Pyrenees Trip 2016 - Advice

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Pyrenees Trip 2016 - Advice

Post  Gillybaby on Fri Oct 30 2015, 23:19

Fatcat and I have begun to plan our big trip for next year and have booked the Portsmouth-Bilbao ferry which arrives in Spain on Tues 31 May.  I know, how organised are we?

Ok, only that organised as we have got no further with the planning as yet.  We are thinking of staying 3 or 4 nights on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees before heading north through France and maybe...just maybe gatecrashing BC 2016 on the way up the road.

So, for now we are looking for any advice or tips you guys may have for accommodation and must do roads.  I would really like to go through Andorra at some point and also over the Millau Viaduct (might have to blindfold Fatcat for that one!) but otherwise open to suggestions.
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Corkscrew

Post  Dogsbody on Sat Oct 31 2015, 08:14

I liked the NA137 which had a corkscrew bit near the top, like a scalextric track with the Pic d'Anie in the distance. I include a screen grab from a video cam following me. Cheers
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Re: Pyrenees Trip 2016 - Advice

Post  Gillybaby on Sat Oct 31 2015, 10:36

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:I liked the NA137 which had a corkscrew bit near the top, like a scalextric track with the Pic d'Anie in the distance. I include a screen grab from a video cam following me. Cheers

That sounds really interesting, just what we are looking for. Will check it out Very Happy
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Re: Pyrenees Trip 2016 - Advice

Post  terry lees on Sat Oct 31 2015, 15:45

Avoid Andorra like the plague, its extremely busy all the time, you won't even find a parking place for a motorbike, the only good thing about it is the road back into France.
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Re: Pyrenees Trip 2016 - Advice

Post  Gillybaby on Sat Oct 31 2015, 16:09

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:Avoid Andorra like the plague, its extremely busy all the time, you won't even find a parking place for a motorbike, the only good thing about it is the road back into France.

I had heard that it can be very busy. Our initial plan was to ride from Spain to France through Andorra without stopping. Just to have the experience really. Is it just the one road through or are there alternatives that might be better/quieter? Although if it is likely to be a traffic jam from start to finish we might avoid it.
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Re: Pyrenees Trip 2016 - Advice

Post  terry lees on Sat Oct 31 2015, 19:13

From the Spanish side its jams both ways particularly at weekends as the Catalans invade for duty free shopping, fuel, etc. there are other roads, but in my experience not up to much. Its a one horse country in my opinion.
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Re: Pyrenees Trip 2016 - Advice

Post  Radar on Sat Oct 31 2015, 21:09

I rode the French side of the Pyrenees in 2013 on my FZ1S and had an amazing time, but the roads were covered in gravel.

I rode in Northern Spain during 2014 on my Ducati and had an amazing time, the roads are simply the best I have ridden

PM sent with some details and a bit of light reading! Get a coffee and some biccies, I tend to waffle on a bit...


Last edited by Radar on Sat Oct 31 2015, 21:19; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Pyrenees Trip 2016 - Advice

Post  FatCat on Sat Oct 31 2015, 21:11

Thanks Terry - that doesn't sounds very encouraging. I'm sure there are lots of other interesting routes between Spain and France in that case.

And thanks Tony...
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Re: Pyrenees Trip 2016 - Advice

Post  Radar on Sat Oct 31 2015, 21:20

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:

And thanks Tony...

No worries, I can really say Northern Spain is incredible. I PM'd GB with some details of my time there.
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Re: Pyrenees Trip 2016 - Advice

Post  FatCat on Sat Oct 31 2015, 21:26

Thanks - I enjoyed reading the trip you posted up last year on the Ducati, so look forward to reading the rest. We'd also considered Germany next year but the Black Forrest is supposed to be wet at that time of year so probably better either earlier or later in the season.

Too many good roads, too little time but you have to start somewhere. Very Happy
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Re: Pyrenees Trip 2016 - Advice

Post  Radar on Sat Oct 31 2015, 22:06

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:Thanks - I enjoyed reading the trip you posted up last year on the Ducati, so look forward to reading the rest. We'd also considered Germany next year but the Black Forrest is supposed to be wet at that time of year so probably better either earlier or later in the season.

Too many good roads, too little time but you have to start somewhere. Very Happy

Very true, in the early discussions with a couple of mates about Patagonia in 2017 or 18 on hired bikes....

Big world, small fat bloke...
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Re: Pyrenees Trip 2016 - Advice

Post  FatCat on Sat Oct 31 2015, 22:47

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:Big world, small fat bloke...

Are you talking about the one that can't play pool again? Smile
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Re: Pyrenees Trip 2016 - Advice

Post  Radar on Sun Nov 01 2015, 01:46

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:Big world, small fat bloke...

Are you talking about the one that can't play pool again? Smile

Hmmm... Very Happy
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Re: Pyrenees Trip 2016 - Advice

Post  Robcat on Sun Nov 01 2015, 11:23

The N634 coming out of Bilbao is a good road that we did earlier this year.

