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Home Travel StoriesLa France!

The Ferry and France

By Bogger

Day 2, Thursday

I'm the first awake at 4.45am. OMG! Fat boy and Jason also start to stir. By the time we've showered, shaved etc, the bikes are packed and we’re on our way dead on 6.00 am. It’s a lovely warm, bright morning. Hoorah. 

We’ve got two hours before booking in time so elect to use the back roads down to Newhaven some fifty miles away. We waft our way through deserted villages on almost empty roads. What a pleasant start to our adventure. Just as we enter Newhaven we top up the tanks and fuel containers, this is to avoid any faffing in France looking for fuel.

We get to the port and it’s locked. We were a bit early with only a couple of vehicles in front of us. More tourists start to queue behind us and they open the gates to let us in. To be honest the port of Newhaven is, errr, well, errr, a bit of a dump really. It’s small, functional and reasonably efficient but a bit run down. This is obviously not a problem, just an observation.

Whilst waiting we get nattering to a middle aged couple from Melbourne, Australia. They are on a three month cycling trip, taking in parts of England but mainly France. The chap was semi-retired and worked for an Almond nut producer. Really? I queried. Yes, apparently there’s big bucks in growing and selling Almonds, enough so he can retire early. I wanted to punch him, but to keep up the good relations between our countries I refrained.

Once on board ahead of us was a four hour crossing. No problem. A bit of breakfast, a stroll around the deck and a quick snooze and Dieppe was now very close. Nige if you remember had travelled the previous night and had texted Jason saying don’t take the back roads to Bayeux, take the Peage. He had tried the smaller roads and was getting nowhere.

Peage it is then. Out of the Port and almost straight onto the N27. Fat boy was leading as he had a sat nav. Not that we needed the sat nav as I had researched the roads and route before we left and knew the way. Basically just follow the signs for Caen, it’s not hard. Or is it?

We swing onto the A29 towards Le Havre. The weather is very pleasant, the scenery is nice and we are trundling along at a steady 60mph. Smashing.

Smashing until Fat Boy totally ignores the turning off for Le Havre/Caen and starts taking us down the Peage towards Rouen. I’m flashing, waving, peeping the horn etc, all of which goes unnoticed. Great. I catch up with him and gesticulate that we’re heading in the wrong direction. He shakes his head and points to the sat nav. **** the sat nav. I pull past to take the lead and pull off at the next junction. We take a minute to discuss our options and decide to go back the seven miles to the last junction and take the correct road. 

Oh I’ve been made to lead now. Ooh err I’d better not balls this up!!

The two very large suspension bridges over the Seine estuary are both very steep and impressive. More to the point they are also free with a tiny motorcycle filter lane. We’re still on the Peage so a payment will be due soon.

The Peage bay booths roll into sight. I really hate the damn things. Not only for the cost but half the time "they don’t work" properly. Luckily, myself and Fat Boy sail through. Jason on the other hand takes about ten minutes to actually pay with the resultant build up of angry French motorists behind him.

As I said I’m now leading and leading from memory only. As we enter Caen I resist the urge to take various turn offs that look as though they might be for us. I breathe a sigh of relief as we pass through unscathed and still on the right road. Dead easy this navigation stuff. Only twenty miles now to our campsite in Bayeux.

Bayeux is an ancient settlement and within the ring road is the old part of town. T'other side of the ring road is the newer part. Makes sense. 

Stone and timber framed buildings with modern shop fronts in Bayeux
Bayeux old town.

Our campsite for the next few days is "Camping Municipal des Bords de l’Aure de Bayeux". There’s a mouthful for you! It's just on the perimeter of the old part of town. You know what it was cheap, beautiful and ideally situated. The French really do know how to do camping!

Nige is waiting for us, drinking French wine obviously. It’s 7.00pm and a lovely warm summers evening. We set up as quickly as possible then grab a bite to eat from the outside catering by the reception. Fat Boy has forgotten his lighter and he has no cutlery. He has bought his stove along, with an empty gas canister. Nige, as dry as you like, asks Fat Boy why his tent is the smallest one there but somehow has the footprint of a marquee. 

Come on lads times getting on let’s get into town to sample the Bayeux bars. We end up on the main drag at the Ooh La La bar (unfortunately not full of dancing girls) and spend a very pleasant evening drinking and nattering to the locals. Wow, that French beer was very very strong and its effects sort of creep up on you unannounced. Honest M’lud.

2 regular chaps sipping beer and looking about in the town centre
Nige and Fatboy relaxing.

The sign above the shop front reads Oh La La Restaurant.
Our favourite Bayeux bar.

It’s about three quarters of a mile back to the campsite but for some reason, ahem, we walk about two miles in total. Head, pillow, sleep.

Share your 2 wheeled shenanigans - click here.

