A week ago today we set off on our motorcycle tour of Northern France. Kent was mist bound to start our day which was not ideal and things did not significantly improve for us for the first part of our ride through the Nord Pas-de-Calais region. We had 11 bikes with us of which 4 riders had never ridden in Europe before and we had 5 lady riders, (including Jan), in our group too.
We covered all of 1km on the autoroute as you come of the train in France and headed straight onto the open french roads through a normally very pretty part of Northern France, however, when the mist and mizzle is with you it’s not always the best of fun when you’re on a motorbike is it??!! However, when we got to our lunch stop which was a small auberge crammed full of locals 🙂 our group seemed more than happy – we think as UK motorcyclists we have become so used to the inclement weather that we just manage to shrug it off these days!
After an excellent lunch we had dry roads for the remainder of the day, and rode to the race circuit at La Croix-en-Ternois. As you can see we did have the luxury of the car park to ourselves as no racing going on today, however, there were 3 french riders having track time to themselves and at €50 for half day it is very good value, last time we were here there were some UK riders over doing a track day.
We got to our hotel in the heart of the Picardie region and ate out as a group at one of the little french restaurants where we had not only good food and wine but a warm welcome too. Set us up well for our ride out the next day.
On our Saturday ride out we rode through Picardie and into parts of the champagne region. Coffee was at Fismes which is twinned with Wem, Shropshire in the UK and then onto the Caverne du Dragon which is a WW1 memorial site well worth a visit – the roads to and from it are fantastic motorcycling roads too 🙂
From here we rode to the Reims/Gueux race circuit which is no longer in use for racing but the start/finish straight grandstands and garages are maintained by a group of enthusiasts who would some day like to say car and motorbike racing back at this once famous circuit which was home to some the Formula 1 racing in the 1960’s.
For our ride out on Sunday we had a “mix of weather”!!! – at one point we had blue skies and sunshine all around us and yet it was also raining bizarrely….. Still the worst of the rain was whilst we were having lunch in Chateau Thierry which just meant al fresco dining was out, and then more showers for the last 20 miles back to the hotel after having visited the location of the signing of the Armistice in 1918.
Chateau Thierry was holding a festival in the afternoon that we were there and all roads were closing from 2pm for 5 hours, so we had to skip dessert and move the bikes on rather rapidly! We rode through some beautiful parts of the Picardie region onto Pierrefonds which is home to a stunning chateau as you can see from this picture. Coffee and dessert was taken by the lake and we were blessed with sunshine with rain coming in just as we were about to leave – shouldn’t laugh but it was great fun watching the people out on the lake on pedalos trying to hotfoot it back to shore……..
Although this was only a short 4 day break, we were able to ride great roads and as a group we got to see and visit a variety of interesting places and locations. It was a shame that we did not have blue skies and wall-to-wall sunshine for this our 3rd motorcycle tour of 2013, but everyone had a fantastic time – the riders new to motorcycling in Europe got to understand what all the hype has been about “quiet, open roads” – not only that but they are great for riding too 🙂
We will certainly be going back to this part of the world when we put together our motorcycle tours for the future and next time you ride to France don’t just use the autoroute through Northern France – visit the region, it’s well worth it……