France touring tips & highlights

Where to go, where to stay and how to get there. Share your touring tips and ask for advice here.

Moderators: Aladinsaneuk, MartDude, D-Rider, Moderators

Post Reply
Message
Author
Ben
Clubman Racer
Clubman Racer
Posts: 238
Joined: Thu Sep 12, 2019 9:35 pm
Main bike: Kawasaki ZX-10R

France touring tips & highlights

#1 Post by Ben » Tue Mar 31, 2020 1:00 pm

Hi all, I've done about 10 trips to France over the past 10 years and been to pretty much every corner (except into the far corner of Brittany). I have done a lot of the "well known" roads but - probably as you've found - some of the best roads are the ones on your doorstep, rather than the Route de Napoleon-style epics that everyone raves about.

The last couple of trips were full laps of France over 10 days on an R1200RT, so we got a taste of most of the regions.

We're planning a 2020 (2021?) trip and I thought I'd pick the collective RS brain for your tips on places to go, roads to ride and things to see. What are your highlights?

User avatar
Gio
Double World Champion
Posts: 6179
Joined: Sun Dec 17, 2006 8:28 pm
Location: Chertsey

Re: France touring tips & highlights

#2 Post by Gio » Wed Apr 01, 2020 11:00 am

Loire Valley D952, its around 75 miles of road with nice scenery (well I think so) big plus is the wine!
Nice to Savona (in Italy), stick to the coast road where possible, its made for bikes.
Chambery to Caen. Its a long way, but there are some glorious roads through the heart of France, I did this trip in 2006 on my GS1200, would love to do it again one day, but it'd be in a car. :smt010
I hate it when people ask if you have a bathroom, I want to say "No we pee in the garden"

User avatar
mangocrazy
Admin
Admin
Posts: 3706
Joined: Thu Jul 17, 2008 3:24 pm
Location: Sheffield, UK

Re: France touring tips & highlights

#3 Post by mangocrazy » Wed Apr 01, 2020 9:45 pm

Ben wrote:
Tue Mar 31, 2020 1:00 pm
We're planning a 2020 (2021?) trip and I thought I'd pick the collective RS brain for your tips on places to go, roads to ride and things to see. What are your highlights?
When we're allowed out to play again I'll be heading down to the 'fixer-upper' in the Languedoc (Herault). We're just in the start of the foothills of the Haut Languedoc and some of the roads just take your breath away. Let me know when you're planning on going and the very least I can offer will be a stopover and a day out on some of our best roads.

RiceBurner
Track Day Addict
Track Day Addict
Posts: 107
Joined: Wed Dec 11, 2019 2:29 pm

Re: France touring tips & highlights

#4 Post by RiceBurner » Fri Apr 03, 2020 11:27 pm

Just follow your nose and stay off the big roads. Its that easy.

Three Dawg
Despatch Rider
Posts: 36
Joined: Mon Jan 20, 2020 4:00 pm

Re: France touring tips & highlights

#5 Post by Three Dawg » Sun Apr 05, 2020 9:32 am

Ten trips to France - must have seen plenty of it. Why not try something different - in our winter after all this Coronavirus thing has hopefully settled down? I shipped my GS to New Zealand a couple of years ago for two months (Dec/Jan) and had a great time. You need to be there for at least a month for that to make sense financially, but if time is short then renting is easy.
Last edited by Three Dawg on Sun Apr 05, 2020 11:26 am, edited 1 time in total.

yello
Despatch Rider
Posts: 50
Joined: Sun Dec 17, 2006 5:28 pm
Location: France
Main bike: Sorry, it's a Dullville

Re: France touring tips & highlights

#6 Post by yello » Sun Apr 05, 2020 11:26 am

RiceBurner wrote:
Fri Apr 03, 2020 11:27 pm
Just follow your nose and stay off the big roads. Its that easy.
True enough, but a caveat and my two penneth; France is big and it can take you a while to get somewhere taking departmental roads - particularly if one is to observe speed limits (remember it's dropped to 80kph nationally with some regions in the process of putting it back to 90) Also, getting across towns can slow you up further. After a while, one 'quaint' French town can look like another when you want to get somewhere.

Though dull to ride, autoroutes serve a purpose. The key, I guess, is to not be in a hurry, take your time and enjoy the scenery.

Spoke to a bloke off the ferry at Cherbourg once, he was on his way to Bordeaux - 400+ miles and he was planning to do it in under 6 hours, solid motorway. Rather him than me.

User avatar
mangocrazy
Admin
Admin
Posts: 3706
Joined: Thu Jul 17, 2008 3:24 pm
Location: Sheffield, UK

Re: France touring tips & highlights

#7 Post by mangocrazy » Sun Apr 05, 2020 4:10 pm

One thing I would make sure you see is the Viaduc de Millau. It's a fabulous piece of engineering and is (to my mind) one of the wonders of the modern world. It's on the A75, which is also not your average autoroute. It has bends. Quite a lot of them. And wonderful scenery for the most part.

Animal
Despatch Rider
Posts: 22
Joined: Wed Dec 11, 2019 6:37 pm

Re: France touring tips & highlights

#8 Post by Animal » Sun Apr 05, 2020 6:23 pm

Massif Central.
Millau - under rather than over.
Haute Alpes.
Le Puy en Vilay.
Louire Valley - but ride the bottom and top!
BMW HP2
BMW K1300S
Honda Africa Twin DCT aka Twinkie

Life’s too short for only one motorbike.

