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« on: March 30, 2016, 01:48:39 AM »

March 24-28, 2016



Another holiday weekend was upon us, this one being a full four days! And with me being in between jobs, I had no issues with adding an extra day. Luckily, neither did Dan. And as a bonus, my nephew Matt, who is stationed in Germany, was able to get leave as well. It was time to plan something fun!

This was the most challenging holiday that I planned to date. I had two other people to take into consideration, weather, daily distances and the fact that hotels tend to book up during holidays. I opened up Google Maps and Trip Advisor and went to town – literally. Eventually I had hotel reservations for three of the four nights and a list of “possible sightseeing options” at the ready. The weather looked tolerable and the mileage was…well, I wouldn’t mind it at least.
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« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2016, 01:51:21 AM »

Matt arrived Wednesday evening from Germany, as the departure from Basel was slated between 8 and 9 Thursday morning. The weather wasn’t bad, but it could have been warmer. We packed up our bikes and headed south. My plan was to get us out of Switzerland as soon as possible, saving the roads closer to home for shorter trips in the future. We borrowed a third Sena SMH10 communication unit for Matt to use on this ride, as it is much easier to travel when we can quickly exchange ideas and requests.



A quick stop to adjust our gear


Hazy morning


Happy Easter!




A trailer full of Maseratis

The transition from Switzerland to France was supposed to be a transition from motorway to secondary roads. Unfortunately this was easier said than done, and we ended up following the motorway for a while longer.

Matt is from Ohio. He’s seen the Appalachian Mountains, but those are the biggest hills that he’s ever experienced. Due to the thick clouds, I was sorry that he wouldn’t see the Alps today, but once we got south of Geneva, the clouds pulled back and the mountains came into view. It was fun to listen to his excitement ring through the intercom.
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« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2016, 01:52:30 AM »






I hate toll booths on a motorcycle



We eventually abandoned the motorway and took to the side roads. The wind was harsh, constantly blowing us around, and taking the secondary roads gave us some respite. Not to mention that they were much more interesting. Matt continued his audible appreciation of the mountains, much to my delight.
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« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2016, 10:25:23 AM »




Matt and Dan behind me


One of many small towns we rode through


Lo and behold! The sun came out!


Springtime has hit this valley already


Saint-Nazaire-en-Royans, France


Have I mentioned how much I hate toll booths?

Finally, after ten hours of riding (including breaks, fuel stops and lunch), we arrived at our first night's destination: Nîmes. I chose this town primarily for the location: getting us far enough from Basel so that we could enjoy the next few days sightseeing. However, when I looked more into what the town had to offer, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was full of ancient history. The Arena of Nîmes, built around AD 70, is the center point of the town. But more than that, there are also gardens, temples and churches to explore.


(if you want links to stuff, then you have to go to my website  Razz )
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« Reply #4 on: March 30, 2016, 11:48:17 AM »

Subscribed. :popcorn:
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« Reply #5 on: March 30, 2016, 12:06:01 PM »

Very nice.  I really like that area; last time I was there--later than this--it snowed, so well done!  

I hate toll-booths too.  hate them, hate them.
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« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2016, 12:47:24 PM »

Our hotel, Hotel des Tuileries, was centrally located and easy to find. The owners, a nice British couple, were very pleasant and helpful, including offering us space to our park our motorcycles in their garage. Our rooms were small and comfortable, but they showed their age. The toilet rocked precariously when I sat down, and the tub was about just the right size for a child. But the bed was comfortable, the water was hot and we had a place for our stuff. Since we got into town later than I had hoped it was already dark by the time we parked the bikes and changed out of our gear. Oh well; this just meant that we'd enjoy the sights as lit by the city lights.


Arena of Nîmes


Still in use!




A full moon, visible through one of the arches





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« Reply #7 on: March 30, 2016, 12:51:51 PM »

We circumnavigated the arena and then struck off through some of the many side streets of Nîmes, enjoying the bustling night scene. We came across another temple, the Maison Carrée. The Maison Carrée isn't quite as old as the arena, but the details and architecture are amazing.


