Tag Archive: Camping Moto


I don’t know about the sun shining on the righteous, but we left Camping Moto in fantastic weather, determined to make it as far towards Switzerland as we comfortably could. We planned to use the more interesting roads again, but accepted that it might be necessary to use one or two bits of motorway if we were going to get close to Switzerland.

Stopped to enjoy the view

Well, what a fantastic ride! Some truly amazing roads through stunning scenery. It was a constant fight between concentrating on the road and taking in the breath-taking views. More than once I had to drag my eyes away from a fabulous vista as the road was disappearing around a steep hairpin with a rock face on one side and a steep drop on the other! At one point we saw our two neighbours from Crest coming flying around a bend in the opposite direction. Mr Ducati seemed to be right on the limit and determined to get every last bit of grip out of his worn tyre! His mate on the GS behind was more relaxed, and had time to wave back.

When it started to get late we decided to jump onto the motorway so that we could get to Chamonix, which is just on the French side of the Alps, before we stopped for the night. We rode around a sweeping bend onto an elevated section of motorway that suddenly became a twisting turning bridge hundreds of feet above the valley floor. Stunning and nothing like I have ever ridden on before.

We continued into the dusk and were suddenly presented with a breath-taking view of the last of the sun’s rays striking Mont Blanc. Unbelievably beautiful and one of those moments that makes you realise just how good it is to be alive. We spotted a parking area and were able to stop and take a couple of pictures. The light faded fast and the spectacle quickly disappeared. We had been in just the right place at just the right time 🙂

We got into Chamonix at 9pm and struggled to find anywhere remotely within our budget that had any vacancies. No problem if we had been prepared to spend 150 Euros for one night! The owner of one lovely 2 star hotel turned us away with apologies but came rushing out after us saying that she had made a mistake. She had put two people who were sharing a room down as being in separate rooms, so there was room at the inn. Excellent.

They stored our camping gear on the ground floor for us and we gratefully moved into an en-suite room on the top floor. What an interesting room, with wood panelling and a bath that extended into the eaves – that made sitting up in the bath rather interesting!

We ate and drank our provisions and Sarah had a soak in the bath (being careful not to hit her head), whilst I blogged on the laptop. After a while we fell into the lovely soft bed and drifted off to sleep with the moonlight shining on the alps outside our window and thoughts of Switzerland in our heads.

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We decided to take mostly minor roads on our journey from Vals-Les-Bains to Le Camping Moto near Crest for a couple of reasons. We wanted to enjoy the twisty less travelled roads and to see more of countryside that we were travelling through. Well it worked. The ride was great and we thoroughly enjoyed the road and the views.

Panorama visible from the road

Taking a break en-route

We kept on seeing bikers coming the other way who were either going for it or just grinning from ear to ear. The region is well known amongst European bikers as having fantastic roads, and they are right.

The weather kept fine and we pulled up at Le Moto Camping at about 5pm. We were given a warm welcome and a couple of cold drinks on arrival. It is run on very similar lines to Moto Camping Dordogne, not surprising I suppose given as both of the owners are Dutch! We bought drinks cards which get sections cancelled with each drink that you buy. A similar system to that run at our bike club’s rally, the Ridgeway MCC’s George to the Dragon Rally, as it saves messing about with change at the bar and speeds up service.

Interesting ornaments by the bar

The large bar opens out onto the pool area, where we relaxed on the sun loungers relaxing and enjoyed the evening sun. As we were planning on getting a reasonably prompt start the next day we opted to stay in one of their wooden chalets rather than put up the tent. Obviously it is much quicker and easier, and only cost 12 euros more than camping.

All of the other guests were Dutch but they were friendly and welcoming. The owner has an 850 T3 Moto Guzzi, although he is more into trials bike riding now, and our neighbour had a MkV Le Mans Moto Guzzi, but had chosen to come on his 900 Ducati in order to play on the region’s roads. He was complaining that he had nearly worn out his rear tyre and that it wouldn’t get him back to Holland, not surprising as he’d put it in on his previous visit to Le Moto Camping a year before!

We ate food that we had bought at a supermarket en-route, and enjoyed watching the bats swooping around having their meal at dusk.

After planning the route towards Switzerland and the Moto Guzzi Rally, we had an early night as we wanted to get moving reasonably early as we had some distance to cover over small and twisty roads.

The Midi-Pyrénées is the largest region of France, bigger than the Netherlands or Denmark, and is situated to the east of The Dordogne.

Sarah has found a small Moto Guzzi rally being run by the Valais Moto Guzzi club of Switzerland. The rally is on the weekend of the 3rd of September and is being held in a small village to the west of that famous landmark The Matterhorn. (Even I should be able to spot that!) Sarah took one look at the collection of hairpin bends that is the mountain road shown on their website and exclaimed, ‘I want to ride that!’ I took one look, totally agreed and the decision was made. Sarah emailed the club and we had a swift reply from the organiser, in English thankfully, and we were booked in. Simples! So hence the reason that we are now heading East through The Midi-PyrĂ©nĂ©es.

The guys at Camping Moto Dordogne told us about another biker campsite, Le Camping Moto, near Crest, to the south of Valence, so we decided to head for there en-route. We were also told about a web site of biker friendly accommodation called ‘A Bikers Guide to Europe’ done by a guy called Allan Wren. Check it out, it’s very good.

Mip, our SatNav, plotted a route for us that avoided all but a short section of motorway and we were sorted.

After Sarah saved my helmet

After a couple of hours riding we stopped at a layby for a short break and leg stretch. Whilst taking my jacket off I clumsily knocked my helmet off my bike onto the grass verge on the other side of my bike. I shouted as it rolled over the top edge of a grassed and wooded bank with a 100 foot drop.

