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Offline bud500

Re: A beginner's guide to riding in France
« Reply #80 on: June 10, 2013, 12:24:25 pm »
Hel Reinhardt, ernstige travelwriting wat hier aangaan, hou so aan.  :thumleft:
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Offline WP

Re: A beginner's guide to riding in France
« Reply #81 on: June 10, 2013, 02:30:28 pm »
Mooi man!
 

Offline Dwerg

Re: A beginner's guide to riding in France
« Reply #82 on: June 10, 2013, 02:42:37 pm »
Vinniger!!
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Re: A beginner's guide to riding in France
« Reply #83 on: June 10, 2013, 04:05:49 pm »
 :ricky:
 

Offline ThomTom

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Re: A beginner's guide to riding in France
« Reply #84 on: June 11, 2013, 07:50:04 am »
Ish!  :thumleft: :thumleft:
 

Offline Mr Zog

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Re: A beginner's guide to riding in France
« Reply #85 on: June 15, 2013, 11:00:04 am »
Ja... I think this one is gonna take a while...  :sip:
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Offline Smokes

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Re: A beginner's guide to riding in France
« Reply #86 on: June 15, 2013, 12:01:30 pm »
 ::) Awesome
Ry hom Kwagga !!!
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Offline IDR

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Re: A beginner's guide to riding in France
« Reply #87 on: June 15, 2013, 01:37:22 pm »
Day 6: France!!

This is what all the planning, all the expense and effort has led up to.  This morning, after a surprisingly good night's sleep, we will be disembarking the MV Bretagne, on a loaded bike, into France!


All dressed up and nowhere to go...

Our end destination for the day would be a tiny little town called Pont L'Eveque, or just outside it actually, to the Cottage at the Court of Roses, a really quaint little setup, about 15km away from the relatively major town of Honfleur.  We would be staying here for 3 nights, with the aim of exploring the D-day landing beaches, museums and basically the whole of Normandy itself.

BUT, we were off the ferry at 08:00 in the morning and we literally had the whole day to cover the 300-odd km to get there.  Naturally, the first thing to do was to find the closest petrol station, as the bike was indicating 36 km available on what was left in the tank!  A search for the closest petrol station on the GPS brings up a nice and familiar Total, where we stopped for my first ever self-service tank of fuel ;D

R 20 a liter for 98  :-\


Got a pretty picture for it though...

Here I have to digress again to extol the virtues of GPS.  I had a (relatively outdated) 2012 Europe Streetmaps loaded on the Oregon, along with some points of interest and routes that I had worked out.  We had some issues with the unit though - I simply could not input any text to search as it would crash the device - but between the waypoints I had saved, POI search and searching near a map point, as well as combining the capabilities of a smartphone, we had no issues navigating whatsoever.  This was another invaluable piece of equipment that we brought along, as I don't believe anyone in their right mind would come here on a bike, entirely foreign to the country and expect to be able to make do with a paper map.  Very, very useful!

We hopped back on the bike and rode around St. Malo a bit, looking for a place to sit and have some breakfast.  The place seemed deserted, things in France only really gathering momentum after 09:00 in the morning.  We found a cosy little spot at the small boat harbour, where we had croissant and baguette with some jam and coffee - too French ;D

Here are the first minutes of riding in the tight streets of France, first time riding on the wrong side of the road and the GPS also confusing the daylights out of me.  The restaurant we stopped at for breakfast is right at the end.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/pH70j--mD3o" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/pH70j--mD3o</a>
Excuse the dodgy narrative - but I was very confused!!

Where I took this:



At breakfast I had a look on the GPS for nearby attractions, and top of the list, less than 1 km away was the citadel of St Malo.  We decided to go have a look at it, not really expecting a hell of a lot.  What a surprise!  Our first WWII exposure.  The citadel is an ancient stronghold that the Germans fortified quite heavily during the second World War.  There is a very concise write-up of it here.


