West Glos & Dean Forest
Motor Cycle Club

Celebrating 71 Years of Motor Cycling 1953 - 2024

Bill's Bike Tours - The Euro Gastro Tour (2010)

Words and Photos By Bill and Liz Brown

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Bill foolishly thinks he's earnt a restDay 1 Start 5725 miles 2.5hours drive to Poole with a quick delivery to Shepton Mallet made the ferry fine especially as the ferry was an hour late! Got to ST Malo an hour late 5810 miles Great dinner to kick off trip Assiet du mer ST Jacque pour moi, Mama Carpachio du beof tuna pepper cooley onion chutney.

Day 2 St Malo to Limogue lunch in Cholet or just south of, long not exciting but necessary.

Day 3 Longish trip down to and over the Milleu bridge cool and windy 325 mls last 80 very twisty faux alps. Finish in farm house Bonnac just north of Limogue.

shot of typical roads!Day 4 started grey and damp soon got much worse eventually a torrential downpour forced us to take cover in restaurant canopy but not before pants got wet yuch! Trundled down through the most fantastic gorge, superb houses and the twistiest roads made up for the wet bottom. Lunch in Arles, quick sorte around Roman ampitheatre then the 20 miles into the Carmague to stay the night in an ancient farm house only about 90 miles today. Not a lot to see in the Carmague high brush roadsides and flat ground destroyed view unless you are young female and with a romantic dream of white horses. The black bulls were quite fearsome though. 6530mls

Day 5 started warm and windy and got warmer and windier and the roads got wyndier and wyndier through the Massive central mountains. Cool drinks in very hot Grasse 200mls finished in Nice in cheap hotel mama says rabbit hutch sadly too late for the delights of the beach. Wandered down town and around for a couple of beers and a very filling dinner salad Niceoise, and goats cheese and aubergine for starters and fish and potato salad and pasta for mains both substantial knocked Liz out next day.

Day 6 Up early for boat to Calvi in Corsica testing sail for some certainly windy after. We were treated to two sightings of whales blowing about half way across very pleasing. A disappointing start fairly boring roads found B and B easy and was pleasantly surprised beautiful house and very chatty owner french only of course. Food from local supermarket and watch stars on patio.

Day 7 After great coffee and toast along with irate lizzy cos n obody spoke to us, didums. Anyway rewarded by superb trip across the mountains fantastic views and wonderfully clear water BM went better than expected but mss B didn't like noise not up to twin standards. Not many miles but great days ride looking forward to tomorrow. Ps lost pair of underpants between room and pool????? God knows what the locals think. About 80 miles today 6932mls on screen and 10 laps of the pool.

Day 8 Breakfast was much better as we were the old hands so we did the talking! Chose to ride down the main road to Ajaccio about 50 k,s on a straigt line but by the time you add in the Corsican twist it is nearly 90k,s superb loads of Italian and French bikes and some Swiss and Hungarian. Belgian biker in same B and B thought his holidays too scarce to ride bike down so had it crated in for him and flew down and a total cost for him and girl of 1000E figure that? Anyway after great ride to Ajaccio to se Napolians birthplace Lizzy took ill possibly with heat stroke as it was 30deg thought I would have to bungee her across the saddle to get her home but she made it, just, and I swam alone. We were planning a white route home which is on roads any off roader would be pleased to ride on, minus the mud of course but the views are incredible and the hair pins commonplace. BMW performing very well despite some very rough surfaces very pleased with suspension though still find the gearbox difficult. Native's habits of letting cattle out to graze on the roadside means travelling after dark is to be done with extra care. Not so many goats as I would expect. shot of the BMW and Lizzy at Milleu Bridge!

Day 9 Today Sunday Lizzy thinks she is better after breakfast it seems she is at least capable of sitting on the back which as it turns out was just as well we drove to Porto for lunch and a paddle in a very warm sea on a very pebbly beach, most uncomfortable even just standing, but 'a breast or two' of that made it worthwhile. Some of the finest most testing biking roads ever exist in Corsica never mentioned in Bike magazine 2.5 hours each way flat out max 80 for about 2 seconds mostly 30 or 40 on your ear as they say in the yachting world but as this is biking perhaps on your knee anyway totally amazing. Only down side was quite a few sand patches on the roads today, always on corners, a tad slippy! And several families of wild boar (or not so wild and quite a few wild cows!) Wandering free across the road. Not sure why we are bothering to head to the dolomites tomorrow but we shall see.

Day 10 Anyway, we said our farewells and made our way to the ferry leaving. only about one hour late wonder if we will make it to Pisa in daylight to see the tower. No we didn't we arrived toward the end of another biblical down pour and left boat in boil in bag suits and they did live up to that name anyway rain stopped and we found suitable hotel eventually 70 B and B for 2 12 each for very good dinner. Cost of the ferrys to Corsica from Nice were 3E for the bike! 33E per person and to go to Livorno Italy it is 1E for the bike 11E per person inc port taxes explains why the Italians love it. Chambre d'hote 65E per night plus 20E pp for food and wine fuel is much the same as here but smells different. Other sights to see were bullet holes in some road signs and water tanks and nearly all the French names painted out of the road signs by the local seperatist movement.

Day 11 Pisa to Cortina (nearly) 250mls very cold 12deg dropped from 25deg and twisty, suffering badly from subsidance for first 80 miles to Abetone then gradually better till we got to Maranello where surprised the roads are not billiard smooth to their credit, no Special favours for Ferrari. Then motorway for 100miles on to the SS48 wonderful u bends saw two very near misses with traffic trying to pass apple trailing tractor, eventually stopping in Hotel Liz, Predazzo very Germano Italiano. 68 B&B Institutionalised meals with little choice.

Day 12 a tour of the Dolimiti ahead will watch out for tractors! 1000. bends 120 miles today up over and back again. One pass had 33 hairpins up and 24 down with four timed as many ''ordinary'' bends on top, we did that twice and two more passes besides. Time for a beer!

Day 13 we head for home. Started OK with three mountain passes and accompanying hair pins on as I now think of them as key hole corners then an eternity of endless villages and road works for 200mls then bliss a motorway at least as far as Monza till we hit the mother of a traffic jam in near 25 deg that was no fun. Got off motorway before Aosta and eventually chose a slightly over the hill hotel bit of a mistake but welcome at the time my backside had had it with the seat and we were both exhausted 320mls 9 hrs on the road.

Day 14 started off atv 0900 after a miniscule breakfask and spent the first 30 miles underground then exited a fairly nice Mont Blanc tunnel to rain and cold 10 degrees Alarmingly just as we entered La Tunnel the flat tyre warning came on so had to watch like a hawk but eventually came to conclusion the we were just down half a bar on front pressure and subsequent topping up proved a cure. Uneventful trip then to our favourite French town, Beaune for lunch and the on to Chambre d'hote in country south west of Fontenbleau 420 mls but on motorway so easy except for major road works and traffic jam. Quirky Chambre d'hote in ancient French house again in the middle of nowhere luckily it didn't fall down overnight. Might be developing a theme here but the food was great came away stuffed great cook. 92 Band B and evening meal with wine.

intensionlogo_209Day 15 sunny and cold 8 deg never really warmed up made good time to Le Havre 220mls 150 ish to go from Portsmouth may be home by midnight. Another new rear tyre next week hope it lasts longer than 3 weeks! End milage 8753 total 3753miles 365.48 on fuel 52 on motorway tolls 23.2 Mont Blanc tunnel 3.90 Milleu Bridge And a note to all who go abroad nearly all fuel stations are now pre- pay by credit card but debit is safer as some Italian stations will not take British credit cards especially when it is late and raining!