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  #1  
Old 23 Feb 2009
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France in June.

Hi all, last September i was supposed to take a trip to France on my v-strom 650 but then i was offered a new job and so i had to postpone my trip.
Now im all set to go again and i just wanted to run my plan by some of our more seasoned travellers to get your opinions/ideas or suggestions.
Firstly im taking the ferry from Portsmouth, arriving in Le Havre at 8am on a June Friday morning, ill then be heading straight down past Orleans, Bourges and Clermont to the Millau bridge, i hope to be at the bridge by Sunday evening.
Then its up to Limoges where ill visit the village of Oradour Sur Glane, ill spend 2 nights here exploring the village.
After that its up to Le Mans to visit the motor museum and visit the famous race track, ill spend 2 nights here also.
Then i plan to head back to Le Havre to catch the Fiday evening ferry back to Portsmouth.
I wont be using any toll roads and ill try to stck to the route nationale as much as possible, im planning on camping all the way and i wont have sat nav. just a good old fashioned map!
So what do you think?
All opinions welcome!
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  #2  
Old 24 Feb 2009
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If those are places you want to see, then why not?

However, I find the tempation when travelling is to get as far from you point of departure as you can before returning, otherwise it almost does not feel like a trip... (I am guilty of this, too).

However, this is not sound logic.

Once off the ferry, you are already in a place you don't know. Everything you see will be new. For example you could hop off and spend a week exploring Normandy, Brittany, and the Loire Valley. All these places have beautiful spots to see and breathtaking coastal areas overlooking the Northern Bay of Biscay. Google some of these spots to see what they are like: Medieval old towns, cliffs, beaches, castles, chateaus, wine, good food, wild forested hills all within 90 mins -2 hours from your ferry port.

I'm not diggin at your actual route, I would just say that you could see more and ride a bit less by sticking to an area closer to your point of arrival, otherwise 3 days will be travel.... If you have your heart set on Limoges and the rest of your locations then go for it...

Eitherway, enjoy. I like France a lot, but its harder to travel there now that I'm in Estonia....

Just a thought.
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  #3  
Old 24 Feb 2009
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I agree with Warthog - you're already somewhere new. Enjoy. I also believe you can't go wrong in France, wherever you go.

If you do go to Millau bridge, go under the bridge too, for best views. There are campsites in Millau town, by the river.

Les Gorges du Tarn aren't far away - don't miss them.

Bonne route!

Last edited by Caminando; 24 Feb 2009 at 13:18.
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  #4  
Old 24 Feb 2009
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+1 for the advice to see the Millau bridge from beneath the structure.

Oradour Sur Glane is certainly worthy of a visit, but I believe from my experience you will not require two nights at the village to appreciate the history and learn of the horrors perpetrated there.

This may sound rude, it is not meant to be; re-appraise your journey and plan a route avoiding the route national. Get on to the D class roads to not only see and experience more of France, but to make your travelling less stressful. If you do not get to all those places you wish to visit, you can always return in the future! There increasingly seems to be a belief that the higher the mileage covered equates directly to the success of a journey. Do not allow yourself to fall into that trap.
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  #5  
Old 24 Feb 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Warthog View Post
If those are places you want to see, then why not?

However, I find the tempation when travelling is to get as far from you point of departure as you can before returning, otherwise it almost does not feel like a trip... (I am guilty of this, too).

However, this is not sound logic.

Once off the ferry, you are already in a place you don't know. Everything you see will be new. For example you could hop off and spend a week exploring Normandy, Brittany, and the Loire Valley. All these places have beautiful spots to see and breathtaking coastal areas overlooking the Northern Bay of Biscay. Google some of these spots to see what they are like: Medieval old towns, cliffs, beaches, castles, chateaus, wine, good food, wild forested hills all within 90 mins -2 hours from your ferry port.

I'm not diggin at your actual route, I would just say that you could see more and ride a bit less by sticking to an area closer to your point of arrival, otherwise 3 days will be travel.... If you have your heart set on Limoges and the rest of your locations then go for it...

