planning a trip through france to spain

Discussion in 'EMEA' started by tommyvdv, Jan 16, 2013.

  1. tommyvdv

    tommyvdv Been here awhile

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    Hi there
    Every time i come here looking for advice i find it. So here goes :)

    I'm looking for some advice and maybe even a friendly place to stay on our 2 person trip to France.
    We're starting in Belgium and i'd like to end up in the spanish Pyrenees before heading back.

    Since we will not be doing any highway miles, i'm trying to figure out the most enjoyable roads from the north part of France to the South.

    I was thinking along the lines of normandy, nantes, bordeaux.
    If we have enough time and my partner in crime is up for it, we'll be riding through the Pyrenees from west to east and even try to squeeze in some french alps. But that's looking a bit optimistic for the moment.

    If any locals have any advice on how to go about crossing France, feel free to shoot. I'd hate to miss anything along this road. The same goes for the Pyrenees by the way :)

    I'll be posting a google map of the road we'll be taking once it's clear to me how we'll go about it.

    Thanks!
    T
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  2. RTLover

    RTLover Long timer

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    Personally, I find the north of France west of a north-south line from Charleville to Auxerre to be rather boring, being mostly agricultural and fairly densely populated. Normandy and Brittany do have some positives, the Atlantic Coastal areas mostly, but if you're heading south as a destination they're out of the way. Nantes to Bordeaux has minimal interest for riding. My recommendation is to head for Auxerre and then dip into the Regional Park of the Morvan and then into the Massif Central, which has pristine scenery and it's lightly populated. If the Pyrennees is your destination you can just continue south via Mende and Castres to Carcassonne. The best east-west roads in the Pyrenees are the N260 on the Spanish side and the 618/918 to the Atlantic on the French side.
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  3. tommyvdv

    tommyvdv Been here awhile

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    Thanks for sharing your experience on the subject.

    So what your saying is; don't do this:

    [​IMG]

    But do this

    [​IMG]

    That's auxerre, morvan, mendre, castres, carcassonne.
    We could snif the pyrenees and pay andorra a visit. We'll probably have time to cover the Pyrenees from coast to coast. But i don't know if it's worth it?

    I assumed going east around paris would automatically be a lot more miles. Seems this was a false assumption.
    Couple of years ago i rode up from Nice to Nancy and back home. Maybe we could take that way back.

    Someone had pointed out to me that we'd best avoid the coastline from Marseille to Nice. Does the same apply to the coastline to the west of Marseille?
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  4. Stray Dog

    Stray Dog Been here awhile

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    I would echo pretty much everything RT Lover has said.
    I'm based near Angouleme Charente 16

    I'm not keen on Northern France either, unless it's the Eastern side where you can pick up the Alps
    I would defo take in the Massif Central, superb roads and scenery.
    The Gorge & Pont d'ardèche are well worth a visit.
    The Pyreenes ya cant go far wrong no mater where you go.
    Always good roads, and not over populated (providing you avoid August that is)

    Dog
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  5. RTLover

    RTLover Long timer

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    The Pyrenees may be the step-child of the Alps so far as notoriety but they really do have a lot to offer. The roads I mentioned are very nice. Curiously, the southern side in Spain seemed to me to be much drier, weather patterns I suppose, while the French side tends to be greener.

    I first visited the Cote d'Azur in the '70s and it was wonderfully different from Southern California. :D. Nice was, well, nice, my GF and I stretched out naked on the beach at Antibes and no one minded. Alas, between population explosion and the Russian mafia buying up half of it, for me its lost most of its luster. There is still some fabulous scenery in Les Calanques east along the coast from Marseille but the town itself is a disgrace. West of Marseille is a lot of industrial operations, but the Camargue a bit more westerly is worth a slow ride for the flamingos, semi-wild white horses and true gypsy atmosphere. Since you mentioned Nice-Nancy, do you know about La Route Des Grandes Alpes? http://www.grande-traversee-alpes.com/routes-des-grandes-alpes It's hard work but OMG what fabulous riding. I took three days to do it, which is a respectable amount of time. I think I just pumped myself for another shot at it. :clap
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  6. tommyvdv

    tommyvdv Been here awhile

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    I did that a couple of years ago. It IS worth it. It's ridiculous how they keep throwing pass after pass at your.
    I'll try to incorporate that into our trip home, but i don't think we'll have enough time.

    I've marked all of the above on a map: http://goo.gl/maps/Xo748

    Have i marked your location correctly @Stray Dog?

