Here I am in a cheap hotel in Folkestone… staying overnight as I am catching the Channel Tunnel train at 6.50 tomorrow morning.
Having spent most of last night attempting to download a map of France into my Garmin Zumo, which then wiped out the UK maps so had to start again.. quite frustrating.. already. I then worked on the bike almost all of today, checking the oil, cleaning, packing etc etc.
Paisley, my grand daughter, decides to have a quick pose…. manage to wrestle the bike back tho’
She is wearing her Frozen Princess gloves by the way.
At last I am on the road by 5.15pm arriving in Folkestone about 7.15 after riding the last 50 miles in brilliant sunshine, a good omen methinks.
Once I found the hotel I went off in search of a petrol station. It was very pleasant riding along the seashore in the last rays of the sunshine.
Folkestone appears to be quite a nice place… an archetypal British seaside resort
complete with some very grand hotels… in fact this one is called The Grand.
Hold up… looks like I didn’t miss the St Louis arch after all….
a la Folkestone.
So, back to the hotel after having something to eat for an early night.. have to be up at 4am to get to Le Shuttle… unfortunately there is a group of young people a few doors down from me who obviously think this is their home and are very, very noisy. I ask them to keep the noise down as I have to be up at 4, which is obviously hilarious and only serves to make them worse. I hope I can get at least a couple of hours….
Thankfully the rowdy young un’s quieten down so I am able to get some sleep. The room is freezing, which makes it difficult to get out of bed at 4am this morning, but I do force myself at 4.10.
Out to the bike ready for packing up and on the road to the Eurotunnel – Le Shuttle service. My train is at 6.50 so I have to be there for 6.20 latest.
I take the disk lock off the front and go to the small saddle bag to put it away… OMG what’s happened here???
It was fine last night… so either a humungous rat has had a nibble or some passing leather queen took it to finish off his bondage outfit! Seriously… you just couldn’t make this crap up. I’ll have to replace the strap when I get home.
On the bike and off to the train, its a lovely morning if a bit on the cold side. Have a look at Folkestone, it is quite charming.
Arrive in time to grab a quick coffee and croissant before I have to go through passport control and ride on to the train. It’s quite an experience and although I have done it before I do wobble a bit… eek!
Just a short trip under La Manche and before you know it, its off the train and into France.
The weather is just fantastic, but having not had much sleep and with the early start it’s not too long before I feel the need for another coffee so I stop at this Tabac/Cafe for a Cafe Au Lait… with Gloria no less.
Soon I’m on the road again.. I do really enjoy riding in France, especially when the sun is shining.
This part of France is where the trenches were during the Great War and there are numerous monuments, memorials and cemeteries along the route.
What about this magnificent chap… what a fantastic memorial and such a pretty town too.
Another item that France has is water towers…. like this one
I won’t be taking too many photos of these as they are pretty similar and don’t usually have the town names on them so not really worth recording… but I do like the shape.
I am passing by more monuments and cemeteries, this one in particular caught my attention.
One of the many, many cemeteries, this one is British, but I saw signs for other nationalities, French of course, Australian, Polish, German and in this northern area especially around Arras, Canadian. The one that most surprised me was South African, which just reminds one that it was a world war, not just the British, French and Germans.
One town I passed through, Neuville Saint Vaast, just north of Arras, was surrounded by cemeteries… what must it be like for the local residents, surrounded by all that death.. so sad.
On a lighter note, I really love seeing the old painted advertising on the walls, it really is very nostalgic
Arras is commemorating the 100th anniversary of the battle of Arras this year, its hard to imagine that it is over 100 years since the war started.
Am entering the Somme area and again many reminders of the terrible slaughter..
Eventually I arrive at Reims, in the Champagne region, and head for the Harley Davidson dealership
As I walk towards the shop I am greeted by two french guys.. they enquire as to whether I am a woman.. in french of course, but I spot the word femme so get their drift. Now normally I would be offended, but they are really two great guys and couldn’t be more friendly. Of course it helps that they are mega impressed that I, a woman, have just ridden from the UK, on my own, on a big bike, (one of them speaks english and the other a little so his mate translates for him). They coo a bit over my bike so all is forgiven.
I purchase a tee and am soon on my way again. I take off a few layers first as it is now very hot.. the temp gauge is showing 80 degs F… fantastic!
I have decided to aim for Troyes as my stopover point for tonight. I have a look on booking.com and find an aparthotel with a reasonably priced room for the night, so make my way there.