The 100 foot drop

I couldn’t do anything as I was the wrong side of my bike but Sarah threw herself to the ground ([S] Ouch my knee!) and caught my helmet with the outstretched fingers of her left hand. Another two inches and it would have been out of her reach and I would have been helmetless. I ran around and grabbed my helmet and gave Sarah a great big kiss for saving the day. Note to self – Always put your helmet on the ground as soon as you take it off. Thought to self – Why do these things always happen to me? Answer to self – To help you to learn and it sure stops life from being boring!

Hostellerie de Fontanges

We kept on going until we were quite tired, and then with Mip’s help we found the Hostellerie de Fontanges. We didn’t realise that it was a Chateau until we got there and thought that it would be way over our budget. Imaging our surprise when we found out that it was only ten euros more expensive than the Campanile that we had stayed in at Mont Saint Aignan near to Rouen ([S] so only marginally over budget!). The staff were not at all phased by two dusty bikers turning up and let us park our bikes in the courtyard.

Bike only parking at the Chateau

They gave us a lovely room with a wonderful deep bath that we threw ourselves into to soak away the stiffness caused by our muscles adapting to riding so much. After a meal on the terrace overlooking Onlet-le-Chateau we slept in a lovely real bed. It is amazing how over a week of sleeping on an inflatable mat can make you appreciate some of life’s more simple pleasures!

Where do I start? The Dordogne is a beautiful area full of picturesque villages, hilltop medieval towns, castles, wooded valleys and an amazing mixture of roads. So much to see and do.

One of the wooden chalets

We decided to spend the first couple of days chilling out at Moto Camping Dordogne. They have pre-set up tents, caravans, wooden chalets and a restored old church for visitors to stay in if you do not want to put up your own tent.

What an easy going and friendly place, with excellent food. Don’t order the ribs unless you are seriously hungry! We spent our time alternating between relaxing by the pool and chilling in the bar, whilst chatting with other bikers from around Europe. As the owners are Dutch the campsite obviously attracts mainly Dutch riders (well whilst we were there anyway) but we met a few French and British riders too.

Dutch Tourer!

My French is okay but my Dutch is non-existant and so I am always grateful that most Europeans learn to speak decent English. We had a great time there and made some new friends. The site owner Pieter even got in some French Cidre in for us.

The day that we arrived there was the end of the main French and Dutch holidays, but even after a couple of days or so we found that the more popular tourist destinations were still quite busy. However our SatNav managed to find us lots and lots of twisty virtually deserted roads for us to explore, and proved that she still has a sense of humour by taking us down a series of gravel strewn tracks. According to the SatNav settings this was supposed to be the quickest route to Rocamadour (a beautiful hilltop church and fort). Ha! Not when you are doing 20mph on loose gravel it’s not. Ron is a Dutch BMW Gs1100 rider who is so tall that he has had to RAISE the seat!

No it's not a moped

He said later that he has the same SatNav. Unless he specifies the route in detail, often on his laptop in advance, then if he lets her have freedom to choose his route then she often does the same sort of things to him. He calls her Mip after a name used for dippy Dutch girls. Mmm, I think that we now have a name for our SatNav 🙂

Me hard at work

One of the great things about the campsite is that they have free wifi. They have a laptop for public use in the bar but the wifi also extends through the site. I was therefore able to spend several happy hours sat at a table alongside our tent in the trees with a glass of something and updating this blog. Why do you think the there have been so many posts recently?

Setting off again

Panorama near to Rocamadour

I love the Dordogne region of France. Hills, forests, twisty roads, a river, medieval villages, castles, and gourmet food with excellent wine. I rest my case.

We were not quite sure exactly which part of the Dordogne that we were going to aim for. Over the years I have stayed at various hotels and campsites in the region, but I recently realised that I was somewhat out of date having not visited for about 17 years (gulp!). Claire in Swindon gave us a recommendation by of a biker campsite called Camping Moto Dordogne, which is situated near to Saint Aubin de Nabirat. We had checked their site on the net and discovered that it was run by a Dutch couple, Pieter and Renske, and decided that we would give it a go.

Again we had 300 km (180 miles) to cover and we wanted to get to get to the region in plenty of time to find the site and to set up the tent and get organised. (We are optimists after all.)

The motorway from Chateauroux has enough bends in it to keep it interesting even at legal speeds, and has one section through some hills, where you exit a series of bends onto a bridge over a valley with a fantastic view. (Sorry no photograph!)

We had the coordinates for the campsite but our SatNav decided that taking us straight there was just too boring and decided to take us down some roads that barely warrented the description. It’s finale was to tell us to turn right up a grassed bank to get there! So with the sniggering of the SatNav in our ears we rode round and round trying to find the site.

It was at this point that I discovered the true folly of wearing a matt black crash helmet in 38 degrees of blistering sunshine, whilst riding slowly. Boiled brains anyone? I was beginning to make some bad riding decisions and I realised that I had to pull over and pour some water over my head to cool off. I was initially going to use the water conveniently situated in the waterbottle attached to my pannier, but I quickly found out that it had absorbed so much heat from the sun that I could have used it to make a cup of tea! The receptionist from Le Boischaut unknowingly come to my rescue as her ice cubes had kept the water in my backpack cool. Within seconds of pouring some over my head I felt much better and realised just how much the heat had affected me. I have been warned about heatstroke when riding in hot sun but this was the first time that I have experienced it. Dangerous.

Set up and relaxing

We set off and Sarah quickly spotted a sign for Camping Moto Dordogne, after which we found the campsite quite easily. Despite being loaded up the V7’s inspired confidence and we handled the gravel roadways leading onto the site very easily.

We were met by the owner, Pieter, who gave us two cold drinks on the house. Heaven. We had arrived.

Appropriate wall paintings