Maison Carrée


Dan for scale



We found Les Alizes, based on the recommendation from our hotel's hostess, and took a seat inside. Fortunately for Matt and I, Dan has a rudimentary grasp of French and was able to help us order our meals. The food was great and we enjoyed watching the steady stream of revelers passing by the big windows.


Les Alizes





It had been a good but long day and we eventually wandered back to our rooms to prepare for the next day's adventure!


Day 2 - coming soon!
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« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2016, 12:53:04 PM »


Very nice.  I really like that area; last time I was there--later than this--it snowed, so well done!  


It was a concern of mine, to be sure!



I hate toll-booths too.  hate them, hate them.


We all agreed that they should be free for motorcycles. I mean, it isn't like we cause much wear with our little bikes  Embarassment
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« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2016, 01:04:01 PM »

I have been to Nimes. Stopped there on the way to Avignon. It was Feb and damn cold though and we were pushing for Greece. But I remember a very amazing aqueduct somewhere near there. Amazing history in that area and was there so very long ago.
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« Reply #10 on: March 30, 2016, 01:12:09 PM »


I have been to Nimes. Stopped there on the way to Avignon. It was Feb and damn cold though and we were pushing for Greece. But I remember a very amazing aqueduct somewhere near there. Amazing history in that area and was there so very long ago.


Sadly, we saw the sign for the aqueduct on our way into town, but didn't stop. As it was at least half an hour back the way we came, we didn't go back to check it out once we learned more about it.


Too bad, too, as I just googled it:

Pont du Gard
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« Reply #11 on: March 31, 2016, 01:49:30 PM »

Day 2 - Friday



Friday morning dawned bright and clear. We decided to get an early start on the road so that we could enjoy a leisurely romp through whatever roads we could find. But first we wanted to see a little bit more of Nîmes.


View from our hotel room the next morning

I had my "list of suggestions" handy and on it for Nîmes were temples, gardens and the arena. Ok, we did one of those, but there were more temples to see, as well as the garden. We checked out of the hotel, packed up our bikes and I programmed the GPS for the Jardin de la Fontaine, a garden on the other side of the city center. Unfortunately, I didn't have an actual address, so it was a bit of a hunt for the actual garden gates. But I found it and we parked the bikes so we could explore in the morning sunshine.




Plenty of road construction in Nîmes


Inside Jardin de la Fontaine




The spring that the supplied the Gauls, and later the Romans
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« Reply #12 on: March 31, 2016, 02:00:45 PM »

Along one side of the park is another Roman structure, the Temple of Diana. Full access was granted to this thousand-year old structure, although a sign did request that people not climb on it.


Temple of Diana





We looked around a little bit more but with full gear and a day ahead of us, it was time to get back on the bikes. Someone had told me about a quiet little beach on the Mediterranean and I thought it would be a great place to stop for lunch. We hopped on the motorway, as the secondary roads would have more than doubled our time and quite honestly, the thought of the stop-and-go riding through so many little towns alongs the coast didn't sound appealing to me. It was windy again...



At one of the toll booths, while I waited for the others to come through, I saw a van with a trailer full of adventure bikes. What's this? It turns out it is an Edelweiss Tour on their way to Málaga, Spain. I know this because I also saw this van at a gas stop later and I asked the driver about his destination.


Edelweiss Bike Touring

Traffic was thick but generally moved well. The wind noise made it a little difficult to use the communicators, but they worked well enough. A couple of police motorcyclists made their way passed us and naturally I took a photo. He immediately raised his hand, but it was unclear if it was a "don't do that" or "hi there!" motion. Eh, at least he didn't pull me over.


Traffic


Hello, Mr. Policeman
« Last Edit: March 31, 2016, 02:07:46 PM by Mrs. DantesDame » Logged

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« Reply #13 on: March 31, 2016, 02:19:37 PM »

Finally it was time to get off the motorway! It was just a couple more kilometers until we reached our destination: La Franqui. The clouds were heavy and the winds strong as we coasted down the quiet town streets. This was obviously a seasonal resort town, and the season hadn't quite begun. Fortunately for us, at least one restaurant was open (the only open one we saw!) and we had a fantastic meal next to a nice heater. Yes, the summer season wasn't nearly here and the temperatures reflected just that.


