Days 69 to 72. Through France’s River Valleys

Day 1 – Zarautz  to Bergeracday-3-canal

This was essentially a transit day so we covered a fair distance for us to date. 350klms. It was a very enjoyable day with the weather perfect and the temps in the low 20s.

We left early and were looking for a place to have morning tea around 10am. Welcome to France, nothing’s open in town except the local pub. They did have a good taste in sport tho with a Maori All Black shirt on show as well a poster of the All Blacks doing the HAKA.

I made a fair effort in planning the day’s travel to stay off the main roads which only added 30 klms but took an extra 3 hours. It was certainly worth it as we travelled some remote roads through some great rural areas with late harvests and pre winter plowing under way.

We stopped at Losse, an out of the way cafe, for a magnificent 4 courses of local cuisine which took care of all food needs for the day and all for E15 each. Lovely.

On to Bergerac arriving around 5pm. We had a leisurely wander around this 800 year old town.


Day 2 – Bergerac to Sarlat-la-Caneda


We had a late start today as we were only doing 110 klms for the day. It was a day of great winding roads as we immersed ourselves in France’s medieval history.

From Bergerac to Lalinde for morning tea where it was market day beside the Dordogne River and everyone was in town.

Through Le Bugue with it’s amazing old cliff side / cave dwellings and following the Vezere River with it’s limestone vistas.

The most famous cave in the area is the Lascaux II which is an exact replica of the protected original only 200m away. Discovered in 1948 it has some of the most amazing rock art in the world. These pics thanks to Google.

On through some more beautiful country both rural and bush

to the wonderful town of Sarlat-la-Caneda with it’s usual ‘old town’.

An easy day of 110 klms.


Day 3 Sarlat-la-Canéda to St.-Cirq-Lapopie


Today was another lovely clear and cool day as we rode from town to town along the Dordogne River before making a jog south to the Lot River and our overnight accomodation below the ancient hilltop town of St.-Cirq-Lapopie.

We started by heading south to Beynac-et-Cazenac, a classic medieval hill top village, and the castle that housed the French while Castelnaud just across the river housed the English during the 100 year war of the 12th century. Crazy stuff but a lovely place to stop for our road/riverside breakfast.

From here on through La Rogue-Gageac, Domme and Souillac. The ride was gorgeous with precipitous limestone cliffs and outcroppings framing these overhanging old French villages.

From Souillac it’s south to Rocamadour an ancient pilgrim town clinging to the side of a sheer cliff with the house above the river and the church above the houses and the chateau / castle above all of it. Crazy but spectacular. We took 2 hours to wander, drink coffee and climb a million stairs.

Then we took a left then a right and south with just the right amount of twisties thrown in to St.-Cirq-Lapopie an idyllic hilltop town perched on the south bank of the Lot River. Another crazy ancient place that we walked up to then down from and had dinner on the river.

A really great day of 165 klms we both agreed.


Day 4 St.-Cirq-Lapopie to Treignac


Today’s travels took us through rivers, lakes and mountains and what many consider to be the heart of old France as well as being geographically so.

We chased the Lot River east to Carjac and then onto Figeac for breakfast where it was once again market day.

Then on to St. -Cere and Gimel-les-Cascades with it’s waterfalls and derelict fortress.

From Gimel we took many a winding and narrow road through bush land and countryside towards Treignac.

But all was not right in Moto Guzzi Stelvio land. There was just a bit too much movement through the corners and sure enough the rear tyre was found to be flat 15 klms short of our destination. More than flat, wrecked would be more like it. The casing had split in places.



Pumped it up and limped into Treignac on a Saturday afternoon. If you know France you know we’re going to be here for a while waiting for a new tyre. Hopefully someone will respond tomorrow which will be Monday as it’s now Sunday.

Not a great end to a very enjoyable day of 196 klms


Watch this space 🙂


Days 66 – 68. Hangin’ around Zarautz

San Sebastian


On a bleak and damp day we caught the train to San Sebastian and had a look around.

