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Pyrenees & France

18th June 2010 to 19th July 2010

This is my Trip Blog from a few years back. 2 mates and I went on a trip from Rotterdam down through to the South of France and back through the Pyrenees quickly into Spain and returning through Normandy. I hope you enjoy!


So the night before, Me , Mark, and Koen all decided that we'd like to wake up super early and chew up as much highway as possible and slow down on smaller roads when we finally hit France.

But best plans are often just that...in reality by the time we all had breakfast gathered, packed the bikes and repacked and kicked the bikes into gear it was around midday...(You've been there before, right?). Anyway - we made ity down through the usual deluge of rain that plagues any biker that dares lives in Holland...and we made our way down to Lyon where we set up camp for the night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After Lyon the sun started peeking through the clouds. We found our way down to Avignon which was a fantastic town. With so much rich history to be found, we proceeded to do the only natural thing...have a bite to eat and make a bee-line to the nearest pub....oh ok so we did do some exploring as well. I'll do the decent thing and add the touristy shots first.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

...and we did find a bar - a very fun bar as it turns out. Or was it a number of bars. I can't remember. Many of these pictures I don't remember. I do remember earlier in the evening however when we thought we'd ingratiate ourselves with the local ladies by telling them that Koen was going on his last bike trip with his mates before he went to Marseilles to join the Foreign Legion ha ha ha :) They said he was crazy...but we could think they were secretly impressed with our little white lie.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anyway long story short...I woke up in my tent the next day and feeling less than fantastic. Nothing worse than strapping a helmet onto a throbbing headache.

 

ok so we headed west and made our way to Argeles Sur Mer at the base of the Pyrenees foothills. The idea was to cool down in the lovely Mediterranean waters... but it was far too 'cool' for our liking...more like freezing.

That and the fact that Germany was playing Australia in the World Cup and I wasn't going to miss that for the world.After that result - I wish I had missed it. 4-0 Germany :(

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So anyway - after that stopover, we made our finally into the Pyrenees! Amazing roads and scenery all the way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


We stumbled upon this nice camping site run by a Dutch family. You can see their POI on this URL: http://my.motortourer.com/en/poi/19-camping-la-rotja

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So Koen had found a great old Michelin biking tour book from the 80's which suggested we tackle Carnigou. Koen being the most experienced rider picked out the route. Although not what you'd call real 'offroading' It certainly wasn't a real road either for the top part of the mountains. But well worth the effort. It wasn't too hard except for some poor bugger who'd convinced his missus to jump on the back of his CBR 1000 and take the same route....She ended up taking the way back down with a family in a 4WD. I think he was in trouble that night :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coming back down from the mountain - feeling all very much like 'hard core bikers' and rewarded ourselves with some beers, a swim in the pool and a good night's sleep. Then it was time to head North, but not without stopping by the lovely medieval town of Villefranche-de-Conflent. Great place and overlooking the town is an impressive fort. But is always the way when you're laden with bike gear, it seemed too much to walk up to the top and back down again in the war sun. So we settled upon sitting down and having a coffee and lunch in the village square instead .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


After this little interval it was time to again pit our wits against the mighty Pyrenees mountains. But matching wits should be done by those whom possess more than half of one. That does not include us. Although it was fun and challenging. We camped by this river in the forest after being lost the whole day and wondering when we should start hunting and gathering wild berries to survive. But I'll add a POI as a camping spot. The road is unnamed and for the life of me none of us can remember how we got there, but It's awesome!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spain

Coming down from the mountains we hit these amazing winding roads which took us through a valley and down to the plains towards Pamplona. Again I have to apologise, people.... I've added it as the N230 in Aragon. Put it this way. Take any road in this area and you'll be assured of a great ride!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


You should really really take this road. Canyons, rivers, good roads and lovely lovely bends.
We finally made our way down to Spain and the landscape changed so dramatically and suddenly that I thought I must have fell asleep and woken up hours later on a different trip. Riding into Pamplona the rolling Pyrenees foothills gave way to open plains. But they were weird plains in that you think all the land was flat, but suddenly the road would drop into a lower 'plateau' quite our of sight from the road you just came from and then you'd pop up again in a different spot minutes later.

As it turns out, we were a few days early for the running of the bulls, but I scammed a free poster off a lady in a cafe anyway. To be honest, I was glad to miss it. Tradition has given way to gory tourism which means more bulls killed for the sake of a tourist dollar (sorry that's just my feeling on the matter).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But that all said - we checked out the city and seeing all the hotels were fully booked we pushed on to camp by a nearby lake and met a couple of cool French guys on their custom Choppers.

Puntos de Interés

If you would like to camp in the wilderness then this is one for you. There's a lovely river that runs past a little chapel in Parc Natural de l'Alt

Rutas

Short route about 70km. Good roads. Not busy. Lovely canyons , forest and river. Be careful some of the bends are deceptively sharp.

France again..

Biarritz - Sun, surfing and World Cup Football! Stopping at the beautiful seaside city of Biarritz, France; we decided to give the bikes a rest and take some surfing lessons. As it turns out, none of us were very good (great expectations were upon me as an Aussie). But we had a great day - poor Mark got an 'Irish suntan' at the back of his knees - which must have hurt like anything. Also we met up with 2 ladies, one fellow Aussie and a local French lass as well as 2 other Aussie guys who were driving around Europe in a Welsh Locksmith's van. We spent the next 2 days hanging out together, eating good food and drinking nice wine (as one does in France). Being half Dutch, then I had to support the mighty Oranje and we watch the Dutch beat Brazil 2-1 in the Quarter Finals. More beer did flow after that point.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Oradour Sur Glane:

I'm of two minds for putting this POI up - which is in complete contrast to the previous pictures and stories. But it was part of the trip and the the sad story behind the massacre that took place here should always be a reminder to the world about the sacrifices people make in the name of freedom. These poor people had no choice in the matter though. The original town in its razed state still stands today as a memorial. Very moving to go there.You can check it out here : http://my.motortourer.com/en/poi/304-oradour-sur-glane 

Naturally we were all a bit quiet after visiting these places, and there was more to come when we went to Normandy. But we stopped at Mont Saint Michel along the way - which was a fantastic place to see. 


Normandy & D-Day Landing Beaches:It was our homeward stretch from here on in and we decided to see as much of the WW2 sites as possible. Incredible to see the bomb craters, bullet riddled bunkers and all the remnants of the war all preserved for future generations. It's a must see for everyone.

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On our homeward stretch we pulled into Pegasus Bridge where British paratroopers landed in gliders behind enemy lines to secure thee bridge before the major offensive. You can still look at a glider that has been preserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All good things come to an end, but we got as far as Amiens, when my ignition seized up and I couldn't unlock my handle bars or start my engine. It was a Friday afternoon and we finally found a Yamaha bike mechanic in Amiens who picked up the bike with his van and then the only thing we could do was cut out the total ignition system and hotwire the bike.

So for the next 2 weeks I could start my bike by just connecting 2 wires. Not the best end to a trip, but we had a great time anyway :)
Thanks - Hope you enjoyed it :)

Puntos de Interés

Taken from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oradour-sur-Glane In February 1944, 2nd SS Panzer Division ("Das Reich") was stationed in the Sout

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mont_Saint-Michel Le Mont-Saint-Michel is an island commune in Normandy, France. It is located approximately one kilomet

http://www.abmc.gov/cemeteries-memorials/europe/normandy-american-cemetery The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in France is located on the