Eitherway, enjoy. I like France a lot, but its harder to travel there now that I'm in Estonia....

Just a thought.
Thanks for your replies.
Yea i genuinely want to see these places, and to be honest im expecting that the 3 days it will take me to reach Millau to be the most interesting because ill be riding thru places i've never heard of and meeting and chatting to strangers whom ill probably never meet again!
Im really looking forward to this trip but the only worry i have is that the road signs etc are very different in France and i may have trouble finding my way as i dont have g.p.s.
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  #6  
Old 24 Feb 2009
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Originally Posted by adrian74 View Post
Thanks for your replies.
Yea i genuinely want to see these places, and to be honest im expecting that the 3 days it will take me to reach Millau to be the most interesting because ill be riding thru places i've never heard of and meeting and chatting to strangers whom ill probably never meet again!
Im really looking forward to this trip but the only worry i have is that the road signs etc are very different in France and i may have trouble finding my way as i dont have g.p.s.

If that is where you want to go, then go do it!!

As for getting lost, that can be fun (with at least half a tank, mind).

Otherwise, invest in a good quality, good detail road atlas and you'll be fine and perhaps a compass too.

If thousands of Brits have managed before you there is no reason you won't!!
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  #7  
Old 25 Feb 2009
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Don't worry about the roadsigns.
They all have numbers, so if you have a good map, it is easy.
And the highway and route national have different coloursigns.
It is easy.
Have a good trip.
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  #8  
Old 25 Feb 2009
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Don't worry about not having a GPS, generations of Englishmen have marched all over France using nothing but a map! Using a map gives you a better idea of the bigger picture and you will actually know where you are. I use a GPS and for navigating through cities it's wonderful, but I always have the map in front of me too. I use Michelin regional series mostly but a good ring bound atlas of Europe is ok.

As for the ferry trip to Le Havre, good choice. I like that overnight boat. I understand that there is an overnight boat now on the return voyage, which is great as it used to deposit you back in Blighty at 21.30. Then I'd have a 4 hour ride in the dark before my bed. I always pay the extra £12 and go in the club class lounge (no kids running around) find a nice bit of floor and sleep all night. Arriving in France at 0800 ready for a good days riding.

As Caminando the Gaul says, anywhere in France is good really. Get on the D roads and explore.
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Old 25 Feb 2009
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If you don`t visit Mont St Michel and camp there for a night...well you deserve to have you bike confiscated ....thats all I can say...

Ok visit Honfleur..and the US Cemetary at Colville...

There is so much to see just in normandy.

Steve
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Old 25 Feb 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jurgen1971 View Post
Don't worry about the roadsigns.
They all have numbers, so if you have a good map, it is easy.
And the highway and route national have different coloursigns.
It is easy.
Have a good trip.
technically the "routes nationales no longer exist, they have all become "departmentales" (run & maintained by the departement, not the state)

for example, what used to be tha N6 that runs from Paris to Lyon is now the D966 as it passes by my front door here in the "Yonne" departement, it may well have a different D number in the other departements it crosses. Some departements still havn't got round to changing the road numbering signs yet... you need an up to date map & don't be surprised if the numbers on the sign don't correspond. (you really need an up to date map & an out of date one to cross check....)
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  #11  
Old 25 Feb 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steveindenmark View Post
If you don`t visit Mont St Michel and camp there for a night...well you deserve to have you bike confiscated ....thats all I can say...

Ok visit Honfleur..and the US Cemetary at Colville...

There is so much to see just in normandy.

Steve
And the British and Canadian cemeteries. There were 5 beaches...2 for the US, and 3 for the British and Canadians. Brave men all.

Le Mont St. Michel is a must see..
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  #12  
Old 25 Feb 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flyingdoctor View Post
Don't worry about not having a GPS, generations of Englishmen have marched all over France using nothing but a map! Using a map gives you a better idea of the bigger picture and you will actually know where you are. I use a GPS and for navigating through cities it's wonderful, but I always have the map in front of me too. I use Michelin regional series mostly but a good ring bound atlas of Europe is ok.

