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Home Travel StoriesFrance 2013

France Day 5 - Biker's Paradise

By Sharon Parker

Boy did it rain last night. It battered down. So much so I was concerned that the neighbouring river would flood and we would be swept away. Needless to say I did not sleep well and awake to find is still bloody raining. 

Well that is it. I hear by declare that I resign from my role as rain goddess. I have served my time. Just as Death himself, in the brilliant book "The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak wished to pass his role onto another so did I. It was time some other poor unsuspecting soul had the displeasure.

Neither of us fancied a shower in the uninviting toilet block so after breakfasting on bread and cookies we pack up. At least the rain is lighter this morning mere drizzle, but drizzle is still wet harumph! 

Once again we stick to our plans to travel along the A roads. Today that decision seems to be paying off. The drizzle eases and although it remains cold and damp my spirits are high. The scenery is changing as the landscape, no longer flat begins to give way to hills. The rivers remain extremely swollen and in places have burst their banks.  I do not see any homes under water but a few gardens and parks are now underwater. 

On route I notice hotel rooms advertised at a reasonable rate of €30. The prices at the beginning or the trip for hotels were around €45 so things seem cheaper along the road to Grenoble. Luckily today I am not tempted to abandon camping. But it is good to know that these hotels are available if the worse comes to worse. The petrol prices so far have varied from around €1:45 to €1:66. As is always the way you can guarantee that when you need petrol you just so happen to be in the areas where the petrol is the most expensive.

The scenery continues to improve the further we travel and by he time we stop at a McDonald's at Bourg-en-Bresse for a drink and a weather update we are surrounded my lush green mountains.  The view from the McDonald's is stunning and so is their Cappuccino. I mean like WOW!! I never expected to find one of the best ever Cappuccinos in a McDonald's but here it is. I am truly happy as I sit here with this delightful surprise gazing through the windows at the amazing scenery.

hills and greenery in the distance and retail estate in the foreground framed by the window of the mcdonalds in Bourg-en-Bresse
McDonald's with a view

cup of cappuccino coffee with swirls of chocolate on the froth at the mcdonalds in bourg-en-bresse
The perfect Cappucino

Back on the bike and we have to join the motorway for a short stretch. It is crowded and traffic is moving slowly. The clouds begin to thin, the sun bursts through and two amazingly vivid rainbows stretch across the sky. I cannot help but grin because rainbows always remind me of my mum. Her requested funeral song was Over The Rainbow. So for me this is my mum saying hi to me and also wishing Megan a Happy Birthday for tomorrow. I like to believe in a little magic.

After leaving the motorway we find ourselves on a wonderful mountain road. Steep jagged mountains topped with snow align the road. Trees of abundant variety display amazing colours and vivid hues. It is veritable feast for the eyes. 
The road twists and turns and beyond every bend is another amazing, delightful view. This is it, this is what we came for. This is what makes days of rain worth the trial. WOW, WOW, WOW. I am loving this and my face aches from grinning so much.

alpine house with steep jagged mountains behind, topped with mist. The road to le bourg de oisans
Mist shrouded mountains

We are eventually brought to a halt in an Alpine village by the route ahead being closed.  I can only assume because of the snow. So we decide we will look around here for camping because this area is stunningly beautiful. Sorry do I keep using words like stunning and wonderful and beautiful over and over. You will just have to bear with me because the English language just does not contain enough words to express how blown away I am. 

a bus in a terminus and a hotel, with vast soaring rocky mountains behind at le bourg d'oisans
Rooms with a view

It seems a good time to phone the girls for a check in. But I can not get a signal. Oh no, if I can't get a signal we may have to move on. It is my daughters birthday tomorrow so I will have to have a signal for then. Just then yet another rainbow appears and with it I suddenly get a signal. Thanks mum, like I said I believe in magic it makes life a little less dull and err ... magical.

