Monday 29 May 2017

A trip round the neighbours - Day 11, France

I was up early and on the road on what will be my last full day in France. I had a very pleasant ride on quiet roads due to what I think was a public holiday. This means no trucks, and few shops open. I stopped at a small supermarket and they had no fresh bread, something you never expect to find in France.
I'd been having a problem with my satnav since the bracket broke a few days ago. Sometimes it would flash up the 'low battery' warning, but if I wiggled it on its mount, it usually corrected itself. However, the warning came up more often and eventually the screen blanked. What I suspect has happened is that when the mount cracked, the pins that make the electrical connection moved slightly and didn't line up properly. When I was in the supermarket I bought a map of France and continued on stopping and consulting it as necessary.
On the way I saw this impressive memorial to the Free French Army who had liberated the town during WW2.

My stop for the night was Reims and I had intended visiting the old Reims-Gueux race circuit. However the map I had bought didn't have enough scale for me to find it so I headed into the city centre to find my hotel. I'd found that if the satnav wasn't used for a few hours, the battery would recover enough for it to work for bout 5 minutes, so one in the city centre I switched it on to find my hotel - I was 400 metres away from it! However I might not have found it as I had to ride through a no entry sign (except authorised vehicles), then between some bollards and up a pedestrian lane! This is regarded as normal in France!
I dropped off my luggage, changed, then went for a walk around the city centre. Once again a very interesting city with lots of good old buildings, and lie every French town I've stayed in, a tram network that makes finding your way around easier. Once again it was very hot and sunny - I could get used to this!
When I got back to my hotel, there were 3 British registered bikes parked next to mine - bikes that were at the hotel in Dijon the night before! I'll have to say hello the owners if I see them.
I bought a map with better scale and between that and Google Maps I've worked out my route to the old race circuit, 7.7 km from my hotel. It was an old road circuit and the grandstands, pits, and control buildings have been restored and you can just drive past them on the road. I'm going to ride over for some photos tomorrow morning before heading north.
This is probably my last post before I get home. Tomorrow I ride to Zeebrugge in Belgium for the over night ferry to Hull, and on Wednesday I ride home. I want to carry as little upstairs on the ferry, so won't take my netbook with me, and I'm not sure what the level of Wi-Fi (if any) will be. I've got hundreds more photos and lots of videos to post, but they'll have to wait until I can use my PC at home.
Some photos from Reims:

 The cathedral is a really impressive building that is undergoing extensive renovation. Some parts look as if they have been completely rebuilt. The quality of the workmanship is incredible. 

This unrestored wall had what looked like bullet strikes. The cathedral was badly damaged during WW1.

 Traffic island with flowers and harps - why not?

 Two views of the Carnegie Library with a sculpture of the man himself.

 Another view of the Cathedral, just look how much work went into building it!

 No, I can't explain that!

Sunday 28 May 2017

A trip round the neighbours - Day 10, France

After yesterday's marathon session I slept for over 10 hours! I decided to have a 'lazy day' round town rather than go for the second day of the Coupes Moto Legende. Basically just a wander round the city centre photographing things and making some videos. I'll get all of the photos I take on this trip and put them on my Flickr account and post links when I get home. My old netbook just isn't up to that level of work!
Likewise it can't really handle the videos, so I'll upload them to YouTube when I get back.
Tomorrow I start the journey homewards, but I've got something to detour to on the way - watch this space!

Some photos from today:

 Like how the bikes are chained up outside my hotel! 

 Lots of lovely (and expensive) things in this shop.

 There are signs all over the city centre leading to this carved owl. A lot of people rub it (probably for good luck), hence its worn appearance.

 A British telephone box outside the tram and bus office.

 Amazing sculptures in this small (this one room) museum


Saturday 27 May 2017

A trip round the neighbours - Day 9, France

A short one today as I'm completely worn out!

Got up early and rode the 17km to the Dijon-Prenois Circuit for the Coupes Moto Legendes. Spent the day wandering about in what felt like the hottest weather of the trip. It's hard to get your head round just how big this event is, thousands and thousands of bikes on displays, being ridden round the track, or just randomly parked around the circuit. As I'd been to the Coupes five years ago, I decided I wouldn't photograph anything I'd done before, limiting myself to bikes I found unusual, interesting, etc. By the end of the day my feet were sore, I was completely worn out and had taken 151 photos and 9 videos!
Since I got back the hotel I've had something to eat and started going through the photos and videos, but I'm so worn out that I've just selected a few to give you an idea of what it's like:

The videos will have to wait until I get home as they are too big for my elderly netbook to handle. Yesterday, I shot a video of my ride into Dijon to test my new video camera and it took all night to upload to YouTube!

