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I am planning a trip to see a friend who lives in Montpellier in the middle of March - Travelling from London. Does anyone have any tips on riding down there - routes, places to stay, roads, getting the bike ready, gendarmes! etc
 

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Welcome

Welcome to the forum s187942:)

The South of France is a bit far for me but I hope you have fun, I have seen movies of those roads, very nice stuff.

On the new member thing, We ask all our new members to please read our forum stickies as it will give you a guide as to how this website works.

Enjoy the forum,
DaveM:)
 

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I was in the south of France last year... but I went to Monte Carlo, and Nice, and Menton... very nice twisty mountain roads

I am sure that did not help you much, but it sure is nice to remember my trip

 

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Just one tip mate.... NEVER TRUST A GARMIN GPS IN FRANCE!!!

Arrive in Calaise, want to head 900 miles south, and the damn thing takes you to Paris, 85 miles East!

Make sure you take in the Dune du Pyla, the biggest sand dune in Europe, although climbing the 20,000 steps to the top in bike gear is a true challenge...

France has amazing roads, in over 2,000 miles I don't think I saw any potholes....
 

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We have been to France a few times and we rely on our trusty Michelin Road atlas. We were in a car so we used the large format one but they have various sizes and show every road. One of the things we enjoy is getting from one place to another via the smallest most obscure roads possible and that atlas had them all...even the dirt ones...lol

Additionally you can use this site to pre-plan your daily routes. We found it very accurate as well. We had various day trips planned from a central location where we stayed, sealed in envelopes, then we would choose one at random an take off.

http://www.mappy.com/

Bon chance et bon voyage!
 

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Hi, I've spent a lot of time riding in France and most of Europe, you'll love it, has some of the best riding roads I've ever been on. if you're planning on just getting there the quickest way is Autoroute all the way, they're virtually empty and never ending, but mostly all peage (tolls) and the cost can add up.

Try - Calais, chunnel if booked in advance is around £30 one way, ferry about £40-£50 return.
Then St Quentin, Reims, Troyes, Dijon, Macon, Lyon, Montelimar, Nimes and Monpellier. All the major towns have Formule 1 (v.cheap) Hotel Etap or Campanile motels (quite nice and have a restaurant) and some others. They're nearly always in a zone industriale outside the towns and you can just turn up (especially in March) and use your credit card to get a room in an automatic thingy if it's after 9pm. Go to Accor hotels website and order a little brochure which is useful.

Autoroutes are boring though, they have some speed cameras (mostly forward facing though) now and the police will fine you on the spot for speeding, the limits 81mph but you can happily cruise at 90-95 and be OK. Make sure you don't go too long before filling up, the services can be quite far apart, you're OK on autoroute but off them most petrol stations and restaurants close at 8-9pm.

If you've got time use the N roads a bit (shown as RN and the number) they're much nicer but progress can be slow as you go through towns and villages regularly, loads of fantastic small restaurants and cafes for coffee etc. and expect most shops to be closed between 12 and 4pm. The cops love to wait just before a village, usually just after the speed limit sign with radar, if you spot them slow right down, and a friendly nod, they love bikes in France but will do you for taking the p***. You'll be amazed at the length of some straights compared to the UK, tree lined and beautiful scenery, however the middle bit is very flat and usually very windy.

One tip, roundabouts, smooth and constant, you'll want to do a few circuits, are mostly the same as here, give way to someone on it, (It'll say cedez le passage) but they used to give way to the vehicle entering and stop if on it. Some old country geezers in 2CV's still think this applies and will pull out on you.

Even if you've got breakdown cover and you break down on an autoroute, you'll need to phone the police to get you off the road, your own breakdown can then take over. You'll need some french for this as they don't usually speak english. Last year my mate's tyre valve blew while behind us and tried to phone them with no luck as he can't speak french, he had to wait until we'd turned round (about 40km later!) and I phoned them. Tell them the number on the nearest Km sign and they'll turn up.

Again if you have time, try to ride the Route Napoleon (RN85 I think) from Grenoble to Cannes, you can turn off towards Monpellier about halfway, but this road is sublime and probably the best riding road in Europe (in my opinion anyway!)

As far as the bike goes, New(ish)tyres, good brake pads, adjust and lube everything, warm gear for Northern France, could snow in March, and you'll need a full spare set of bulbs (legal requirement) a hi-viz vest in case you break down, credit card and toothbrush.

Hope that helps a bit, have fun. Swamp.
 

