September 22, 2007 GMT
France at Last

Getting to France

16 to 21 September 2007

Our initial plan was to tour the southern counties and then get a ferry out of Portsmouth to the south of France. This plan was dashed when our UK insurance company failed to send out some needed papers causing us to return to London to pick them up. Bureaucratic incompetence knows no geographic boundaries it seems.


This photo shows the bike setup with the custom built tank box and removable side bags


Another shot of the bike rig. Amazingly, it all works ok

Our run back across the country included a short detour through the Welsh valleys. These original coal mining areas look much as I remember from old movies of DH Lawrence novels: bare arse hills with bare arsed towns. These villages are a million miles from the swank coastal villages full of cashed up English refugees.

We stopped at one pub for a piss stop and I am sure we were the most interesting thing to happen that week. If only we could have understood what they were saying, I’m sure we would have had in interesting time with the locals!

We over-nighted at Thornbury (near Bristol) and visited Steve Smith’s uncle and aunt and his 8 Rolls Royces. We stopped at a smelly B&B out off Shaftsbury next to a dairy (bad mistake) and enjoyed the 17th century house and 18th century plumbing. We then headed for Kent and a couple of days make and mend to pick up the paperwork. The country lanes were crowded, the countryside cluttered but the ride overall was interesting and enjoyable.

Ashford gave us a chance to get some haircuts and find some internet access; both essential after the wilderness of the Wild West.

All of this faffing about left us short of time to get down to Montpellier for game three. The Channel Tunnel was the quickest option; or so we thought. Hours of waiting, then sitting on the bike in a line for more hours was only made bearable by the fact that it didn’t rain.


Waiting for the train to France

To top off the experience, an emergency was sounded half way through the tunnel when a fuel spill was found in the deck above ours and we were evacuated to the end of the train for the remainder of the trip. Great!!!!!


On the train before the emergency warning alarm sounded!

Two hours on the excellent French motorways south to Rouen cleared the cobwebs and a hearty French dinner put all right with our world again. Finding the Statue of Liberty was a bonus!


Just like our love of "big" things, the French have a collection of little things, in this case, the Statue of Liberty at Barentin north of Rouen


Just to get the size in perspective

Friday 21 Sep was our toughest day so far on this adventure. A “little” miscalculation in the navigation saw our 620 km (thank the heavens we are free of those dreadful miles) day extended over 12 hours.

Third and fourth weeks 002.jpg

Third and fourth weeks 003.jpg

An interesting house at Nonancourt. Dieter would love finding a straight side in this building!

After winding though villages and back roads all day we gave up and headed for the motorway and tested the stability of the big rig at high speed over the last 250 km. 250 divided by 140 equals……..a quick trip to town.

Third and fourth weeks 017.jpg

Places to stop by the highway are hard to find

Brive was an unexpectedly pleasant reward after a hell of a day.

Third and fourth weeks 005.jpg

The Beemer standing guard outside a Brive hotel

Third and fourth weeks 006.jpg

Brive markets.

Third and fourth weeks 012.jpg

More Brive markets. The fresh produce is excellent at these local markets

The run down to Sete on the Med coast with a lazy, long lunch, and a wander through interesting back lanes, highways and mountain villages was just the kind of day we like on a bike.

Third and fourth weeks 019.jpg

This big arsed bridge may be called a viaduct, but it is still impressive. 130 kph all the way

We found Nick at a cheap hotel (where else), a cold beer and some food and our miserable run to Brive was forgotten. To top it off, Sete is another great town.

Third and fourth weeks 022.jpg

At last we get to Sete and meet Nick

Posted by Mike Hannan at September 22, 2007 02:02 PM GMT

NEW! HU 2015 Motorcycle Adventure Travel Calendar is now available! Get your copy now for some terrific travel inspiration!

HUGE, 11.5 x 16.5 inches, beautifully printed in Germany on top quality stock! Photos are the winning images from over 600 entries in the 9th Annual HU Photo Contest!

Horizons Unlimited 2015 Motorcycle Adventure Travel Calendar.

"The calendar is magnificent!"

"I just wanted to say how much I'm loving the new, larger calendar!"

We share the profit with the winning photographers. YOU could be in the HU Calendar too - enter here!

HU DVD Autumn Special!

Take 40% off Road Heroes Part 1 until October 31 only!

Road Heroes features tales of adventure, joy and sheer terror by veteran travellers Peter and Kay Forwood (193 countries two-up on a Harley); Dr. Greg Frazier (5 times RTW); Tiffany Coates (RTW solo female); and Rene Cormier (University of Gravel Roads).

The first in an exciting new series, Road Heroes features tales of adventure, joy and sheer terror by veteran travellers."Inspiring and hilarious!"

"I loved watching this DVD!"

"Lots of amazing stories and even more amazing photographs, it's great fun and very inspirational."

"Wonderful entertainment!"

Check it out at the HU Store! Remember to use Coupon Code 'HEROES' on your order when you checkout.

Renedian Adventures

Renedian Adventures

What others say about HU...

"I just wanted to say thanks for doing this and sharing so much with the rest of us." Dave, USA

"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the DVD series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring! The new look of the website is very impressive, updated and catchy. Thank you so very much!" Jennifer, Canada

"...Great site. Keep up the good work." Murray and Carmen, Australia

"We just finished a 7 month 22,000+ mile scouting trip from Alaska to the bottom of Chile and I can't tell you how many times we referred to your site for help. From how to adjust your valves, to where to stay in the back country of Peru. Horizons Unlimited was a key player in our success. Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world are in debt to your services." Alaska Riders

contest pic

10th Annual HU Travellers Photo Contest is on now! This is an opportunity for YOU to show us your best photos and win prizes!

NEW! HU 2014 Adventure Travel T-shirts! are now available in several colors! Be the first kid on your block to have them! New lower prices on synths!

HU 2014 T-shirts now in!

Check out the new Gildan Performance cotton-feel t-shirt - 100% poly, feels like soft cotton!

What turns you on to motorcycle travel?

Global Rescue, WORLDwide evacuation services for EVERYONE

Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!

New to Horizons Unlimited?

New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!

Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle.

Susan and Grant Johnson Read more about Grant & Susan's story

Membership - help keep us going!

Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.

Books & DVDs


All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.

Motorcycle Express for shipping and insurance!

Motorcycle Express

MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!

Story and photos copyright ©

Sorry, you need a Javascript enabled browser to get the email address and dates. You can contact Horizons Unlimited at the link below. Please be sure to tell us WHICH blog writer you wish to contact.

All Rights Reserved.

Contact the author:

Editors note: We accept no responsibility for any of the above information in any way whatsoever. You are reminded to do your own research. Any commentary is strictly a personal opinion of the person supplying the information and is not to be construed as an endorsement of any kind.

Hosted by: Horizons Unlimited, the motorcycle travellers' website!
You can have your story here too - click for details!