User avatar
mangocrazy
Admin
Admin
Posts: 3706
Joined: Thu Jul 17, 2008 3:24 pm
Location: Sheffield, UK

Re: France touring tips & highlights

#9 Post by mangocrazy » Sun Apr 05, 2020 7:41 pm

Not sure how you're planning on getting across the Channel, but my preference would be the Portsmouth-Caen route, preferably on the overnight crossing. Get a cabin (essential) and have some decent shut-eye, then grab their reasonably priced Full English breakfast (yeah, I know). They kick you off the boat at about 7am local time, which means you get a flying start to the day. And landing in Caen means you're outside the gravitational pull of the black hole that is Paris.

yello
Despatch Rider
Posts: 50
Joined: Sun Dec 17, 2006 5:28 pm
Location: France
Main bike: Sorry, it's a Dullville

Re: France touring tips & highlights

#10 Post by yello » Sun Apr 05, 2020 8:28 pm

The Newhaven-Dieppe crossing is probably my fave (because it's cheaper!) Newhaven isn't the best of places to get to but I prefer the journey French side as it's a more pleasant ride home for me from there.

If I'm feeling flush then, yes, Portsmouth-Caen (with a cabin) is a very civilised way to go. Not least because the food (as mentioned) is surprisingly acceptable all things considered. That all said, there's a bridge just east of Caen near its peripherique that I'm not a fan of. For a similar reason, I avoid Le Havre!

Ben
Clubman Racer
Clubman Racer
Posts: 238
Joined: Thu Sep 12, 2019 9:35 pm
Main bike: Kawasaki ZX-10R

Re: France touring tips & highlights

#11 Post by Ben » Tue Apr 07, 2020 8:18 am

Great tips all, thank you. I did the Portsmouth - Caen last year when I did 3 days looking at some of the D-Day sights and it was a great trip, like you say, cabin a must.

Yep I've been to France quite a few times but I always leave feeling that I need more time to discover it.

So my favourite area has been around Limoges, the roads I found were fab but I know there are so many other great roadsout there.

Also, I know there are loads of other countries to visit (I've done a lot of riding in Spain and Italy, Wales, Scotland, etc) but I just love the french culture and the fact that every region is so different (and I speak a bit of french, which helps).

This whole 'being stuck inside' lark has given me time to scour the map and plan a trip to a couple of regions I've not spent much time in.

I'm thinking of getting the 24-hour ferry to Bilbao, riding across the top of Spain and then up through France, via San Sebastian and up the West coast.

RiceBurner
Track Day Addict
Track Day Addict
Posts: 107
Joined: Wed Dec 11, 2019 2:29 pm

Re: France touring tips & highlights

#12 Post by RiceBurner » Tue Apr 07, 2020 4:43 pm

mangocrazy wrote:
Sun Apr 05, 2020 7:41 pm
Not sure how you're planning on getting across the Channel, but my preference would be the Portsmouth-Caen route, preferably on the overnight crossing. Get a cabin (essential) and have some decent shut-eye, then grab their reasonably priced Full English breakfast (yeah, I know). They kick you off the boat at about 7am local time, which means you get a flying start to the day. And landing in Caen means you're outside the gravitational pull of the black hole that is Paris.
Seconded. Brittany Ferries is probably the most pleasant way to cross the Channel.

RiceBurner
Track Day Addict
Track Day Addict
Posts: 107
Joined: Wed Dec 11, 2019 2:29 pm

Re: France touring tips & highlights

#13 Post by RiceBurner » Tue Apr 07, 2020 4:44 pm

yello wrote:
Sun Apr 05, 2020 8:28 pm
The Newhaven-Dieppe crossing is probably my fave (because it's cheaper!) Newhaven isn't the best of places to get to but I prefer the journey French side as it's a more pleasant ride home for me from there.
I used that one with my Van because it's the shortest/cheapest cross-channel service, and is actually not unpleasant. (P&O are the worst I've ever experienced).
yello wrote:
Sun Apr 05, 2020 8:28 pm
If I'm feeling flush then, yes, Portsmouth-Caen (with a cabin) is a very civilised way to go. Not least because the food (as mentioned) is surprisingly acceptable all things considered. That all said, there's a bridge just east of Caen near its peripherique that I'm not a fan of. For a similar reason, I avoid Le Havre!
Also agree with that!

RiceBurner
Track Day Addict
Track Day Addict
Posts: 107
Joined: Wed Dec 11, 2019 2:29 pm

Re: France touring tips & highlights

#14 Post by RiceBurner » Tue Apr 07, 2020 4:47 pm

Ben wrote:
Tue Apr 07, 2020 8:18 am
I always leave feeling that I need more time to discover it.
Take 6 - 12 months and live there. ;)

One way of achieving that (especially if you can work remotely) is to do 'house-sitting' for people who have to leave their houses for a month or 2 at a time (and there's a LOT of people who do that). 2 months in a large house on the banks of the Dordogne in summer looking after 2 very lovely dogs for an English couple of ex-pats while they visited family was a complete life changer!

Post Reply