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Thread: France touring - any tips

  1. #1

    France touring - any tips

    I am planning a trip to France in May 2019. There I intend to rent a couple of motorcycles and travel through Normandy and Brittany.

    Do you have any advice on where to rent motorcycles? What to watch for on French roads? What can I miss and what I shouldn't miss?

    This will be my first motorcycle trip outside of NA hence any tips would be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Registered User Rinty's Avatar
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    Make sure you get the Alpe d'Huez t shirt when you're in that area.
    Rinty

    "When you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there."

  3. #3
    Registered User patm's Avatar
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    See the beaches, the D-day ones. Save time to visit the memorials.
    Calais isn't worth the stop. The port is fortified with barbed wires.
    Mt St Michel is interesting but expect to spend at least a day there. There is a motorcycle parking off the island. They have a shuttle service from the parking to the city.
    St-Malo is another great old fortified city that must be seen. There is moto parking outside the walls.

    I was there last summer. I can't help you about the bikes, we got ours in Italy. Beware of the radars, they're everywhere in France.

    ps Alpe d'Huez is about 1000 km from the coast of Normandy.
    Pat

    Ride Safe!
    '16 RT

  4. #4
    Learn enough French to at least read the traffic signs. This applies ot Quebec too, by the way.
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
    "The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution." - Bertrand Russell
    http://web.bigbend.net/~glaves/

  5. #5
    RK Ryder
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    We loved wandering around the southern town of Arles, a place where van Gogh created many of his paintings. Many of his subjects continued to exist (in 1971).

    As well, there is a Roman coliseum in Arles.

    As for the language, from what I have seen on the news, more French people speak English today as compared to the '70s. Back then with five years of high school French and one year of university French, if my pronunciation was not spot on, folks simply walked away. Do brush up on basic French and do carry an English/French dictionary, possibly one with phrases. (French grammar is very different from English.)

    We found riding the Pyrennes to be more scenic than the Alps.

    My memories are a lifetime ago; much may have changed.
    Last edited by Paul_F; 10-06-2018 at 05:11 PM. Reason: Spelling
    Paul
    Retired and riding my RTs, the '87 K100 & the '98 R1100 !
    Niagara Riders & Knights of the Roundel #333

  6. #6
    SURVIVOR akbeemer's Avatar
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    Like Paul F, my experience in France is dated. In 1977 I was part of an Army parachute team that participated in a jump into Ste. Mére Église on the anniversary of of D-Day. I found Normandy and specifically Ste. Mére Église to be wonderful places to tour and interact with the people. I suspect the event we were attending had much to do with how we were treated. American paratroopers were still pretty popular in Normandy in the 70s.... we could not buy a drink. When we traveled in eastern France, the Strasbourg area for example, the atmosphere was much different and somewhat less friendly. We also loved the French Alps. We skied in Val-d'Isère and again enjoyed the people and general friendliness.

    Paul G's advice on learning enough French to navigate normal interactions is a good one. It will also be a good idea to familiarize yourself with their traffic laws. In my long ago experience they had a few laws and practices that were different from ours.
    Kevin Huddy
    Tm Pterodactyl MT Outpost

  7. #7
    Registered User Rinty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 178941 View Post
    What can I miss and what I shouldn't miss?...
    My late wife and I travelled through Normandy some years ago, in a Fiat Uno. We had no itinerary, and just followed the coast, on tertiary roads, from north to south. There are a number of exotic seaport towns in the area. The Normans we met were all super friendly, and my broken French worked well. I agree with Pat's suggestion to visit the memorials; they're everywhere.

    My only suggestion would be to familiarize yourself with the international road signage used in Europe. Also, get a Frommer or Lonely Planet guide for the area, and read up on it.
    Rinty

    "When you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there."

  8. #8
    Registered User patm's Avatar
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    There is great little free app on android called Translator that translates on the fly spoken sentences or texts.
    It's from Microsoft so should be safe. It's available on both Android and iOS.
    Select the input and output language, press a button and go.
    It will translate most of what a tourist might need translated without embarassing you. LOL
    Pat

    Ride Safe!
    '16 RT

  9. #9
    Imo paris requires three or four days to see the museums and its better at end of trip when you have the money practice and language needed for basic transactions. The secondary and tertiary road system is incredible with little traffic. Taking the long way from village to village is the way to go. Versailles has to be seen to be believed.
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  10. #10
    Registered User jamesdavidhoward's Avatar
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    Some recommendations for N. France

    While my motorcycling in France has been loop tours through villages in the middle of the country, by car we've traveled in the N. - most recently near (but never in) Calais. Our French friends, themselves, recommended avoiding Calais! A few things:
    • La Coupole, near St. Omer, S. of Dunkirk
      This is an enormous, purposely half-buried German V2 rocket build, prepare and launch facility that offers a poignant museum of the devastation occurring in N. France. (Don't take your German friends there...)
    • Boulogne-sur-Mer, SW of Calais
      The town is home to one of the world's best marine aquariums - Nausicaá. There are numerous remnants of early Norman presence in the area.
    • Beach villages S of Boulogne-sur-Mer
      The old, smaller roads go through one village after another - with plenty of wonderful cafes with local specialties. Crepes, oh, the crepes!
      This whole area is full of memorials, preserved German and Allied equipment, cemeteries and monuments. Also: England has the "White Clifs of Dover", right? Well, France has the White and Tan cliffs on its side of the channel.
    • Amiens
      Inland a bit (by going straight south) is Amiens. The enormous Gothic cathedral here is astounding, and the floating markets (on the canal) are interesting. I remember eating a local item pâté de canard d'Amiens

    The weather in the N. of France is quite variable, even in summer; be prepared.
    James D. "Jim" Howard jhoward@alumni.caltech.edu

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