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Route Planning Where to go, when, what are the interesting places to see
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  #1  
Old 29 Apr 2009
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Through France to the Costa Blanca

I know that similar routes have been covered on the 'europe' section many times, but there is nothing better than up to date information.

I am travelling Portsmouth to Caen on the overnight ferry, mid July. This docks at 06.30

I then have five days to get to Calpe on the Costa Blanca from where i will be hiring a car and picking my wife, kids and my father up from Valencia airport for our annual summer holiday. I will be leaving my bike in Calpe and flying out late Sept to do a return ride.

I have viewed many route planners and atlasses and also conferred with a relative near Perpignan. In summary. I plan to take my first overnight stop at Tours which is 157 miles from my ferry dock at Caen, which will be just right after a semi sleepless night on a ferry. The following day will see an early start on to an area somewhere north of Cahors for another night, this is about 240 miles.. From here i will be on to the town of Ceret, near Perpignan to visit the above mentioned relative for a night. This is about another 200 miles.

After one night with my cousin, i now have two choices, either cut back and go through Andorra and then into Spain for one night before my final leg on to Calpe, which is one hour south of Valencia. OR go straight down the coast past Barcelona and stop somewhere like Peniscola for the night and then continue down the coast to Calpe.

I want the trip to be enjoyable which is why i have allowed myself 5 days as I think this is not too demanding.??? When I return for the bike in late Sept i will probably take a completely different route home, maybe even the Bilbao ferry, but thats another thread at another time.....

If any of you good people could give me any advice on my chosen route, it is very flexible at the moment ! I would appreciate it.

I will be travelling alone and staying in pre booked hotels so my daily destination will be very much fixed and I am happy with that situation. As I dont know much about France I am concerned that i may be passing very close to some wonderful places that i dont even know exist and could be worth detouring through..

Thanks in advance for your help.. this trip is consuming my life at the moment..

Lee
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Last edited by NewAdventurerLee; 29 Apr 2009 at 18:39. Reason: awful spelling
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  #2  
Old 1 May 2009
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Last October I did a run down to Spain.

LD Lines out of Portsmouth to Le Havre have off season offers LD Lines - Cheap Ferries. Portsmouth Le Havre from £37.50 , and I got a deal with a free upgrade to a recliner seat for £38 return (single was £68). So that was a cheap single (I came back Calais Dover).

They have similar deals up until July 16th 09 (book a deal through their website). The ferry sails at 23:00pm, and gets into Le Havre at 8:00 am. I slept ok in the recliner after a couple of s, and had a huge breakfast to set up the day, which had been well cooked, but everything was cold. Next time I take sandwiches.

NB. Definitely book your ticket back before you leave, as if you just turn up like I did at Calais (we didn't really know for sure what day we would be headed back), they really try and stitch you up - it took a lot of work to get a decent discount on the spot, and I still paid £43! I won't make that mistake again.

An 8:00 am start is great after a nights sleep and a hearty (if cold) breakfast (if you are susceptible to seasickness, take half a Stugeron about 30 minutes before you go on board, and a with half a Stugeron is good to get to sleep with).

I was staying the first night with friends down between Poitiers and Limoge, and it turns out the Route 66 Biker Hotel is in their village (we didn't get the chance to visit as we were on a schedule to get to Spain, unfortunately - but I'll be going there early July this year), which has cheapish camping biker friendly France, ROUTE 66 HOTEL, France, B&B, Motorcycle B&B - Motorcycle Accommodation France - biker b&b www.route66hotel.com, relais motards .

As my friends were at meetings in Paris and not back until after 5:00 that day, I went the 'scenic route' off motorway via Le Mans and used 2 tanks of fuel on my Hornet 900 to get there (nb French 95 Octane sucks, it's ethanol rubbish, and it hammered the fuel consumption badly, but using wildly expensive 98 Octane got the fuel consumption back to normal, and worked out a lot cheaper than 95 Octane - some bikes don't seem badly affected by ethanol, but both my Hornet 900 and friends Bandit 1250 suffered horribly). After a few nice stops, we got to the village about 5:15pm.

