(Vee-Twin Tour Of France)
|12th June 2007 Tuesday
Left home at 10.45 to go to Tesco's and get fuel. Arrived at Ferryport and sat in sun getting hot whilst they put the cars on the upper deck. That allowed them to open up the bowels where they put the five motorbikes and most of the smaller motorcravans. Found our cabin OK and went for a stroll around the ship. I bought the paperback "Troy" by D Gemmell and John got "Narrow dog to Carcassonne". Had a kip and then went for a cuppa just before docking. Went down to the bikes quite early but it was very hot.
We finally disembarked at 19.30!
A run along the corniche road - Carantec - saw us detour up some back lanes in Morlaix because the road we wanted was shut. Then a fast blast to Lorient and a quick walk to the Buffalo Grill. We had the menu with only sauce and coffee extra..
13th Looked decidedly gloomy but we set off for Pont St Nazaire at about 09.30 but got caught in torrential rain before Vannes. We stopped and put our wet weather gear on but we were quite wet by then. Carrying on to cross the Loire we stopped at St Brevins Carrefour where we dried off a bit and got food.
We weren't allowed to park in the dry but we could stand there. John's one-piece suit had died and he was wet through. Carrying on - after chucking his suit away - we managed to travel with the good weather by staying further south to Poitiers. The F1 was easily found but the only eaterie was the Courte Paille next door so we went there. My steak was 'a la scammell road kill' and John's sausages were not nice. Never again!
Walked along the road until we came to a phone box where I rang home to get the settings for the Pro-oiler and the alarm. On the way back we found a motorbike shop so we'll try that in the morning for a new set of waterprooofs for 'Mr Drippy".
Woke to torrential rain so had a leisurely breakfast by which time it had vanished. Walked around the corner to the bike shop and John got a 2-piece suite, overgloves and undergloves. Set off without our wet weather gear and stayed dry for nearly the whole ride. Stopped for provisions at the Leclerc in north Limoges and then carried on across country to Lac Vassiviere, where we went to see the dam and the causeway to the island. The rain finally caught us about 8 miles to go and we stopped to put the gear on. I flicked my sidestand out and missed dropping the bike on it's side a few seconds later! Only scratched the already scratched pannier case. Got to the Prem Class in Clermont Fd at about 18.30 to find 'Rose' an English speaking Indonesian girl who explained that the computer was out and it got very tricky. We paid cash for the first night. Walked to the Buffalo Grill where I had Steak Hache and Coupe America. John had the menu with chicken and apple tart followed by coffee. On the walk back we got wet - well I did because John hasn't got his NVQ in basic umbrella handling and it was thundering!
Woke to a very wet morning but had a good nights rest with the A/C going all night which seemed to dry everything out well. We had a slow start as it was 09.00 before we had breakfast. The girl on reception told me I'd paid for 2 nights so I could pay for the other 3 tomorrow!!! Decided as the weather cleared to go to Thiers and get a knife which we did staying dry all the way but just behind the rain as it moved East. I got a lovely Thiers pattern knife but John wants a Laguiole one so we'll be going there soon! Decided to go East to St Just-en-Chevelet, where we had a ham n cheese pannini and a cuppa for dins, then North to Vichy stopping at a viewpoint that was aspected on the map. Lovely roads with no traffic so we had fun still staying dry. Stopping to look at the view we discovered it involved walking so off I went. I saw the Maddona but carried on until I realised I was loosing altitude so back tracked to the Madonna and walked through the grass to find 22 steps up to the top where, before the trees grew up, there would have been a wonderful, panoramic, view! Back to John and on to Vichy where we parked in the middle and found - nothing worth looking at! Got back to the hotel at 16.45, where I managed to pay for the remaining 3 nights - I THINK!
Went to the Buffalo Grill for tea via the phone box near the chemist to see if it accepted incoming calls which it did. Tea was passable with John's steak being cooked to his liking but we felt we were being rushed as it was Friday night and they got quite busy. Had the scrawny waitress who is built for speed not comfort! Walked back to the phone box where I rang home.