Not sure if I'll go back to the Coupes tomorrow. Will see how I feel in the morning, but I might decide to have a 'lazy day' around town.

Friday 26 May 2017

A trip round the neighbours - Day 8, France

Another nice and sunny day with signs showing 26 degrees as I left Montlucon. Roads were still quiet and got more rural as I made my way to my next destination, Dijon. A good relaxed ride as it was a bit shorter than previous days so I could take my time and enjoy the view. By lunchtime it was up to 36 degrees and stayed about there for the rest of the day. On the way I saw more and more bikes with luggage heading my way, and plenty of them in the centre of Dijon.
This weekend is the 'Coupes Moto Legende' at Circuit Dijon-Prenoir, just outside the city. I'd attended 5 years ago, thought it was the best bike vent I'd ever been to, and thought it was time for another visit. More about that trip here.

My satnav mount repair lasted about three quarters of the way to Dijon before it came loose again. I've taped it up and it can stay that way until I get home. Also, an aftermarket clock fell off somewhere while I was riding along. One time I looked it was there, next time it was gone!

Got to Dijon in plenty of time to give me a good look around. This is my third trip to Dijon and I stayed in the hotel a group of us had stayed in on a trip 4 years ago. Here.

Went for a good wander round what is a very well preserved city, and paid a visit to the fine art museum in the old Dukes' Palace. Unfortunately, due to extensive renovations only a small part of the museum was open, and that was mostly dedicated to the dukes and medieval art. (Not really my area of interest).

I took some video whilst riding along but will probably wait until I get home before posting as it looks like it'll take too long on my old netbook and the internet connection I've got, so here's some photos from today.

 My bikes locked to a pole outside my hotel. My room is directly above on the 7th floor. If I see anyone trying to steal it, I can drop furniture on them! I looked out and it has been joined by 3 more bikes.

 Dijon is well known for its mustard and there are numerous shops selling lots of different types. This shop appears to specialise in a mixture of mustard and honey! Don't like the sound of that!

 Nursery and adjoining school named after US born entertainer, civil rights activist and spy Josephine Baker

 Dukes' Palace

 Dukes' Tombs

 A skeleton riding a moped in the window of a shop selling sunglasses!

Thursday 25 May 2017

A trip round the neighbours - Day 7, France

Set off early from Bordeaux in fine sunny weather for my next destination, Montlucon. I'd picked Montlucon as it was in the right direction and distance on my planned route, but when looking for details on it found that it had a couple of things worth seeing. (Note: it should be spelled with a 'squiggle' under the c, but I don't know how to do that on Blogger!)

It was a lovely ride on very quiet roads as it was a holiday in France, so no trucks. However, I had my first problem of my trip - my satnav started wobbling about and as I grabbed it, the bracket broke in two! Luckily the next town I came had a hardware store where I bought some glue and sticky tape with which to attempt to fix it. The glue didn't 'take' so I wrapped some tape round it to hold it in place and headed off. When I was getting ready to go I found that I'd lost one of my custom earplugs. I looked around but couldn't find where I dropped it. I'll pick up some foam ones as I go along, but it's annoying losing a custom one.

I got to Montlucon, found my hotel, dropped of my luggage and went to find a museum I'd found on the Web. Mupop, a museum of popular music, was a five minute walk from my hotel. It's an amazing place tracing the history of popular music from early French folk tunes, which bear a clear resemblance to British and Irish folk music, through brass band and dance hall music, to the rock'n'roll era and beyond. When you arrive they give you a box with headphones to hang round your neck and you can pint it at an exhibit, press a button, then hear what the display would sound like. The folk music section has very big displays of hurdy gurdies and bagpipes used in traditional music, some of which sound very strange indeed.

There are rooms full of acoustic and electric guitars and amplifiers, and it particularly interesting in hearing many of the then popular French rock'n'roll and pop acts. I took dozens of photos and those below are only a small selection.

The museum is in the wonderfully  preserved medieval town centre which was almost deserted due to the holiday. Well worth a visit if you are in the area.

On the way back to the hotel I bought some epoxy and have tried repairing my satnav mount. Let's see what it's like in the morning!

 Display about a local rock'n'roll band who were popular in the 50/60s

 How many of these albums can you name? You could listen to a lot of them through your headphones

 Jimmy Page's grandfather used to lull him to sleep with a rendition of 'Stairway to Heaven' on this!