With a very early start, we would have made Andorra no problem the second day, but I had an idiot drive into the back of me near Toulouse so ended up on a campsite there for the night.

Made Andorra no problem the following day (found a very nice wooden shed fast food place at a garage/store we filled up at I think at Ax-Les-Thermes as you really start climbing up towards Andorra - the boy there in the wooden hut does great pizzas and food like that, quite reasonable prices too - pretty much the last fuelling up point before Andorra, where petrol is much cheaper. Fill up in Andorra before you cross into Spain), and stayed there at the campsite in the capital to recuperate a bit Camping Valira a nice place with good showers, toilets, swimming pool, jacuzzi, bar, restaurant and site shop that's reasonable. Could have easily done Alicante in a long day with an early start from Andorra (and Calpe is closer), but we stayed at a site near Valencia to break the journey up, which was a huge mistake - avoid the area like the plague, as it is the rice growing area, and as a result there's plagues of mosquitos.

How comfortable is your bike to travel far and fast on, is maybe the critical question? Mine was fine, even before I put a custom seat on it (comfort of the Suzuki 1250 Bandit S my friend was on seemed easily up to it too), but I had a Givi screen on it which helped The only change I will make before the next trip, is to put a front sprocket on with an extra tooth, to help the economy and up the cruising speed a bit (it revs into the red in top so it's under geared anyway).

Coming back, we did a late morning start from the Valencia GP, rode through the night and the following day, with maybe a 2 hour snooze to warm up in sub zero conditions in central France, and a few other breaks for hot soup/coffee from machines at services, and got into Calais about 7:00pm the day after we left Valencia. Frankly I'm not great after dark so speeds were cut pretty much (especially with the wind chill from sub zero temperatures in central France, in the worst part - over 5,000 ft up - we had to slow to below 50mph as my heated grips were knocked out in the accident), and we had torrential rain in northern France which further slowed us down. That route north from Perpignon (E11) should be spectacular during daylight, but I'll never bother with motorways again if I have any alternative.

I'm aiming to do another trip leaving July 1st provisionally, looking to head back about the 15th (to be inside any offers period - it does make a difference).

As Calpe is only up the road from Benidorm, a road not to miss out on, is the CV-70 Alcoy to Benidorm (a very popular road with Spanish bikers is the A7 Alcoy to Alicante too). It's about 2 hours of fun with the bike hardly vertical anywhere along it, S bend after hairpin, and spectacular scenery. We went back to the CV-70 4 times, and I'll be headed there again some time.

Our mileage for the trip was just under 3,700 miles, and within 200 miles of getting home the rear tyre was shot, thanks to the long motorway run of the return journey. Tyres were the then new Continental Motion, and if it hadn't been for that motorway stint all the way home, I'd have probably got another 3,000 miles out of them. I got 5,086 out of the rear in total which is ok in the circumstances (weighed down with camping gear, etc., as well), the front still looks like it has most of its life left. They certainly coped ok with some pretty awful conditions (snow, ice, floods, heat and plagues of insects and pestilence, hehe).

It's a great trip with loads of options, and a trip that's highly repeatable. Have fun with it, and I hope the above helps.
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  #3  
Old 4 May 2009
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Thanks Ribbit,

Your reply was certainly helpful.

It seems as though my 5 days is ample. I have a 650 Transalp, 2007 year, with touring screen and my luggage in a back box and holdall strapped to the pillion seat.

The bike is comfortable enough on good long rideouts, so I dont see that as a problem. I will be avoiding the motorways.

If you are in the Calpe / benidorm area again try the N332, from Benidorm to benissa, its a great road, you have to watch for the dust from one quarry but apart from that its scenic and twisty.

I will look into the LD lines option, whats their tie down arrangements like?

Cheers
Lee
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  #4  
Old 4 May 2009
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[quote=NewAdventurerLee;239919
After one night with my cousin,
I now have two choices,

If any of you good people could give me any advice on my chosen route, it is very flexible at the moment ! I would appreciate it.

this trip is consuming my life at the moment..

