Being the same age as yourself and having the same inclination - I have just returned to the UK from France having had a steady bimble around the country for a couple of weeks. Took in a lot of the back roads and found lots to look at.
I visited a number of places that I've been curious about for some years now. (Carcassonne being my favourite - you can rent a Chalet for 55 euro for 2 nights at the Cité Campsite. It was well worth it if only for having a decent bed, a secure place to dump tyhe kit whilst I went walkabout.. Carcassonne also has a huge staturday market at which i picked up some thin riding shirts for a few euro each. )
I met many long distance travelers and spent many hours talking to complete strangers.
France is camping crazy. You will not struggle to find a decent campsite.
Just about all campsites are biker friendly and for 8 to 10 euro a night you can easily get good facilities.
Don't be afraid to either just ride around the camp first or, if there are security gates, ask the reception to let you in for look around. They are happy to oblige.
If B&B's are more your style - check out BIKE-STAY - Motorcycle Friendly/Biker Friendly Accommodation Directory, for motorcyclists around the world
Plenty of brits offering decent places to stay. But expect to pay anything up to 70 euro for a nights sleep and a full stomach.
Every town appears to have a Lidle supermarket. I used these all the time and found I could have a decent evening meal (including some wine) for about 10euro.
Don't speed through towns and villages. Take the speed right off - about 24mph - Any faster and you risk upsetting the normally pro bike police.
If you want to get somewhere fast then remember that using Paigé effectively doubles the cost of the journey ..
.. i.e. I always think of it as if the petrol I'm using doubles in price whilt on the paigé
I can totally agree with the statement about the 'Alps and Pyranees, the mountain roads there are just brilliant.
' - and then some.
I always call in at a local mobile phone shop and pick up a PAYG simcard. Cost about 10 euro and they have credit on them already - Works out a hell of a lot cheaper than using my contract mobile to phone home.
I could go on - but most of the fun is finding out for self.
I want to go back, instead of being sat in front of this damned computer.