Week 12 – NW Italy to France West Coast

Sunday 16th to Saturday 22nd June

Aosta, Geneva, Saint Romain de Gal, Clermont Ferrand, Treignac, Royan

Sunday 16/06/19 – Ride Day; Aosta to Geneva

Today was the day we basically set our course for home. This trip has been about Southern Europe but now we’re heading north and west even though there’s still close to 4 weeks to go.

We started the day with a lost battle with one of Europe’s most confusing machines; the self serve fuel bowser. It’d be OK if they gave the option to speak/display in English, but they mostly don’t of course. At least the banks have got that figured and the ATMs mostly have the option – banks are smart like that.

So no fuel this morning as we took the SS27 over the Grande Saint Bernard Pass. This is the original and very scenic route, as against the E27/T2 which is a tolled and snow-free covered/tunneled route.

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As we got higher it got colder and the vista more majestic. 4c at the top and we had it pretty much to ourselves that early in the day.

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Then down into Switzerland where their fuel bowsers made it easy for them to extract your money. We took a few pics of the classic Swiss countryside, just like the post cards.

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We hit Lake Geneva and turned left then stopped on the border with France for a break and a coffee.

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It was then further west and back into Switzerland to ride through Geneva then south into France again where our reasonably priced hotel was, just outside of Switzerland where absolutely nothing is reasonably priced.

It had been an enjoyable and interesting run of 200klms.

Day 46 200k

Monday 17/06/19 – Lay Day; Geneva

Breakfast then just up the road to the bus stop where we lost the battle with the automatic ticket machine – it only takes coins, how does that work in 2019. So we rode for free into a very quiet and pleasant Geneva where we visited the Tourist Information place where it was explained to us that it was Monday (we knew that) and on Monday all the museums are closed, so Monday was always a quiet day in Geneva apparently.  This suited us just fine as we don’t tend to do museums from the inside and we’re pretty much done with tourist crowds.

So we spent the day wandering around Geneva which we found to be very nice. Took some pics

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And caught the bus back to France. It was looking like another free ride because the ticket machine hadn’t gotten any smarter in the interim. That was until 4 really official  looking ticket inspectors boarded the bus. At least they didn’t have guns so it looked like we’d live and they were quite understanding that we were dumb Australian tourists who had notes and a card but no coins. No problems, there’s a card machine at the back of the bus sir, no kidding. So one of the nice inspectors marches me back there through all the tut tutting obedient Swiss so that I can pay my fare, which, by the way, would be free if we were staying in a hotel in Switzerland, but I’m a cheapskate staying in France so I have to pay. Typical of any machine wanting to take your money even the nice inspector couldn’t work out how to use it, but we eventually managed to extract the tickets by which time we’d arrived in France.

Tuesday 18/06/19 – Ride Day; Geneva to Saint Romain en Gal

The well thought out and planned trip itinerary took another direction as from today. Originally it had been to scoot across France from Geneva to just south of Paris where we’d do a 4 day circuit around the numerous chateaus that proliferate in the region, then onto Paris for a few days before heading for the UK etc.

But we decided that a leisurely amble across central France to the west coast was more to our taste. Less hustle less bustle.

So today, instead of pointing north and west, we started by heading directly south through some wonderful French countryside, which around here looks picture postcard Swiss. First stop was the quaint town of Annecy which has a bit of a Venice thing happening albeit on a miniature scale. People like it though, and it is nice, so we struggled through the tourist throng once again and took a few pics

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Before continuing south, virtually shaving the very abrupt escarpment edged Alps. With the snow capped mountains to our left and rolling tree covered hills to our right we had an enjoyable run down the back way into Chambery.

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This is where TomTom Go Mobile nearly got us deported. “At the end of the road turn left, then turn right” Sounds reasonable, except that left hand turn put us on a buses only stretch of road which I didn’t realize until I saw the very faded road sign. Got out of that and suddenly the whole world got very wha wha noisy and blue light flashy with an angry looking man in a ridiculous tonka toy police car and a really official looking uniform indicating that I should pull over right now! These guys were not impressed so off with the helmet and on with the big ‘I’m an idiot’ smile. Apparently it’s a cardinal sin to travel in a buses only lane in France, obviously and invariably worse than cutting blind corners and parking at random in the middle of the road while nipping in and grabbing a morning espresso, oh and a quick bonjour.

After a pleasant chat about the bike and it’s number plate and ‘amazing, all the way from Australia’ (that’s what the big AUS stands for mate, not Austria) we were on our way with a stern warning that we don’t break the rules in France. We grabbed a quick coffee and a bite to eat in the shadow of this and left town.

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We turned west and cut out across some of the most beautiful countryside you’re ever likely to see. Through some pleasant little villages, farmland and wooded areas we tortled our way to Saint Romain en Gal where we took up a one night residency in a lovely little ‘win’ studio apartment owned by a vivacious little Frenchman who had the bar downstairs. He insisted I park the bike in his back alley shed. He spoke no English and me no French, we had a ball.

We had dinner and went for a bit of a walk. Saint Romain en Gal is on the River Rhone and has an interesting and very long history. Took a few pics.

