On Thursday 27th September 2007 15 bikes left
Bridport for the clubs first adventure abroad, 2 bikes had left earlier on the
Sea-cat from Weymouth, but we were going to Portsmouth to catch the
L & D Ferry
for the 2300hrs sailing,
this ferry caters for around 130 motorcycles and is recommended.
We disembarked at about 8am and proceeded to Honfleur over the Pont Du Normandy bridge which is simply quite awesome. Honfleur is an ideal stopping place to have a coffee and collect everyone together to plan the rest of the route to where ever you are going.
The coast road hugs the beaches of Normandy for most of way to St-Vaast and is well worth the ride/drive. The majority of the towns/villages were involved in the Normandy landings and although most people have read or seen films about it, to see the actual places and the shear logistics involved in the operation is incredible, whereas the shear number of allied troops that were lost is humbling.
St-Vaast-la-Hougue is a lovely coastal town and well worth a visit, with a working and tourist harbour, walks and places of interest in abundance.
However, if going as a group as our club did (22 members) a word of caution, when booking a hotel ensure you have a member who is fluent in French as mis-understandings can occur. If booking evening meals be aware that some hotels have a very limited choice of set menus only.
We stayed at the Hotel de France and although the rooms were very adequate and the staff pleasant we did have problems with the actual booking of the rooms, and 3 weeks prior to our arrival they threatened us with cancellation of the booking if we did not have dinner at the hotel, even though we had booked room and breakfast only. This is where having someone who speaks fluent French is priceless.
The return journey was more direct due to the ferry departure time of 1700hrs, however we did manage to visit St Marie-Eglise where the American parachutist was caught up in the church steeple (see photo) and is still hanging there.
The return trip was not without incident, with 3 bikes at the tail end loosing the pack but riding the correct route back, the main pack decided to "deviate" from the route and had to get a "shift on" which resulted in Jim running out of petrol 10km from Le Havre. Not expecting to see him or John, who stayed him, at the ferry, it was with great delight to see them roll up with about 20 mins to cast off.
On returning to Portsmouth three of us stayed overnight and visited the Spinnaker Tower which is a must if you are in Portsmouth, at 100M high the view is quite spectacular.
Petrol stations are few and far between in France so fill up where you can even though you may only be half empty!
If certificates were to be awarded these may be some of them:
I believe in GPS - George
Most acrobatic dismount - Jim
O Bugger! I thought you had them! - Simon
lover of mussels - Shelly
1st to breakdown in France (10ft off of ferry) - John
Of course I know the way - Chris
French doesn't worry me - Nick
If any club member has suggestions for certificates, more photos or comments on the French trip please send them to me.