Motorbiking from London to the South of France
One motorbike, two sore bums and three panniers for seven days
In the spring of 2015, Matt and I were looking for a little adventure to go on our motorbike. We decided to go to the south of France based on the fact that we could do a round trip in seven days whilst also enjoying a little taste of summer.
We planned most of our trip using the Explore feature in Google Maps. To summarise it, it shows you pictures of the place you are looking at and their exact location. Check it out below ↓
So we planned our route, packed the essentials on to our three panniers – including our camping gear – and set off for another adventure.
DAY ONE: LONDON TO THE FURTHEST SOUTH WE COULD GET TO (TOURNUS)
Day one did not go exactly to plan. We took the ferry from Dover at around 5.30am and did not settle down until about 10pm. Day one was the hardest day for 3 reasons:
- Driving for most of the time on a motorway is boring, especially at the back of a bike. There is no pretty scenery, just a dead-straight road.
- Just after we left Paris, it started pouring down with rain and it did not stop until the evening. It was cold and we were soaked wet.
- We stopped at a service station near Chalon-Sur-Saone for some dinner and we had a problem – the bike would not start again. We spent three hours at this service station thinking our holiday was over and thinking that we would have to spend the night cold and wet with no bed… Until someone who worked at the service station told us that some bikes have the same problem when they stop there. It was something to do with a signal tower and the motorbike alarm – so the bike should work again if we pushed it as far away from the tower as possible. Running out of options and feeling super tired, we had no other choice but to push that 1000cc bike plus the heavy panniers alongside the hard-shoulder of the motorway. After almost 20 minutes walking down the motorway, we arrived at the end of the hard-shoulder and prayed that the bike would turn on – and it did, finally!
The original plan was to camp for the first night so that we could save some money. However, given the circumstances mentioned above, we resorted to Booking.com to find a property at a reasonable price for the night.
DAY TWO: RIDING FROM TOURNUS TO GORGE DU VERDON NATIONAL PARK
Day two was a lot brighter and drier. Riding through the Gorge du Verdon National Park was stunning – we went through lots of small villages surrounded by beautiful scenery.
We settled down in a campsite called Camping Peyrengue near Moustiers Sainte Marie.
It was a very cheap campsite which also had its own little bar and restaurant plus a cute Labrador pup.
DAY THREE: FROM THE NATIONAL PARK TO CASSIS THROUGH NICE, FREJUS AND CAVALAIRE-SUR-MER
We woke up early and rode to Pont du Galetas to find a kayak rental place. It was really easy to find it and also to rent a kayak. We were ready to kayak by 8.30am and that was the perfect time as there were not many people around.
After kayaking, we rode on through the scenic route to Nice. We did not stay in Nice for very long, we stopped for a while at the beach and decided that was enough.
The rest of the day consisted of riding through the iconic cote-d’azur until we reached Cassis. When in Cassis, we looked for a little hotel/B&B as we would stay for two nights.
DAY FOUR: KAYAKING FROM CASSIS BEACH TO CALANQUE D’EN-VAU
Day four was amazing! We rented a kayak for the whole day and kayaked from Cassis to Calanque d’en-vau in under one hour. The Calanques cannot be reached by car, the only way is to walk or go by water. We thought that kayaking was the quickest and easiest way for us. Take a peak at this amazing place below ↓
DAY FIVE: SPENDING THE DAY IN LA CIOTAT AND THEN RIDING TO ANNONAY
Day five was the day we needed to start making our way back to London. We made a quick trip to La Ciotat – a little town near Cassis – before we started making our way back. We visited the Calanque de Figuerolles. Later in the afternoon we started our journey back and settled down in a campsite near Annonay.
DAY SIX: RIDING FROM ANNONAY TO A TOWN NEAR PARIS
We camped on the last night in a little town just outside of Paris. It was a ghost town and the only open place was a kebab shop.
DAY SEVEN: TIME TO GO HOME
We woke up quite early as we needed to get our ferry back to Dover from Calais. Bye bye motorbike adventure.
3 TIPS FOR YOUR TRIP TO THE SOUTH OF FRANCE
- The best time to go is during Spring. Best month: May. Everything is likely to be cheaper and there are less people/tourists.
- Go camping for a few nights if you can. The money you save by camping means you can spend it on a nice meal in a cosy restaurant (or however you wish to spend it)
- Steer clear from the well-known cities like Nice, Cannes, Marseille and enjoy the little towns and national parks instead.