Distinctly chilly and overcast we set off at 9ish to blot down the motorway to see the Viaduc de Garabit from the other side. We'd got up to 3600 ft so were quite chilly and enjoyed the sun which had finally arrived after we'd crossed the highest part of the route. Got to Laguiole after hitting 4000ft - even colder - at about 11.30 and John got his knife. Had lunch 'Al Fresco' from the supermarche and set off for Aurillac to get fuel. Nice twisty road but a bit bumpy for John in places. Leaving Aurillac we went along the Murat road turning off at St Jacques de Blats to go up a really twisty road to Mandailes and on to the Pas de Peyrol which was 5250ft high and damn cold! we had a hot drink at the top before coming down through Allanche to Massiac where we got back on the Autoroute to get back quickly to Clermont Ferrand. We stopped on the way in at McD's for tea and then found a Auto Lavage where - for the sum of 7 quid we thoroughly washed the bikes. Got back to the hotel at 8pm and went and rang home from the same box as last night at 9pm. I finished Narrow Dog to Carcassonne with the head torch at 00.12hrs.
Filled up at the Total Station at the top of the road. Went down the Autoroute and left at junction 5 to retrace the route Brenda and I took last year. Through St Amant to St Nectaire where they were practising NON-sychronous bell ringing and on to Lac Pavin by way of Murol and Besse-en-Chandesse. We looked at the lake and then drove to a spot where I walked to the top of the volcano peak to see if there was a better view over the lake. We met a group of ladies one of whom was laying a cotton thread trail??? The view from the top of Puy de Montchal was great in the Westerly direction but you still couldn't see the lake! Carried on to Mont Dore back past Besse-en-C and over the race course at Moneaux. Dropping down to Mont Dore we went up to the top of the car park and came down the back road. We parked and went to the same cafe that gave me the huge ice cream last year. This time we had ham/cheese gallettes with 2 hot drinks. An aside here, Gallettes are a peculiar food in France. They are either, a pancake, a biscuit or a type of flan depending on where you are in France. In Paris they are a type of flan which is sweet, in the Auvergne they are a biscuit and we've had savoury pancakes called gallettes elsewhere in France.
Leaving Mont Dore for Tour d'Auvergne we got caught by the rain so we stopped to clad ourselves in waterproof gear. We decided to give Puy de Dome a miss as it was raining heavily in that direction so we headed for St Germain-Lembron near the A75 to try and see the castle John had noticed yesterday and the large Madonna with no boobies that I spotted. The route took us from Murol - where we had stopped to decide what to do by the chateau - through St Nectaire to Champeix where we turned off up the D986 which is fantastic for the first couple of miles as you are never upright and the bends go on forever!!!!! Passing through Le Broc (very interesting small road with great uphill corners) we joined the A75 at junction 17 and set off back to Clermond. John led so he could turn off when he saw his castle in the air. It was junction 9 we turned off at but John said it didn't warrant us going there so we pressed on to junction 5 and got fuel on the way to see the Vierge de Monton. She has very big hands! Cracking view and loads of photos. Came back to the hotel in the rain and went out for a walk to the BG. Stopped at the tram stop and bought 4 tickets to go into CF tomorrow. Rang Brenda and returning to the hotel we are the only guests - might be something to do with the computer crash? There was a note on the bed from the manager/s saying breakfast would be from 8-10 tomorrow so we'll be all alone tonight.
