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Old 08-08-2012, 06:51 AM   #1
MooN
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Default West & South

back in 2010 I rode west & then south to hook up with some other guys from a uk forum also living in France.

This is how it went:

Though Phil & I both live in france, me about a third of the way down from the top & east of centre (Auxerre) and Phil about a third of the way up from the bottom & west of centre (near Souillac) there's about 500km separating us by the shortest road. I didn't want to simply ride the shortest road, but the best one, so it would be nearer 600k...ish. As I work in the tourist industry, I struggle to get time off during the summer months & even at the end of season I only had 3 days so the plan was, a day down, a day round about the Dordogne & a day home.

I'm not used to doing that sort of distance in a day (getting old & knackered!) & was a little concerned about whether my back & knees would take it, hence some careful forward planning... map out, look for some wiggly bits heading in the general direction, "that looks about right", Planning done!

friday morning, once I'd got the animals off to school & Madame Moon off to work, I was ready to go,



the dead cat seat cover thing is the one I used to good effect on my jura trip the previous month. I was hoping it would allow me to spend more time in the saddle & less time hobbling around car parks wondering what the hell I'm playing at...

I took the N 151 from Auxerre to Clamecy, a great road to get you into the mood, lots of looong sweeping curves & a good surface. I followed it on from Clamecy to La charité sur Loire & on to Issodun it's just dead straight & boooooring like so many other roman roads

crossing the Loire




The main highlight of this first part of the trip was Bourges, some wonderful architecture & a superb cathedral which I didn't have time to visit




Having bimbled round Bourges & drunk some coffee...s I was a wee bit behind schedule so Issudun was only visited as far as the industrial estate & a brief burger/icecream/pee stop in macgonads.

Issodun was where I gratefully abandoned the N151 & started heading south on the D 918 for La Chatre & then the 940 for Guéret.

stopped in Guéret for a break & a smoke


I had intended simply following the 940 from Guéret down to Bourganeuf & on to Eyemouthiers & Treignac, but divine intervention came in to play & they had dug up the road & installed a diversion. I was diverted on to the D940A from just south of Guéret all the way to Bourganeuf. I started muttering about bloomin' roadworks, & "thats ALL I need!" & so on but soon cheered up, the road was brilliant! I now see that on the michelin map it has the telltale green line all the way along it & I would have missed it except for the roadworks

I was, however, having far too much fun to stop & take pictures!

I arrived in Treignac & parked up at the Hotel de ville in order to adjust my chain which ressembled more a skipping rope than a final drive...



I texted Phil to say I was there & he phoned back to say that they were too...!?

I had confused Mairée with Hotel de ville, though Phil reckons I was hiding 'till I'd seen what they looked like...

One of the guys led us back to Phil's via goodness only knows where! I remember some tiny backroads full of gravel & some dual carriageway where some of the boys got photographed courtesy the Gendarmerie, but those of us on French plates managed to slow down some...

Got to Phil's as the sun was setting, around 6.30ish
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Old 08-08-2012, 07:08 AM   #2
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Default Re: West & South

Spent the evening swapping stories, taking the piss & crying with laughter, between bouts of stuffing meself silly with food laid on by Phil's misses.

The next morning we were up & at 'em bright & early on the stroke of about 11ish... & I discovered that Phil's garage has the best garage view I've yet to encounter


we managed to get moving without too much delay & the route went something like this

Lamothe Fenelon, south on the D820 towards Cahors & then east back towards figeac. My maps don't cover the area so I'm not sure of the roads we too but we went through Vers, where we stopped for coffee

one of the others filmed thr route down to Vers
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Saint Cirque la Poppie
another wee vid
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a very pittoresque medieval village as well but a bit steep (in every sense of the word)

from there we headed up the river valley towards St Sulpice. Phil spotted this place out of the corner of his eye so we reckoned it was worth a try for lunch


"authentic" in the very best sense of the word is how I would describe it.

they only had a "plat du jour" & as far as we could make out no inside seating, one had to walk through the kitchen from the courtyard in order to find the wc & the only other space appeared to be their living room...

the veal was excellent & the chips to die for (some of us nearly did when offered a second helping...)


we were all stuffed by the time we'd finished & agreed that the 11€ a head with cheese & desert &coffee included, was excellent value for money! Good find Phil!

from there we wound our bloated way further along the river, turning north before reaching Figeac & then west again to get to Rocamadour.

