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Offline chopperpilot

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Re: A beginner's guide to riding in France
« Reply #100 on: June 20, 2013, 06:08:38 pm »
Dis my vroutjie se droom...om Frankryk op 'n bike te toer...dalk vir haar 50ste verjaarsdag! :thumleft:
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Offline Kerritz

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Re: A beginner's guide to riding in France
« Reply #101 on: June 21, 2013, 07:32:14 am »
en die horlosie stap aan.......
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Offline BlueBull2007

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Re: A beginner's guide to riding in France
« Reply #102 on: June 26, 2013, 03:08:29 pm »
Very interesting stuff! Keep it coming. :thumleft:

Ride safe guys :ricky:
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Offline Ian in Great Brak River

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Re: A beginner's guide to riding in France
« Reply #103 on: June 26, 2013, 09:05:11 pm »
Excellent !

Please post all the photo's you can.

Thanks.    8)
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Offline King Louis

Re: A beginner's guide to riding in France
« Reply #104 on: June 27, 2013, 02:04:56 pm »
Nice reading, thanks for sharing. Any problems with occifers of the law? I heard that a reflective west is compulsory as much as carrying an unused breathalizer?
 

Offline IDR

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Re: A beginner's guide to riding in France
« Reply #105 on: June 27, 2013, 02:21:44 pm »
Nice reading, thanks for sharing. Any problems with occifers of the law? I heard that a reflective west is compulsory as much as carrying an unused breathalizer?

No, no issues with the law whatsoever - in fact, never even spoke to a policeman as far as I recall.  You need to carry the following when travelling on a bike in France (and I assume the rest of the EU):
* A reflective vest in case of breakdown - our rain suits doubled up nicely here
* An unused breathaliser.  Suggested to carry two in case you need to use one at a roadblock, for example
* A replacement lightbulb kit for all bulbs on the vehicle.  It needs to be type-specific as well, so H4 if you have H4 bulbs, etc.

Then there are regulations about the minimum size of reflective surface on your riding gear.  To be safe, we wore reflective arm bands which you could spot in some photos.  Vida standing in front of the tank at the Airborne Museum is one that I could spot on the previous page.

I have to get this finished... there is still SO MUCH work though!!!
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Offline King Louis

Re: A beginner's guide to riding in France
« Reply #106 on: June 27, 2013, 03:44:31 pm »
Thanks a lot, mucho appreciated. So back to work now, we want to hear and see more, you know? :thumleft: :3some:
 

Offline IDR

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Re: A beginner's guide to riding in France
« Reply #107 on: July 20, 2013, 11:18:57 pm »
Sorry about the delay - it's been a hectic month >:(

Day 8: Normandy - Omaha Beach and the American Cemetery

We woke this morning to absolutely miserable weather.  It was cold and raining :(  We didn't come halfway around the world to sit in a cottage though - this was our last full day in Normandy and there were things to see ;D  We had our rain suits to make it bearable, but let's be honest - riding in the rain, even if you're not getting wet, ain't my favourite thing in the world.  Vida, however, was not so keen on the idea and opted to stay in for the day.

Thus the plan was to get back out past Bayeux to start the morning at the American Cemetery, and then make my way back along the coast passing all the D-day landing beaches that I hadn't been to, as well as to try and find the Mulberry harbour remains.  With Vida staying in, without any transport or anything within a reasonable walking distance, I didn't want to stay out the entire day.

So - I kitted up in lumo orange rain gear, got on the bike and headed out in the pouring rain.  Fortunately that was the worst weather I was to be exposed to for the day, but you'll see in all the photos (the few) that the weather was pretty miserable the whole day.  I also didn't record any video on this day...

The American Cemetery was a really moving experience.  It's a section of land conceded to the US by France, free of any tax or other charge.  It lies about a stone's throw inland off Omaha Beach, which was by a long shot the most difficult landing beach of the 5 - having claimed over 3000 lives.  There are 9387 US soldiers buried here.  It's obvious that it was built and is being maintained by US Dollars - but doesn't come with the expected US nationalism and garishness.  A very well executed and poignant reminder of what happened here 70-odd years ago.