    Thanks for the tips.
    #6
  7. RTLover

    RTLover Long timer

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    Looks good. Oh, and don't forget to pass under the Millau bridge on the way down if you're one of the five hundred and twelve bikers in the Western Hemi who haven't yet been there-done that. :D What time of year are you targeting?
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  8. Wildman

    Wildman In my castle

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    Try Sedan - Verdun - Neufchateau - Gray - Dole (can't remember the numbers of the roads .. D964? & D???) before you cut across; nice roads.
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  9. cybrdyke

    cybrdyke In the Dark

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    The Pyranees are great. Andorra is a blink of an eye. I was there in 2012 and they had checkpoints set up at the borders, but I found out that this is not always the case.
    If you get down into wine country, there are some cool places like Chateauneuf de Pape, especially if you like wine. Carcasonne is a fun town with a big castle to investigate. The castle is kinda tourist-y, though, but still fun.
    If you get into Spain, you MUST get to Vielha. It's mandatory.
    Have fun....!
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  10. tommyvdv

    tommyvdv Been here awhile

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    D964, D74, D67? http://goo.gl/maps/5gtkV
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  11. tommyvdv

    tommyvdv Been here awhile

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    thanks :)
    sounds like Vielha is worth a visit.
    I've google-street-viewed it but can't really see why it's mandatory. Care to motivate?
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  12. Wildman

    Wildman In my castle

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  13. tommyvdv

    tommyvdv Been here awhile

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    Any thoughts on Puy de Sancy?
    Possible to get up there on a bike?
    Doesn't look like the google car risked it :)
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  14. Panda*

    Panda* Been here awhile

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    Hi, tommyvdv!
    How correctly be written here, you have to visit the canyon Verdon, this is absolutely unforgettable place. And Carcassonne castle is very interesting. See my report, there are interesting places that can be useful for your trip. http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=845000

    Julia.
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  15. RTLover

    RTLover Long timer

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    Close enough, and then you'll probably have to hoof it the rest of the way.

    The Parc Regional des Volcans is kick-ass. Even in the summer, the traffic is light. Stayed in Mont-Dore and then rode south toward Puy Mary with many detours. Salers is a nice, albeit touristic, town noted for its cheese of the same name.
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  16. tommyvdv

    tommyvdv Been here awhile

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    looks like you picked out some wonderful roads through canyon Verdon! well done!
    And thanks for the tips guys
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  17. pip_muenster

    pip_muenster curious

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    When are you doing this? I'll take a trip from southern Spain through France and Belgium up home in late March, so maybe I can wave at you somewhere ...
    I've circumnavigated the Iberian peninsula many many years ago on a bike and also passed through some of the areas described above on another trip. The Massif Central towards the Pyrenees would also be my recommendation, although some parts of the Normandy and Bretagne were quite memorable. Was on Omaha Beach and wondered about all the veterans until I noticed that the date was June 6.

    Anyway, I'm watching this thread to get some ideas for my trip, if you don't mind. Any particular nice gravel roads en route?

    :wave

    Pip
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  18. tommyvdv

    tommyvdv Been here awhile

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    We'll try and get to Spain, if that works out, we'll go back home.
    One option we have to start our trip home is taking "la route des grandes alpes". The other option is keeping to the west and. If the latter wins it, we'll be going through normandy as well. I've been there a few months ago and agree; it's quite nice.

    But i live in Belgium. Normandy is only 500km away; perfect for a short holiday. Lets say it's not at the very top of my priority-list.

    About those gravel roads. I'd love to do some light offroading. Or the occasional gravel roads. The downside is that i'll have to leave my partner in crime behind. She does not care much for anything that even remotely looks like offroad in this stage of her experiences. It's her first "big" trip and she'd love to test the water. But i have no idea what the level of confidence will be during/after this trip.

    we're thinking June for this trip

    ( Still trying to find a few back-yards to camp in :) )

    Any idea about the camping/bivouac rules in France? Can we set up camp anywhere or are we forced to use campsites?
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  19. RTLover

    RTLover Long timer

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    There are some experienced campers here but I'm not one of them so let's hope they come by.

    That said, out of curiosity I surfed on the French sites until I was cross-eyed trying to get some definitive info. What I read several times was that there is no legal and specific prohibition per se, but there are other laws that prohibit camping on private land without the owner's permission, camping within 500 meters of listed monuments, eg. chateaux or churches, no leaving trash, etc. So in reality, if would seem that you're restricted but not completely shut out. The word 'discretion' popped up, such as being quiet, out of sight of others, camp late and leave early if it's wild.
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  20. redmurty

    redmurty Been here awhile

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    Great thread I'm looking to go down to Spain in September for the Spanish HISS. So I am interested in the roads you guys are throwing up cheers Spud :wink:
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