Lee[/quote]
-
-
Just couldn't help that !!!!!!
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  #5  
Old 7 May 2009
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Tie down with LD is do it yourself with the supplied wide cargo strap for over the seat, and protective pads. Stick it on the side stand, and ratchet in the direction of the side stand on the sidestand side, so it tensions against the stand, and it's rock solid and doesn't go anywhere - I had no problem at all.

Your bike should be fun and comfortable for the trip I'm sure.

Something to watch on the way down, if keeping off the motorways (well worth it, as there's some outstanding roads that are a dream on a motorbike - plus it's a lot cheaper and entertaining rather than boring on the motorways), is the amount of roundabout work that's been done in southern France and Northern Spain.

There's been EU grants for roundabouts and roundabout modifications, so cash grabbing numbers have had work done with new junctions that don't go anywhere (what should have been your 2nd turn off the roundabout now becomes your 3rd, for example), and roundabouts have been put into places with no comprehensible need for a roundabout at all (not even any junctions other then the main road in and the main road out). This has resulted in a fair few 'proper' junctions being shifted a few hundred metres, and if using a satnav, you can find you just sailed past the turning you need, as the satnav is telling you to turn off in another 250 mtrs, lol!

Also road identifications can change for no apparent reason, and you can think you are on the wrong road, but basically keep following your nose, and let the satnav recalculate.

I still have the 'recalculating route' ringing in my ears 6 months later.

The N332 sounds good, and I'll give it a look next time I'm there (maybe December and January, as dad's thinking of a couple of months in Spain this winter, and it'd be an excuse to head down on the bike earlier - not that I need much of an excuse, hehe).
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  #6  
Old 7 May 2009
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Cheers Ribbit,

I have now booked my ferry, portsmouth to caen. it docks at 6.30AM so an early start that day.

I dont have a Sat Nav, just a map and a very well studied route and hours spent on google earth and viamichelin.com.

I have noticed the roundabouts in Spain, very elaborate affairs with statues, fountains and junctions that go to a pile of earth.

I go to calpe often and I have a house there so I have explored the local roads by car quite a lot. There is a great coast road between calpe and Moraira, not sure of the numbers, but it is the only coastal route. If you ride the N332 into benissa and then at the roundabout at the end of the main street in Benissa you turn right, you will come across a fabulous twisty and quiet road that will eventually land you in the middle of the coastal road between calpe and benissa. The views are stunning.

I will look up the numbers and post them here.

Regards my route through France, I aim for about 200 to 220 miles a day on mainly d roads with a few N roads thrown in here and there. My cousin tells me that some D roads are poorly maintained with potholes etc... what do you think?

Also, I am considering buying a mesh type jacket and trousers for the trip, as its easy to put a sweatshirt or jumper on under one of them but its hard trying to cool down in my full jacket, even with the vents open.

Any advice on clothing?

Lee
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  #7  
Old 8 May 2009
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Hi Lee,

I've just done the outward leg of a similar trip. I reckon you'll enjoy it very much.

If your going via Cahors I think that Rocamadour is fairly close, so that may be a nice sight to see.

I would also recommend getting up and into the pyrenees as that was definitely the highlight of my trip. I went over the Aragnouet/Bielsa route but that may be too westerly for you, but the trip through Andorra seems highly recommended.

Cheers Rob.
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  #8  
Old 8 May 2009
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Hi there - read all this with great interest as I a booked on the boat from Portsmouth to Caen next Friday night - riding down through France - onver the border into Spain and then to Andorra - then back into France - Milliau and back home - 9 days and about 1800 miles.... I will be camping most nights with one night booked at the Refuge pour Motards newar Milliau

May even see you on the road

Nigel
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probably over loaded !!!
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  #9  
Old 9 May 2009
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Good luck Nigel, you're bound to enjoy it. Our paths will probably not quite cross in the pyrenees, as I will probably do Bossost to either Bagneres de Luchon or Fos.

But who knows you may catch me up on the leg up through France. Keep posting your progress.

Bon Voyage!

Rob
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  #10  
Old 9 May 2009
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Thanks for your interest Rob / Nigel.

I am altering the route regularly, so i think i need to stop doing that soon and pick definite stops,

I am currently, Caen to Loches (near Tours) then Lochs to Cahors but I will certainly look at the place Rob suggested near Cahors.