And had Tapas for lunch

Then caught a bus back to Zarautz

Zumaia & Getaria

Weather was better so we caught the bus a little west to these two small seaside towns.



And then walked along the coast back to Zarautz.

From here it’s north and the beginning of the final phase of our journey.

Days 61 to 65 – Spain, Coast to Coast. The Pyrenees

Tuesday September 13th we set off from Tossa de Mar on a 5 day meander through the Pyrenees to the north east coast of Spain.

Day 1 – To Suria

To be remembered as the day Norma had a spontaneous haircut in a village named  Montseny. I take my life in my hands as I publish this.



Some more pics of this days journey.

To Suria.

An easy enough day of 150k.


Day 2 – To El Pont de Suert

We headed up into the foothills of the Pyrenees through and passed the endless villages and hilltop towns.

Passed lakes, waterways and staked out police – well we were here first.

Onto El Pont de Suert a beautiful village which caters for those who ski, mountain climb, absail, hike and ride motorcycles. As usual in all of these parts the town closes down and goes to sleep between 1 and 4.30pm. What a life.

An enjoyable day’s ride of 190k


Day 3 – To Biescas

Not unlike El Pont de Suert and existing for the very same reason tho a fair bit closer to the snow, we commenced the day with a 40/80k detour to visit Vielha. More French than Spanish it’s only been accessible from Spain since 1948 via a rather long tunnel under the high mountains of the Pyrenees.


The riding is very relaxed with excellent roads in general even tho we chose to mostly use the less travelled roads. It seemed we had the road to ourselves for most of the day as we traversed this section of the Pyrenees.

To our hotel at Biescas

215k and another day of pleasant riding. The weather is getting colder now though, with much of this day being overcast and temps down to 10c. Autumn is here in the mountains.


Day 4 – To Logrono

It rained overnight and there was a snow chill in the air as we kitted for cold and wet weather that never really eventuated – well not today anyway. But there was fresh snow on the hills behind us that yesterday had been hidden by low cloud.



And more of the same.

We’d decided to bypass Pamplona famous for it’s ‘Running of the Bulls’, but that was no never mind as we came across Olite which has the same thing. And we arrived at the time of one of their many Festivals.It seems the whole province dresses in red and white and comes to town for a good time and a parade.

We spent a pleasant couple of hours here and were introduced to world of Tapas. In every bar, cafe or restaurant there are lined up on the counter a line of plates of a variety of local cuisine. One merely points and for very little one can enjoy the delights of the country. I think it’s marvelous, Norma’s a little fussier than I am though 🙂

Logrono is a city and a modern one at that. Certainly nothing to write home about.


230k today.

Day 5 – Zarautz

It looked like we might be able to skirt around some inclement weather,

but looks can be deceiving, especially when confronted with this and TomTom is leading us right over the top.


Needless to say it closed in to a very wet day. We certainly can’t complain as this is only the second time in 41 days of riding that we’ve had any rain, the first being the 4th day out and then only for an hour. But not this, this was cold and heavy and didn’t let up.Our original route had been through some delightful looking hills to the coast some 50k west of our destination, but prudence is always a good thing so when a freeway that tunnels through every hill presented itself just as the heavens opened with a vengeance, we paid our toll and rode the final 50k in relative luxury to Zarautz.

The plan had been to enjoy the beach for a few days before heading north through France on the final leg of our wonderful journey. Not on this beach and in this weather we’re not! So we’ll take a bus to San Sebastian down the road, catch up on the blog, do some accounts that need doing and indulge in some tapas.

145k for the day.



Day 60 – Barcelona Day Trip

We caught the bus on a hot day. We also did the Hop On-Hop Off Bus thing again which pretty much covered the whole city so we saw all the sights of which the city is famous. Especially those buildings designed by one Gaudi and his contemporaries. I can’t say I was all that impressed.

But it is without doubt a beautiful city.

The maritime heritage of Spain is legendary and it is well celebrated here where the largest monument of Christopher Columbus in the world is situated.

And some more pics.

Then we caught the bus back to Tossa de Mar. An enjoyable day.