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Swampy's post brought lodging to mind. While I do agree that you can hit the Hotels and not spend much, France also has an amazing network of Bed and Breakfast "Gites". We always stay in them and have found that with a bit of planning you can enjoy a 200 year old converted Post House or mannor house with a great breakfast for $50 or so a night on a regular basis.
 

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Just one tip mate.... NEVER TRUST A GARMIN GPS IN FRANCE!!!

Arrive in Calaise, want to head 900 miles south, and the damn thing takes you to Paris, 85 miles East!

Make sure you take in the Dune du Pyla, the biggest sand dune in Europe, although climbing the 20,000 steps to the top in bike gear is a true challenge...

France has amazing roads, in over 2,000 miles I don't think I saw any potholes....

I did a few thousand miles last year through France and Italy and my Garmin gps was spot on. Sounds like you have a bad unit or some corrupted Euro maps. My trip could not have gone any smoother. I agree, the roads over there are amazing.
 

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1000 miles in France

Hi, I and two mates did a thousand miles in France last year, via the grand massif where the volvic water comes from - WOW.

Next time I plan to have a GPS - not so much for the routing, but when you get lost or time disappears and you want to get to the hotel/gitte.

The network of roads is incredible - and it helps to make sure you have a large-enough scale map, that fits in a tank bag, to make sense of it. Personally I'm curious about planning a route and using a GPS, but half the fun is making a meandering route and re-calibrating manually over a coffee.

I expect your taking the Dover route? Personally I prefer Portsmouth/St Malo - catch the evening ferry, sleep in a not-expensive cabin and then you have by-passed the NE corner to make a start into the country nice and early in the morning. Bike slots can get booked up early though. Do book a cabin.

I got caught out needing oil on my way back! So yes a smidgen of French or a list of consumables written down might be a boon.

Factor in filtering time if you have paniers of course, I don't and a tail pack + small tank bag do me for 10+ days. It only takes one with wide panniers to slow the pack RIGHT down.

Not sure if you have been to France/toured before so more general comments:

French car/truck drivers all tend to warn of Police ahead - and rather fantastically, almost universally pull over to allow you past. Make sure you say thanks... via....

The roads genraly are incredibly well maintained - but we got caught out a lot by them adopting the technique of squirting tar & gravel to make temporary repairs - never seen it before in France and it's such a shame. Riding becomes lethal and 10 mph limited.

Do a search on the French biker's foot waggle - it's used as charming gesture of "hi" or "thanks"! ie stick yer foot and wave it as you over take a car or bike that has made way. And for bikes coming in the opposite direction - you can raise or lower your left hand to say "hi" - at last, a benefit of riding on the wrong side of the road.

Take a spare key/alarm fob and make sure you set the manual pin on the alarm if you have one and hat feature, & take instructions, so you can over ride the alarm if you loose the alarm fob. One plan is to carry your riding partner's spare key, to come to their rescue, or vice versa. But if you are alone I'd hide it away or down the trews! I once had my keys accidentally taken from the cash desk by a ditzy woman as I looked at sarnies, in Kent, on my way to Paris! - My fault for leaving them there, her's for picking up my key fob, and the RAC's great credit or getting me going. And the alarm's "ferry mode" is handy to know - I forget the sequence every time :eek:

As ever, take spare bungies/cargo net, bulbs, fuses and between you a small tool set/essentials for road-side care - compressed air, tyre weld, some cable ties etc. They have bike dealers of course, so how much you pack is down to personal paranoia and space. My mate with a brand new Sprint discovered his tank bag irritated the brake fluid reservoir after 2 days and the retaining bolt fell off! I always carry a mini set of jump leads abroad too - home made with small clips to fit stock factory batteries.

Garages have rather quaint air inflation devices. it would defy my literary skills to describe them.

Places close promptly & early for lunch - do not delay to keep pressing on, or you will end up in market squares, alone, wondering if you can get some bread from a supermarket! Stop at 12 and eat..

I fitted a euro registration plate but never saw anyone stopped for not displaying GB stickers or a euro-style plate. I forget the detail but you prob don't need to worry about the dip pattern - especially on a 1050 Sprint ;-)

Get your NHS card before you go - http://www.e111.org.uk/apply.html and take V5, insurance etc or good colour copies - spread and hide them. Copy of main passport and driving license too.

I'm in the mood for touring now! Off to Devon for 10 days in May...

Enjoy the trip! :cool:
 
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