But there's loads of roads around the Pico's that we liked to, more tight but less open roads. Very cheap also around that area for food, petrol and digs for the night.
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Re: Pyrenees Trip 2016 - Advice

Post  Gillybaby on Sun Nov 01 2015, 17:25

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:The N634 coming out of Bilbao is a good road that we did earlier this year.

But there's loads of roads around the Pico's that we liked to, more tight but less open roads. Very cheap also around that area for food, petrol and digs for the night.

Good point Rob, had a look at the right ups from both your trip & Radar's and the Pico's do look fantastic. We are now considering changing plans slightly and coming back on the ferry rather than through France so we can attack the Pico's as well.
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Re: Pyrenees Trip 2016 - Advice

Post  Radar on Sun Nov 01 2015, 21:20

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:The N634 coming out of Bilbao is a good road that we did earlier this year.

But there's loads of roads around the Pico's that we liked to, more tight but less open roads. Very cheap also around that area for food, petrol and digs for the night.

Good point Rob, had a look at the right ups from both your trip & Radar's and the Pico's do look fantastic.  We are now considering changing plans slightly and coming back on the ferry rather than through France so we can attack the Pico's as well.

I think that is a good call, it is a long haul through France.
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Re: Pyrenees Trip 2016 - Advice

Post  Robcat on Mon Nov 02 2015, 01:04

The best bit of France is along the bottom and around the Napoleon route ( south eastern ).

Think there is another trip but just to the Pico's for us in 2017 as it is a nice area. Scenery is good too. But don't always rely on your sat nav in the mountains, it makes them a little fragile to reception. Plus my sat nav decided to take us on a grave/dirt/grass road that ended up in trees!

The ferry from Plymouth to santander is a lovely ship .Just don't do that santander to Portsmouth route. Smaller ship and is well effected by the currents in the Bay of Biscany.
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Picos

Post  Dogsbody on Wed Nov 25 2015, 10:33

If you were to camp in the Picos I can recommend a good campsite just outside Potes. Camping la Isla Picos Europa. Friendly, speak good English, biker friendly, bar food etc. Website can be checked out. Cheers
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Re: Pyrenees Trip 2016 - Advice

Post  Gillybaby on Wed Nov 25 2015, 17:46

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:The best bit of France is along the bottom and around the Napoleon route ( south eastern ).

Think there is another trip but just to the Pico's for us in 2017 as it is a nice area. Scenery is good too. But don't always rely on your sat nav in the mountains, it makes them a little fragile to reception. Plus my sat nav decided to take us on a grave/dirt/grass road that ended up in trees!

The ferry from Plymouth to santander is a lovely ship .Just don't do that santander to Portsmouth route. Smaller ship and is well effected by the currents in the Bay of Biscany.

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:If you were to camp in the Picos I can recommend a good campsite just outside Potes. Camping la Isla Picos Europa. Friendly, speak good English, biker friendly, bar food etc. Website can be checked out. Cheers

Thank you both, and everyone else who has contributed.  We did give the Picos some serious thought but ended up deciding on the Pyrenees.  We have booked a biker friendly hotel in Ainsa, Spain (which includes secure parking) for 5 nights and had planned a couple of routes already.  Although one of my routes crosses the border 6 times so not sure what we'll do if the borders are still closed in the summer.  Oh well, there are plenty of good roads on the Spanish side.

I also had another one of my (in)famous changes of mind and went back to our original plan to come home through France.  We have 4 or 5 nights to meander our way north with definite stops at the Millau Viaduct, Auvergne Volcano National Park and Mont Saint Michel.  Wanted to stop at Le Mans too but everywhere round there is sold out already so we guessed there must be an event on.  Just a small local affair called the Le Mans 24 Hour - who knew?  Wished we'd thought about it earlier and got tickets wall

Still very much open to good roads/routes both in Spain and up through France as well as places to stop at.  Would like to do the Route Napoleon but it might be a tad out of the way, we'll have to see.  Would very much like to avoid the motorways/toll roads on our route through France.  The more out of the way and interesting the better.
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Re: Pyrenees Trip 2016 - Advice

Post  Radar on Wed Nov 25 2015, 20:41

Hope the trip goes well, when I did the Pyrenees in 13 we popped over to the Spanish side and I thought the roads to be much better surfaces and better suited to a higher speed more sweeping style of ride.

I did the Napoleon run in 07 on my Thundercat in 07...awesome, but a bit of a diversion for you

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I popped into LeMans museum on the way back from the Pyrenees run, there is a superb museum there

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Re: Pyrenees Trip 2016 - Advice

Post  Gillybaby on Wed Nov 25 2015, 22:53

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:Hope the trip goes well, when I did the Pyrenees in 13 we popped over to the Spanish side and I thought the roads to be much better surfaces and better suited to a higher speed more sweeping style of ride.