I arrived cold and wet - and must have looked like a right thug as I walked up in that orange oversuit and a black beanie, and I definitely got some suspicious looks as I walked up to the surprisingly thorough security check - x-ray, bag search as well as a check to see whether a camera actually works.

You enter the visitor's center, to this view and these three panels:








Each of which tells a story on the reverse relating to the front:







Then you venture downstairs, underground...


At the entrance: all the nations that were involved in the war on the Allies' side in the D-day landings


At the exit: it reads "IF EVER PROOF WERE NEEDED THAT WE FOUGHT FOR A CAUSE AND NOT FOR CONQUEST, IT COULD BE FOUND IN THESE CEMETERIES. HERE WAS OUR ONLY CONQUEST: ALL WE ASKED … WAS ENOUGH … SOIL IN WHICH TO BURY OUR GALLANT DEAD."

In between these two photos was 4 hours of immersion into an exhibition of the second World War with excellent artifacts, text, projections, scale models, interactive touch screens and recordings of personal accounts of what people went through during the war, with a light focus on the D-day landings.  If you're even in the area and you can only visit one museum, you could do a lot worse!

And that was just the visitor's center - I ventured out into the cold again to visit the cemetery itself.  You walk along a path through a pine forest, with a literally commanding view of the beach down below - just drives home again what the invading forces would have been up against.







The path then turns inland and widens, and you walk up these stairs to get to the cemetery and memorial.








The wall is inscribed with the names of 2000+ soldiers whose bodies weren't recovered for burial


The placement of the gravestones is incredible - wide frame shot with my phone




Notice the exact height of all the stones - slightly out of focus :(

It was getting quite late already - 13:00 - and I was getting hungry, so I called it and headed out from the cemetery on the coastal road, towards Honfleur.  It was drizzling on and off, but the worst of the weather seems to have passed, even though it was still overcast.  I punched in the waypoint for Arromanche (where the Mulberry harbour remains are) - not too far away.

The Mulberry harbours were a bunch of constructions ("Phoenix", "Whale", "Spud", "Beetle", etc.) that were towed across the channel to provide the Allies with makeshift harbours to be able to offload supplies without actually having to capture any of the heavily fortified French harbours.  Of these two Dover-sized harbours ("Arrow" at Arromance and "Golden" at the Gold Beach sector), only "Golden" was ever finished, as "Arrow" was too severy damaged by storms at the end of July to be considered repairable.  "Golden" was used for another 6 months until Antwerp was captured, which provided a usable port closer to the front.

These are also physical, poignant reminders of what transpired here, much like the casemates and bunkers that the French seem to be quite happy to leave around.







After this I decided to make my way back home after quickly grabbing some lunch.  Some typically French soupe de poisson (fish soup) and a beer - I decided to take a ride past all the remaining landing beaches (without actually stopping).

In the mean time, Vida had wandered around the yard with her camera ;D  Thought this was a great photo!



I got home at around 18:00 - had a shower and a nap, and then we went out for our first proper dinner in France, at L'Ecole Buissonnière, which is the quaintest little restaurant, in the quaintest little town.  Villagers literally come walking in from wherever they stay, everybody knows everybody and it seems like a roaring party was to ensue.  I would have loved to stick around, if only I could understand what people were saying ;D


Using Google Translate to decipher the menu, while chugging proper Calvados cider - delicious!

We settled on the Menu D'etente - a fixed price, 3-course menu, for EUR 18.50 - not ridiculous at all.  The food was fantastic!

