Day 5 – Saturday, March 24 – Grasse, France – Simon

1600 Kilometres into the trip according to the milometer in the van. Came out of the mountains east of les Gorges du Tarn into much more arid country. Clearly there is a drought in the planes of Aix en Provence, The rivers are dry and the grass burnt ochre-odd for March. Needle spar fir trees and Picasso print abound.

The Transit Van is like a space ship, fully airconditioned and quite quiet. I have an integrated stereo and communication system which allows me to shift from audio books, through some great music to speaking hands off to the guys on the bikes and anyone else who rings. Surreal moment this morning whilst driving down a gorge llistening to Ali Farka Toure and Ry Cooder playing beautiful African rock music when Susan comes up on the screen of the iphone with a text request for the the combination number for the lock for the garden shed!

Great little auberge last night deep in a gorge near Generargues – some pics in the morning light.

Ended the day in Grasse -the perfume capital of the world- saw large maxi yacht in the bay with ginormouse spinnaker up. Bunked up in small Mercure Hotel and off to Genoa and Italy tomorrow.

Day 4 – Friday, March 23 – Generagues, France – Dave

St. Enime

Dave’s first entry (Simon and I intend to alternate writing duties on days when we have Internet access).

Managed to get breakfasted and away from Beaulieu Sur Dordogne by 9.30am – a long day’s ride ahead.  Nick’s son David headed back to work in London, but we have been joined by Richard’s old friend Christian.

Perfect weather – in the 60s,  clear blue skies.  Up out of the Dordogne. Rolling hills.  Green pastures.  Empty winding roads – perfect for motorcycling.

Then up the Lot Valley – following the river along the floor of a deep ravine – and into the Gorges du Tarn.  Rugged.  Mountainous. Spectacular.  Suddenly there is nothing to the right but an infinite drop.  Needs all one’s willpower to keep one’s eyes on the road – but as motorcycles go where you are looking, there is no choice.  A series of challenging hairpin bends down to St. Enime where Simon caught up with us for lunch.

Then the day’s final stretch over the ‘Corniche de Cevennes’ to the tiny village of Generagues and the ‘Hotel des 3 Barbus’ (so named because it was built by 3 bearded men.

Delicious and hilarious dinner with Richard translating bawdy English banter into French for Christian.

Tomorrow on to Grasse – perfume capital of the world.

Love to you all.

 

Day 3 – Thursday, March 22 – Beaulieu Sur Dordogne, France – Simon

Very comfortable first night in France at Richard Margolis’s House – in a small village called Le Chaumes just south of Tours. We achieved another 350 km today and arrived at Beaulieu in the Dordogne,

Van fully loaded and a handful in the crosswinds. Spent the day listening to Bill Bryson on a History of almost everything. I travel at a slower speed than the riders but they have a terrible time at Peages and gas stations, having to switch off their engines and drop their enormous padded trousers to find money to pay for tolls etc

No more motorways from now on- back roads to the Italian border. Weather looking a grim ahead.