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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.
Thanks for the tips Matt, im taking it all on board! cant wait to get going now, all this advice has given me a lot more confidence to do this on my own.
P.S. I like your money saving idea for mounting a car sat nav to a bike! (in a seperate thread).
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 airesderepos. I dearly wish I could tell you of my private escape exit in the fence near Cl/Ferr,(Steve McQueen style) but lesflics would then want to talk to me about my can'tpay, won'tpay philosophy. So you'll have to follow the green signs to your destination (no toll).
Tell us all about it when you get back.
Cam you truly are a font of knowledge and that last post had me laughing hard.
If you do use the Peage toll roads make sure you use a toll booth that's manned as the automatic ones assume you're in a car and charge accordingly. Otherwise they're great if you need to cover some ground quickly.
I was in Millau and Oradour-sur-Glane last summer.
Millau..........avoid the official tourist sightseeing locations on either side. I went to one and from that point of view the bridge didn't look anything spectacular. Follow the local roads to the bottom and go underneath as that's where you'll see the most spectacular views. And avoid going over the bridge too because it's just like a normal motorway and you can see absolutely nothing on either side. Remember too that anyone caught stopping on top of the bridge is in SERIOUS trouble with the local gendarmerie!
Oradour-sur-Glane......... a fabulous but brutally sad place to visit. We were there for a whole afternoon and that was quite enough. It isn't a huge place and a number of hours are quite sufficient to appreciate what it has to offer even if you take your time and view it at your leisure. The story of what happened there is fascinating and there is an excellent tourist centre where you watch a short film and buy books etc.
Thanks for the replys folks, i've been offline for a few weeks due to moving house.
Im hoping to ride thru gorge du Tarn on my way to Millau, and from there up to Oradur Sur Glane.
Chris got any idea how long that journey will take if i keep off the motorway?
I didn't ride straight there from the boat so I can't say for sure but I imagine it's gonna be a couple of days unless you are something of a Valentino Rossi! The only comment I would make about your trip (apart from the fact that it sounds great!) is that to me it sounds like a lot of riding in a short time. Personally, I much prefer to do less riding and more seeing....if that makes sense?
My first ever bike trip to France was when I was en route to Alicante in 2002. I was all over the country but to be honest I can't really remember much of it as I was always on the move, following maps, looking for signposts, finding somewhere to stay etc. I did loads of miles and I loved it but I would have loved it even more if I'd had time to catch my breath from time to time. You're your own man Adrian and you will make your own decisions but if it was me I'd either ride less or take longer to do it.
Millau is interesting to see but it's an awful distance just to see a bridge. Personally I felt it was a bit of an anti-climax to be honest. Yes it's bloody big.......but it's still a bridge and the best pics I ever saw of it were the ones I saw on the internet. You won't get the same views in person (unless you have your own helicopter!). I remember riding away from it thinking it was a bit of a waste of a day.
Oradour is definitely worth seeing. I recommend it.
Cheers guys, very interesting thread as I'm planning very similiar trip for last week in May, Roscoff-LaRochelle-Orandour-Millau-Cannes-Grenoble-Calais and back thru UK to Holyhead... I was starting to consider too much in too little time
Evening all, me again!
Just a quick question, ill be stopping at Le Mans on wednesday evening 10th of June.
It turns out that the Le Mans 24 hour car race is on the 13th and 14th of June so the race teams will be practising in the days leading up to the 13th.
Has anyone here been to Le Mans and do you know if it would be possible for me to camp at the circuit on the wednesday night without having to pay for a full entrance fee?
Thanks in advance.
Adrian, just got back from Le Mans (work for a race team) and spotted your post. You should be able to camp at the track without paying the full fee.
Previous replies have been quite right, dont go over the Millau bridge go under it, Millau itself is a great little village and has a couple of great campsites, seeing the bridge from below or the opposite side of the valley is more interesting IMHO.
Another great village near there is St Antonin Noble Val, the film Charlotte Grey was filmed here and it sits on the river Tarn. You can camp by the river for free (dont leave a mess) and hire a canoe for a few hours for 12 Euro.
Well, im off, thanks to all those who gave me advise/opinions/abuse on this thread.
Catching the ferry from Portsmouth tonight for the beginning of what must be the largest bike trip ever made, its going to take 9 whole days!!!!!
Anyway ill post a trip report when i get back.
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