Days 58 & 59 – On The Beach – Tossa de Mar

We’re staying in a delightful little hotel only 30m from the beach and right in the heart of town and tucked up to the old city walls.


No parking, but the beach is OK for bikes.

The heading says it all. We’ve laid on the beach for the last couple of days and swum in the crystal clear blue water of the Costa Brava coast. Along with thousands of others 🙂 Maybe it’s because it’s the weekend but that beach has been packed by 11am and it stays that way all day. We took our place, hired the deck chairs and umbrella and added to the sun tan.

There’s this fortress on the headland that overlooks the town that we wandered around this morning before anyone was out of bed.

Tomorrow we’re catching a bus to Barcelona to join the inevitable horde of tourists.

Days 55, 56 & 57 – Uzes (Millau) to Tossa de Mar (Spain)

I believe one could spend 6 months or more just travelling from impressive bridge, viaduct or aqueduct throughout this part of Europe. There are just so many of them, from those of ancient marvel to the modern artform of those that span vast gaps and make travel not just easier but also quite an experience.

Day 55 was Wednesday 7th September, and the day we visited and travelled the most majestic that we will see, the bridge in the sky, the Millau Viaduct.

But before we got there from Uzes we travelled some lovely twisted roads and visited some towns where time would appear to be standing still. This is Nante where we stopped to purchase our daily ration of stone fruits.

I have no idea what this place is called but the ride down into it triggered the shutter of my memory. Pity we couldn’t stop for another 300m.

And so onto Millau where the viaduct is a tourist attraction in itself, and the Toll to use it is E4.80. Not that we had to, but we did just for the experience. It’s a heck of a long way up or down depending on your viewpoint.

Did that and bought the sticker 🙂 So on to Lodeve for the night where we stayed at a place that was supposed to be a hotel but was really just a house with spare bedrooms down a goat track. Still, not a bad stay and a nice home produced breakfast. 240 km for the day was a decent enough effort considering that for us it’s about the journey and not just the ride.


Next day was something of a transit day.We stopped here for lunch, wandered some streets and spent some time thinking on the fact that our daughter-in-law Gabby would soon be delivering her 3rd child.

They must take their Bocce pretty serious around here as there’s something like 15 courts there. It was a lovely village.

Spent the night on the coast at Le Grande Large. The water was fine. Another 200 kms.



Friday 9th September, the day Roman Agostini Blackmore, 4.47kg, was born. By all accounts an eating machine, he’s our 6th Grandchild and 4th Grandson. We’re looking forward to getting to know him in the middle of November when we get home.


We were having breakfast here at Banyuls-sur-Mer when we got the news Gabby had gone into labour.

This is just one of a number of towns in small bays along the coast bordering France and Spain. These are the places I really like with very few tourists because they’re quite out of the way. I think it’s the isolation and the coast that demands a certain respect from those that work it, that really appeals to me. The roads are fantastic riding as well.

Some other waypoints in this day’s travel.

And the moment we heard of Roman’s birth. Sorry we’re not there guys.


Our destination was Tossa de Mar and the end of 6 straight days of riding. It was also the end of the second third of our journey – Spain and a 3 day break. 160 kms for the day.



Days 52, 53 & 54 – SanRemo to Uzes

No, I haven’t missed a couple of days, I’ve just recounted them 🙂

Sunday 4th September we left SanRemo while everyone was still asleep and continued along the coast to Cannes via Monaco and Nice. From there we headed north and west by way of Grasse to our overnight stay at Fayence. A fairly hot and traffic busy day and even tho we only did 135 km we enjoyed the pool at the end of it.


Monday was an up early day because of another hot day forecast. Fayence to Apt was only 200ks but it was quite a busy track via the roads we took.

North to Castellane for morning tea through some truly lovely country. Why would you build a church up there, nobody’s going to willingly attend that church – well I wouldn’t 🙂

Then it was west through the Verdon Canyon where the Verdon River has cut a 25 km long gorge through the limestone creating a canyon up to 700m deep. This attracts many hikers and climbers during this time of the year. Most cars seemed to be driving along taking pictures, oblivious to anyone else on the road. We stopped to take ours although my co-pilot was sometimes a little perturbed at some of my choices.

