Getting to France on a bike

I’m planning to ride to visit some friends later this month in France. I’m only going for a few days from Surrey to their place just near Bressuire (between Nantes and Poitiers). I’ve never riden in France (ok - i’ve hired a scooter in Ibiza but that doesn’t count) so firstly need some advice from you experienced lot on:1) Getting there. Ferry/Eurotunnel or what? Any good contacts for bookings or deals you know of? Also, where to cross the Channel (speed versus cost and/or mileage?)

  1. General do’s and don’t’s. What have you got to take. (EHIC card, passport and insurance docs obviously), but what about other docs and spare bulbs etc?

  2. I’m going solo so anything I should do - apart from enjoy the peace! :smiley:

Cheers all…

type ViaMichelin into you search engine and it brings up very useful route planner, look for options on left side of page and enter motorbike and whether you want toll roads or not, via Le Harve of Calais and it gives you route, mileage and predicted costs hope that helps mate :slight_smile:

personaly I would go out on eurotunnel and ride down to there you could o it in a day, or if you go portsmouth - le harve it less riding but longer journey times with ferry crossing etc, either way you will enjoy it :slight_smile:

Ferry’s are cheapest and the going rate seems to be about £20-25 each way. You are supposed to carry a high-viz jacket on the bike and bulbs, and possibly a first-aid kit, but I couldn’t find out for sure if this was just for cars, but basically I wouldn’t bother taking any of that again.

Take euros, a visa card and yes, your NHS card. Travel insurance would also be wise, not to mention european breakdown cover.

Other than that, it’s all pretty much the same in my experience, except the roads are better maintained, the drivers are very bike friendly and generally everyone loves bikes! Speed limits are higher as well on motorways, whoohoo!

Get out there and enjoy it!

I’m writing an article currently to talk about long distance riding, based on my recent experience of riding to Italy and back.

Last time I went I think I only paid in that region for the Tunnel. There was pretty much no difference for bikes, and I think the extra flexibility the tunnel gives is worth it.

I went for my first time on Monday.

You need bulbs and all documents. V5, MOT, license, insurance, passport & E111. I got Breakdown as I couldn’t think of anything worse. I also took a puncture repair kit as that would be quick and cheap.

I got the train 14 each way and got on an early one as their was room and the 1 hr late one on the way home. worth every penny.

viamichaelin is brilliant.

Also Enjoy how easy it is.

Ferry gives you a break and is probably cheaper.

Did Portsmouth - Caen last month. Worked out cheaper because of petrol costs and doesn’t take that much longer, if you take into consideration the extra time to get to Dover and back to the bit of France you’re going to.

I got a pocket-sized map book published by Michelin. REALLY useful to have if you get lost.


Don’t bother with the toll roads. They’re straight and boring so no different from UK roads. Stick to the smaller roads which are much better than our roads and allow you to see the country a bit more.

For lunch stops the service areas at the side of roads are usually very good, with picnic tables and such. If it gets too hot in the afternoons, stop off at a supermarket and buy your picnic stuff then find the nearest service area, have your lunch then snooze for an hour or so. Very civilized. You can get a tiny camping stove and gas cannister which means you can even have a coffee in your break.

I gather the police are a bit hot on speeding, so try to keep it down. Didn’t see many when I was there though.

And finally, have fun. I’m so jealous, I want to get back over there.

Tunnel just cost me £46 each way.

I also paid (Very expensive) about £90 for insurance and breakdown cover - sure you can get this much cheaper - but would recommend you get some cover.

Couple of forum members recently told me you need cash for your on the spots - or they might impound your bike…not that speeding is a good idea - but just in case.

Thanks all for your tips. A couple of things I’ve found out - well, according to AA and the like, is that;If you have any kind of speed camera locator/detector the Gendarmes will do you for it…

“It is absolutely prohibited to carry, transport or use radar detectors. Failure to comply with this regulation involves a fine of up to 1500 Euros and the vehicle and/or device may be confiscated.”

Really? Does this mean such things as the Inforad K1 (which I was gonna get) would be illegal over there? My ‘plan’ was to slip it in the helmet (given I’d have earplugs in) or chest pocket?:cool:

Also, you’re not required to carry a hi viz vest, warning triangle or snow chains on 2 wheelers (luckily!)

Viamichelin website looks great although I can’t figure out how to modify routes (like you can on Google maps - by dragging the waypoints) so it recalculates etc. Does anyone know if you can on there?

yup on via michelin this lot is on LEFT side of screen look at options for miles or kms, bike, car or whatever, bit further down you can put in stopovers or Via another town, when you done all that click search and it will come up on the map on RIGHT or screen.

CLICK the map and you can zoom it, drag it etc same as google…got all that good will ask questions later :D:D:D:D

Driving directions
Address, station…
Town, City, Postcode…

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Stopover A
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The only way to deal with speed radars in France…DONT SPEED!!! The french police are not to bad really once you are 100 miles or so south. As long as you are not riding like an utter knob they will leave you alone.Keep off the motorways, no need to go on them at all. We did 1400 miles over there last week and never went on one.Don’t let your fuel run to low, many gas stations close at odd times of the day and some are unmaned so you need plastic.Enjoy:)

Cheers Mo. I’m not planning on bombing it everywhere, but I’m riding solo and it’s my first continental trip so don’t wanna get caught out stupidly. I’ve booked up on Portsmouth to Caen ferry today for the end of the month, £125 return with overnight sailings which I don’t reckon is too bad. Now I’m booked up I can’t wait to hit the road!This thing you mention about unmanned stations - I’ve heard you HAVE to have Visa cards - presumably Chip n pin? I’ll be hitting France at like 6:30am so will make sure i’ve got a tankful upfront!

Have just got back from a trip to France and Andorra on the bike. Definately take spare bulbs and a small toolkit, enough to change a bulb, tighten a fairing screw etc. Take some gaffer tape and some cable ties - that lot will sort out all sorts of problems. I had to change an indicator bulb and as I had everythng with me it only took 10 mins. Wouldn’t like to ride without one and if it’s a headlight and you’re riding at night, you’re stuffed.

Take a visa card with chip and pin, also a Sat nav with all the petrol stations in it like a Garmin. The supermarkets in France often have a 24/7 petrol service even when they are closed, same as pay at the pump in the UK.

Although the toll roads are boring they do have petrol stations every 30-40 Km or so which are open most of the time. Other motorways have them too but as said above not always open.

The fixed speed cameras are usually easy to spot - there’s a sign at the side of the road warning of radar -the symbol is pretty easy to understand and in the 2500 miles or so we must have done last week, every sign was followed by a camera, not always immediately but in he next Km you can expect to see a camera, some front facing some rear facing. This is the same for toll roads, motorways and local roads, even very small roads where in the Uk there wouldn’t be any cameras. No idea if they are all active.

The police set up forward and rear facing speed checks - on all kinds of roads. You won’t always see them before they have seen you. I saw a couple on main roads on long bends, they were setup to view cars/bikes from the rear as they went past but were tucked in behind a sign, impossible to see before they got you.

The roads are much better than ours, better maintained, the drivers are more intelligent, more polite and the weather is brilliant :cool: