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Euro '97

By: Tubbs.

Justin Brunskell {Jut}       YAMAHA SZR660
  Andy Colville       KAWASAKI GPz500s
  Anna Cooper       MZ 301 NE Saxon Tour
  Graham Eldridge {Veg}       DUCATI 750SS
  Jane Henman       YAMAHA XV250 Virago
  Jon Kanaar       TRIUMPH 900 Tiger
  David Wright {Tubbs}       HONDA NTV600 Revere

Sunday 17th

Route: North London → M25 → M20 to Dover
  Calais → N43 via: Ardres, St. Omer, Norrent - Fontes, Bethune to Lens → A12 to Douai → N43 to Cambrai → N43 to ? (Village outside Cambrai) [312km - 194m]

We met early, on a lovely summer’s day, at South Mimms Service on the M25 and had a good run down to the outskirts of Dover. Getting into Dover however was another matter. Traffic was solid. The French ferry workers were on strike, causing major hassle. We finally managed to squeeze through and were waved straight onto our ferry. By the time the bikes were tied down the ferry doors were shut and we were soon on our way.

Getting out of Calais was fairly easy as most of the ferry traffic headed for the motorway (In France the ‘A’ {Autoroute} roads are motorways, the ‘N’ {Route National} roads are main roads with all other roads being ‘D’ {Department} roads) while we try to keep to the ‘N’ and ‘D’ roads. (Something that is getting harder as the signs all tend to point to the ‘A’ roads now) By the time we reached Cambrai it was time to find a campsite and were told the nearest was a couple of km (Kilometres) back the way we had come. We found the site and decided, as it was getting late and we had all eaten well on the ferry, to buy some bier from the site shop and sit around the tents drinking by candlelight.

(Weather 9/10 : Roads 4/10 : Campsite 5/10)

Monday 18th

Route: ? (Village outside Cambrai) → N43 via: Cambrai, le Cateau, le Nouvion, la Capelle, Hirson, Mon Idee to Charleville - Mezieres → A203 → N58 → N43 → D964 via: Stenay, Dun, Verdun, St. Mihiel to Commercy. [279km - 173m]

Day two was totally uneventful. Boring scenery and long straight roads though the weather was brilliant. We decided to stop quite early, as we had bought some chops and sausages and other bits to have a barbecue, and found a nice campsite near a river. Anna and Jane went off on a bier run while Jon and Jut started cooking. They returned, just as dinner was ready, with loads of drink.

(Weather 9/10 : Roads 5/10 : Campsite: 6/10)

Tuesday 19th

Route: Commercy → D964 via: Void, Vaucouleurs to Domremy → D164 via: Coussey, Neufchateau, Bulgneville, Contrexeville, Darney and Bains - les Bains → D10 via: St Loup - s - Semouse to Vesoul → N57 via: Besancon, Pontarlier to FRENCH/SWISS Border → 9 via: Vallorbe, Cossonay, Lausanne, Vevey and Montreux → ? → 21 via: St. Gingolph to SWISS/FRENCH Border → N5 to Evian. [408km - 254m]

Day three got better the longer it went on, (And it did go on a long time) as we headed down towards the Alps. With Jane leading (10/10) we got almost to the French / Swiss border by early afternoon and decided to push on through Switzerland, around lake Geneva, back into France and finally found a campsite in Evian. Dinner was had, along with a few drinks, in an outdoor restaurant on the edge of the lake and Anna and Jane went on a kid’s merry-go-round.

(Weather 8/10 : Roads 7/10 : Campsite: 4/10)

Wednesday 20th

Route: Evian → N5 to Thonon → D902 via: les Gets, Taninges to Cluses → N205 via: Sallanches, Mont Blanc Tunnel (12km) to FRENCH/ITALIAN Border → S26 via: Pre - St. Didier, la Thuile, Col du St. Bernard (2188m/7178ft) to ITALIAN/FRENCH Border → N90 via: la Rosiere to Bourg - St. Maurice → D902 via: Val d'Isere, Col de l’Iseran (2770m/9088ft) to Campsite in Mountains [245km - 152m]

Day four was brilliant. Breathtaking scenery and great roads as we wound our way up into the mountains. Everyone realised it was going to be another long day as we were stopping to take pictures every mile, Ops sorry, 1.6 kilometres or so.

Going through the 12km of the Mont Blanc tunnel was expensive, smelly and claustrophobic, but it just had to be done. On exiting the tunnel Veg nearly had a second heart attack when he realised he was about to take his beloved Ducati into Italy. We stopped in Italy for a picnic lunch, then headed back into France over the Col du St. Bernard. (2188m/7178ft) On reaching the bottom of the Col we then turned left and went up another. Through Val d’Isere and over the highest pass in Europe, the Col de l’Iseran. (All the bikes noticed the altitude).

By this time it was getting late, then half way down the other side of the Col we found a campsite.The site itself was not very good being covered by bushes and quite lumpy, but the location! Nestled in a valley with mountains on either side it was just spectacular. We had to walk 2km to the nearest village for dinner and had a lot of fun trying to sort out what was on the menu. But eventually had a very nice meal.