Rocamadour is quite something & I'm sure i'll be back one day to explore the citadelle. Phil's right, it is vaguely reminiscent of Minas Tirith:





from there we rode back to Phils along the D673 which gets a 9 out of 10 in my book! I couldn't keep up with Phil but he has got a few more horses under the bonnet (that's my excuse & I'm sticking to it! ) & I think the others must have been busy looking at the scenery...


Back at Phil's we chilled out for a while chewing the fat, planning the ride home in view of the forcasted weather & then Jax (Phil's better half) produced a meal fit for kings, she must have been preparing it all day so it was only fair to accept (under duress of course) a second helping... uuurps..

Last edited by MooN; 08-08-2012 at 07:38 AM.
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Old 08-08-2012, 07:22 AM   #3
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Default Re: West & South

Day 3, the ride home. I actually now think that this is probably one of the best solo rides i've ever done & I really wish my photography was half way up to conveying the reality...

The rain forcast didn't materialise so I was able to apply plan D. (the one scribbled on a corner of a paper napkin at oh3 pissedasafart the same morning...)

Once up & packed, coffeed & smoked, double checked the forcast & the maps, I waved farewell to Phil & the others at 9 am & rode out of the village & up the N20 & onto the A20 as far as Junction 50 where I turned east on the D 1089 for Tulle, Egletons, Ussel & Bourg Lastic where I would have to make a decision about wether to go through or round Clermont Ferrand, depending on time & weather. Apart from the detour round the north of Tulle & the market shutting the centre of, I think, Ussel & getting lost trying to follow the resulting detour, this is a great biking road, sections of dual carriageway allow you to "make progress" in a reasonable manner & they are interspersed with sections of twisties winding up & down through the forest or following the river Correze. This was one of those days that happen so rarely, The bike, despite her great age was running sweet as a nut & I was in the groove, everything coming together, almost a perfect ride.

I didn't stop untill Bourg Lastic except for a pic of my first glimpse of the Puy De Dôme


the sign says Clermont 100km so the Puy de Dôme must be 60odd... zoom?


I decided that, though time didn't allow for a visit to Clermont Ferrand, & that the low cloud rendered pointless a visit to the Puy itself, it did allow me to continue on the minor roads a little further before picking up the A89 at Pontgibaud. I fuelled up at Rochfort montagne & decided that an air d'autoroute would do for Lunch & chain adjustement (again) as the weather was getting colder & greyer as we climbed.

The D996 going North to Pontgibaud was a very pretty road with what would have been great photo's of the volcano's if only the weather had been clearer. I managed to squeeze off a couple of shots between clouds:






I stopped at the aire at Monzat on the A89 which is at about 900metres altitude & would have a superb view over the Puy de Dôme on days when the cloud was a little higher...
adjusted the chain, ate a sandwich & a mars bar, drank some coffee & smoked whilst watching the world go by... people watching... I never tire of it.

The A89 joined the A71 which I stayed on untill junction 12 & Gannat. It was then just a straight run North through Moulins & Nevers to Auxerre, over roads I've covered before. I actually rode through St Pourcain, which is where I think one of the other guys had been aiming for but we both had different agenda's for the day so didn't ride back together. I stopped for fuel again in Nevers & got home at 17:30.






oh yeah, 1211 kilometres round trip. & the transalp had again impressed me with it's reliability (19yrs old & 95,000km) & adaptability.
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Old 08-08-2012, 12:57 PM   #4
glitch
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Default Re: West & South

Quote:
Originally Posted by MooN View Post
Phil spotted this place out of the corner of his eye so we reckoned it was worth a try for lunch


"authentic" in the very best sense of the word is how I would describe it.

they only had a "plat du jour" & as far as we could make out no inside seating, one had to walk through the kitchen from the courtyard in order to find the wc & the only other space appeared to be their living room...

the veal was excellent & the chips to die for (some of us nearly did when offered a second helping...)




..

And that's the kind of place you won't find anywhere else on the globe.
That sort of rustic, homely, cosy " joint has been in the family for the last 500 years" just can't be replaced with '60s vinyl + Formica... or Italian tiles with chairs and tables of chrome-gleaming tubing and glass.

LOVE IT!!

Also refreshing to see is the absence of the products of your "young expressionists" aka bored, dopey shitheads re-decorating the neighbourhoods with their $3 rattle-cans.



Thanks for posting this one
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