The inside of the citadel, from atop the main command bunker.  The destroyed AA gun where the american flag was hoisted is just out of shot on the left.


The view to the other side, towards the city and the main harbour, including the ferry we came in on.


Gun emplacements were shot to absolute shit.

It really is quite something to finally be here after all the reading we had done on the second World War, and to see these relics still here as they were 60-odd years ago.

Time was running along, so we decided to head out in the direction of our final destination.  We had one specific stop first though:


Le Abbye du Mont sainte Michel - the Abbey of saint Michael

The mount is a tidal island, or at least was and will be again - the mouth has silted up over the years due to the canalisation of the Couesnon river, but a new hydraulic dam being built at the mouth will encourage the washing away of the silt.  You can read more about the project and the abbey itself here.  The history of the habitation of the mount finds its origins in the 8th or 9th century, and through history has been used as a stronghold, royal residence, prison and is still being used as a working abbey.


It receives up to 3 million visitors a year - over 8000 a DAY.


Upon entering, you walk through ths narrow corridor lined with curio shops and restaurants to get up to the abbey


Including creperies that use BIG jars of Nutella ;D


To eventually reach the abbey - impressive building!


Impressive detail everywhere though...






Impressive slate roof and stone walls


Barrel-vaulted ceiling


Impressive cathedral


The cloister...






Excuisite carvings


The knight's hall, with impressive hearths.  You can imagine the parties that must have gone down here.


Back outside, you can see the impressive walls holding up all that weight.

We spent around 4 hours inside, there is just so much detail to discover, little nooks and crannies, grand halls, crypts, etc.  We had to start getting a move on, but first we stopped for lunch in town, where we had our first bit of sunshine ;D


A chilled beverage of course


... and a man-sized sandwich!!


And finally, our home for three nights

For the next two days we would explore the D-day landing beaches, museums and other attractions in Normandy, as well as to take in other sights and sounds in the area.  We were now truly on this bike trip!!

PS: I promise to get this moving along a little better this week
« Last Edit: June 15, 2013, 02:02:37 pm by IDR »
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Online Hondsekierie

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Re: A beginner's guide to riding in France
« Reply #88 on: June 15, 2013, 04:54:21 pm »
Wow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sopas gesien en gaan res van langnaweek gebruik om hierdie RR te lees :thumleft:

Awesome tot nou!
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By the deep Sea, and music in its roar:
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Offline woody1

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Re: A beginner's guide to riding in France
« Reply #89 on: June 15, 2013, 04:58:08 pm »
Wow great foto's.  Reminds me of our 5 years in Holland. Travelling through Europe visiting France on more than one occasion.
 Those narrow streets through the towns... MAGICAL.
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Offline Rynet

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Re: A beginner's guide to riding in France
« Reply #90 on: June 15, 2013, 07:54:14 pm »
 :thumleft: :thumleft: :thumleft:
 

Offline spoedvark

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Re: A beginner's guide to riding in France
« Reply #91 on: June 15, 2013, 09:19:23 pm »
Just had a look at the pics tonight. AWESOME!!. Will read RR tomorrow!!!
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Offline IDR

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Re: A beginner's guide to riding in France
« Reply #92 on: June 15, 2013, 10:22:49 pm »
Day 7: Normandy, Bayeux and D-Day landing beaches

I am 1.9m tall, and generally, on a regular bed, my feet hang off the end.  You can imagine that a sleigh bed is not the ideal thing to accommodate this slight inconvenience, and if you add to that a spring bed that feels like a 2nd World War relic, I didn't have a fantastic night's sleep.  So, we lay in a little, sat down for a leisurely breakfast outside, and generally just enjoyed the peace and quiet of our surroundings.


Good morning sleepy head!

We had quickly gone out to the local Intermarche for some groceries the previous evening - the plan being that we'll try to have breakfast and dinner at home, and lunch on the road somewhere.  Eating at home makes for a MUCH cheaper holiday - our average grocery run coming to about EUR 50 (including beer and wine), and a simple croissant breakfast at a café coming to about EUR 10.

