Riding in France, summer 2017

As I did the previous year, I went to France to visit my family. I mostly work remotely so it is not much of a problem to be away for a few weeks. I left on the thursday evening, crossed the Channel Tunnel and camped in Calais. The trip would really begin the next day.

18 August

Riding in the north of France is not particularly exciting but neither is it boring. There are many nice villages along the way. The landscape is changing slowly and there are some nice corners once in a while.

When I stopped for a short rest, I couldn't stop taking pictures of my brand new Yamaha Tracer. This was the first long trip of the bike.

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When I made a stop along the way I found my phone had received many emails and SMS's from work. Something had gone very wrong and everyone was panicking. There was nothing I could do from the roadside so I just ignored it all.

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19 August

I spent a great weekend with a long lost friend, found again.

Metamorph'eau'ses in Châlons en Champagne: incredible projections on a church. It is quite mesmerising.

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21 August

Just riding south. It was a nice ride though, going just on the western edge of the Morvan. I stopped once I reached the Auvergne, in Saint-Georges-de-Mons. The little town wasn't very lively but I found food in a deserted restaurant; a huge and delicious portion of a local specialty with cheese, potatoes and ham.

22 August

I knew I had planned something good for the day. But until I got there I didn't know how good. I felt like the first proper day of summer. I rode on some beautiful roads with rarely any straights, with beautiful mountains and forests all along. But I also did two hikes!

I first stopped to explore the Puy Pariou, an old volcano. I climbed up and then went down into the crater.

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The way down on the other side was on hundred and hundred of steps. That was hard on the knees.

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Back on the road, I don't remember the name of this village.

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My next destination was Le Mont-Dore. I could have gone there quickly but I decided to explore the wonderfully twisty roads of the region. And what a treat it was! My new bike was near perfect on the local roads. The brakes faded noticeably after a while but nothing too troublesome. The weight of the luggage helped with the suspension. The engine is a masterpiece. I've been laughing all the way. So it was one of my best rides ever.

The Roches Tuilière and Sanadoire:

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Once I arrived in Le Mont-Dore I took the funicular and walked the crests path all the way to the cable car. It was a much harder hike than I anticipated and the heat was taking its toll. It was worth it though for the superb landscapes.

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I was completely exhausted when the cable car left me in the valley so I waited for the bus to take me back to town.

I had still some distance to cover to the campsite. After a bit of a rest, the thrill of riding made me forget about being tired. I camped in Trizac, near a lake and with a nice view as the sun was coming down.

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23 August

I had a long way to go. The day started with a closed road. It took a while to find a way to rejoin my original route but the narrow mountain roads were fun. Eventually I had a good view on the valley below, where I was headed: clouds, a lot of clouds.

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It was old down under the cloud cover. Later I crossed the pine forests of the Landes. Stopping for a rest was a problem. Everything that is not the road is soft sand. I could not stop the bike there! When I found a safe place to stop, I took a nap!

I met my sister in Seignosse in the late afternoon. and would stay there for a couple of days.

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26 August

From Seignosse to Colomiers going entirely the wrong way makes perfect sense when it means riding the Col de l'Aubisque and the Tourmalet.

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10 September

I went on a ride, exploring the area north west of Toulouse. I found a fortified village, an ancien pilgrimage bridge...

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12 September

A visit to the village of St Bertrand de Comminges with my parents. I discovered that there are still a few old-fashioned umbrella makers.

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18 September

After a month in France (Yay for remote working), it was time to head back home.

I started on the way home by going to La Grande Motte, crossing the Haut Languedoc. It is a very nice region and I would make a detour to come back, preferably with better weather.

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20 September

I rode across the Cévennes and a bit of the Ardèche. Great roads and great scenery.

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Florac:

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21 September

I crossed the Rhône valley in the morning. I slowly found my way north in the Drôme, Isère, Savoie and Haute Savoie. What a treat it was! Most of the roads are perfect for a motorbike. Some gravel, road works and a road closure didn't spoil it one bit.

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I rode in beautiful valleys, forests, mountain passes, narrow gorges, roads carved in the rock... From time to time I had views on the snow covered peaks of the Ecrins.

I spent the evening in Annecy, a large, lively town where everything is expensive.

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After a full day's riding I was exactly the same distance from home as the previous day (1060 km by the fastest route, which I had no intention of following).

22 September

Switzerland. Of course, Switzerland just happened to be on my way home!

I did a nice loop into the Swiss Alps before riding back to France.

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In the evening, I set up camp next to the river Saône.

23, 24 September

Over the next two days I slowly found my way home, stopping again to visit my friend in Champagne.