I come across a huge monument so stop for a look. It is French and relates to a terrible battle on this site, which led to a mutiny in the French ranks. I have not heard of this before so it was very interesting and I’m glad I stopped.
Ah Ha!! water towers with writing on… twins no less…
Troyes is a lovely ancient city… given the number of towns called Neuville, (I wonder how many of these are the replacement towns for those flattened without a trace in WW1??), I have passed today.
My room is in a lovely old timber framed rickety house….
Not this one though, mine’s just down the road, but in a similar building
Two doors down from Ye Olde Pizza take-away. The room is in the attic and very quirky, however all the amenities are very nicely done and apart from having to cart my bags up three flights of rather higgledy piggledy original? Oak stairs, it is very good.
Am absolutely knackered now, was nodding off a bit towards the end there so am having an early night.
Drag myself out of bed at 6 to get on the road as early as possible. It’s a pleasant morning so am hopeful for good weather again today.
Soon packed up and on the road. Am heading for Dijon, there is a harley dealer there. Troyes has one too, but it doesn’t open till 9am so am giving it a miss.
Stop for coffee and a croissant and decide to get on the motorway, even though I will have to pay the tolls I am a little anxious about the distance left to travel so need to make it a bit sharpish.
After another stop for petrol, I check out my maps and given the time etc. I am now dithering over whether to go to Grenoble or Lyon… Dijon HD closes for lunch from 12-2pm and I am not going to make it before 12 so that’s out of the frame. I really like the idea of Grenoble as it is up in the mountains and I do really like mountain roads, BUT I just don’t have the time realistically. OK so Lyon it is.
Back on the motorway and the weather is deteriorating rapidly… in fact it starts to rain a little so I pull over and put the romper suit on. The rain gets worse so I pull over again to cover all the bags.
Not long after this it is really pouring and very grey. I stop again to see if it is going to improve… it doesn’t.. in fact it gets worse!
Eventually I arrive at Lyon HD and take my time in the hope it will have slackened off. I have a mooch around, drink a couple of coffees, don’t buy anything (shock/horror) and try to dry out a bit. My boots are full of water and squelch when I walk.
I check out where I am going to go next for my overnight stop, I could stay in Lyon leaving about 260 miles to go, but I decide to carry on a little further to Valence so book a room at the IBIS Budget.
Back to the bike and the rain is just as bad if not worse. About 30 miles from Valence and it is dark grey with thunder and forked lightening. It seems a PogsHog tour would not be complete without at least one torrential downpour… sigh. The motorway is awash and the spray horrendous.. I am actually frightened I might aquaplane so am mentally kicking myself for not staying in Lyon, however the room is booked so I must carry on. Visibility is down to a few hundred yards and, as the slow lane is under water where the lorries have created troughs in the road, I am in the middle lane so cars are overtaking me and cutting in very close so I am just being deluged every time, (please note car drivers… don’t be an arse).
At last I arrive at the IBIS and am I relieved… whew! Everything is soaking wet so I have to unpack it all and try to dry it out, without a heater or even a hair dryer.
What a miserable day… it stops raining at about 8.30pm so am hoping it will be dry tomorrow for the last leg to Sainte-Maxime… autoroute or route national??? mmmm
No photos today…. are you kidding!!
A good stay in the IBIS as always.
It stopped raining about half an hour after I arrived and this morning is dry but grey. I have decided not to go on the autoroute but also am avoiding the mountains. Google maps is showing a third option, down the nationals and D roads, which pass near to the toll road at a couple of points should I need to speed up… looks like a plan.
With just over 200 miles to go, I leave a little later than usual. After about half an hour, I notice that I seem to be heading towards the mountains… well they are certainly getting closer. I check the route on the garmin and yes it is routing me via the convoluted mountain roads… bugger!
Ok, I don’t have the option of choosing a different route on the gps as I can only change from fastest to shortest and a few options to avoid. I want the fastest route, but without tolls, which is the route it is giving me now. I decide to use my phone maps and the garmin will eventually reroute itself in line with the google maps route I want. This works well and eventually the routes align and I go back to using the garmin.
On my wayward travels I come across this town…
I wonder if there is any connection with the syndrome?? If so, do you think this had anything to do with it?
There’s a strange mural on one of the cooling towers… I zoom in…
How odd… as I ride further along the N7 the power station comes into close view, here is the mural in all it’s glory
Don’t know what that is about.
It begins raining again, so I am glad I put the romper on this morning. It is that soaking type of rain, huge drops.
This part of France is really beautiful, no wonder so many people decide to move to Provence.
However, it soon passes and the day is beginning to brighten up… hurrah.