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Another lovely ride in paradise of  210klms.Day 47 210k

Wednesday 19/06/19 – Ride Day; Saint Romain en Gal to Clermont-Ferrand

Today we rode some of the best cruising roads you’re likely to find, through some of the best scenery that requires riding at cruising speeds.

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Today it’s Clermont-Ferrand which is where Michelin tyres are manufactured. There is a museum that you can visit that gives a good history of Michelin. I walked down and visited the museum, but not before having some words with the Nigerian bloke who owned our ‘lose’ accomodation who couldn’t understand why we’d want TWO towels.

A very pleasant day of  195klms.Day 48 195k

Thursday 20/06/19 – Ride Day; Clermont-Ferrand to Treignac

Yet again we were blessed with great roads and spectacular scenery.

We started the day with an attempt at scaling the Volcan Puy de Dome but the only way up there is by train, so we took a bad pic and rode on.

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We were riding through Parc Naturel Régional des Volcans d’Auvergne with it’s perfect roads of short sweepers through farmlands, natural wooded areas and plantation forests. 

I caught a glimpse of this through the trees and decided to turn in and have a look. Château de Cordès is pretty impressive.

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Immediately up the road we were lured into the delightful little village of Orcival.

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And then immediately down the road from there we were captivated by Roches Tuilière.

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Just along the wonderful winding road it was market day at Le Mont-Dore

Continuing south and west took us to the Barrage de Bort-les-Orgues, the hydro electric dam of Lake Dordogne.

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It was then onto Treignac through near deserted roads through natural bushland from one ridge to the next valley and so on and so forth.

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Treignac is one of only two places we’ll stay that we stayed in 2016 – the other being Makarska. There’s no real reason to stay here but it is a lovely little town that just so happens to be in the way of our little wander across France. Last time we were here we had a forced stay because of a split rear tyre. This time we stayed with lovely English couple Andy and Allison at Maison Billot which they’ve done a marvelous job of renovating.

We took a look around town and took the same pics as last time.

Another glorious day of 195klms.

Day 49 195k

Friday 21/06/19 – Ride Day; Treignac to Montrollet

This is Ride Day 50 for a total of some 9500klms. The route for today is a little unusual but it’s actually a route I’d planned for us to ride last trip before we lost 3 days with tyre issues.

A number of the routes I planned for this trip and our trip in 2016 I pilfered from Toby Ballentine’s detailed Motorcycle Journeys Through Western Europe   and today’s is one of his suggestions. Only 3 things wrong with today’s ride. It rained, the roads Toby suggested have obviously deteriorated over the last 10 years and the Inn was full at the lovely little village of Mortemart so we had to stay at lost town of Montrolett.

But we still had a good day of  215klms.

Day 50 215k

Saturday 22/06/19 – Ride Day; Montrollet to Royan

The sun has decided to shine so today we scurry towards the coast through vineyards and ready to harvest grain fields with the many con trails of airlines overhead all pointing to Paris, where we’re not going.

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We happened across a carwash and so cleaned a grubby Moto Guzzi 1200 Sport Rosso Corsa SE .

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Apart from the issue with the Oil Pressure Sensor the bike has been an absolute delight, and when it’s clean and shining is, in my humble yet biased opinion, one of the prettiest bikes you’ll ever see, and although it’s neither sport nor tourer I’m very happy with its ability as both with its 105bhp giving ample power and 105nm of torque producing all the pulling power needed for a bike as heavily loaded as this one is.

Ain’t she pretty; promo pic.

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And fully ‘bagged’.

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A fairly easy day of 200klms. To Royan, which has been quite a surprise.

Day 51 200k

OK, so that’s it for this week. It takes me hours to do this blog so I hope you’re all getting something out of it, and if nothing else I hope the motorcycle travel bug will bite you.

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4 thoughts on “Week 12 – NW Italy to France West Coast”

  1. Sounds a good trip. Thought you would like riding through the Auvergne. We were lucky at the Puy de Dome was the on our bikes as I explained in French that we needed to get to the top and were on bikes so he let us through. I know what you mean about filling stations, luckily for my mates, speaking French I can cope! You want to try filling up a boat with 500litres at an automated filling station! Have you contacted Paul and Pierrette? We are now berthed at Bucklers Hard in the New Forest near Beaulieu. Very quiet and peaceful. Storms approaching though.

    Phil and Jill x

    Phil Gabriel

    Sent from my iPad +44(0)7808141094 Philgabriel60@gmail.com

    >

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  2. Again your narrative is a delight. Some of the places in central France seem very picturesque, might check them out in a few weeks. Not wanting to contradict you but in Paris, if not France more generally, pretty much anything goes. The traffic is madness governed only by a general agreement not to run into each other.
    Spent Friday at Disneyland, too many Americans for my liking, and today the family joined us in Paris for the Eiffel Tower and hop on/hop off bus with river cruise.

    More tourists than you can poke a stick at. For all that we’re having a ball.

    Best wishes.

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    1. Ah yes, maybe anything goes in Paris, just don’t drive in a bus lane 😂. Yeah tourists eh. Wait until you run into the Asian ones, hordes of them, taking selfies everywhere. And summer has only just started. Enjoy.

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  3. We’re staying at Paul and Pierrette’s Tuesday night. From there we’ll push up to Roscoff.

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