The walk back to the campsite was, if possible, better than the day had been. Clear skies with stars and stars and stars, an almost full moon and even the odd shooting star just for good measure. Breathtaking.

(Weather 8/10 : Roads 10/10 : Campsite 3/10 : Location 11/10)

Thursday 21st

Route: Campsite in Mountains → D902 via: Bonneval to Lanslebourg → N6 via: Modane to St. Michel de Maurienne → D902 via: Col du Telegraphe, (1566m/5138ft) Valloire and Col du Galibier (2640m/8661ft) → N91 via: le Monetier, Chantemelle to Briancon → N94 via: l'Argentiere - la Bessee, Embrum, Savines le Lac to Gap → D994 via: Veynes, Serres and Rosans to Campsite. [288km - 179m]

Day five started where day four left off. More mountains and great twisty, turny, upy, downy roads. We stopped half way up the Col du Galibier for a picnic lunch. (I lost my Knife/Fork/Spoon, so will have to go back next year to get it)

Then our luck gave out. As we came down out of the mountains we rode into a massive thunder/hailstone storm. The hail was bouncing off the road, which was like a white river of water and ice. We managed to find some shelter and waited. Unfortunately the storm seemed never-ending, going round and round the valleys. So we waited until it eased off and then made a run for it. Within km we were out of the storm and back in the sunshine, but soaking wet. We needed a campsite, any campsite. So we followed the first sign we saw. The track got narrower, the signs disappeared, we stopped and argued, then carried on, and finally came to a small campsite.

It seemed to be deserted. The shop was locked and there was nobody about. Then a man appeared from one of the buildings. Completely naked! Jane who was in front, stopped, looked, said something to him, then turned to us and burst out laughing. The situation was comical. Seven bikers togged up to the nines in waterproofs and one old man wearing nothing but flip-flops. Unfortunately he though we were laughing at him, and made it very clear we were not welcome. Maybe it wasn’t ‘any’ campsite we needed?

Luck returned, and we found a nice campsite, just a few km along the road, with its own bar/restaurant and piscine. (What a name to call a swimming pool) Jane made a tremendous effort to explain, in French, what had happened to us, only to be asked in perfect English "Seven persons, yes?".

That evening went on quite late. The food was very good, though Jane was sick all night, (A mixture of Squid and Dark Rhum) and the bar bill quite impressive.

(Weather 7/10 : Storm -5/10 : Roads 10/10 : Campsite 8/10)

Friday 22nd

Route: Campsite → D994 to Nyons → D94 to Bollenex → ? to Pierrelatte → ? to Bourg - St. Andeol [86km - 53m]

Day six started late for us. Then we had to wait for everything to dry out from yesterday’s storm. Luckily the good weather had returned and it was only a short ride to Bourg - St. Andeol where we hoped to meet up with friends. Jon and Andy went for a dip in the piscine with a load of school kids who were on the site.

Eventually we made tracks but had not gone far when Jane hit a dog that ran out in front of her. Luckily she was all right. (At least we think the dog was all right) So we continued on to Pierrelatte and stopped for a drink in the Modern Bar. (A notorious drinking spot for our friends) Then went on to the campsite in Bourg - St. Andeol which also has it's own bar/restaurant and piscine. We had dinner in the bar/restaurant and were serenaded by a chap with a guitar.

(Weather 9/10 : Roads 7/10 : Campsite 8/10 : Singer 4/10)

Saturday 23rd

[90km - 56m]

Day seven started with goodbyes as, sadly, Veg could only get one week off, so he left for home early morning. The rest of us went for a run round the Gorge de l’Ardeche to Vallon Pont - d’arc and managed to miss the hottest part of the day by going down one of the many caverns. We returned to the campsite via the supermarche and hit the piscine.

Much refreshed we went back to our tents where Jane and Jon cook us spagbog for dinner. Then we finished the day at the site bar, complete with singer again, for a few biers.

(Weather 9/10 : Roads 8/10)

Sunday 24th

[98km - 61m]

Day eight had Jon racking his brains trying to remember the way to our friends Denis and Paco’s house. When we finally arrived it was to be told they had moved out. So we returned to Bourg - St. Andeol and went to Hakim's house.

Our arrival caused much shouting and hugging followed by introductions for those new to each other. After a couple of biers and some catching up, including the fact that nobody knew where Denis was, we invited Hakim to come canoeing/swimming in the Gorge de l'Ardeche. He readily agreed but had a few things to finish first. So we waited..., and waited......, and waited......... until Hakim appeared and said "Ok. We go?" Four people jumped from their chairs and started putting on jackets and crash helmets. Jon and i, more used to the laid back way of life down here, stayed where we were. So we waited..., and waited...... then finally it was all systems go. And i mean GO! As soon as Hakim go behind the wheel of his car the leisurely pace of life disappeared. Flat out down the bumpy, twisty cart track of a road from his house, with us on bikes just managing to keep up. And so it was all the way to l’Ardeche where, much to Jane’s puzzlement, the softly, softly, slowly, slowly pace of life returned. We spent a very pleasant few hours splashing around in the gorge, mostly swimming as the canoes were not very user friendly. (The single one just went round and round instead of forward while the larger ones felt like they were going to capsize) Andy seemed to really enjoy himself in the water and was very reluctant to come out. (Something to do with all the young ladies walking around topless perhaps?)