So all we need to do now is find a suitable campsite in this area of dramatic vistas. Should I tell you the name of this place or should I keep it a secret? Oh go on then I shall share it with you, it is, wait for it ... drum role ... Le Bourg-d'Oisans. Go on put it into Google right now and tell me once you see the images you are not itching to go there? It is the Alpine dream. It is is, ohh how to describe it... it is... PARADISE. Yes that's is the word I have been looking for Paradise. Le Bourg-d'Oisans is a paradise,  it is an adventure sport or extreme sport paradise but most importantly to us it is a BIKERS PARADISE!!.

the road and town sign for le bourg d'oisans
Bikers Paradise

The first campsite is closed but the nice lady owner gives us directions to another campsite. The campsite we choose blends into its surroundings perfectly by being beautiful itself. La  Piscine  www.camping-piscine.com

large alpine building and veranda at la piscine campsite
La Piscine

At €20 it is not cheap but it is worth it. Do not be put of by the owners enormous, overweight dogs barking at you. It is just their way of letting the owner know new guests have arrived and are requiring attention. Not a prelude to eating you. Although with their bulks one could be forgiven for thinking their may be a few missing tourist hidden inside their bellies. Basset Hound and Samoyed shut up as soon as the owner arrives and collapse in the sun. Yes I did say sun, the sun shines in paradise of course.  

As the name would suggest the campsite does indeed have a most impressive swimming pool, complete with an extensive covered bar area. However due to the inclement weather it is currently closed, although it is usually open at this time of year. The shower block are basic but clean and housed within a brick building and not open to the elements. The all important plug is available for my straighteners and there are good washing facilities for both clothing and pots and pans. There is even a room for the use of guests. It is rather overcrowded at the moment filled with boxes and supplies. Clearly we are off season.  We appear to be in the lull between the end of the Skiing Season and the start of the Summer Season. This does mean some facilities are not open but it also means you avoid the crowds. So all in all an excellent campsite

If you do not fancy camping there are little wooden huts available.  Very pretty but at €65 a night also very expensive.

small wooden chalets between trees and mountains in the background at la piscine campsiteGorgeous chalets if you afford them

the bf coming out of the tent at the campsite in bourg d'oisans. rocky hillside behind
Setting up camp

It is a joy setting up camp in these dry and beautiful surroundings. After a look around the site I return to find the bf deep in a conversation with another fellow camper. I join them as does the wife of Franz. The couple are Dutch and an absolute pleasure to talk with. Their English is faultless and they are warm and friendly. I could stand here forever talking to this delightful and interesting couple but night time has brought about a sudden dip in temperature and the cold causes us to take our leave and retire.

As I climb into my sleeping bag with the thermals once again firmly in place I ponder over what Franz told me of how it is usually 25 degrees at this time of year. How the pool is usually full of sun kissed tanned campers hiding in the water from the heat. And for once that does not sting too bad.  Because I have had one of the most amazing and exhilarating days of my life. 
Now if I just could stop my face from aching from the grin that refuses to leave it I might get some sleep.   

