France

Joan gets Blown AwayAn early departure turned out to be only just early enough. The traffic in Berkshire/Surrey was at fever pitch preventing Joan from even getting out to fill with fuel. I hadn't thought of fuel so we'd have had to have stopped anyway.

Luckily the motorways were only slightly bogged (accidents, road works, wind of which more later (see photo), etc.) and we got to the port with no time to spare except that the boat was late. Panic over.

An uneventful crossing ably assisted by the nice people on Sea France who lashed our bikes down for us (InterIslander take note). The food and accommodation was good but boat could use a refurbish though. Add a comment

Read more: Talk About Windy

Fish MarketA modestly early start after a coffee in St Valery and off to Le Treport a short distance down the coast for breakfast. This was a real treat as the Municipal Fish Market was open and has the most awesome display of every imaginable type of fresh fish. Joan was a bit disturbed by the crabs looking rather appealingly at her but frankly if you lived here you'd have to forget meat altogether and move to a fish diet. Sadly Joan's Camera, a Sony, has a different connector so you'll just have to imagine what the inside of the market might look like (or better yet go there).

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Read more: Fishy Business

spiresThe white cliffs of Dover are only one side of the coin, apparently the cliffs in France are part of the same geological structure. As you can see the ones in Etretat are very similar but with the pinnacles and so forth which make them quite facinating.

After a walk to the top of the cliff (only half an hour compared to the Lonely Planets 'allow one and a half hours') we got away just after 11 am. The overnight rain had cleared up and left the town still very quiet, clean and very windy again.

The wind was especially evident on the fabulous Pont du Normandie at Honfleur. The bridge is nothing short of a work of art suspended by countless cables from two spindly towers. Signs warn of the wind, but on a bike, suspended hundreds of feet above the river, it is really very scary when you go into the shelter of one of the towers and move what seems to be several meters to hopefully only the other side of the lane. A bonus is that there is no toll for motorcycles and one of the attendants sprang out of his booth to wave us through, Brilliant!

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Read more: Day 3 - White Cliffs of Where?

LisieuxAn early trip around the market in Lisieux just went to show the amazing range and quality of produce the French consider normal. A cafe noir (expresso) and a delicious pastry is all you really need for breakfast, and the chocolate and almond thing I had could easily be considered too much.

The Lisieux cathedral is another fantastic edifice and absolutely huge, sadly however it seems to be in a sad state of repair with graffiti, broken windows and serious structural issues like it's dissolving in the rain. It's nothing a really huge amount of money could not cure but I guess they may wait until it's serious.

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Read more: Day 4 - Lisieux

Medievil FeteA walk around Saint-Lô on a Sunday morning is none too inspiring. It's very closed, but that's typical of all of France. By 9:30 or so we'd found coffee and cake and Joan had attracted the interest of the Gendarmes in the square but that's another story.

Eventually we headed off to Bayeux again via back roads and arrived to find things fair humming with a medieval fete. Lots of stalls, costumed folk, entertainers and generally all in full swing. We dumped the bikes and after a minor panic about a missing disk lock headed off into the melee.

The cathedral is another amazing construction, nearly one thousand years old and just huge. You have to wonder at it all. After an hour or so we found the building housing the Bayeux tapestry truly awesome and the presentation is extremely well done.


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Read more: Day 5 - More History

Mont St MichelThe forecast rain turned up overnight and came in very heavy bursts. A wander around Coutances between showers showed that there is no shortage of amazing cathedrals. This one is somewhat different having a cloister like arrangement round the rear of the alter. Most attractive and certainly worth a look. The Jardin of Plants was well named but what else would be in there?

Our plan had been to stay a second night in Coutances and take a tour of the Hague Peninsular in the north. The weather was very nasty which made staying put look pretty attractive however our host could not accommodate us so it was out into the rain with a revised plan to make it south to Le Mont St Michel.

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Read more: Day 6 - Not More Rain

CreperieThe rain fell again overnight and was still pelting in the morning. This put paid to our early departure and we decided to stay another night at the P'tit Quinquin. By 9:30 however the weather was clear enough for us to head of to Le Mont St Michel.