After returning to the campsite for a wash and brush up we walked into the village to a bar, where we again met with Hakim, for dinner and a few biers.

(Weather 9/10 : Swimming 8/10 : Canoeing 4/10 : Totie ?/10 Andy?)

Monday 25th

Route: Bourg - St. Andeol → N93 to Pont - St. Esprit → N86 via: Remoulions to Nimes → N113 → D61 to la Grande Motte D61 to Lunel [152km - 94m]

Day nine we moved on, south to the Camargue, and tried to find a campsite, in la Grande Motte, that didn't cost the earth. (No luck!) We ended up on a nice little campsite 10km outside la Grande Motte at Lunel, which was inexpensive and almost empty. We had a barbecue for dinner then sat around the tents with a few biers.

(Weather 8/10 : Roads 6/10 : Campsite 6/10)

Tuesday 26th

[28km - 17m]

Day ten was very relaxed as we went back into la Grande Motte and spent the afternoon on the beach. The water was lovely. Andy and Jon had bought a couple of water pistols and a beach ball so there was quite a bit of mucking about. A couple of French girls joined in one of our games and Jane tried to set Andy up, but he got shy and swam away. (He said he didn’t know what to say. Which brought a load of suggestions from the rest of us)

In the evening we walked into Lunel and found a restaurant for dinner, it was empty (The locals were all watching the football) but the food was excellent.

(Weather 9/10 : Beach 9/10 : Totie ?/10 Andy?)

Wednesday 27th

Route: Lunel → D34 → N110 via: Sommieres, Ledignan to Ales → D906 via: Genolhac, Villefort to Langogne → N88 via: Pradelles to le Puy - en Valay [180km - 112m]

Day eleven started with more goodbyes as Anna and Jut left for home this morning. (Had to be home for a wedding at the weekend)

The final four, Jane, Andy, Jon and I (Tubbs) also started our ride home but only as far as le Puy in the Central Massif. The weather had started to change and we had quite a few showers. So the twisty roads were not as much fun as in the dry. The campsite is in town (Jon and i had used it before) below a Chapel and Statue of Mary which stand on top of rock pillars.

In the evening we walked up the road to the market square and went to Pub’s Bar and got dinner from a mobile pizza van in the square. The bar owner said it was ok to eat in the bar as it was pouring down outside.

(Weather 6/10 : Roads 6/10 : Campsite 6/10)

Thursday 28th

[0km - 0m]

Day twelve was again showery so we went for a walk into the town. Jane, Andy and Jon climbed up to the Chapel. We finished off the day back at Pub’s Bar with move pizza and biers.

(Weather 6/10)

Friday 29th

Route: le Puy - en Valay → N102 → D906 via: St. Paulien, la Chaise - Dieu, Arlanc, Ambert, Olliergues, Thiers, Puy - Guillaume and St. Yorre → N209 via: Cusset → N7 via: Varennes, Moulins, Nevers, Pougues - les Eaux, les Bezards to Montargis [394km - 245m]

Day thirteen we started our push for home. The weather was still very changeable. The scenery and roads got more boring the further north we got. We had trouble finding a campsite so Jon asked a couple of youngsters on mopeds where to go. After a short discussion, they decided it was easier to show us and whizzed of up the road.

After pitching up we walked to a restaurant, where Jane fell asleep. It rained all night and in the morning everything was covered in mud.

(Weather 5/10 : Roads 5/10 : Campsite 4/10)

Saturday 30th

Route: Montargis → N7 via: Nemours to Fontainebleau → N6 to Melun → N36 → D5 to Meaux → N330 to Senlis → N16 → N31 → D151 via: Froissy, Crevecoeur to Grandvilliers → D901 via: Poix, Airaines to Abbeville [306km - 190m]

Day fourteen saw us back to the boring scenery and long straight roads of northern France. Jon took us to McDonalds for lunch. (Only difference was the menu was in French) On reaching Abbeville we tried to get into a hotel but all were fully booked due to multiple weddings in town so we ended up camping again.

The site however was outside town so we had to ride in to find somewhere to eat. We did find a posh restaurant for a last night bash.

(Weather 5/10 : Roads 5/10 : Campsite 4/10)

Sunday 31th

Route: Abbeville → N1 via: Nouvion, Montreuil to Boulogne → A16 to Calais
  Dover → A2 → M2 → M25 to North London [266km - 165m]

Last day had us up early and on the move. There was a noticeable deterioration in the standard of driving the nearer we got to Calais. (More GB plates)

The run home quite easy apart from the queue at the Dartford Crossing.

(Weather 6/10 : Roads 4/10)


Total: [3132km - 1946m]

Last Updated: Site 2018-04-30 Page 2011-12-07

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