We only got away at around 12:00 after our lazy start to the morning, so there was no way we were going to fit in everything we (or at least I) wanted to today.  We were going to try though, and headed out on the highway, back towards Caen which we had ridden past yesterday, turning off towards the most Westerly D-day landing beach, Utah.  This would take us through the ancient (1st century BC!!!) town of Bayeux, which is home to the well-known tapestry of Bayeux.  We hadn't really planned to go see it, but the hunt for a French SIM card (a smartphone is useless without a data connection) in conjunction with the relaxed French shop hours (they close for lunch!?!), we had about an hour to kill in Bayeux itself.  We walked around the old town center with its narrow cobbled streets, enjoying the sights and sounds.  We happened upon this old cathedral, which at this time was still quite novel to us (later on it's like 'meh, another church'), so we took soome photos, including the HUGE tree beside it.


Notre Dame de Bayeux, consecrated in 1077 :o


The tree is only 300 years old though...

We mosied along in a direction, crossing the River Aure, which bisects the town - isn't it pretty?


Old water mill and failing sleuces

We came upon the museum housing the tapestry and thought that, while we were here and had time to kill, we might as well go in and check it out.  You get an audio guide upon entering, which in this case is absolutely necessary as it points out detail in the tapestry (actually an embroidered cloth) and gives insight into the events it portrays to make for a very interesting half an hour.  Wikipedia has an EXCELLENT article about it if you want to find out more.


One frame of the almost 70m-long cloth

Either way, the shops were opening, so we headed back towards the bike and the Orange shop, where we managed to get some pay-as-you-go SIM cards for EUR 20 each.  This gets you 500 MB of data, something like 5000 text messages and 300 minutes of talk time.

We picked up a sandwich at the local boulangerie and sat down on a bench having lunch and watching the world go by.

The next destination was the Airborne Museum in Sainte-Mère-Église.  Normandy, and especially the area around the D-day landing beaches, is littered with museums, with the one looking more impressive than the next from the outside.  They also charge a pretty penny for entrance, ranging from EUR 6 up to EUR 15 per person.  I did some research beforehand and narrowed the sites down that we would try and get to while here.  The Airborne Museum was one of them, located in Sainte-Mère-Église which is one of the first towns that saw any action on D-day, having some of the very first expeditionary paratroopers dropped right on top of it, although in error.  The Airborne museum specifically is dedicated to paratroopers of the 82nd and 101st Airborne of Saving Private Ryan fame.  The town also features strongly in both that movie and the following miniseries, Band of Brothers.


There is still a paratrooper hanging from the church spire (a manakin of course) - just as John Steele did on the morning of D-day


We were here!

Upon entering the museum, it is relatively underwhelming - there are two smallish buildings, a tank, a lorry and some propellers lying around outside.  Nothing spectacular.


Said tank - a Sherman in very good condition

We ended up spending 4 hours inside those two little buildings and took over 300 photos between the two of us!  It was absolutely FASCINATING!!!  All items shown in the following photos are in display cases, but are the real thing - from the meal rations down to the C47, which was the actual plane that dropped the paratroopers on the town in error.  There are obviously a LOT more than I am showing here, but if anyone wants to see more, let me know, then I'll post more.


Articles recovered from the beaches


Soap, cigarettes, crackers, ration packs, chewing gum... etc.




A tommy gun!


NAZI stuff!


The slogan on the belt buckle reads Gott Mit Uns - which is significant considering the NAZIs' stance on religion


The inscription translates to: Everything for Germany


There is SO MUCH STUFF under and around this C-47!



It was an incredible stop - well worth it if you're ever in the area.

We had to get a move on - it was getting quite late and, even though we still had a lot of daylight left, we would probably not be able to get into any more museums or other facilities as they all close at 18:00.  It had also started raining...

