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Old 09-27-2008, 06:07 PM   #1
KingRat OP
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a short spin round NW France

More of a quick jaunt than an adventure, but some interesting places visited, so perhaps worthy of a brief ride report.

This was a 5-day trip for an eclectic group of 6 friends and co-workers, and [a first this year] a pillion-riding spouse [ Kate!]

The trip started off with the overnight ferry from Portsmouth to St. Malo in Brittany. The boat was big, clean and well-equipped, but the entertainment was not exactly Royal Variety Show calibre. Still, the more beer we had, the more we clapped. Kipping on the minuscule planks that passed for bunk beds was not so easy, so tip #1 is save your money and sleep on the reclining chairs instead.



The following day was from St. Malo to Pornichet, on the coast between St. Nazaire and La Baule. 140-ish miles, no autoroutes, no Gendarmes, 1 speed camera, and splendid French D-roads made for an entertaining ride.

Long straight roads bore me intensely, so we plan to avoid them. We did find a nice place to stop and brew up, at a lake near Gomené.





We stopped for coffee and lunch at a café at a Marina on the river Vilaine, overlooking the tidal barrage at Arzal. They served extremely thin pizzas.







Lodging for the night was in Pornichet, and a mere 50 yards from the beach. It was a nice clean hotel, with secure underground parking for the bikes, decent food and the opportunity to splash around on the beach.



The following morning we visited La Boule - Escoublac Commonwealth Military Cemetary.





Heroes every one of them, but Serjeant T. F. Durrant VC is particularly noteworthy for he was not only awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions during Operation Chariot, but he was recommended for the V.C. by an enemy officer.



We then went to St. Nazaire to see the Normandie dry dock and the memorial at Place du Commando.





There is also a memorial for the Lancastria here.





Want to know how big the Normandie dry dock is?



Jeremy Clarkson made a documentary about Operation Chariot. It is on youtube in six parts, here:
#1 #2 #3 #4 #5 #6

It rained heavily all morning so we took a dual carriageway around Nantes and stopped to dry out over a coffee at a little café on the Loire.





We then rode to a hotel in Gennes, as luck would have it fine for sleeping in, a garage for the bikes, and an excellent meal.

The main attraction of the following day was the Chateau de Chenonceau.





We moved north through Amboise and towards Le Mans, our next hotel being on the Le Mans 24-hour race track’s famous Mulsanne Straight. Another perfectly acceptable and good value hotel from the Logis de France book and again, excellent food.

The following morning started with a couple of laps of the road section at Le Mans. My land-speed attempt on my ST1300 was spoiled by a myopic kamikaze Range Rover who pulled out in front of me while I was doing… well, enough about that.



We then rode to Caen to catch the ferry home.

There was the obligatory coffee stop.



You’d think I’d have noticed the enormous ivy-clad lamp-post in the way of this church photo when I was taking it.



One of those GPS moments took us a few miles along farm tracks. KTM? Never heard of them.



And a longer stop at to visit the first place in France to be liberated on D-Day.















A short blast to Caen, a ferry trip and a slog back home on awful British roads and that was it, for what was a very nice trip with excellent company.
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Old 09-27-2008, 06:26 PM   #2
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Old 09-27-2008, 06:37 PM   #3
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Nice...

Thanks for the great report; It would be a good thing if more of us (post World War II) generations could visit that part of France. There were a lot of lives sacrificed for the liberties we all take for granted today...
Thanks again!
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Old 09-27-2008, 07:15 PM   #4
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Nice Chewie - LeMans and Normandie in a short trip. And people say we have good riding where I live

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Old 09-27-2008, 07:20 PM   #5
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and, you made my daughters yearn for the skinny French pizza

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Old 09-27-2008, 08:44 PM   #6
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Hiya Chewie Looks like you had a great trip. Normandie is on the short list of places I want to visit. Nice report, I wish I could remember to take pictures .
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Old 09-28-2008, 05:39 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by lorazepam
Nice report, I wish I could remember to take pictures .