Tomorrow, we leave for Amboise in the Loire River Valley!
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Offline BlueBull2007

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Re: A beginner's guide to riding in France
« Reply #108 on: July 21, 2013, 05:43:15 am »
Nice, keep it coming. :thumleft:
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Offline GIDEON

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Re: A beginner's guide to riding in France
« Reply #109 on: July 21, 2013, 07:48:02 am »
 :thumleft:

Thanks for that little extra efford amazing  :thumleft:


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Offline Voetpomp

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Re: A beginner's guide to riding in France
« Reply #110 on: July 22, 2013, 08:57:09 am »
Thanks, looked like a great trip :thumleft:
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Offline Swart Gevaar

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Re: A beginner's guide to riding in France
« Reply #111 on: July 22, 2013, 09:15:33 am »
 :sip:
You know you've landed with the wheels up when it takes full power to taxi to the ramp.
 

Offline IDR

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Re: A beginner's guide to riding in France
« Reply #112 on: August 09, 2013, 05:28:47 pm »
Sheesh - producing these video clips is a mission.  Worst of all is picking the music!  So here - a track from Daft Punk that hadn't even been released when we were on this trip ::)  They are French though!

Day 9: Normandy to the Loire valley via Honfeur

You'll recall from our initial plans that we were going to spend one of our two days in Normandy checking out the D-day landing sites and museums, and the second day exploring other parts of Normandy like Honfleur, Etretat and possibly as far as Dieppe.  Obviously, with the weather and our later rise on day 1 throwing a bit of a spanner in the works, we thought we'd ride the 20-odd km up to the 11th century port town of Honfleur (in the wrong direction) before heading South to our accommodation for the next 3 nights just outside of Amboise in the Loire Valley.

The idea was to visit some of the chateaus that the Loire valley is famous (and a UNESCO heritage site since 2000) for.  Do yourself a favour and delve into the linked Wikipedia article - even though that part of the ride report will be covered in the next installment.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/164HW5tcQUo" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/164HW5tcQUo</a>

As you can see from the clip, it must be a really terrible place to try and eke out a living ::)  Anything from modern mansions down to centuries old farmhouses dotted along the landscape, lording over large spans of seemingly highly productive fields - very healthy looking cows, thick green lucerne, and big yellow swathes of rapeseed plantations.  The occasional village harks back to a time when roads weren't tarred and the only means of transport was grass fed.  It is spectacular!!!

It helps that the weather was playing along nicely too - it was a balmy 18 degrees, sun was out - it was fantastic weather for riding.  You'll see in spots that the road was still a bit wet from the previous day's rain, but the Tiger was very confidence inspiring - the traction control just reminding you every now and again that it is there and looking after you.

We arrived to a bustling Honfleur - it was Saturday, and the streets around the port had been converted into a colourful array of stalls selling anything from blue and white Fleur de Lis scarves (made in China) to whole legs of smoked pork, craftily being turned into prosciutto-like jambon (ham) with every slice of the knife.

We decided to avoid the bustle for the time being, and headed up from the harbour a block or so...


Church of st. Etienne


Old inscription on a fountain head


Wooden-framed houses all over - just one handsome South African though ;D


Lunch from the boulangerie...




And a little something sweet from the patisserie...


A bench with a nice view to enjoy all of this eating on makes for a great lunch!


The atmosphere was really festive, with LOTS of folks walking around, sitting in the coffee shops, etc.


There was a small cloud burst, so we quickly sought shelter on that side of the port under the cover of a coffee shop's canopy

The time was running on, so we called it a day and headed back to the bike, where we found some old toppies on old bikes parked next to us.  They were touring France on these old BSAs, and had been on the road for a month already...


Legend

We headed off, still sticking to secondary roads as far as possible - direction: South towards Amboise.

This is where I believe the beauty of travelling on a bike comes in.  We had half a day to travel about 300 km, and with our arrangement of a smoke break every hour or 100 km, whichever comes first, it gives you a chance to stop, take a break, and absorb the surroundings you find yourself in.


Normandy road-side smoke break

Here we stopped for just such a smoke break, broke out something to drink and just sat for 20 minutes taking it all in.  There were some kids riding past on horses, bicycles and on foot.  The fence across the road was completely overwhelmed with vegetation, seemingly from centuries' worth of neglect.  Just so peaceful and calm.