I arrive in Avignon and the route bypasses the famous Pont so I ignore the GPS and follow signage towards the bridge. And here it is
Not unsurprisingly the Pont is closed to traffic… pretty obvious really as it is ancient and half of it is missing!! So unfortunately I don’t get to be sur la… the few lines of the song are reverberating around my head for the next hour.
Here’s a photo of the old town walls.
Riding away from the bridge the GPS is routing me through the centre of the city and the traffic is horrendous. Ok, time to go off piste. I decide to use the compass and as long as I am heading S/SW it’s tres Bon. This makes for some interesting roads and my first three point turn this trip.
All this faffing around means I am still 130 miles from my hotel so, as the weather is much better… the sun is actually shining… I decide to join the autoroute.
As you know, I am not a fan of motorways, but I do like to ride fast; this means that I sometimes enjoy a good blatt down a relatively straight road and on a sunny day like today it is a joy.
As I leave the autoroute I have about 30kms to go to the hotel… here is a clip of me arriving in Sainte-Maxime, de Côte d’Azur
What a great place and full of Harley’s already. The GPS routes me straight to the hotel. The woman in reception is very welcoming and helpful. The hotel doesn’t have its own parking, but I can park in a secure garage a short walk away for just €10 a night. Once I have unpacked, I move the bike and look for a place to eat… there are loads of restaurants so plenty of choice.
I spot a nice place and see there is Croque-Madam on the menu… don’t know what that is so quick call home.. don’t know so check it out on google. Aha! It’s Croque-Monsieur with a fried egg on top, mmm think I’ll try that. Waiter is a bit sniffy and when I ask if they have wifi he says ‘No’ and walks off, not exactly waiter of the month. I ask for my bill and pay in cash, he gives me a handful of change and when I check it, it’s 50c short… guess that’ll be his tip then.
A quick look for a shop to get a bottle of water and some sweets.. everything except the bars and restaurants are shut, which I am a little surprised about. Eventually I give up and return to my hotel. I was expecting the reception to be closed, but she is still there so I ask about a shop. Everything is closed now, 9.30, but she asks me what I wanted. I say ‘oh just a bottle of water and’, a little reluctantly, ‘some Bon Bons’, to which she laughs and says she can get me some water, a litre bottle for €2.50 and also gives me a handful of sweets from a jar on the counter. She is very sweet, pun intended, and even though they don’t have a lift, which meant I had to struggle up loads of stairs with my bags, not doing much good for my crap knees, I would definitely stay here again.
All in all a very good day. Tomorrow up early to wash the bike and get over to Grimaud where the rally is being held; am looking forward to it.
Hi I have to say the hotel is great and the breakfast they put up is fantastic. A large jug of coffee, a medium jug of warm milk and another carafe of orange juice, a croissant, a huge baguette, 2 hot mini pancakes all just for me and then help yourself to the usual continental offerings, cakes, ham, cheese, yoghurt etc. 2 pancakes and half a croissant and I’m done, but absolutely the best continental breakfast ever. There is plenty of OJ left so I take it up to my room for later.
I make my way over to the garage and get the bike. It’s a very grey morning and there is a thick mist over the sea so not looking good 😞
I am riding to Grimaud to visit the rally site, I will wash the bike on the way if I can find a jet wash. I spot the entrance to the site so park up and walk over. I notice that bikes are being allowed on site; I reckon I should be able to go in as I have bought a ticket so I go back to the bike and set off in search of a jet wash.The next town is Cogolin and just as you enter the town, on a roundabout, is a garage with a jet wash, there are a couple of bikes queuing to use it so I pull in behind them. It’s not a long wait and a 3 minute wash is only €2, which is plenty of time to get the shite from the flooded motorway off. By the time I have finished the sun is out and it is lovely and warm.
I am right about being allowed on site, I have to go and convert my ticket into a wrist band and once done I can ride in.
I must say there is a very good vibe here and I know this rally has a good reputation; it is extremely popular especially with the French, Italian and Swiss Hoggies of whom there are many. I only hear one or two English speakers and am quite surprised by that. I also spot some German, Belgian and Polish people so quite a good mix of nationalities. I am very surprised to see a couple of guys from El Paso in Texas, good to see that.
I have a look around, stop for some lunch, look around some more, buy a couple of bits and bobs, pick up my rally goodie bag, which includes a tee, metal pin badge and a cloth patch for my riding waistcoat. I have a look in the market area and there are at least 3 or 4 stalls where they sell patches and will sew them on. I pay €4 and have my rally patch put on… it’s better than me doing it I can tell you.