La France Day 1 Bogger provides an acceptable excuse for going to France but the first day of this adventure sees them in Dorking. Dorking is not in France but it does have the best beer garden ever. Apparently.
The Ferry and France There's a ferry then there's some getting lost then there's some drinking. It seems there's an ongoing theme to this tale that involves alcohol. This time beautiful Bayeux hosts the liver apocalypse.
Normandy Beaches And Booze Bogger and his entourage might have been to the D-Day beaches before but there's still more to see and do. They might have been tipsy before too but that won't stop them joining the locals for a round or 6.
Dead Man's Corner (And Less Beer) Bogger and the crew take in a WW2 museum but have to curtail the rest of the day due to unforeseen circumstances. Not to worry, there will surely be more alcohol to soften the blow.
Friends With Food The group temporarily fragments while Bogger and Fatboy visit Bogger's French friend. Food abounds all around and of course there's a beer or two to wash it all down.
Miles And Mates Coming And Going There's people leaving, people joining, lots of riding and well wouldn't you know it - some beer! There's a crew change and a location change for Bogger today.
Cars, Motorcycles, Engines, Nap Time And More Beer Bogger and pals (both French and English) take in the splendours of an automobile museum. There's a lot of lovely cars, a few motorcycles and one napping Bogger on display for all to see.
More Of Everything That Bogger Enjoys Guess what? Bogger's et al are riding motorcycles, visiting museums, eating, and drinking all of Brittany's fabulous hospitality. Poor Bogger, it's a hard life.
Bogger's Brilliant Day Out As Bogger's trip draws to a close there's still an awful lot to do, an awful lot of fun to be had, then throw in some delightful motorcycles and Bogger's a happy chappy.
Emotional Endings And Homeward Heartache It's the end of Bogger's Brittany experience and it appears he's rather enjoyed this sojourn. Alas and alack it's back to reality though, all good things must come to an end.

Reader's Comments

Ian Soady¹ said :-
Municipal campsites are just one of the many delights to be found in France. I've never used the one at Bayeux but will probably do so some time. They're often, like that one, on the edge of small towns or villages (although some, like the one at Nantes are actually in cities), usually within walking distance of boulangeries, cafés etc and are mostly cheap.

We had a couple of weeks on the municipal at Montoire sur le Loir in June. Brilliant.

Re péage - if you use them much, although I fail to see the point on a bike, it's worth getting a tag from one of the autoroute companies. I have one from ATMB which works very well although the booths that you don't stop at but merrily cruise through at 30 km/h are a bit scary - will it open? Always so far.....
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23/08/2022 10:17:51 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
Bayeux, now that does sound French. As French as a guillotine and a string of onions.
Bogger, glad you took control, don't trust this electronic nonsense. No good will come of it.
Tolls you say, they're truly the worst invention for motorcyclists since the one piece Dunlop rubber suit. You just get going, do a few miles......and what do you know, stop, gloves off, where's my flaming card, now put it all away again, now the gloves won't go back on, or is that just me. Oh.
I liken the flaming things to them blasted supermarket self service "quick" tills. They're anything but and they need at least one member of staff per booth anyway to assist the stupid English who can't get the damn things to work.
I could just drink a beer.....
23/08/2022 13:40:22 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
Ed, dearest Ed.
I don't know where Bayeux is, or Newhaven, can we have a map please?
Ta me duck.
23/08/2022 13:53:45 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Upt', really! Dust thas not know owfert use Googly maps? Tut.

Newhaven is east of that there Brighton and Dieppe is across the wet bit. The ferry is very useful and affordable because, if the rumours are to be believed, the French government support the crossing to give Dieppe a raison d'etre.
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23/08/2022 14:25:28 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Bayeux is close to the Normandy D-Day beaches and is famous for having a very big carpet on a wall. Something to do with someone called William the Norman coming to England a while back and having a scrap with an English chap called Harold. Harold lost 'cos he was knackered after fighting a Harold the Viking Upt'North...
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23/08/2022 14:35:37 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
Ta Ed, I feel informed and edumicated.
We get a bloke called Norman in the Black Bull, he's only got one eye. Although it might just be a ploy to get free beer, if it is, it ain't working.
I never knew Newhaven was there, infact I don't think I knew there was a Newhaven, it's darn sarf though innit.
23/08/2022 18:55:15 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
There's a lot of them ferry things daaan saaaf. Might have sumfink to do with daaan saaaf being close to that there Europe place we was once part of.
24/08/2022 10:36:33 UTC
Fatboy said :-
Glyn... brilliant write up. Well done

24/08/2022 11:45:49 UTC
CrazyFrog said :-
Hats off to you guys. I thought I was doing well taking my cb125 the 100 miles to Talybont-On-Usk for a camping weekend!
26/08/2022 06:43:41 UTC
ROD¹ said :-
Our usual 125 rides are around the b roads and local lanes, but we covered 186 miles in a day the other weekend and covered much of this on busier A roads.
We came too one conclusion.
Riding 125s on A roads is like having a colonoscopy, you have always got somebody up your arse!!
26/08/2022 07:49:00 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
ROD! That is a surprisingly accurate description although it paints a most disturbing picture.

I have been to that there daaan saaaf on my own 125cc velocipede although I broke the journey up somewhat. It is a fair ride from The Land of Pies to Dorking, I'd estimate around 220 miles. Sharon once rode from Carlisle to Pitlochry while on "L" plates. That was a really really good day :). You can read if you so desire
26/08/2022 14:05:19 UTC
Bogger said :-
At the end of the sorry tale, I reveal my total mileage and MPG.

29/08/2022 09:27:41 UTC

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