With regard to Andorra, my cousin tells me its a nightmare to get through the border customs and it will take a lot of time.. what do you think Guys.?

I am limited to the eastern side of the Pyrenees as my cousin lives near perpignan.

I have bought some large Michelin maps of France and Spain and the possibilities seem absolutely endless, my only definite restriction is getting to Calpe in time to hire the car (pre booked) and then getting to the airport in time to collect my wife and family.!! best not be late for that one !

Cheers
Lee
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Old 10 May 2009
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Thumbs up Mid Life Crisis !!! am I too old ?

I have heard that Andorra is to be avoided and that Andorra is a must - only one thing for - go and fine out.... I have my eye on a campsite in Xixerella for the night of the 19th May.... so will let you know if the is cold enough..... I am going to try a blog too - the witterings of a freedom seeker.... it reminds me of Mike Carters book - Uneasy Rider - Travels through a mid-life crisis !!!! Brilliant read.... Question - When is middle age? - I'm am neary 58 !!! am I too late to have one !!!!!

Regards

Nigel
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  #12  
Old 15 May 2009
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When we crossed from France into Andorra there was no traffic at all and we were waved straight through.

I suppose it took 5 minutes tops to queue to get to the border point for Andorra to Spain, and we got waved straight through there as well. Border Officials seemed very on the ball and efficient, and seemed to know exactly what vehicles they were looking to pull over and search, from what I saw.

It was October though . . . . .

I found the D and N roads in France to be in pretty decent condition (far better than the appalling state of so many UK roads anyway). There's been a winter since then though, and maybe some deterioration.

eta clothing wise, I just took leathers, wore a T Shirt under when it was hot, and added a light fleece when it wasn't. When raining, I used a breathable golfing 2 piece oversuit that worked great (£19 off Ebay lol!). It's venting was so efficient, when throwing it down, the evaporation was boosted enough to give a noticeable cooling effect. Probably the best waterproofs I have ever had.
I bought a Cobra Vent full face (£25 from M&P, the offer is still running) to give enough cooling airflow, which worked great (useless here in the winter though as there's much too much air throughput). This unavoidably means noisy, but I had the satnav connected to a set of Creative EP in ear earbuds that are noise limiting and very comfortable. Audio with the satnav's built in MP3 player was first class too. I also packed quilted thermal liners for the jacket and trousers, and they proved useful on the way back in sub zero conditions (if a bit bulky to haul around the rest of the time).
Gloves were armoured summer gloves with an efficient vent system (£10 from Busters), with thermal liners for when cold, and waterproof overmitts for when it was wet.

That mesh body armour type stuff sounds a good idea, and M&P had sets really cheap at last years open day, and I might pick some up if they have any at this years.
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  #13  
Old 19 May 2009
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overnight in Loches

For your overnight in Loches you might like the Le Luccotel
Luccotel - Hôtel** et Restaurant à Loches en Touraine
we stayed there a few years ago.
The cheaper rooms are motel style, so you can keep an eye on the bike.
The location is out of town, with magnificent views from the outdoor terrace over the town below.
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  #14  
Old 19 May 2009
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Look up ROCAMADOUR
Beautiful place in France , cheese, pate de fois gras, sauternes etc etc a gourmet's paradise and visit the church of the Black Madonna, the underground rivers by wee boat or sling your fishing line in above!
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  #15  
Old 19 May 2009
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luccotel

Quote:
Originally Posted by Electra View Post
For your overnight in Loches you might like the Le Luccotel
Luccotel - Hôtel** et Restaurant à Loches en Touraine
we stayed there a few years ago.
The cheaper rooms are motel style, so you can keep an eye on the bike.
The location is out of town, with magnificent views from the outdoor terrace over the town below.
Believe it or not, I am booking my hotels tonight and the motel section of Le Luccotel is my first overnight stop. I did like the motel style rooms, small apparently but thats fine for one night and the benefit of having the bike right outside the door with a pergola type structure to chain the bike to aswell. Sounds perfect.

Whats the restaurant like at the hotel, it sounds very nice but a little too fussy.?

Lee
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