As I am only here for today I leave the rally to ride to St Tropez, I can’t miss visiting there.
It is only a few miles and the town is full of bikes… I ride around and manage to get parked in the centre. St Trop is very chi-chi indeed and I notice the shops are all high end brands with price tickets to match!
I walk down to the harbour and there are hundreds of people lining the streets… ah this must be part of the bike parade route, which I thought was tomorrow.
also note the mega-yachts cozying up to each other in the harbour, nothing under several million here dahlink!
I stop at a corner cafe and order a coffee, just then there is the sound of thousands of bikes coming up the road. I mean thousands… they are passing the cafe at the rate of about 1 per second for the 20 minutes I am there and still coming as I treat myself to a delicious ice cream,
And still the bikes keeps coming, must be half an hour at least now. As I walk up the road they are still coming.
There are lots of Hoggies lining the route, but many of the other people are standing with their fingers in their ears; can’t say I blame them, the noise is tremendous and the Hoggie crowd is egging them on to rev their engines until they scream!! (the bikes that is, not the people… well not all the people).
I just had to film this… you might want to turn the volume down!
A hoggie with their doggie, and the Village People… Who says Harley riders aren’t loopy!!
If that doesn’t convince you then take a look at this…
I return to the bike and as it is too late now to go anywhere else I ride back to my hotel. I would have liked to ride up the coast to see Cannes, Cap Antibes, Nice, etc., but not to be this time. I have really enjoyed today and I think I will return sometime… will make sure I am here long enough to have a good look around.
Back at the hotel I decide to leave the bike parked across the road, there is parking for HSBC staff and, as it’s a weekend, other bikes have parked there no problem; it will certainly make life easier tomorrow morning.
Time to head home. After yet another fantastic breakfast, I go out to pack up the bike.
Eeew, it seems I have been left a wee prezzie…
I have parked right under this sign…
Obviously put there to be ignored.
I am very careful where I step whilst I pack up the bike.
All done and time to get back on the road. So, if you are ever looking for a place to stay in Sainte Maxime I can throughly recommend Le Chandon Bleu, 5 star as far as I am concerned.
I have decided not to take any chances and have pre-booked my hotels for tonight and tomorrow night; tonight will be in Bourgoin-Jallieu, a cheapo hotel called Mister Bed, and then tomorrow in Saint Dizier staying in an F1 motel. This will be a three-day trip of approx 250-260 miles per day to Calais arriving in plenty of time to catch my train at 19.50 on Tuesday evening. For today, the most direct route is via Grenoble so up into the mountains I go… yippee!
The weather is not too brilliant to start with but it quickly picks up into brilliant sunshine.
I love riding in the mountains, but trying to chuck a low slung, heavy bike around hairpins is an art and not one I have perfected… I am envious of the Swiss and French Harley riders who sweep past me on the way up, majestically negotiating the perilous bends like they were on formula 1 sports bikes.
I do manage to make some very satisfying twists and turns but more often than not I crawl round with the bike barely making it up the slope… I did film some of it and have tried to find the best bit so I can show off.
The other downside is, with the bike being so low, I have managed to scrape the floorboards and the primary chain case, which some would see as a badge of honour.
The scenery is breathtaking and the roads superb, I just love this type of riding although it is quite slow.
Around lunchtime I come upon a town called Sisteron… well with a name like that I just have to stop and get something to eat
and very nice it is too…
I must stop and get this piccie….
it’s not often you see a blue cow now is it.
I am obviously in the mountains where it gets very cold in the winter. I spot signs indicating that Rudolfette the red scarved reindeer lives here…
I soon pass by Grenoble but don’t pull into the town having decided to join the faster roads down into Bourgoin. I make good time overall and arrive at the hotel at 4.30pm. It is clouding over quite quickly now so am delighted to be able to park the bike right outside the hotel under shelter to keep it out of any rain.
Mister Bed…. ummm maybe that should be missed the bed! The room is ok but there is only one bedside lamp working so the room is dark and gloomy 😞. The shower is pretty unappealing too, but at €37 for the night, beggars can’t be choosers I guess. I read the info and it states there is a microwave for guests to use so I pop out to a shop I saw earlier. It’s a Tabac so no food there, but I notice there is a Vietnamese restaurant and a Burger cafe next to the hotel; they are not open yet, but I will come and have a look later… I could deffo go for a nice bowl of noodles, yum.
