Few countries offer better facilities for a motorbike trip than France. It has pretty much everything you could ask for, excellent roads, amazing scenery and a wide range of interesting places to visit.
With most people heading out via ferry to the north coast we’ll focus on the area stretching from eastern Brittany across to the Pas de Calais and a few hours to the south and then offer up some of the legal and emergency information.
On any trip the first thing you’ll want to consider is where you are going to go and where to stay. It’s a good idea to check that any Gite complexes or B&B’s you choose are motorbike friendly. If you do find somewhere that regularly caters to bikers then you will not only have somewhere safe to store your bike overnight but also some expert advice on routes and local places of interest too.
France’s great joy is the relatively uncluttered roads when compared to the UK. France has a similar population to the UK but twelve times the space so it’s an absolute dream for motorcyclists, unless for some reason you want to ride around Paris’s Peripherique all day.
For quick coverage of longer distances the peage autoroutes are perfect. They aren’t terribly expensive and places to stop off for refreshment are abundant. Payment can be made with cash or card. The real joy for riders lies in the D and N routes though. They fit in with the UK’s A and B roads and provide a tremendous arena for an exhilarating ride along with fabulous views and sights along the way. The run along the Normandy beaches is especially good. The history of the D-Day landings is still there to see and the roads are speedy and winding.
Places of note (running east to west) include Mont St Michel, Bayeaux, Arromanches, Honfleur, Amiens, Rouen, Deauville and Le Touquet. All have plenty to offer and although we don’t have time for details here a little research will give you an idea if it’s something that will appeal to you. A little further south and you have the Loire Valley and the Champagne region within your compass and both are beautiful spots with superb routes through them for you to savour. Not forgetting any of the local produce of course…..although perhaps wise not to combine it with riding.
There are some legal and general road usage factors to consider too. Riding a motorbike in France for the first time is fine but you will need to be super aware at junctions and crossroads of the different priorities so make sure you double check both sides and remain vigilant at all times. It’s all too easy to think you are back on the left hand side of the road so do remember that traffic will be coming from an unfamiliar direction.
On the legal side of things you will need the following requirements when riding in France:
• Carry a Hi-Viz vest*
• Four reflective stickers for your helmet
• Gloves must be worn while riding
You don’t have to wear the Hi Viz while riding but if you breakdown or are involved in an accident and are at the side of the road then you must put it on. And for all your legal requirements for motorcycling in France and more info on riding in Europe check out the Drive-France web site.
112 – European general emergency number
15 – Medical emergency/accidents/ambulance
17 – Police (auto-direct to the nearest station)
18 – Fire brigade
Like anything if you plan well, follow the basic guidelines, meet legal requirements and are prepared to savour the experience of France then there is every opportunity to have an amazing time. It’s all right there in front of you…and of course don’t forget your European Breakdown Cover