We also tried to coincide these stops with villages, to get a warm coffee (and not once had a bad cup in the whole France) - and it's great to sit and watch people go about their daily business.

These are all things you would miss when traveling in a car.

After another 4 or so hours on the road, we finally made it to Amboise, which greets you on arrival with a long bridge over the impressive Loire river, and the imposing Chateau d'Amboise towering over the town.

Our accommodation was just on the other side of town in the tiny hamlet of Lussault-sur-Loire - at Trogloditic Vacations, where Marianne welcomed us to her fascinating lodging.  Hewn from the soft rock of a hill, these homes are essentially caves, that stay at a relatively constant 12 degrees throughout the year - with exposed wiring and plumbing everywhere.  It was quaint ;D


And the bike got to sleep in the lounge!


OLD door


Interior

From here we unpacked and headed back into town for dinner...

Next up - we explore some of he Chateaus of the Loire valley!
« Last Edit: August 09, 2013, 05:39:42 pm by IDR »
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Offline BlueBull2007

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Re: A beginner's guide to riding in France
« Reply #113 on: August 10, 2013, 01:29:42 am »
Very nice, and a very nice, relaxing video as well.

I must say, I think I understand why people ride the TT, those roads look awesome to race along. Of course it would be suicidal unless they were closed.  :-\
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Offline Rynet

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Re: A beginner's guide to riding in France
« Reply #114 on: August 15, 2013, 06:42:20 am »
Thanks IDR , still enjoying this RR very much . Some nice pics here , that guesthouse looks lovely , thanks for the old buildings.  :thumleft:

And most of all thanks for the war stuff , and the American cemetery, always really sad to see all those graves of those young lives given unselfishly .   
 

Offline IDR

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Re: A beginner's guide to riding in France
« Reply #115 on: March 30, 2014, 12:42:01 pm »
I apologise profusely for the break in proceedings - sometimes life gets in the way (although, never of a holiday) and things fall by the wayside.

However, on with the story.  I see I left you with us having arrived at our accommodation close to Amboise...

Day 10: Exploring Amboise - it was a Sunday

Vida is NOT a morning person ;D  Every morning I would be up, cleaned and dressed, while she would still be fast asleep.  This can become quite frustrating, with valuable daylight hours wasted "waiting" for her - but only if you let it... I would get the bike out and ride around town looking for the busiest little boulangerie (bakery) I could find, and pick up the freshest of fresh croissants France has to offer.  Inevitably once I got home she would be up and about, and we could enjoy a leisurely breakfast together, a-la Francaise!



Being quite keen on planning any kind of trip down to the finest detail, I had a very good idea about what I wanted to see when and where.  However, Vida is a lot more of a take-it-as-it-comes personality.  The different approaches actually work really well together in combination - we inevitably miss some of the sights I had planned to see, but everything happens at a far more leisurely pace... as it should on a holiday!

Today I had planned to ride West along the Loire to explore the Chateaus to be found along there - having researched every one and deciding on a couple of must-sees, I had a 300 km round trip routed.  As you can see though, the sun was shining, and it was promising to be a fantastic day out.  In town picking up croissants, I had noticed that there was an open air market on next to the river.  Both of us being quite keen on markets (call us foodies, if you will), we decided to rather just explore the town instead of spending the whole day on the bike and racing from one chateau to the next, trying to fit it all in.

These markets are quite common in France, with tons of fresh produce, cured meats, etc. and will set any foodie's heart a-race!  And walking past (or even close to) the fishmonger reminds of Unhygienix in Asterix & Obelix comics ;D


Fresh herbs, anything you can imagine


These were the biggest artichokes I had ever seen


Salamis of every type and flavour

We were a little bit late to the market, so after strolling around for an hour, things were winding down and being packed up.  We decided to stroll along the river until we found something interesting...


