Louisiana MC Instructors VERY unofficial European tour (Swampland to the Alps)

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by slartidbartfast, Jun 2, 2009.

  1. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Love those blue pipes

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    Much of the rest of the day passed in a bit of a blur. We hit some more major roads but even after crossing back into France, still found ourselves from time-to-time back in the woods and hills again.
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    We stopped for coffee at the French border
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    Avoiding the major autoroute, we traversed some really nice roads in the Alsace region. Rolling hills covered in vineyards giving way to more forests but much wider, faster roads than in the Black Forest
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    As we passed over Col De Bonhomme, it was not possible to ride past a restaurant with lots of bikes parked outside, so we paused yet again for a coffee and some excellent pastries.
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    As the sun started to get low in the sky, we took to the major routes to get some miles (kilometers) under our wheels and not leave too much riding for the last day, prior to meeting the ferry.
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    The route was still interesting however. Nothing like this on US interstates or British motorways.
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  2. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Love those blue pipes

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    It was getting dark as we approached Paris. I had planned to give the city a wide berth but when I realized the GPS was going to take us right past, began to formulate a plan for a surprise detour.
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    The surprise element was foiled when a couple of the gang came up with the same idea. So a new waypoint was selected and we headed into the city
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    Parking initially looked challenging but after a quick trip around the block, we pulled up on the sidewalk at the end of a long line of mopeds[​IMG]

    We arrived just in time for the nightly display of flashing lights
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    We took it in turns to guard the bikes and take in the tourist stuff like souvenir shopping and a few "I was here!" photos.
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  3. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Love those blue pipes

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    When we finally dragged Miss Bling away from the souvenir stalls, it was getting quite late. Thoughts now turned to finding a place to stay the night. The plan was to get a few miles from the city center so we could find a reasonably priced hotel.
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    I did manage a small surprise on the way out of the city. We hit the massively confusing roundabout at the Arc du Triomphe right around midnight and I couldn't believe how busy it was.
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    The GPS couldn't keep up with all the exits (my story and I'm sticking to it) so we ended up taking the wrong exit twice, consequently facing the mayhem three times. Those were a few very high stress minutes, trying to navigate the traffic myself and make sure everyone was still there behind me.
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    Finally managing to get the correct road, we were soon en-route toward the coast once more.
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    It was at about this point our plans began to go to pieces...
  4. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Love those blue pipes

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    After reaching the outskirts of Paris we exited from the main road and tried to find a hotel. The jokers responsible for the GPS POI databases in France were doing their best to confound us, as half of the hotels listed as being near the exit either didn't exist at all or had obviously ceased business a great many years ago. Of those hotels which actually existed, many of them were the same facility listed multiple times under different names and none had any vacancies. Most didn't even have an open door with anyone in the lobby who might have offered a suggestion where else to try. It seems that hotels in this area are all unmanned late at night, with a door-key vending system outside.

    We carried on to the next exit and tried again - with similar results. Thanks to bad GPS data, we visited at least a couple of empty lots down obscure back roads. By this time it was after 1:00am and the temperature was falling rapidly from the balmy T-shirt comfort of central Paris. "OK, let's go another 30 or 40 miles and try again." At about 2:00am, we pulled over in a layby to add layers and strategize - We were already doing the only thing reasonably possible but every time we exited to look for hotels, it ate up another 30 minutes that could have been spent moving further from Paris, where (we assumed) the chance of finding an open hotel with vacancies would increase. Our string of good fortune just looking for places to stay wherever we found ourselves had definitely come to an end.

    It got progressively colder and damper, with patches of ugly mist drifting across the road for miles at a time. We visited several nameless French towns, investigating numerous dead ends and a few comfortable looking hotels with no available rooms. Finally, a hundred miles or so from Paris, at around 4:00am, tired and cold, with the first hints of dawn in the East, we came upon a place in Lisieux with several rooms available. The vending machine outside the front door accepted my credit card and spat out a string of door access codes. I don't remember locking up the bikes, carrying gear to my room, removing my riding gear or falling into bed.
  5. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Love those blue pipes

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    Here's the route we followed - A LONG day in the saddle - Around 1000Km but with numerous stops and detours along the way.
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    And some detail showing the part of the Black Forest we rode through - It shows how we barely scratched the surface of the potential for great riding there.
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  6. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Love those blue pipes

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    There were a few seconds of "where the heck am I?" panic when someone hammered on the door in the morning. It was definitely time to get up and about, despite having insufficient sleep. This was our last day on the Continent and it would be a shame to waste half of it sleeping.

    It was already warm and bright with a blue sky while we quickly packed and headed into town for a leisurely brunch.
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    We found a nice spot with good coffee and the chance to watch the world go by
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    It was fascinating to see the number of people who were out-and-about for just a single loaf of bread. The cultural observation was made that many Americans would not want to eat bread that had been carried about without being wrapped up. Not a French public health issue that I am aware of
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    Pretty soon, we were moving again - headed for the Normandy coast, where we had a whole afternoon to kill before the ferry left for Portsmouth.
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  7. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Love those blue pipes

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    We quickly made the last few miles to the coast and headed for the Museum of the Battle of Normandy in Bayeux.

    Pulling in to the museum, our fatigue from the previous night was presumably a contributing factor when Pimpdaddy caught the back of Miss Bling's bike - and down she went again! The damage was a little worse this time
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    We didn't waste too much time worrying about it but got on with visiting the museum
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    A lot of very interesting displays, describing the history, equipment and consequences of the Normandy landings. Well worth the visit.
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    After a couple of hours wandering around the museum, we headed for the coast, following the signs for Juno Beach.
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  8. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Love those blue pipes

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    I think the town where we hit the coast was Corseulles-sur-Mer. We split up for a couple of hours to do some sightseeing, shopping, wandering on the beach and by the many monuments
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    A different view - makes you think about the person manning this gun on D-day
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    I wandered around for a bit and then laid down by the bikes in the sun for a nap, thereby missing some of the sights
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  9. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Love those blue pipes

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    The day was wearing on fast and we had to move toward the ferry. We followed the road along the coast for a surprising distance, through numerous quaint villages and passing several other famous beaches and other landmarks of the Normandy invasions.
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    We stopped several times to look around but ultimately had to make tracks for the port of Cherbourg, where we had arranged to meet up with Mr & Mrs Tubastew
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  10. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Love those blue pipes

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    We found a nice spot for a meal
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    We enjoyed our last taste of continental cuisine. Pimpdaddy insisted on having the seaflood platter
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  11. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Love those blue pipes

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    Soon enough, we had to load up one more time and head for the ferry, where we had booked another overnight crossing.
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    Once again, motorcycles were segregated out and we found ourselves parked in a line with a lot of other touring bikers. Even the guards were friendly. We quickly started chatting and swapping stories of bikes and places to ride.
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    I liked the look of this Aprillia. Sure I've never seen one in the USA
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    Pretty soon we were directed to board, being very careful on the slippery steel deck
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    On board, we chatted with Tubastew, catching up on the last few day's events, and swapped thoughts about this great holiday before turning in for a short night's sleep in a comfortable bunk bed.
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