It eventually runs into this amazingly blue lake – Lac de Sainte-Croix


Next was Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. Another village precariously clinging to a hillside.

dscn2706 On through endless Lavender fields to Riez for lunch then north and west again to Forcalquier. All great riding from one valley to another via their connecting plateaus and sometimes these strange cloud formations.


We arrived at Apt in the mid afternoon, parked the bike outside the local cop shop, and joined in the usual siesta before venturing out and mingling with the locals in the early evening.


Which brings us to today, Tuesday 6th September. An intentionally short day was planned as we wanted to do a bit of sightseeing which started just west of Apt with this bridge. A minor but interesting Roman structure in the scheme of today’s non-industrial age monuments to man’s building abilities. Say ‘Hello’ to Route du Pont Julien – those two holes are to allow for the extra water when the river is flooded.


Breakfast on the road is always good with own brewed coffee, fruit, yoghurt and muesli and my lovely wife who never ceases to amaze me.


One of the great things about riding a bike is that you can ride right up to wherever you want to go, park, lock and secure, and you’re right there while all those car drivers and bus loads of tourists are trudging up the hill or fighting their way through the narrow sidewalks. Avignon was no exception. We stopped right there for a couple of hours and had a look at the Palais du Papas – Palace of the Popes. We wandered the byways and generally took it easy.

Just up the road is another famous landmark – Pont du Gard. This aqueduct is ancient Roman and part of a 50 km aqueduct running from Uzes (where we are now) to Nimes. It falls a mere 25 cm to the kilometer and through this sort of country that’s an amazing feat as a lot of it is underground. This structure is massive. There’s a quite a good museum – I got the sticker 🙂

Today like yesterday has come in hot and seriously windy – Norma doesn’t like the wind – so our hotel with pool was a welcome sight.


Only 135 km today.


Tomorrow it’s west to Millau Viaduct then we’re heading south to Spain.

Days 46 & 47 – Mandello to SanRemo

Our Passports arrived today. After much “This isn’t the Italian way”, the post office officials allowed us to take personal delivery and miss out the middleman/postman who could have taken goodness knows how long to deliver them to our hotel’s address 🙂 Snapped these two lovely Guzzi Ladies on our way home. Help me here someone – Year, Model etc??


We packed up and visited the Guzzi Gates where we ran into Andy Hawkes, part of the MGCoV contingent. He snapped our photo and we were on our way.

We cheated by taking the freeway to just south of Milan, we’d have been crazy not to. Hopped off onto the C Roads and pulled into here for our morning tea. Just so happened to be a bit Guzzi mad. Big Twins Cafe – got the sticker too 🙂


And so onward and southward to lure of the blue of the Mediterranean Sea. We stopped the night just west of Genoa, nice swimming pool and great breakfast, and continued on to San Remo hugging the coast road. 124k in 6 hours is slow going in constant traffic on an air cooled dry clutch motorcycle in 32c temps.

Dayt 29 - 30 Mandello 2 SanRemo 360k

San Remo is possibly past its glory days but still a very nice place to stay for a layday. Lay on the beach, pebbles/rocks of course, on our hired beach chairs and under our hired beach umbrella,

and watched these beauties competing in the 15mt Class Schooner cup. The main (aft) boom on this one is 25 meters long and some 40 cm across, that’s big. They were a bit far away but looked spectacularly under full topsail rigs. Rich men’s toys.

Vacated the beach in the arvo and wandered around town taking in the sights and enjoying the local culture up the back alleys.

This is Saturday 3rd September and nearly to the end of our 7th week on the road and all is well.

Day 45 – Lake Como

Still waiting for our passports to arrive we’ve taken the day to take the ferry from Mandello to Como via Bellagio and back.

It is without doubt a picturesque place which is evidenced by magnificent homes of those who can afford them.

just a few pics.

And a couple more 🙂

It was a lovely day and a good thing to do.

And we’re still waiting on Italian bureaucracy to come to our party.