Le Mont is as fantastic as it looks. If you can look past the tat shops and snow domeries the architecture and building is as wonderful as it is old. We went into a cafe for a breakfast crepe and Madame wheeled us out, up a spiral (stone) staircase and into another place for our crepe and expresso. Brilliant. This is another occasion where you need to spend quite a bit of time to see the entire thing

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Read more: Day 7 - Le Mont St Michel

menhirIt was planned to be an early(ish) 8am start but I managed to sleep in until 7:50 so that put paid to that. We were on the road by 9am however with the intention of heading west to Brittany on as many of the Michelin road maps scenic routes as we could find.  

We had breakfast and purchased a picnic lunch at the rather small market in Pontorson, just south of le Mont. The town looked quite a bit better this time around, we must have been in a rather tired bit last time.

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Read more: Day 8 - Going West

FogFog. That's new on this trip, and most unwelcome but perhaps not unexpected in the Cornwall/Wales of France. Our trip to Cap de Chevre on the Crozon Peninsula might as well have been into the basement of the hotel for all we could see. There was an interesting monument to lost fleet air arm personnel (whicgh we would have not seen in the basement) but sea views? Forget it.

Our first task had been to see if we could arrange accommodation for Bastille Day on saturday. Seems that the whole of France gets fed up with Chez Nous and migrates to the nearest hotel for the night, a bit of a problem for the itinerant tourist with no firm plans. The very helpful girl at Logis de France was able to turn up two, none too cheap, rooms in Auray just down the coast, fairly near Carnac where we intend to go later this week. We are hoping for a good turnout for Bastille Day there but we shall see.

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Read more: Day 9 - and then.....

FishermanThe apartment at Le Hostellerie du Bois du Nevet was so nice, albeit a bit unusual with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, no lounge, no kitchen, we decided to make life easy we'd stay a second night and explore the Cornouaille peninsular and around Quimper. The weather has perked up more than slightly and my head is rather beetroot coloured, my silly hat has a large quantity of melted chocolate on it making it (and my disk lock) unwearable.

Douarnenez is a nice little working sea port and worth a short explore. Sadly we missed the sea museum which is supposed to be very good but we did get a good breakfast.


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Read more: Day 10 - Friday 13th

menhirsA slow start, we are both getting pretty tired and although it is not hard work there is this constant flow of new stuff plus the packing, concentration on the road, language issues and where to? what now? how do I? Add to this early morning rain which left the roads wet until well into the afternoon and it does get hard.

I forgot to mention yesterdays 'incident' where I tried to pull over to the side of the road (a somewhat common occurrence) and ran into some green road menders sludge. Luckily the ABS cut in and and I came to a halt in an undignified but safe manner. Joan collapsed in a heap of laughter, mumbling about avocado slime, which I had to bear. Anyway parts of the bike are covered with a green crust which so far seems to be resistant to anything I can do to remove it.

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Read more: Day 11 - Bastille Day

ChateauWe escaped from Auray at a fairly reasonable hour but both of us had been molested by mosquitos in the night (as well as passing scooters, trains, drunks, parking cars and a huge thunder storm) leading to a lack of sleep and a certain lack of good humour.  Still sticking to the back roads we headed in the direction of the Forest of Paimpont where the legendary lake of Camelot and the Knights of the Round Table is reputed to be.

Sadly there is something wrong with my camera/memory chip and the Card Full/No Images has happened again. This time however I am bang up to date with downloading he pictures onto the computer and I have some idea about how to get the pictures off the card. This will help explain why there are no snaps until we got to Vitre. I am rather hosed about the Forest and the lack of pictures but Joan has one of the Lake which I will be able to get a copy of.

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Read more: Day 12 - So now it's too hot?

Witches HatsIt should have been an early start but we'd both seen things in Vitre that needed  to be bought. Opening hours starting at 10am meant a delayed start after a look around town and in my case a gallette and sussuise (a sausage in a crepe) at the market which was tremendous.

A short run to the witches hat chateau in Fougeres was interrupted as I had luckily felt the key to the room in my pocket after a few minutes on the road. A rapid return to give it back was an option while Joan waited at the outskirts of town. As a result almost all of the morning was long gone by the time we were actually on the road.

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Read more: Day 13 - Homeward Bound

Pont Du NormadieWoken by the church bells at 7am today and not just strikes 7, they went on and on and on and ........

The drive was long but helped in part by the superb French motorway system. 140kph legaly (well almost) on mostly empty roads just eats the miles. The UK by comparison is chocka with lorries and traffic queues but still easy travelling.

Arrived home at just after 6pm local time to a very welcome beer.


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