Forming a Plan The formulation of a cunning a devious plan to take on Europe is formed in the tiny mind of our intrepid explorer...
The GF Question Do I take the gf with me to France? Can she come? Will she like it? These are all very difficult questions...
France...I wanna go but can I...?? Can Sharon make it to Europe? Will the kids survive? Will the bf behave? Is there any space for makeup? All these questions and more...
The Load Getting everything we NEED and a few items we WANT onto a motorcycle can be a problem. Now I have to work out how to get 3 WEEKS worth of gear onto the poor donkey(aka bike)
Camping In Cambridge The start of our Epic Adventure...or bike holiday around France. Cambridge is surprisingly nice really.
France - Day 1 Sharon's first day from her point of view. Cushy Cambridge and dry weather...what more could a girl want?
The Chunnel The Chunnel, I'm excited but also stressing because the bike's already broken before we leave the UK. I worry too much...
France - Day 2 - Bikes, Trains and Tents Sharon leads us through sunshine, hair issues, the Channel Tunnel and into France. But France is eerily quiet...
Here Comes The Rain Bike fixed...bike broken. Rain, endless dull roads, miserable towns and more rain. Oh the joy of travel! At least Epernay welcomed us with a huge smile :-)
France Day 3 - Crying Through The Rain The rain plays tricks with Sharon's spirit but a stiff upper lip and giving herself a good talking to see her through.
Rain Into Dijon Rain, rain and more rain. Just how long can it last? Would we be better off with a Jet Ski? Can we continue to keep our Great British Stiff Upper Lips?
France Day 4 - We Are Mustard We Are Dijon is the destination and we're surviving the rain...that makes us well mustard! We're happy in spite of the rain but how long can we keep smiling?
The Joy Of Being Lost As we head south the rain lightens but will it ever stop? I get lost which is no surprise, but lost turns out to be the best part of travelling. Are things finally taking a turn for the better? I do hope so...
France Day 5 - Biker's Paradise Sharon's day 5 in France starts out rough but improves considerably. What delights can put such a joyous grin on her face?
The Stunning Alps We are both facing a very strange situation...that of sunshine, warmth, beauty and pleasure.
France Day 6 - Magnificent Mountains Sharon shares the delights of the Alps. Sometimes life is good!
Highs And Lows From the stunning Alps to our ultimate destination...MONACO! Is it all I expected? Will it be as I imagined?
France Day 7 - Scooter Mayhem Sharon describes the best and the worst France has to offer. Ride on the back with her from the beauty of the countryside to the mayhem of Monaco
Resting And Deciding Today we stop to take a breather and recuperate. It's also time to make a decision about the rest of our journey. I used to be indecisive, I'm not so sure now.
France Day 8 - Chilling In The Pool A day off from the journey sees Sharon and Ren doing something very silly, breaking things and achieving very little. What a splendid way to spend a day!
Going West Day 9 sees us heading west from the coast. It's finally dry, but it's still windy so not too hot. The gf's not well and Ren is relentlessly lost. Overall not a bad day then!
France Day 9 - Poppies, Vines and a Wet Lettuce Feeling poorly rather spoils Sharon's day today. Still on she must go on and survive what might have otherwise been a good day.
Biggest Bridge In The World In glorious sunshine and fine health we make our way from Nimes to Millau complete with it's Viaduct. Sometimes life is good, occasionally it's great!
France Day 10 - Deflated to Elated Today is a good day for Sharon. Today the sun shines, the scenery is beautiful and the people are pleasant. Join her as France puts a smile on her face.
The Wettest Bridge In The World The Millau Viaduct ought to be impressive. It is, but nowhere near as impressive as the amount of rain falling from the skies.
France Day 11 - Grim Not every day can be filled with sunshine and smiles, even on holiday. This one certainly was not for Sharon!
False Hope Part One Ren would like to invite you to a joyous report about the delightful weather in the South of France! He'd like to. Instead it just rained and rained and rained and rained...
France Day 12 - It's Gloomy Inside And Out Sharon freezes her butt off during the night then is treated to a cold and wet ride. The Ren sure knows how to spoil a girl.
False Hope Part Two Is this the end? Has Armageddon arrived? Is this the Apocalypse? It sure as hell feels like it.
France Day 13 - Quietude For A While Sharon's report on another day of mixed weather. There's peace and beauty then there's mud and cold. Adventure...no-one said it would be easy!
Sunshine After Rain A night of rain soaked delirium. Will the day be any better? Will our travellers ever dry out?
France Day 14 - A Bit of 5 Star Luxury Sharon has a much better day on the road and a luxurious 5 star campsite. It's amazing what difference a little dry weather can make.
Back Into The Flatlands A quiet, simple and easy days ride through France for Ren. Pleasant enough but the flatlands are getting a little boring now.
France Day 15 - A Bit Of 2 Star Delight Sharon has an ordinary day and a frustrating battle with the weather.
Not Far To Chinon It's a short, easy and peaceful ride this day in France. Ren gets all philosophical too.
France Day 16 - A Historical Walk Around Chinon Sharon enjoys a hint of sunshine and the history of Chinon, France.
Shopping To Mamers Ren's airbed's leaking now. No problem, find a shop and buy a new one...easy? I don't think so...
France Day 17 - The Gift Of TIme Even though the weather is cool Sharon's heart is warmed by the people she meets in France today
Don't Go To Ault Ren has a grim, long, dull and uninspiring day in France. The accommodation doesn't help.
France Day 18 - Is This Misery Or Joy? Sharon finds sunshine, ancient caravans and ponders about hapiness.
Looking For Luxury With time on their side Ren looks for the perfect campsite for the next to night. Not finding it makes him a very grumpy boy.
France Day 19 - Campsite Conundrums Although the wind blows the sun is shining while Sharon looks for the perfect pitch.
Resting In Ambleteuse Ren philosophises too much on the final day of his trip around France.
France Day 20 Sharon's in a reflective mood on the last day of our French trip.
Back Into England Ren recalls the final day of the French Adventure. It's all over far too soon.
What Did We Learn? Ren sums up his thoughts about France and the French trip.
France On Reflection Sharon sums up her her experience of the French Trip. Damn those Alps.
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