Early August is traditionally the time of year when the french people take their summer holidays, understandable given the weather is usually good and with such a vast country there are many destinations for them to choose from should they wish to stay within their own country. It was during this time this summer that we chose to have a tour into Eastern France and whilst some of the major tourist locations such as Lake Annecy were busy, in the main, we were lucky to enjoy quiet roads and places to visit.
We started our tour riding through Northern France and the wine regions of Champagne and Bourgogne. Many a motorcyclist avoids the north of the country due to the lack of mountains – but as can be seen from this photo it is not only other riders – it is also more importantly for us cars which seem to be thin on the ground – and yes we agree there are not many mountains but the curves of the roads through the open countryside provided us with many grin inducing miles 🙂
The speed limit reduction introduced in July 2018 in France on country routes from 90kph to 80kph did not impact significantly, it allows for more scenery to be taken in and when it comes to the more technical roads in the mountains it is highly unlikely that you would be at 90kph anyway so yes it can add to the length of a journey but best to give it a “gallic shrug” and enjoy the ride.
The main destinations for this particular tour were the Eastern Alps and Bauges Mountains near Annecy and Chambery and also the Vosges Mountains both South and North which run through the Alsace bordering the Rhine Valley. The Col de la Madeleine is a fantastic road to ride and we had near perfect conditions for the day, warm temperatures, very little traffic and spectacular views from the summit which peaks at 2,000 metres. This photo is taken from the summit and sees our group heading down towards the Bourg St Maurice side before we rode the Cormet de Roselend, another favourite road of ours in this region. The weather was just right as we approached our chosen auberge for lunch in the glacial valley but inevitably in the heat of the summer in the mountains storms gather and we had a doozy of one for about 10 minutes. As we reached the summit of the pass the blue skies opened up again and dry roads before us – we pitied the poor riders going in the opposite direction to us though!!
The Vosges Mountains were out next destination – the Ballons D’Alsace and Routes des Cretes being some of our favourite riding roads in that particular part of France. The ridge road of the Routes des Cretes goes on for a total of 55 miles and at an elevation of over 3,000 ft there are some beautiful views over the surrounding forest clad mountains and valleys.
As you can see from these images we were not joking above when we said the roads were quiet 🙂 While crowds can be found on the french beaches and near main tourist locations (our planned lunch at Lake Annecy had to be abandoned as there was simply no room to park!), we will never be concerned about running a tour in France when it is their peak holiday season – it was clear to us that no matter what the french roads are to be enjoyed no matter when and we are looking forward to touring their again in 2019 🙂