Welcome to the Paris to Omaha Tour with the A-Team (Axel & Axel)
In the next 14 day´s we will discover the beauty and the history of France. What that means? We will take you along on this tour with this blog.
But for today, the aim is for Axel and Axel to get the bikes ready and prepare everything for the Welcome Briefing tomorrow. Some of our riders will have already a tour tomorrow in the morning - yes, befor we start with the "normal" tour there is the opportunity to get a guided city tour of Paris with Axel.
So we are already looking forward to meet all of you and also to hear the first stories of this tour from the Guided City Tour.
As a little impression, here are a couple of pictures of what is just around the corner from our start hotel in Versailles.
Stay tuned if you like to hear more from us.
Axel and Axel
Today is the Day of the Day´s
We met all for the first time and the after a warm welcome we started with the handover of the motorcycles. What a feeling to get the key for the bike - it is like a kind of Christmas, where you get the toy you wished for.
After some official paperwork it was time for the welcome briefing where we tourguides present the tour with the highlights and all what you need to know to have a pleasent tour with us.
Now after all this information there was still some time to get the bikes set up for the first ride tomorrow when we will ride to Tours. If you think I write now what we will see!!!! No I won´t, because that is tomorrow, but as a little spoiler - we will step back in time to some historical places.
So but now we got to go for dinner and the 2 Axels are looking forward to the chats of our new group.
Axel and Axel
Step 4 - let's get together for the first time
Here we go – Our first riding day at the Paris to Omaha Tour
What we did!!?
At first we had a great breakfast in the morning and then we had our first morning briefing. Close to the beloved motorcycles where I went through all the highlights of today.
On our bucket list has been today Chartres Cathedral & Chambord Castle and our first challenge of ordering our lunch in French.
The ride itself out of Versailles has been quite easy and the traffic was totally okay so that we escaped from Versailles – let´s say easy. Then on the country roads on the way to Chartres Cathedral there was no switchback or something else. The road just let us roll on towards the impressive Cathedral where we also had our coffee stop on this day.
To be honest I’m not so much into churches, but this one is really impressive – over 1000 years old and all the sculptures ….. and that is just the impression when you stay in front of it!!!! But when you go in and you see all these colorful windows and the effect what they have – that is even for me something that I don’t see every day – just look at the pictures. After discovering the Cathedral we went for a coffee before we took off to get our first lunch in a lovely little French town. Next target has been Chambord Castle – one or the other will say: castle – I have seen that before but wait a minute – this one is from a different planet!!! The dimension of the area, the fence line is made out of bricks and just 32 km long – you won´t have seen that before – 440 rooms and 365 fireplaces – I think that is on another level.
The weather treated us with a lot of sun so that we were quite happy to get today into the hotel where the rooms awaited us with a cool breeze out of the AC.
This day has been under the theme: history and tomorrow we will see one highlight out of our century – which one? Guess – right – I will not tell you today.
So that’s it for today
Axel over and out
The second riding day is another hot day. Staying away from the traffic on the big roads, we find our way to Le Mans. And what would one want to see in Le Mans if one is slightly interested in vehicles that move fast? Correct, the famous race track of the "24 hours of Le Mans" one of THE race events in the world. Started in the 1920ies to callenge engineers to increase the reliability of their cars.
In the museum adjacent to the track you can not only see famous race cars and motorcycles but also curious inventions like a steam powered motorcycle as well as a collection of 1/43 scale models of every car ever entered in the 24 hours race. Really impressive!
Through the afternoon heat we navigated towars Angers, our destination of the day. A lunch stop had to be improvised at a supermarket, as no open restaurant was to be found on the way. Last challende of the day was to refuel, as everybody had to guess how much fuel one would need and pay for that amount in advance in cash. Not very user friendly.
A walk to the restaurant for dinner and a stroll through the city ended the day.
Well we have been facing the heat again today. The start was actually verry nice and we decided to do the biggest stretch of today in the morning, before it get´s to warm out there
So we left Angers directly and towards north west on nice little country roads. Endless farming fields have been to the right and left side on the road and a many farmors breed the famous Charolais cattle. After many kilometers we had our first coffee break in a little town, and I've got to say it was about time for one after this long stretch. Now it was time for the first highlight of the day!!!! So, 50 km to go and we catch up with the dark history of Germany here in France. What I mean is - St. Nazaire – one of the largest submarine bases the Germans built in WW2 during their occupation of France.
So, we parked the motorcycles just close to the museum and then we went onto the rooftop of the submarine bunker system where you got a stunning view over the Loire River and the bunker itself.
To get into the french submarine "Espadon" on display at the site was not possible because you need to be lucky or have a pre-booking. Something that is not easy for us, because you never know what’s happened along the road.
But on the rooftop, there have been several pictures of how they have redone the submarine, so that you got an impression. Close by there a couple of restaurants and we just picked on to recharge our batteries.