I know, I know.... missed hundreds - literally - of opportunities for good pics, but it was a bike trip after all, and the roads are all this good - none of the poorly-made suspension-testing rubbish we suffer at home.

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"Discourage self-help, and loyal subjects become the slaves of ruffians." - A. V. Dicey
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Old 09-28-2008, 05:55 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hankgs
Thanks for the great report; It would be a good thing if more of us (post World War II) generations could visit that part of France. There were a lot of lives sacrificed for the liberties we all take for granted today...
Thanks again!

Cheers!

The Cafe Gondree has a lot of memorabilia inside, but they don't allow photographs. I did snap one before the sign was pointed out, but deleted it in deference to the owner's wishes.

It is the military cemetaries that have the most impact on me, and there are just so many in France.
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"Discourage self-help, and loyal subjects become the slaves of ruffians." - A. V. Dicey
"The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools." - Herbert Spencer
"Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people's money." - Margaret Thatcher
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Old 09-28-2008, 09:08 AM   #9
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Great report, Chewie. My wife and I were there in June and it was just an incredible trip. I wished we were on bikes rather than in a Renault.
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Old 09-28-2008, 11:04 AM   #10
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I enjoyed that Chewie, thank you for sharing it.

The Chateau is absolutely stunning. Is that open to the general public or privately owned ?


edit: wow, I didnt realise it was a hotel. I've just found it .... http://www.chenonceau.com/media/gb/index_gb.php

Did you stay there?

The history attached to it makes for interesting reading.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ch%C3%A2teau_de_Chenonceau
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Old 09-30-2008, 08:34 PM   #11
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One day I will get to tour Europe with my wife.

I'll trade you a tour of Louisiana for a tour of France! Take your time...think about it.
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Old 10-01-2008, 01:03 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duchess
I enjoyed that Chewie, thank you for sharing it.

The Chateau is absolutely stunning. Is that open to the general public or privately owned ?


edit: wow, I didnt realise it was a hotel. I've just found it .... http://www.chenonceau.com/media/gb/index_gb.php

Did you stay there?

The history attached to it makes for interesting reading.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ch%C3%A2teau_de_Chenonceau

It's not an hotel it's a national monument... you can visit of course and there's a restaurant at the ancient Orangerie, but that's all ;-)

Hey you british: don't go to France to eat f... pizza ! there's so much ;-)))
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Old 10-03-2008, 03:06 PM   #13
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Hey you British: don't go to France to eat f... pizza ! there's so much ;-)))
Well, pizza is what the nice roadside cafe by the river sold. At least it wasn't andouillette.

We are all from London, so don't tell the yanks, but our food is as good as yours. We keep it a secret so other nations can talk about boiled vegetables and feel superior.
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"Discourage self-help, and loyal subjects become the slaves of ruffians." - A. V. Dicey
"The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools." - Herbert Spencer
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Old 10-03-2008, 03:44 PM   #14
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Short but nice. Now if I could just get a couple of friends together for any kind of ride at all would be nice, let alone France. Thanks for the RR.
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Old 06-20-2009, 05:47 PM   #15
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Not worthy of a second ride report, but I have just got back from another trip to St. Nazaire. Long old story, another group was going there and a space came up, beats going to work.

We stayed here, an excellent and very biker-friendly residence near St.-Hilaire-du-Harcouet in Normandy, run by profane curmudgeon Bill.

This is Bill. He greets you all:



Bill.

Bill's bar is in the barn, where he is willing to serve booze until the early hours, and hungry motorcyclists can talk rubbish about the day's ride over excellent food cooked by Bill's wife Carol.







Apart from that, France is so consistently excellent it can't really be considered an 'adventure' ride in any way. Top roads, excellent coffee stops and relaxed, friendly people.





My photoshop panorama-generating skills are weak, but you get the idea:


(Le Pont de la République, over La Sélune near Le Féburon on the D115)

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