Ride & Dine Tour 2016

Our first tour into Mainland Europe for 2016 was over a week from the end of April and over the May bank holiday, riding through 5 countries and what turned out to be several seasons!!!  Snowball fighting in The Vosgeswhoever would have thought we would have a snowball fight on the 1st of May?? 🙂  As it goes we had very little rain which was the main thing and although the temperatures were unseasonably low at times the sun was out for most of the tour giving us great dry riding roads.

The clue is in the title for this tour where we rode and dined very well too!!  The hospitality of our 3 hotels on this tour was outstanding and their locations offer us such a wide variety of motorcycling roads it would be easy to end up spending 7 weeks there not just 7 days.

We started our tour with a ride through France and Belgium into Luxembourg which was home for the first 2 nights.  Riding the German / Luxembourg borderThe old town of Vianden with its impressive chateau lies in the Our Valley and is very close to the border with Germany.  All roads are smooth and “potholeless” in this part of the world, they have open sweeping bends which flow through the countryside giving you excellent crossviews as you take in the beautiful scenery.  We had a blue sky day for our ride-out from Vianden which firstly took us into Germany and then across the border back into Luxembourg riding through the Mullterhal which is known as “The Little Switzerland of Luxembourg” – it’s a small area but great fun to ride as the road snakes under rocky outcrops.  Esch-sur-SureFrom there we continued through the Duchy to the small community of Esch-sur-Sure.  We took this photo from the top of the castle – quite a hike up the steps but the views of the River Sauer as it meanders through the village are well worth the climb 🙂

The Alsace region was out next destination and is a fantastic area for motorcycling, the wine villages are so pretty with their half timbered structures and narrow streets all nestled in this vast wine growing area.  The Rhine river is close by as are the Vosges Mountains which we had our Sunday ride-out through.  Due to the unusual weather conditions for the time of year we had to cut our plans to ride the Col du Bonhomme which was under snow!!!  But the lower Cols in the region were open, we visited Dabo but sadly the mist came in and the views of the Vosges were somewhat limited!!  Undeterred we continued ascending the 11kms of the Col du Donon, wide sweeping bends which flow to the top of the Col and this was where we found the snow!!!  There had been a fall of it overnight and the table tops at the cafe were white over – this then became the ammunition for the snowball fight!  The roads, themselves were fine, well gritted and it certainly gave everyone something to laugh about over dinner that evening.

As we left the Alsace we rode through the Vosges, A sunny Col du Dononthis time ascending the Donon the otherside and what a difference 24 hours can make, clear blue skies, temperatures doubled, dry riding roads and beautiful scenery.  The weather remained kind to us for the remainder of the day as we rode to the Champagne-Ardenne region of France which was home for the last 2 nights of the tour.

Our ride-out on the penultimate day of the tour was through the French and Belgian Ardennes, sunglasses were required which is always a good sign – our indicators were not needed much though as we hardly saw a car all day to overtake!!!  We rode through the forests and View from Rochehautthe beautiful Semois Valley to have lunch overlooking what must be one of the most photographed locations in Belgium from the high village of Rochehaut before descending into the open landscape of the French Ardennes.  On returning to our hotel, we were able to enjoy after ride-out drinks on the sun terrace before sitting down to our final dinner of the tour sampling some of the excellent cuisine the french are so famous for.

Thanks to everyone who joined us on this tour, we had several new clients and some who had never done a motorcycle tour before, this taster of northern Europe has hopefully given them an insight into why we love touring so much 🙂

 

Touring the French & Belgian Ardennes

Our first European motorcycle tour of 2015 was over the early May bank holiday this year with 4 nights staying in one location in the heart of the French Ardennes and daily ride-outs to the Champagne region and also through the Ardennes both in France and Belgium.  Parked up in BelgiumA cross section of bikes joined us on this trip, 4 Kawasaki’s, 3 BMW’s, 5 Triumph’s, 2 Honda’s and 1 each of Suzuki, Yamaha and Ducati.  We made quite a splash of colour as we rode through this region 🙂

The weather was a little “colourful” at times too with a mix of rain on some days, downpours on others and sunshine for our ride into Belgium.  Still it brought out the smiles within our group, in particular when John realised he had left his carefully folded waterproofs on his kitchen table at home!!!!  Dressed for all eventualities!And as for Jane, well she had come prepared for all weathers 🙂  We had included a visit to the Battle of Marne Memorial monument which ordinarily offers spectacular views over the vineyards of the Champagne region, however, in this instance as Steve aptly pointed out “the only bubbles he could see were those on his visor”!!  enough said…… So it was onto lunch which we had booked at an Auberge and they treated us very well, providing us with our own dining room, a large table set for lunch, hangers for all our wet gear, tables for our tank bags and helmets and a wonderful meal to go with it – not to mention champagne which some of the pillions were able to enjoy!  We took the french approach and had an extended meal so that the worst of the rain could pass, giving us an opportunity to ride some of the fantastic motorcycling roads in the dry through the vineyards and forests of the Ardennes on our return to the hotel.

On the Monday we headed east to Belgium and had blue skies to accompany us for this ride.  The open roads flowed as we made our way to the border and we were rewarded with views of the forests of the Ardennes opening up ahead of us, dotted with the yellow rapeseed fields which gave the landscape a fantastic splash of colour.  Coffee was at The Orval Abbey which is also home to a brewery and cheese factory – and as tempting as they both were, all of our group abstained from sampling  (didn’t want anything to hamper their progress on the Belgian roads!!)  Semois ValleyLunch was overlooking the beautiful Semois Valley and the ride on the ascent to this view point was something else, with twists and turns taking you higher through the Ardennes…. it was no wonder everyone was smiling when we stopped at the top 🙂

Our sojourn into Belgium continued for a short distance before we crossed the border back into France and after a quick divert into Sedan for a fuel stop, we left the town traffic behind us as we enjoyed yet more empty roads which snaked through the French Ardennes back to our hotel.

We had designed this tour to give our clients a chance to have a short break away in Europe within a reasonably short distance of the UK and to show them that the roads in this region are a motorcyclists dream – open, flowing with very little in the way of traffic.  The area is steeped in history with our tour including a stop at not only the Battle of Marne Monument, but also the Navarin Ossuarie and a stunning American Memorial.  The variety of scenery on offer varied from vineyards to forests and beautiful valleys such as the Semois.  We are very much looking forward to riding the roads in this region again very soon!