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Route Planning Where to go, when, what are the interesting places to see
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Old 21 Apr 2010
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Question UK to Spain on a budget

I've been searching through the forums trying to find some information with no success, so apologies if this has been asked before and I've missed it....

We're planning on riding our smallish bikes from UK to Spain (and possibly Portugal) this summer. Originally we were going to join the PyrekneesUp, but work commitments prevented this unfortunately and the hotel etc for the HUMM is too much for us as we're trying to do this trip on the cheap.
UK - Spain ferries are too much (£550+ each)!
Motorail through France won't operate in 2010 (apparently)

So we're left with riding them (DRZ400 & Serow XT225) from the UK, down through France on B & C roads to the Pyrenees and beyond, depending on time. We've got two weeks for this little venture.

Can anyone provide any info on routes, campsites or places in the countryside where you can pitch up without risk of getting lynched/arrested/robbed etc? Hotels and Autoroutes are a big no no.
Or if there's any websites/blogs/forum threads on this topic I'll happily read up.
Many thanks.

Simon & Helen
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Old 21 Apr 2010
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Hi Simon and Helen,

Am sure you will get lots of responses regarding this, so to start it off I have done two trips on the route you have mentioned lat September and Fall, and would say two weeks would be just about enough time to get through France, ride the Pyrenees, and then get you back through France on the B & C roads as you suggest.

In September a mate and I went from Dover on the chunnel down the East side of France, Napoleon Road, and then across Southern France to the Pyrenees, then headed up the West side of France, spending a bit of time in Britagne and the Normandy Coast area. That took two weeks.

Allow three to four days each way through France if you wish to use the more scenic and better for biking B and C roads, andto be able to enjoy it and not have long days.

That would give you four to six days to spend riding East to West, or West to East through the Pyrenees.

On my second trip I took the Ferry down from England to Santander, and just spent two weeks and a bit riding the Pyrennes, staying in places like Jaca and Sort for three or four days and doing rides all around the areas.

They both offered good bases to do riding from. I prefered Jaca as far as towns go, as it has a very nice old section of town that is all walking streets. But the riding was equally good all along the Pyrenees. Especially going over into France of the passes, and then back into Spain over a different pass.

There was a campground on the edge of Sort that some other bikers stayed at that was within walking distance to town. I am sure if you google Jaca for camping there would be some too.

Perhaps the ferry is a bit more dear in the summer months. As to give you both the most riding pleasure, there is the option on the Brittany Ferry of just taking an overnight ferry one way, without the state room, and just taking the 'reclining seat' option. I believe it was around 85 pounds one way?

That would shave off three or four days of going through France (if Spain is where you wish to do most of your riding) and perhaps allow you to pop into Portugal. The roads around the Costa Verde are nice, a bit narrow at times, but offer some beatiful canyon riding.

If you only have two weeks, and wish to ride the Pyrenees and see a bit of Portugal, I would really consider the ferry to or from England one way. When you work out the cost of fuel, camping, meals, etc, and the more time in Spain and perhaps Portugal you would then have, it might be worthwhile.

If you would like any further information please let me know. I know there are so many more riders way more familiar with this area than me, but hope that will perhaps give you a start on your planning.

Have a great trip.


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Old 21 Apr 2010
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don't know if you have a satnav or not,, if not get a decent map of both France and Spain as you will be wanting to use the smaller roads, not the main arteriel roads.

To save money.
1, get a cheaper ferry
2, avoid peages wherever sensible.
3, camp free.

How to do that

1, take the LD/transmanche ferry from newhaven/portsmouth. To get there come down the A34 as far as possible and if sailing from nehaven use the A272 ( the road that goes through Bilingshurst).

2, From the French side head for Rouen, Then take the peage A13 to Evreux via Louviers, USE THE PEAGE, it will cost 1 euro but save a lot of hassle.
Stay on the N154 until you join with the RN12.
Then turn right to head west to Mortagne au perche. head for Belleme then Bonnetable, as you approach Le Mans turn onto the D20 BIS until it joins the D323 (old RN23). Turn off at Arnage and follow the D307 to Samur.
At Samur follow the signs for Niort until you get close to Parthenay after which follow the signs around the ringroad to Poitiers. Look out for St Maixent l'ecole. follow the signs for that then on to La Mothe st Heray and onto Lezay and Sauze Vasous. Here you pick up teh RN10 south to Bordeaux. Follow the ring road around towards Bayonne but turn off at J16 onto the d1010 which is the old RN10 follow it all the way to St Geours de Maremme which is where it crosses the RN124.
From there follow the D12 to Urt, Hasperran and Cambo les Bains. From Cambo follow the D918 to Ainhoa south and onto Sare which is close to the Spanish border. Follow the D406 and it will take you to Bera de vidaso in Spain.

