Tag Archive: Dordogne

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-Pyrénées.

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