Short tours overseas

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Short tours overseas

Recomendations for short tour directions and routes.

Edit: I've grouped the usefull information at the bottom of the post

All of us (maybe) wuold love to get away for a month in the summer and run the gamut of Europes best riding roads, but in reality, most of us don't get the chance. We only get short and temporary reprieve from the rat race.

A couple of years ago, I decided to take five days touring abroad. The concept of the event was to cover as many countries as possible in five days. In the end, including England, we only managed four.

A ride down to Dover for the ferry crossing to Calais was followed by a quick dog-leg through northern France, heading for Belgium. This all took place in September, so although we generally had great weather, there was the occasional shower...which is what we faced going through Lille.

This part of France has some tremendous roads. Wide, sweeping bends, excellent surface (except in the towns and villages..pothole heaven for the most part) and wide open country views. And of course, very little traffic.

We eventually headed into Belgium on the motorway, having decided that we wanted to reach Namur (the other side of Brussels) for our overnight stop. On that note, I will point out that our route was completely unplanned. We'd looked at the map for the first time whilst on the Ferry...and simple decided to head 'thada way' . Namur just took us the right distance on the first day, that's all.

Brussels is a nightmare on a motorbike, specially during friday rush hour. Belgiun drivers seem to have to qualms about shutting the door on you if you filter...or, on the odd occasion....opening to door to prevent you getting through. Strange attitude. It's also appaulingly signposted....we couldn't find our way out of the bloody place !!

Out first night's stop was in a Formula One place. These are cheap and convenient, if not the height of luxury. But it did us proud for the night.

The next day found us up bright and early, and heading south. Some of this was on country roads, but as we approached the border with Luxembourg, we headed back to the motorway.

Luxembourgh was fatastic !! Every road looked like it had been paved the day before, hardly any cars, and really really frendly people !! We stopped for lunch in the Lux. town itself. Incredibly picturesque. Not cheap, mind you, but worth every penny

Our intention had been to make it as far as Germany on that day, but in the end we decided that would make the run back on the last day too long. So back in to France we went...ending up in, of all places ...Metz !!

This is a strange town. Very industrial, but with an island in the center which is the old town. Incredible cathedral. We found a little place called L'hotel de la Catedral. Really quaint decor, really friendly owners and cheap as chips !! They let us park the bike in their storeroom for the night

The following day was the highlight in terms of riding of the whole trip. The N43 heading north. We were going from Metz to Cambrais, where we had planned our final overnighter before home.

That whole day was spent cruising between 50mph and 80mph, sweeping from left to right, again with the excellent road surface. You just don't get roads like this in England. We probably saw 20 cars the whole day

A quick stop over in Cambrais (L'hotel de la Station) and we made for the ferry the next morning. This was followed by driving from Dover to Surrey in absolute pissing rain, nasty wet, cold stuff. I nearly did a U-turn on the M23

The point of the above story is this. Although the great European adventure that many on this sight is still something I'm jealous of...and hope one day to do for myself.....this short trip was soul-food for me. It still ranks as one on the highlights of my short (yet pack) biking career, and cost very little in terms on money and time. I guess it's the 80-20 rule....I got 80% of the enjoyment from this trip, for only 20% of the effort

Try the short day, 2 day or 3 day trip to northern France and explore....it'll open your eyes

Usefull info

Costs: A little vague, I know, but it was a couple of years ago. This was two up riding.

Ferry: 2 ppl, 1 bike, £55 return for an early (7:30am) morning sailing.

Petrol: Although it's cheaper in France, the difference isn't as big as people like to imagine. But cheaper it is, and at the end of the trip, it does add up to a saving compared to the same mileage in britain. This varies, so posting mine is useless.

Hotels: Formula 1 was 28 euros for the night. Convenient, clean, tidy...but usually in the middle of nowhere. Make sure you've eaten before you get there because they don't have any facilities.

The hotel in Metz only cost us 22 euros for the night !! And this included breafast. We were stunned and very lucky to find it !

The final hotel in Cambrais really wasn't anything to write home about...and was more expensive....35 euros for the night. Big double room with toute-suit ! Cheap, tacky...but by this point we were pretty knackered anyway

Food: This again depends on what you're looking for. In most places in france you can eat perfectly well for 10 euros a head. This will probably include a glass of wine....main course, desert and coffee. But for as little as 20euros you can have yourself some seriously fine dinning. The trick in france is not to go for anything that looks flashy. You'll be paying for the label. You'll get better food at much better prices if you look for the familly run places.
A snack at lunch can be had for little more that 2-3 euros.

I guess over all we spent maybe £200-£230 for 5 days all in....which I think was pretty good. We could have spent less....and would have enjoyed spending more

Route:

Surrey
Dover
Calais
Lille
Brussels
Namur
Luxembourg
Metz
Cambrais (Metz to Cambrais on N43...top, top road ! )
Calais
Dover
Surrey

Trouble with short tours is that most of Noth France and Belgium are just very, very dull .... But the best would be AntwerpReims / Epernay for the ChampagneParis ... to ride the Perifique Eifel (sp) region of Germany/ BelgiumStrasbourg .... but thats getting a little far ... If the Uk was 6 hours closer, the Alps are stunning, and should be done by everyone once .... as long as they are not on a 125 MX ... like the guy I met from Germany last year !!!

Had an excellent short trip to Rouen recently. (Eurotunnel then) Calais to Rouen - was a nice ride avoiding the autoroute and going via Hesdin. Had a day out trip to Honfleur on the Saturday - nice route and some impressive bridges. Out Friday am, back Sunday.Happy to share the route and recommend the hotel near the Vieux Marche - very secure parking...ride into the lift and park in the basement. Not cheap but nice hotels in cities tend to be a bit extra.Excellent trip all in 3 days.

Phantom Pieman wrote

Trouble with short tours is that most of Noth France and Belgium are just very, very dull .... But the best would be AntwerpReims / Epernay for the ChampagneParis ... to ride the Perifique Eifel (sp) region of Germany/ BelgiumStrasbourg .... but thats getting a little far ... If the Uk was 6 hours closer, the Alps are stunning, and should be done by everyone once .... as long as they are not on a 125 MX ... like the guy I met from Germany last year !!!

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