Now we had still around 140 km to do, and the sun was just burning down (39°C) – cool is something what has not been on our daily menu for the ride. On the other hand, the goal was set – Erdeven – the place to be for the next 2 days.
So, we moved on to the white gold of France - Guérande – i just say: fleur de sel and table salt is produced over centuryies here, back in the time of the Roman Empire. 7000 patches, close to each other creating an unreal world. And we – yes we are riding just through the middle on a official road. At this time of the day there has been also a need for an icream to cool down before we take on the last kilomteres to the hotel in a little dreamlike place, called "La Maison des Dunes".
This was a warm day, and we are happy to get out of our riding gear. Tonight, we are going to go out for dinner to an Italien restaurant just around the corner, so now is time to load up some pictures up and get a coooooold shower.
So see you’re here tomorrow
Today is our first rest day, so everybody had a longer sleep and most of us catches up at breakfast to consider: ride or no ride.
Finally Nina and Neil together with Axel went out to explore the Menhirs and the Hinterland of the Gulf of Morbihan.
Philip took his beloved bike out by himself - and I am looking forward to his story of this day
Dave and Sharon went down to the coast to celebrate here 50th anniversary - respect for this number.
Well, the rest of the riders took it easy today and is recharging their batteries for the coming days. On the other side there has been a little street market, where one could find anything from dresses to local products.
I think the most important place today is the icecream shop around the corener of the hotel...
Neil, Nina and Axel went for a ride, starting with the sights of the vicinity: Stone alignmens near Carnac and the famous tomb and menhir at Locmariaquer. Beating the weekend visitors and the heat we started early. Getting to the beautiful country roads away from the coast proofed challenging, as August is the month for all of France to holiday, so access roads to the beach on a Saturday are ... very busy.
But having left the coast behind, we found ourselves almost alone riding through rolling hills, valleys with at least a little bit of cooler air, past the impressive church of Ste-Anne-d'Auray to finally arrive at Josselin. Her we had lunch at the foot of the impressive castle, before heading back to Erdeven for a well deseved cool shower and rest in the shade.
Carnac to Carentec that’s is the deal of today
Last night at the dinner there have been already some clouds in the sky, which didn´t look like that they like to go away. So, the expectation for the next day had changed from melting away to get washed away. At the end it was not that bad – when we woke up in the morning there was a little rain out there but nothing bad.
Business as usual in the morning and we went towards the north.
To ride more and more in the Bretagne is something special – Why?
The landscape is changing into hills and all the little villages got in my opinion a little more flair. It is like stepping back in time with the advantage of 21st century ice-cream.
Because of the wet conditions today we just slowly passed by on our scouted picture stops and for this we stopped somewhere along the track where the scenery was nice and no rain.
As you can see in the pictures there are all natural stone houses and that I think brings up the charm in every little village, but do you know what!!!? Over here it is soooo dangerous in the Bretagne – Doesn’t matter where you stop – there is always a bakery and they got always something that you need to try – if I would make two tours after each other over here!!! I think I got to buy new riding gear!!! Even if you find a way around the bakery there is instead a chocolate store – so whatever you do up here – you will gain weight
Our main highlight of this day has been Pont Aven and this little place is touched by the artist. So where ever you go here you see some ART !!!
After this little adventure of art and some good coffee / chocolate / bakery
We took off towards Quimper because actually – Axel and Axel would like to make a Picknick today – but with this weather conditions no chance – so we parked in the first row of the Cathetral Saint Corentin and had our lunch over here.
Finally we came to the moments of moment: it was time to climb a mountain here in northern France – YES Mountain! This fellow is 330m high – here we go that was my Mountain Moment of this Tour – I live in the mountains of Austria in Seefeld / Tirol and somehow you need a nountain once in a while – and I missed them already – Okay for here it is like a mountain, in Austria it is more like the driveway up to the house.
To get back serious – it is a nice scenic view where you can look 360 digrees around and that is why it is worth to ride up there.
All in all it was a nice day of riding not only because of cooler temperatures. The road was more winding and the landscape has touched me personally more than before.
So time for some pictures that you see what I try to say
Axel over and out
Today we ride along the rugged coastline of Bretagne, visiting the granite rocks of the cote de granite rosé before arriving at the historic port city of Saint Malo wirh its impressive walls. The city has been rebuilt after the destruction during the bombardements in 1944.
The Highlight of the day is for sure Mont Saint Michel and it is for sure no hidden treasure and that is why we went as quickly as possible to Mont Saint Michel.
If you would ask kids what’s the name of the place? They would probably say: it is definitively Hogwarts from Harry Potter – and it does look it like when you are entering the gate to the little island. This place is special and got his own flair! For me it feels like you step back in time when you look at the old houses and the cobblestone streets or better path on the way up to the majestic abbey. The only thing that takes the illusion away: there are heaps of tourists all over the place – good that we are early. If you visit this place you should think twice what you carry with you because there are around 350 steps waiting for you. But I got to say every step is worth it to climb!!!! In total we spent around 2,5 hours over there before we caught up again at the motorcycles. Some took after the hike through the town the bus back – which is for free, others walked back along the new built bridge and so got a couple of opportunities to take pictures of this unique place.