We headed out to the Batterie D'Azeville - a German battery which was equipped with 105 mm, first World War-era canons and manned by up to 150 troops.  This was a major objective of the American troops landing at Utah beach on D-day, but the Germans held out for a couple of days before being overwhelmed.  I've found a great forum thread discussing the battery and it's life through D-day and the days following.


The village of Azeville


The Germans used camouflage similar to this - the main goal of this battery, as part of the Atlantic Wall and 10 km inland from the coast, was to defend against naval ships and a beach invasion, so this camouflage would have been quite effective


Another religious symbol right in front of a NAZI one - although it's been there for much longer

We were unfortunately just too late to be able to enter the museum, but it was interesting to see from outside nonetheless - including seeing the damage the shelling from the USS Nevada did.

Azeville is a very rural, agricultural village, and we had a great time riding out from there on the way to Utah beach.  Set to some Gotan Project (based in Paris), which I was listening to at the time.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/YR41VPUGSzU" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/YR41VPUGSzU</a>


Utah Beach

We arrived at Utah beach with dark grey skies all around us.  For the time being it wasn't raining yet, but it was only a matter of time.

Utah beach was a very easy landing compared to nearby Omaha beach, with only 200 lives lost out of the 23250 landed on the beach on D-day itself - the major cost for the Utah beach sector came from the airborne losses the previous night through to and including D-day.  Again, Wikipedia has a very good article explaining the missed landing, the heroics and humour of Brig. Gen. Theodore Roosevelt jr. (son of the US president).

These are just two of the plentitude of objects found at Utah Beach:

Naval Memorial


Place marker

We headed towards the American Cemetery at Omaha Beach, but everything was closed up and we decided to call it a day and headed home.  It's been a long and interesting day, but emotionally quite taxing.
« Last Edit: June 16, 2013, 12:11:08 pm by IDR »
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Offline White Rhino

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Re: A beginner's guide to riding in France
« Reply #93 on: June 16, 2013, 07:11:48 am »
Nice one IDR .... Europe's such a culture boost
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Offline Lestutu

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Re: A beginner's guide to riding in France
« Reply #94 on: June 16, 2013, 10:28:29 am »
Just to say thank you muchly for taking the time and making the effort to share your experience. Plenty of valuable information, especially as we're heading to Spain and southern France in September/October and plan to explore the area by bike. BUT hiring a bike is difficult and expensive, and a topic to be expounded in a separate thread
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Offline Rynet

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Re: A beginner's guide to riding in France
« Reply #95 on: June 16, 2013, 09:29:07 pm »
 :thumleft: Very interesting about the Bayeux Tapestry . They sure built things to last in those days , to think it was made in the 11th century and at one time was used to cover military wagons till it was rescued by a lawyer and then housed in different locations including the Louvre where the SS tried to possess it . And depicting all that interesting history.  Awesome .  :thumleft:

Thanks for the photos in the Airborne Museum , but we want more photos please .   ;)  :sip:
 

Offline WP

Re: A beginner's guide to riding in France
« Reply #96 on: June 19, 2013, 08:23:07 am »
Great stuff... Daardie mueseum lyk vrek interessant! :thumleft:
 

Offline Kerritz

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Re: A beginner's guide to riding in France
« Reply #97 on: June 19, 2013, 01:58:55 pm »
Heavy cool....goeie werk dude.....gooi nog!!  :headbang: :hello2: :happy1:
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Offline MrBig

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Re: A beginner's guide to riding in France
« Reply #98 on: June 20, 2013, 09:19:20 am »
Mama mia - 5.60 each for Dragon Fruit  :eek7:

Did you guys use comms on the bike?
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Offline GIDEON

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Re: A beginner's guide to riding in France
« Reply #99 on: June 20, 2013, 12:51:33 pm »
WOW Very nice Very nice  :thumleft:


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