Things seem simpler here


And it's a lifestyle that I could quite comfortably adapt to!

Amboise, being relatively unknown, has played a large part in the history of France, having been home to the French royal court in the Château d'Amboise, and others:
  • Joan of Arc passed through in 1429 on her way to Orleans to the Battle of Patay.
  • The Amboise conspiracy was the conspiracy of Condé and the Huguenots in 1560 against Francis II, Catherine de' Medici, and the Guises.
  • The Edict of Amboise (1563) conceded the free exercise of worship to the Protestants.
  • The chateau at Amboise was home to Mary Stewart, Queen of Scots, for much of her early life, being raised there at the French court of Henry II. She arrived in France from Scotland in 1548, aged six, via the French king's favourite palace at Saint Germain en Laye near Paris, and remained in France until 1561, when she returned to her homeland - sailing up the Firth of Forth to Edinburgh on 15 August that year.
  • Leonardo da Vinci spent the last years of his life in Amboise at the Clos Lucé. Some of his inventions are still there and have not been removed. The house has lost some of its original parts, but it still stands today and has a beautiful overlook of the Loire River.
  • Abd el Kader Ibn Mouhi Ad-Din (c. 1807–83) - Algerian independence fighter - was imprisoned at the Château d'Amboise.

We strolled through town, and the history of the place is obvious...


The date stamped on this was long, long ago - still works!


A couple of old cars came past to great fanfare

We came across the Clos Lucé, where Leonardo da Vinci spent the last 4 years of his life by invitation from King Francis the 1st.  It has been restored beautifully (after having gone through a couple of private owners with little regard to the history of it) and is full of "Do Not Touch" and "Do not sit on the furniture from the middle ages" signs.


Anyone into antiques would have a field day


The bedroom where Da Vinci slept


Fantastic tapestries adorn the walls in the period living room


The kitchen is awesome!


Just look at that main beam holding the roof up!

You descend some very well worn stairs from the kitchen into the basement, where there is an exhibition of 40 models of Da Vinci's inventions:


The first tank


The fan-type machine gun


Ball bearings

And these are just three of his hundreds (literally!) inventions, such as the parachute, Archimedes screw, helicopter, swing bridge, paddle wheel, etc..  A mind way before it's time - his only problem being that man had not invented a way of producing enough energy to power a lot of them.  And then we're not even touching on his studies of botany and anatomy or his art.

We grabbed a bite to eat in the courtyard before heading out to the large garden, where working examples of some of his inventions can be tried out:







It was a truly eye-opening experience!!

It was getting late though, and we decided to call it a day - having to walk back all the way to where we left the bike at the market, on the other end of town ;D

We grabbed some pizza take-aways, and spent a leisurely evening inside nursing sore feet.



The next day, we actually got to do some riding, and saw a Chateau!!!
« Last Edit: March 30, 2014, 12:51:28 pm by IDR »
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Offline Jondu

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Re: A beginner's guide to riding in France
« Reply #116 on: March 30, 2014, 02:42:22 pm »
Man O Man -ek begeer.
 

Offline BlueBull2007

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Re: A beginner's guide to riding in France
« Reply #117 on: March 30, 2014, 04:23:46 pm »
Nice, keep it coming!
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Offline Rynet

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Re: A beginner's guide to riding in France
« Reply #118 on: March 30, 2014, 09:08:27 pm »
Those salamis are mouth-watering .  :drif:  Love the market pics , and the history info ,and would love to see Leo's inventions . Thanks IDR , keep it coming.  :thumleft: :thumleft:
 

Offline WP

Re: A beginner's guide to riding in France
« Reply #119 on: March 31, 2014, 12:26:31 pm »
Uiteindelik!  :ricky:

Baie nice, as jy geinteresseerd is in Da vinci, is daar so show "Building da vinci" of so iets, waar hulle van sy ontwerpe bou. Gaan loer maar.

Nou wag ons vir nog!