A slightly overcast morning so we decided to utilise our new tram tickets and visit the town. The rain started as we got to the tram stop and continued until just after we got to Place Jaude. Still dull with not many shops but interesting tram rides scything through traffic at well over normal speed limits. Had a walk round and discovered that most shops don't open until 2pm so we had a coffee, then a sandwich for lunch and returned to the hotel where we rested for an hour or so as it was now rather hot. As we left the hotel a couple of Dutch bikers came in but complained they couldn't book a room. I asked the Manageress - Aurelie - if she could take a booking for tonight but she said no. I presumed that the computer was still out. They had come fom Limoges where they had spent a day in the hotel 'cos of rain but it hadn't rained all the way to Clermont Ferrand. They had stopped at Puy de Dome and the girl had taken her bike about half a kilometer up it when she lost her nerve - and they where on their way to Alpe d'Huez!! We went to Puy de Dome and paid the 4 Euros each to ascend. You don't get out of the tree line until you are half way up! Arriving at the top they have made a path around the top and it makes it very easy to walk around to see the amazing views. We also saw the Paragliders stepping off the West side and the landing strip down below. The visitor's Centre is good with nice toilets, a bar/restaurant/cafe and a souvenir shop. We then went to Orcival where I asked at the Office de Tourisme where the campsite was we visited 20 years ago and we went to see it. The guy in the small bar there gave me a tariff for August which saves us paying for Kristian or Turbo. We then took a route back to the hotel via the Col de Guery, Lac Chambon, Murol, and the Col de la Ventouse, having a run in with a guy on a 600 hornet. We went straight to the Buffalo Grill where I had the Buffalo Burger followed by the tarte fine aux pommes with vanilla ice cream which I swapped with John for his tarte au poire. Back to the hotel and we discovered that the hotel was full up so the computer was obviously working again. We didn't get new towels or our beds made. I walked around the corner to ring Brenda. That night I was kept awake by noisy neighbours as the adjoining door/s are not very sound proof and they were up until about 2.30am!
Up at 06.30 to a clear bright morning so we had breakfast and departed the hotel to get fuel. We left the filling station at 08.14. We stopped several times as once we came off of the massif it got very hot. We arrived at the hotel about 3pm and both opted for the shower before a quick nap. At 6.15pm we walked around the corner to the Carrefour and bought provisions to eat in our room as we had a McD's on the way in Cognac. A thunderstorm struck not long after our "tea'" but it was all over in about 15 mins and it is now a lot cooler. That's just as well as the air conditioning isn't as good as the hotel in Clermont. Brenda texted me to say she would be out until 8.30 - 9.30 here - so I'll ring her later, the phone is in front of the hotel. The hotel is the most expensive one at 49 euros inc b/fast. We're out the back where it is cooler as we are in the shade of the hotel. Tomorrow we are off to see Camille and Denise and then north to Nantes for the night before going home on Thursday.
Fairly good nights sleep as it was a quiet location. Left at 08.45 arriving at Camille's at 09.10. Had a great time and Camille is getting on well. John and I moved the fridge/freezer into the kitchen so she doesn't have to negotiate the steps into the garage. Left just after 3 and stopped at Angoulins for fuel. Entered Nantes and went straight through the centre of town in the rush hour dodging trams and buses which have priority over everything! Went straight to the Buffalo Grill where we were poorly served, getting my pud wrong and rooking John for 1.5 euros on the credit card. Found the hotel quite easily but it's not in a good place!!!! Went and rang Brenda and it's going to be wet tomorrow so gear on for the journey. It's considerably cooler in Nantes.
A wet morning with more to come from the look of the dark clouds in the direction we are going. Wet gear on we set off (after me dropping the bike on the otherside to the previous drop - no damage tho!) and headed for Roche Bernard where we stopped for fuel. Got to Morlaix and had lunch at McD's and then arrived at the dock at about 13.30. We waited in the terminal as it was raining outside only joining the queue for the ferry after it had stopped. They were stopping all the white vans and searching them so there must have been a tip off about something.
Finally getting on board we found our cabin and settled in for the long trip back to Plymouth. When we went out to see the view it was obvious the ship was only ticking over as it was having trouble maintaining headway, wallowing around like an inflatable whale. Got back to Plymouth and disembarked at about 21.00 arriving home 15 mins later. Total mileage - 1867