of the town which was typically French. Tony asked me where I would like to go on Tuesday and I quickly replied 'seaside'. I just hoped the weather would play ball for us as I drifted off to sleep.
Last edited by rob m on Thu Jul 20, 2017 7:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 9 days en France 24th June-2nd July 2017 report

#12 Post by Gerontious » Sun Jul 16, 2017 12:40 pm

The thing about Millau is just how many great roads start from the town... not just great roads that are a joy to ride, but also those that climb up into the heights and have simply amazing views with the added excitement of no barriers at the side and precipitous drops.. slopes that are more like cliffs. As was the case with my jokey 'kick the bike over - pose'.

so.. from the campsite we had all of this on the doorstep:
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and the very first road we climbed was the D110 which wound its way up and around the mountain that loomed over Millau.

The Entire area.. this part of the Languedoc is called the Grands Causses... which in english translates as Big Plateau. its just one tiny part of the Massif central
MC_Grands_Causses_2.jpg
So.. this huge plateau with Millau at its western edge... carved by rivers into these truly epic gorges, many of which had roads winding along them with medieval villages clinging to the sides.
Gorges-du-Tarn-vues-du-ciel.jpg
Epic doesnt do it justice... and riding along the roads by the river you dont really get an idea of what the landscape is really like until you climb up onto the top of the plateau... or view it from the air.
img_7656.jpg
It really is an amazing place... and we were very lucky that day. The few spots of rain that appeared was just an excuse to pull over and have a coffee while taking in the view.. typical summer rain, it only lasted minutes and then drifted away and very soon the roads were bone dry again and we were on our way.


The dangerous descent Rob mentioned.. that was a mistake on my part, it all looked fine at the start, no warning signs... nothing to make us turn around and by the time it got nasty it was too late.. I couldn't have turned the GS around and Rob hadn't a hope in hell of turning his K1200 around so.. we just had to stick with it. Fortunately we were in luck and no car came the other way.. had that happened it would have been an impasse. the Car would have had to reverse to a passing place.. trouble was there weren't many.

you can check it out for yourself: https://goo.gl/maps/rN4Uq6nUz1N2
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Re: 9 days en France 24th June-2nd July 2017 report

#13 Post by Igloo » Mon Jul 17, 2017 10:15 pm

Gerontious wrote:
Sun Jul 16, 2017 12:40 pm
you can check it out for yourself: https://goo.gl/maps/rN4Uq6nUz1N2
That looks amazing!!!! I can understand the issues with turning the barges around, But it must have been a good ride down :thumb:
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Re: 9 days en France 24th June-2nd July 2017 report

#14 Post by smallfrowne » Wed Jul 19, 2017 2:29 pm

oooof.... that road looks fun. All looks fun. Can't wait to get on le continent :D :D

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Re: 9 days en France 24th June-2nd July 2017 report

#15 Post by rob m » Wed Jul 19, 2017 2:40 pm

More pictures and report soon :D

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