At about 7pm I pop out for dinner…. awww the Vietnamese is shut, but the burger place is open so I order a burger and chips. While it’s cooking I go up to the bike and give it a quick wipe over, then back to get my food. The burger is lukewarm so I think to heat it up in the microwave. I am looking in the breakfast area when a man comes up and starts speaking in French, of course, so I explain non parlez vous francais parlez vous….
‘yes, yes English’ he says and seems quite irritated,
‘yes I’m looking for the microwave’,
‘Non, no microwave, is only for daytime I can’t have people up and down all night using it, I don’t have time.. how can I get my cleaning done?’
‘But, the info in the room says..’
‘Yes, yes but it is wrong, I can’t have this all night, I’m too busy’
‘Well then it shouldn’t say that in the room information should it’
‘Yes that’s right… (he then changes tack and says in a friendlier tone), but you can use it ok’
‘Oh, ok merci beaucoup’ to which he wanders off and goes behind the reception desk where he gets out his phone and is talking to someone, obviously he has time for that.
Back to the room and I spend time catching up my blog in the gloom…. of course there is wifi, but it is excruciatingly slow and indeed doesn’t really want to connect to the internet. Eventually I decide to go a down stairs and try it there. Mr Grumpy is still on the phone, ha! The internet is just as bad here, not worth getting into it with him methinks so I give up the ghost and go to bed.
This morning is bright and am soon on the road again. I am heading for Dijon Harley Davidson as I missed it on the way down.
Am back down to earth and passing through some lovely towns on my way north to Saint Dizier where I will be stopping for the night.
It is very green and the sudden appearance of a brightly coloured bridge really does stand out in the landscape.
I stop for petrol and bump into a group of Hoggies from Belgium. We have a quick chat, it’s always great when I meet friendly people and this is no exception.
I ride along with them for a while, but soon I decide to go it alone again. I pass by a ‘small’ chateau, which has now got a new lease of life as a conference venue. As I stop to take this I am overtaken by the Belgians; I don’t see them again after this, I expect they have taken a different route.
I decide to skip the dealership in Dijon as I know I will not get there before 12 when they shut for lunch; I route instead to another dealer at Chalon-sur-Saone… it’s shut! Bugger! I then think, well it’s lunchtime now so I will have something to eat then go to Dijon arriving after they reopen at 2pm.
I arrive at 2.30… they are shut?? I check out google and yep all the Harley dealers are shut, must be either a national holiday or they just don’t open on Mondays I guess.
Before too long I arrive in Saint Dizier.. blowed if I can find the flippin’ Motel… I ride up and down the road it is supposed to be on, but can’t see it. The gps keeps routing me to the address but there’s no F1 motel to be seen. I get out my phone and try the maps on that… ok so it is off of the main road and behind some industrial units… mmmm.
It has been a really lovely day, the sun is shining and it is really very warm. I spotted a car wash just round the corner so once I have unpacked I take the bike over for a quick wash and brush up… there are plenty of splattered bugs to be scrubbed off, yuck!
The Formula 1 motel is really basic, the room is a good size with a wash basin but you have to use shared loos and showers.. it’s ok for one night and there is free wifi, use of a microwave and a few machines with drinks etc. While I am out washing the bike I drop in to a supermarket and pick up a microwave meal, etc. All good.
Last day… I have plenty of time to get to Calais ready to board the train at 19.50 this evening so decide on a little detour via Lille Harley Davidson, even though I have been there before.
It’s a glorious morning and looks like it’s going to be a grand day.
The scenary is very green interspersed with bright yellow rape seed fields…
the roads are flat, mostly straight and uncluttered by traffic. Altogether a very fine ride day indeed.
As you can see, I had my artistic head on today…
Now that I am able to upload the video, here is the last piece for this trip: enjoy.
I stop for lunch and immediately notice one of my footpegs is missing from the crash bars… well it had to happen, I just had to lose something!
I take the detour as planned and arrive at Lille HD around 4pm. Now I know this is completely out of character, but yet again I leave empty handed… 😱😱😱. Not even replacement footpegs, well done me.
Now only a short hop to Calais and I arrive in plenty of time. At the self service check in booth I am given the option of an earlier train… why not… the next one leaves in 30 minutes and costs an extra £2 or I can wait a bit longer and get a free one. I opt for the earliest one. A quick detour to the loo and grab a coffee then back on the bike to the train. OMG 😲 I’ve missed it… quelle surprise, typical of me! I end up on the next one, still early but I could have saved myself £2.
Straight off the train and home by 7.30pm…
A total of 1,839 miles. I really enjoyed the trip and think it is one I will be doing again in the future.