I did the Napoleon run in 07 on my Thundercat in 07...awesome, but a bit of a diversion for you

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I popped into LeMans museum on the way back from the Pyrenees run, there is a superb museum there

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Hi Tony

It was your report that made me think of stopping off there, really wanted to go to the museum.  Maybe next time when it's a bit quieter Cool
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Re: Pyrenees Trip 2016 - Advice

Post  bobh on Fri Nov 27 2015, 00:15

I have a little local knowledge, having a holiday home in Prades, which is on the main road up to Andorra from the Med.

As Terry says, Andorra is the pits - it's just a shopping mall with some ski resorts at the top (not much use in May!)

I have a detailed route description of my normal way of getting from the Channel to the Pyrenees, that I wrote up for a couple of friends who asked me about it.  It's in Word format - hopefully it would still make some sense if you were following it in the reverse direction.  I'd be happy to send you a copy if you p.m. me your e-mail addy.

You have several choices for getting across into France at the eastern end of the Pyrenees, avoiding Andorra.

One is via Puigcerda/Bourg Madame and across the Cerdagne plateau to Mont Louis (old fortified town):

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From there you can either take the N116 down towards Perpignan - this is what it looked like a month ago:

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or follow the Aude valley down to Carcassonne (a must-see).

A bit further east you have the Col des Ares, leading up from Camprodon on the Spanish side.  This is the view from the top, looking into France:

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But the road on the French side, once it gets down into the valley, goes through quite a few towns and villages, so isn't a terribly interesting ride.

Beyond that there is an unclassified road that is actually very good on the Spanish side - you often see a few guys on sports bikes enjoying the bends and smooth surface up there.  It runs up from between Figueres (Dali Museum) and La Jonquera (the ultimate frontier town - full of supermarkets and filling stations for the benefit of the French, though there is also a good museum of the Retirada), via Tapis to cross over the border at Coustouges:

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Unfortunately on the French side it drops down onto the same valley road as the one from Col des Ares, but it's worth considering for the fun on the Spanish side.

Then there's the old main road that crosses the border at Le Pertuis - avoid (unless you're in desperate need of a brothel!)

There was a decent, though narrow, road over from Espolla to Banyuls, but that got washed away in the floods a year or so back, so that only leaves the coast road, which is lovely, but very, very slow, particularly once the Dutch caravanners start to clog it up.  This is the border:

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On the French side it passes through Port Vendres, which is a working port with good fish restaurants, and Collioure, very pretty-pretty (so it's busy) and arty-crafty:

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The rest of the coast north as far as the Carmargue and the Rhone delta is mostly flat, with salt-water lagoons (good for oysters):

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On the way north, I'd recommend you DON'T go across the Millau viaduct, but instead leave the autoroute at junction 47 (I think) just after the Aire du Larzac service area - it's signed Millau par RN - and take the old road down through the town.  There's a good view point as the road starts to drop down the hill:

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As well as saving the bridge toll, it also gives you an opportunity to fill up on cheaper petrol in the town.  Follow the old road out through Aguessac, then take the 2nd right (signed Verrieres) - this is still the old road, now almost deserted - which will take you, via two of the most delicious hairpins, back up to the A75 autoroute at junction 44.  The whole of the A75 as far as Clermont Ferrand is toll-free, by the way - apart from the Millau viaduct, that is.

Further up the A75, just south of St Flour, is another engineering wonder that I think ranks as at least as great a feat as the Millau viaduct, bearing in mind it's more than a century older.  The Viaduc de Garabit, built by Eiffel, carries the railway over the river Truyere and is still in use.  There is a rest area (Aire de Garabit) on the autoroute with a great view of it:

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By the way, if you're going in May, remember it can still get pretty chilly on some of these higher roads - the A75 gets up over 1,000 metres in several places.

Bon voyage!
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Re: Pyrenees Trip 2016 - Advice

Post  bobh on Fri Nov 27 2015, 00:23

Forgot to mention - there's a good biker-friendly guest house in Prades:

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At the moment it's particularly interesting because the people who run the best restaurant in town have decamped there for a few months while their old premises are being refurbished and enlarged. So you could enjoy some haute cuisine without having to ride or walk anywhere.
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Re: Pyrenees Trip 2016 - Advice

Post  Gillybaby on Sun Nov 29 2015, 00:33

Thanks Bob, that's exactly the sort of thing we are looking for, a great read.  I'll pm my email address as I'd be very interested to check out your route through France.

Those roads and pictures look great, really can't wait to go now and will try and use some of those routes in my plans.  Thanks also for the tips on Millau.  That's exactly what I was kind of looking for.  I had heard there was road right beneath the bridge too which could give an interesting view.  It was more seeing and photographing it than riding over that interested me.  Will add the railway bridge in too as that looks amazing.

Nice to hear that it might be cool in temperature too.  We picked that time of year in the hope it would be a good compromise as neither of us cope with heat very well, we are from Scotland after all Laughing
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Re: Pyrenees Trip 2016 - Advice

Post  Radar on Sun Nov 29 2015, 01:03

Greta pics, words and tips there Bobh
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