La Franqui


Getting ready for the season

Matt wanted to see the Mediterranean and I can't say that I blame him. Unfortunately, as we sat inside eating it began to rain. It was a light rain, but rain nonetheless. It almost stopped by the time we were done so we decided to at least ride down to the beach and see what was there. I previously had great thoughts of sitting on the beach and resting my eyes while listing to the waves lap at the shore. Nope, not today. It was windy, which is obviously a constant thing based on the windsurfing businesses we saw, and the cold and damp air made me glad for my motorcycle gear. Others, however, were enjoying the day:





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« Reply #14 on: March 31, 2016, 02:21:55 PM »

It was time to go. I had a hotel reserved inland and I was hoping that the wind would die down and maybe - just maybe - the clouds would blow away with the wind. We rode back through La Franqui and crossed over the motorway. Ha! No more of you for the next couple of days!

The vegetation had changed since we reached Nîmes. It was much more Mediterranean-feeling (no big surprise there) and now it changed again. After we left the motorway behind the road began to rise into the mountains. We were in the foothills of the Pyrenees, a band of mountains that mark the border between France and Spain.


Into the mountains!


Treilles, France


Feuilla, France




We haven't left the Mediterranean too far behind yet


The infrequent village
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« Reply #15 on: March 31, 2016, 04:07:47 PM »

Really beautiful pictures. One thing about the area is the architecture and things we don't have here in the states.

How can you take pictures of objects behind you?
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« Reply #16 on: March 31, 2016, 04:10:55 PM »

Special Powers. The Den Mother has eyes in the back of her head.  Smile
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« Reply #17 on: March 31, 2016, 05:19:19 PM »


How can you take pictures of objects behind you?



Special Powers. The Den Mother has eyes in the back of her head.  Smile


 Lol Lol Lol


I hold up the point-and-shoot, face it backwards and guess at what it is aiming at. It took a while to be consistent, but I still get photos of my top case  Embarassment
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« Reply #18 on: March 31, 2016, 05:22:25 PM »

We had entered Wine Country. The villages we saw catered to the growing, production and marketing of wine. It was relaxing to ride through the vineyards and villages, especially as the road was in excellent condition. And not just the surface, but the engineering that went into the corners and the cambers was spot on. I could easily ride this all day.






Tautavel, France


Snow covered mountains!

We reached the town of Maury. On my list of fun things to do was to visit a castle. The problem was, I wasn't sure where the castle was. I could see something up there on the hill, but the name on the signs we passed didn't match up (I was actually looking for Chateau-Peyrepertuse, but I only saw signs for Château de Queribus). I voiced my concern and they voiced their desire to visit whatever it was up on that hill. That took care of that and off we went in search of Château de Queribus.


Castle visible as the bump on the mountain on the far right side




Looking back down the road to the Chateau
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« Reply #19 on: March 31, 2016, 05:25:28 PM »

At the parking lot at the top of the mountain we parked our bikes and the guys immediately started for the trail to the top. I wasn't happy about this, as I wasn't keen on hiking up in my gear. In fact, I was prepared to wait for them by the bikes, but I realized that I'd regret not making the trip, so off we all went together.


(Diagonal) Trail to the top

It wasn't as bad as I expected and it was a quick jaunt to the top. The winds were extreme and the view expansive. Built on the highest mountain in the area, I could see a great distance in every direction. Unfortunately the skies were not clear enough for a good view of the snow covered peaks to the south, but I could imagine the views on a blue sky day.


Mountains barely visible in the south


View to the north




Arch details

The day was waning. It was time to retreat down the mountain and get to our hotel. The ride was a pleasant one and we made quick work of the fast roads - until we reached the area near Vinca, France. From here, the road changed drastically and our progress reduced considerably.


Quick gas stop





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