A motorcycle parked in front of a tent on a pleasant green campsite

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And Finally The Alps!

Day 4

By Bogger

Today's destination will be - hopefully - Barcelonnette high in The Alps.

3 C125 cubs and a fantic cabellero on a car park somewhere near the Alps in France

We're off at 9.20am, out of Cluny and onto the E15 towards Lyon. We're soon peeling off onto the E711 to Grenoble. The weather is sunny and warm, a welcome relief from the first couple of days of rain. We have a fuel stop on the Peage - 2.10 euros per litre. Ouch.

We parked next to a French guy with a Nissan Micra. His bonnet was up and being nosy we had a look ourselves. There was oil all over the engine and bonnet, he'd left the filler cap off. We found the cap for him then offered a pair of Pete's underpants to wipe off some of the oil. With a dead pan face he unsurprisingly declined. However he could find no suitable cloth or rag of his own and used his own underpants to wipe away the worst of the oily mess.

small bikes loaded with camping kit on a dual carriageway and the majestic mountains of the alps

Onwards! To The Alps that we could see in the distance. We were now on the N85 to Gap. We actually rode through the centre of Gap and I was pleasantly surprised at how nice it was. Personally I'd not been to the French Alps before and had visions of Beautiful alpine roads with valleys and passes. It was indeed just like that. What I wasn't banking on was the volume of traffic. It was heaving with vehicles. It was like trying to go shopping on a Saturday in this country. The roads were rammed with vehicles of all types that were going nowhere fast. 

Beautiful alpine scenery but the road is busy with cars

Now the Alpine roads are narrow, very narrow with lots of hairpin bends and filtering past the very long queues was difficult and a bit dangerous. We were getting frustrated as we knew we still had a fair mileage still to do. Another fuel
stop was due so we pulled in and consulted the maps. Luckily, as it happened, our turn off in the direction of Barcelonnette was only a few miles away. Once on this road the traffic cleared and the riding experience was more like that which I had envisioned.

A pretty river under a bridge in the alps and a sign warning of hydroelectric damn upstream may cause floods

It was a bit weird temperature wise, riding along this road. The sun was out all the time. But one minute it would very warm, like air from a hairdryer blowing over you as you rode along. Then, a mile down the road, you could feel the temperature drop considerably, then another mile and back up to temperature. I do remember this road having a lot of bikes travelling along it, the vast majority of which gave us the thumbs up as they sped past. 

We finally made it into Barcelonnette at 5.00pm, very tired and our arses killing us. Our campsite for the next few nights was Le Tampico situated alongside the river, just half a mile out of town. The site was busy but nice and picturesque. Our pitch was relatively small but we all managed to fit on ok. The couple next to us, from recollection, were Dutch and were happy to have us next to them. Really? How strange. The previous incumbents of our pitch had been some German motorcyclist and never spoke to our new Dutch pals and the Dutch said they were just very

We managed to commandeer a wooden picnic table from our Dutch friends and we just chilled out.

Tents, a couple of the lads, the bikes and sunshine on the campsite
stooping over a pot of meat and veg, and inset of the finished curry

Share your tale - click here.

Let The Chaos Commence It's a typical start to a trip and overall things seem to be going well. Except for the weather. And the traffic. And the suspect motorcycles. And the disorganisation.
The Chaos Increases Whilst muppetry and stupidity abound the world needs a hero - in the meantime Bogger will have to do. Fear not brave reader, there is still light at the end of the tunnel. I fear it may be a train coming towards this lot...
More Progress, Less Chaos It's a considerably less chaotic day for Bogger and pals as they make their way south through France. And yet they encounter muppetry on the roads and something's been troubling our heroic author.
And Finally The Alps! There's a disappointing level of breakdowns and mayhem for Bogger et al today. Luckily the stunning scenery and clement weather makes up for this. Shame about the traffic eh.
A Lazy Day In Barcelonnette In an unexpected turn of events - today is definitely lacking in chaos. It's just a quiet, peaceful and pleasant day for Bogger's crew. It'd be perfect if he could buy the right beer.

Reader's Comments

Upt'North ¹ said :-
Barcelonnette? That sounds a good way down.
Packed French roads and arrogant Germans. Nowt changes.
I think the nearest we've been to there would be the small pass of Saint Bernard, no French language required. On that note, ask for butter pastries in the bakers next time you're there, they don't like it one bit.
29/05/2024 13:05:59 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
I must say I've very rarely encountered very busy French roads. With a population similar to the UK and total of 965,916 km of roads (UK has 247,500 miles according to www.gov.uk) as well as brilliant public transport, it's very easy to see why I have my experiences. Maybe you were travelling on a bank holiday?

And why on earth use autoroutes especially on such small bikes? One of the wonders of France is the network of N and D roads which are far more pleasant and offer many opportunities for a quick coffee or a longer pause for a menu du jour.

Oh, and it's a pity to characterise a whole nation on the basis of one reported incident. When we were on a campsite at Montoir sur le Loir last year I helped a German up with his big BMW tourer which had toppled over. He was friendliness itself. But I'm not drawing conclusions about anyone else.....
29/05/2024 13:22:59 UTC
nab301 said :-
Wot , no welding needed? very disappointing!
29/05/2024 13:32:16 UTC
Bogger said :-
We do use mainly A type roads if we can. But sometimes you just need to make some mileage.

Upt, Barcalonette is a fair way down, hence the use of a couple of Autoroutes. They save 12hr days in the saddle.

Yeah no welding or catastrophic breakdowns today. In't life boring thank goodness.

Menu du Journey, good grief we're hardened bikers. Nige would never allow a stop for a proper meal. It's taken us years to get him to stop at a cheap Supermarket. Menu during Journey indeed, Harumph

29/05/2024 16:17:42 UTC
Bogger said :-
Jour stupid predicted text grrr
29/05/2024 16:19:15 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Bogger - are you noticing the same theme as I get? Unless you're lying in a gutter in the rain trying to get your mate's bike to function or enduring some terrible tribulation then folks ain't happy!
30/05/2024 07:10:30 UTC
Bogger said :-
Personally I think of myself as a modern day Shackleton or Scott. My endurance knows no limits. However my patience does.

This years trip is to Poland in a few weeks time. It's a scooter trip (the shame) for me and Black Country Pete. One two fives obviously. The others are going on their usual 125 mounts. High Tech Pete is unveiling a new recumbent (Oh Dear).

BCP said he watched his SH125 being serviced and the mechanic was torqueing 'all the bolts up'. That means nothing, I reckon I'll still be trying to fix it in a wet gutter somewhere in Silesia.

30/05/2024 09:30:46 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
I'm fearful for you Bogger, riding to Poland with that lot must surely mean plenty of chaos. Of course it's the chaos that makes for an interesting tale. Errrr... Good luck
03/06/2024 07:09:59 UTC
nab301 said :-
That'll be some trip , how many road miles will you be doing?
03/06/2024 14:24:48 UTC
Bogger said :-
No Idea Nigel, I'll let you know when I get back.

03/06/2024 21:24:16 UTC

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