As for the ferry trip to Le Havre, good choice. I like that overnight boat. I understand that there is an overnight boat now on the return voyage, which is great as it used to deposit you back in Blighty at 21.30. Then I'd have a 4 hour ride in the dark before my bed. I always pay the extra £12 and go in the club class lounge (no kids running around) find a nice bit of floor and sleep all night. Arriving in France at 0800 ready for a good days riding.

As Caminando the Gaul says, anywhere in France is good really. Get on the D roads and explore.
Cheers Doc,I have just paid for my ferry, Portsmouth to Le Havre return for £73 + £15 for a sleeper seat! pretty good deal i think.
As for generations of Englishmen marching all over France with just a map......i used to see them marching all over back home (Ireland) aswell with just maps but i can only assume someone bought them a g.p.s. cause they all seem to have gone home!
MOON... Thanks for that info, i was going to use a 2007 map but looks like i need to buy a more up to date version now.
CAM and STEVE, i just had a look at Mont St Michel, Im now thinking of staying in Le Mans for just 1 night and squeezing Mont St Michel and maybe the Normandy beaches in on my way back to Le Havre.
Also....is it advisable to prebook campsites in France and are they well signposted from the main roads?
Thanks for all the help folks, it really is appreciated
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  #13  
Old 26 Feb 2009
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Le Mans of itself is not so interesting IMO. Why not go there some other time for the 24 hour, and experience some of the maddest camping and bike craziness? Spend more time at places like Mont St Michel. Don't book campsites unless it makes you feel better. Look for the sign "Camping Municipale" for communally owned ones. And you can always do wild camping for free anyway if you are discreet and careful. Why pay? Anyway the French won't bother you. Don't forget to say you're Irish if it comes up.

Between 12 and 14 hrs use supermarket restos to eat well and cheap - Carrefour, Geant, LeClerc, Casino, etc. Or buy your stuff there and eat beside a castle or vineyard etc. Why pay more?
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Old 26 Feb 2009
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Sounds like a great trip. I'm another France lover. One of my favourite things was stopping in the boulangerie every morning (one in every village) and loading up with pain au chocolate, croissants and baguettes. About an hour down the road I'd stop for breakfast and have my pain au chocolat and croissant, then for lunch I'd have some brie or camembert on some fresh baguette. Can't beat it! There are lots of roadside 'Aires' with picnic tables etc. to have breaks in. Much better than the UK in this respect.

Campsites tend to be signposted from the road, and in some places they are plentiful. However, there will be the odd place where they are a bit thin on the ground, so don't leave it too late to start looking. I wouldn't bother booking ahead as this will tie you to a particular place at a particular time, which can be a hassle if things take longer than you expect, you have a day ill, you really like one place, etc. etc. If the weather goes bad (or you can't find a good campsite) you could use one of the Formule 1 hotels or similar that abound in France. They tend to cluster around the major exits of the toll roads and are perfectly acceptable, if characterless.

I went to the D-Day Beach at Arromanches. It was fascinating. There are still remnants of the mulberry harbours lying not far out in the sea.

Navigation is pretty easy in France, even without a GPS. Everything is pretty well signposted and the maps seem pretty good.

Matt
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  #15  
Old 26 Feb 2009
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Originally Posted by adrian74 View Post
then be heading straight down past Orleans, Bourges and Clermont
I forgot to say that the autoroute for these towns above is a toll route. (Some are, some aren't ). If you join this autoroute 30 kms-ish after Chartres, it'll take you to Clerm/Ferrand. It's around 14 euros for a bike. Camp discreetly in the aires de repos. I dearly wish I could tell you of my private escape exit in the fence near Cl/Ferr,(Steve McQueen style) but les flics would then want to talk to me about my can't pay, won't pay philosophy. So you'll have to follow the green signs to your destination (no toll).

Tell us all about it when you get back.
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