On one side we have been lucky because the morning was cloudy so it was not so busy but after we have been on the motorcycles the sun came out and right away there were tourists everywhere – so it would have been nice in the sun, but on the other hand we had more space while we where walking through the town.
Now it was time to move on – but not long!!!! Axel wrote today on the map there will be a surprise and so it happened!! Axel had prepared a stunning picnic. So welcome to highlight number two of the day – lunch created by Axel –
It was just perfect timing with the lunch – The sun came out big white clouds as a garnish in the blue sky – I would say that: It was really nice.
After recharging our batteries, we went on towards Bayeux. The roads themselves have been narrow and winding through the landscape. Pleased with the weather and the roads we went for a coffee stop – but there has been one more thing to be done before: One Person of our group has been related to 2 places over here and so we went there and stopped at the places where she got here roots. It was a magic moment to be at the place where a part of her family has been during the WW II.
From the last coffee stop we went on more country roads towards Bayeux and we did not stop again because the sky let us know we would get a shower if we will stop again. And now we are at Bayeux where will have tomorrow on our rest day a big history day – what means we let the motorcycles at the hotel and will make a D-Day tour – but this one is just for us!!!!
Now it is almost time for dinner – so I will upload some pictures and may it make you appetite to book this tour as well – I know spoiler
See you tomorrow
But that means not that we do nothing, specially on a place like that!!! (Bayeux/Normandy) Today Axel & Axel organized a guided D-Day Tour with Erik, he is a Scotsman who since over 20 years is a local. And this man is so into the theme that you should not miss one second of his speech. We met Erik at 9 o´clock and the first briefing as you can see was just right here in the hotel. The weather treated us today with heavy rain and for me it fits to this sad place where heaps of brave souls lost their live for our freedom. After Erik told us all the numbers of soldiers who died, it feels like the raindrops have been the tears of all families who have lost someone on D-Day. Later on the day the sun came out, and may the sense get lost here but it was for me like: To be sad and feeling sorry is not the right way over here - we can´t change what happened in those days but the best way to honor this brave men – is for me: to celebrate live as best as we can and still don´t forget what they have done for us!!!
It was impressive what we have seen today and I can say we all got now just a slight idea how it was to enter the beaches of Omaha, Utah, Gold, Juno and Sword. Erik we have to thank you for this day, it would not have been the same without you. And for all they will be in the future here! My tip let the motorcycles parked and go with Erik.
That was our day in Bayeux – tomorrow we will ride to Étretat and our journey is almost over.
Now, some pictures to give you a impression what we have seen today
Axel & Axel
We are riding today to Étretat a nice little village directly on the beach, but before there are some highlights which we have to see.
The daily routine was changed today – Why!?
Bayeux is not only famous because of D-Day!!! It is also famous for the Bayeux Tapestry. The tapestry is from the 11th Century and was hidden for over seven centuries in the treasury of the cathedral – finally it has been displayed since 1983. It tells a long story about the past and it´s almost 70 m long. If you are here you should stop by.
After the short stop in the museum we went back to the hotel where we got changed so that we can start our riding day. Next stop on the list was the Mémorial - Pégasus Bridge and the museum – I know some will say again museum – and I would answer yes – because it is impressive – and to be honest: this place impressed me the most of all that we have seen in the last days. The history of the 6th Airborne Division and how they get over to France and what they had to get managed, to save the guys on the beach from the Germans – respect.
Now it was time to have a bite and so we moved on – to Honfleur a really nice little town with heaps of restaurants. After a little search for parking on this with tourist richly filled place, we went into the old part of town everybody on his own and in the end we sit somehow all together in the same restaurant.
After this we enjoyed the small country roads like in the morning once again. Now we are in Étretat where will stay one more night before we return to Versailles where everything has been started – crazy how quick the time flies by if you are travelling.
That was Day 10 and now as you know already here are some pictures of the day. One Axel sais already Thank you for this ride with you, because I will sit tomorrow in the van and the other Axel will take over for the last day.
So see you hopefully soon
All things come to an end. Today is the last riding day, back to Versailles where it started 11 days ago. Back then it was hot, ver hot. Today is a windy, rainy day. Not much rain, more a drizzle, but enough to make us ride in a more careful way. After crossing the rolling hills south of Etretat, we drop down into the valley of the Seine and follow the river upstream, leaving the rain behind. Bypassing the city of Rouen, we cross the river on a barge and stop at the ruined abbey of Jumiege for coffee.
Getting gas is again an adventure, american credit cards seem not to be very welcome in France. A - very - slow lunch at Les Andelys is followed by a visit to the gardens of teh late Claude Monet at Giverny, before we hit the highway into Paris, were all arrive safely in front of the big palace.