Two years ago we met Carole and Laurent from Tours, France as we were boarding a ferry in Juneau, AK for a three day cruise down the Inside Passage to Prince Rupert, BC. I count that as one of the luckiest days of my life as it has led to many enjoyable experiences.
They were near the beginning of a twelve-month Pan-American motorcycle odyssey that took them from the Arctic Circle on the Dalton Highway in Alaska to the southern most city in the world, Ushuaia, Argentina. We were near the end of a five-week ride from NC to Alaska and back. We hit it off immediately and have been friends ever since. Their trip is chronicled here in French, but Google will translate it for you. Here we are in 2011 at our home in Lake Lure.
And here, last year, at their home in Tours.
It was during our visit with them in Tours last year that Laurent told us of his plans to start a motorcycle tour company he is calling Ride In Tours and invited us to be guinea pigs for a two-week bike tour of France. We have just returned from the trip, and now it is time to chronicle our most excellent adventure. I will have to break it down into several posts, or it would be too long for one sitting. We will begin at the beginning, in Tours.
Two of our son's in-laws, Dave and Tulin, were with us on the Alaska ride and also on this trip. Here we are, packed and ready to roll. We departed Tours on Sunday June 16 on three bikes, one owned by Laurent and two borrowed from friends. Penny and I were on a borrowed Suzuki GSX 1400, a very nice bike for touring, but not available in the US. Tulin and the other Dave were riding Laurent's BMW GS1200 ... the one that made the 41,000 mile Pan-Am trip. This is the same model bike that Dave owns and rode to Alaska, and the type of bike that Laurent plans to purchase and provide to tour customers. For this tour, Laurent was riding a borrowed KLR 650 from the late '80's. Carole would join us five days later in Loches on her BMW F 650 GS.
Our first day's ride would take us from Tours about 250 miles north to Honfleur on the Normandy coast with stops in Le Mans to see the racetrack and motorsport museum, and Camembert to see some cheese.
We rode a short section of the 24 hr road course that lies outside the main track, and we saw tons of old race cars.
I can attest to the fact that Camembert cheese tastes much better than it smells, and also that carrying a box of it around in your motorcycle luggage for a few days is not a good idea.
Honfleur is a beautiful little coastal harbor town dating to the early 11th century with a very picturesque port.
Here, Laurent is explaining something of great interest to two mildly disinterested biker babes.
Honfleur is full of interesting architecture.
Did you see the sign on the fence? It somehow doesn't fit the ambiance. The next morning, we headed for the Normandy WW2 D-Day beaches. That's next.