Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Moto escape France

Seems like a distant memory now, this was back in late September. I had a free week and the weather was good so I jumped on the opportunity to get some riding in.

The original plan was to make it to the Pyrenees and to hit some trails but apropos this I found myself trapped in a bit of a catch 22. I had off road capable tyres fitted for the mountain trails but then I found myself unable to reach those trails because the tyres made covering distance on motorways intolerable. When you're only nudging 30bhp it's quite amazing how sapping some knobblies can be when trying to cruise near your limit. And the noise, that noise! Even ear plugs couldn't drown it out.

No choice then but to go for back road cruising and lessen the ambition regarding distance covered. In the end a good decision as there's not a lot of joy in riding a Himalayan on a motorway. The Dordogne was decided upon as a suitable new target destination.

The first couple of nights I was the sole
occupant of each campsite I stayed in.
This is the municipal camping at St
Fraimbault in Normandy. Both a peach of
a campsite and village.
Following the motorway debacle I tracked my way down using secondary roads and trying to zig zag as many national parks as possible. Second night was at another municipal at Mezieres-en-Brenne. The Parc naturel regional de Brenne is a bit different as it is a wetland comprising of hundreds of small lakes and ponds. From Brenne I went through the Parc naturel regional Perigord-Limousin, stopped for lunch in Chalus at a traditional fixed menu place and was surprised to find it run by Brits after rocking up with a bonjour in my best French.

Despite the campsite in Domme being fairly busy I
was able to pitch up right by the river.

On to the Dordogne. A quick google for the most picturesque villages and I settled on Domme. Indeed it is quite stunningly picturesque. The temperature rose to above thirty degrees and suddenly I was in an area popular with 'snow bird' camper vanners from slightly more northerly climes. Totally undestandable given the balmy temperatures, beautiful scenery and high quality camping with pool.

Domme in the Dordogne. Stunning.

Sunrise view from my tent in Domme.

Leaving Domme I decided to follow the Dordogne to the sea as much as possible. It started a good idea with sweet roads and great scenery but I should have probably packed it in a good way before Bordeaux which was traffic hell. I'm sure a beautiful city centre but the ring road was purgatory.

It wasn't great scenery all the way.

It can't be great scenery all the way every day and the ride up to the municipal camping at Pons from Bordeaux proved that point. A functional stop over and everything got better the next day with a shorter ride to Angers on the Loire. The Indian summer was coming to an end and temperatures plummeted somewhat. I still opted for camping and the site at Angers was a lovely walk along the river to the city centre.


Next stop was Falaises back in Normandy. I was determined to camp for the last night despite the very strong chill in the air. I rocked up to the municipal camping mid afternoon and was pretty much told to go away by a surly caretaker as the reception was not open for another twenty minutes and no, I could not hang around and wait. To a certain extent a relief as I had a good excuse to book into a cozy hotel, have a hot bath and dry off my dew soaked tent.

A short hop back up to Cherbourg taking in as many coastal roads as possible along the East coast of the peninsula and back to home and reality that same evening. All in the Himalayan was a joy as soon as I made the decision to ditch the motorway route. Never again on off road tyres though!