3, The Aires/laybyes are meant for people to stop, rest and sleep. Generally an overnight 'Bivouac' in little tents with your bikes parked close by will be fine. Often they have showers as well as toilets although basic. It helps if you buy a coffee in the shop if there is one. Generally the busy Aires are safer as there is lorry traffic about. Pitch up out of sight of the road if quiet site.
Look out for Supermarkets to buy food and fuel.

but do get a decent map, ideally one that is ring bound as they open up better.
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Old 21 Apr 2010
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Hi guys,

We did a pretty similar route last summer from London down to the foothills of the pyrenees with our only criteria being no hotels and sticking to minor roads.
We've always found that France has boat loads of camping sites, have never planned ahead and always found a nice cheap campsite.

I don't have Satnav so sadly can't give GPS co-ords but will give you our rough route. We sailed via portmouth to Cherbourg and headed down the peninsula towards Angers. On the D25 near Segre there's a small camping sign in the middle of nowhere that takes you up a farm track to a basic (pitch & showers/toilets) but nothing else - cost about €7 but it would have bee nfree if we'd arrived after about 6:30 as nobody was there. Can't remember where the next place was but it was south of Limoges. bTW, I'd highly recommend taking the road SE out of Limoges (D940, D979) towards Meymac, then follw the 979 to Bort-Les-Orgues, onto Condat. Then take the D3, D17 to Aurillac, then D920 south towards Rodez which is where you suddenly feel like you hit southern europe. The road continues south down to Requista, Lacaune, Castres and then it's up to you depending on which parts of the Pyrennees you want to hit. It's a great ride along this route taking in some spectaculeur country and very light on traffic - plenty of campsites, and if not I've always found that the french in rural areas are quite happy to let you camp on their land if you ask nicely.

Good luck whatever you choose to do!

Perhaps not the answer you wanted but as I said, it's really nothing you need to worry about - you can camp through rural france without any problem for next to nothing (that's a Euro-nothing)...
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Old 22 Apr 2010
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Originally Posted by oldbmw View Post
head west to Mortagne au perche. head for Belleme then Bonnetable, .
There is a small hotel in the middle of Belleme opposite a water garden/feature thing, the couple who run it are fantasic and will let you keep the bikes in the garden (around the back), the woman speaks a little english but the bloke (and rather good chef) doesn't, neither do any of the staff. The rooms are typically French and the food is too. It's a great experience of French hospitality.

I turned up ther one night, soaked through, dirty and looking very bedraggled, thier hospitality was amazing as was the food, and it wasn't expensive at all (sometimes you need a little comfort in a trip just to get your moral back).

Just a suggestion.
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Old 22 Apr 2010
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If you find yourself needing camping near Le Mans try this wonderful site, Camping Municipal Du Val De Sarthe, it's in the lovely medieval town of Beaumont sur Sarthe. It's about 20k's north of the city. Only 5 Euro a night for bike and tent.

If you want to keep your camping costs down then head for the local town and find the Municipal sites. They're usually right in the centre and of good quality.

Good luck.
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Old 22 Apr 2010
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Thumbs up

Wow! Many thanks to all the helpful replies here. I knew you were good, but not this good.

Zarks - We were considering taking the ferry on one of the routes as a time saver. Although the recliner seat is only saving £40pp, so would be worth the cabin probably....ticket alone is near £200pp. I'll do some research into Jaca and the likes and add it to our route.

Oldbmw & Bobduro - Fantastic (either memory, or gps checking This is the route we're looking at, so I'll add these roads to our map. I also checked the LD ferry which appears to be as expensive (or more) than P&O during late July/August unfortunately.
I am looking into getting a Garmin Etrex Vista (for the journey south or north) which I've seen used to good effect by friends on the trails. It can handle Memory Map for routing lanes, so looks to be the best budget option (second hand). We'll then use maps for the Pyrenees and surrounding areas.

Gasup & FLyingdoctor - many thanks for the camping info. We're going to try ignoring hotels for now, as we've been inspired by Austin Vince recently after a visit to rough it more. Hope we can last.

We'll get on with using your help to plot some routes. The campsite and Aires/laybyes info is a great help too. Many thanks....I might be back for more soon!

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Old 22 Apr 2010
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I went with a mate last Easter.
Overnight ferry Plymouth to Roscoff - not the cheapest crossing but easiest for us in Cornwall. It also means that you start in France early in the morning with a full day to ride.
1st day to Mons, about an hour north of Bordeaux
2nd day to the border with Spain then up into the mountains.
We managed this without too much time on peage roads but, in poor weather, it was 2 long days on the road.

On the way back we took the Santander Ferry. It is more expensive but once you put in petrol, tyre wear, food and accommodation there is very little real difference.
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Old 3 May 2010
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I have a zipped file think I got it from here? It has all camp sites and national parks around the world of course it is not 100% never will be really will it
you use it with google earth map it is in german (country names) but not too dificult will dig it out and attch it here when I get in from work
We are the Pilgrims, Master, we shall go Always a little further: it may be beyond that last blue mountain barred with snow, Across that angry or that glimmering sea.
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Old 11 May 2010
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Anything like this would be a great help Selous.
We'll be at the UK HU meeting in June too, to pick anyone's brains.
Many thanks

Originally Posted by Selous View Post
I have a zipped file think I got it from here? It has all camp sites and national parks around the world of course it is not 100% never will be really will it
you use it with google earth map it is in german (country names) but not too dificult will dig it out and attch it here when I get in from work
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