French experienced now...

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French experienced now...

Postby Meditator » Tue Jul 23, 2013 2:55 am

I just got home from two months in the land of frogs legs, tripe gizzards and fattened liver, oui ouis, the great bike race, chateaux and one of the loveliest cities in the world. If anyone has any questions for their pending journey, i might be able to help.

I went to paris 10 days, the dordogne, the averyon (gorge du tarn),the pyrennees, the loire and the mediterranean for a quick splash.

I camped in the wild a lot, battled the cols and had more bitter battles on the trains, got my bike stolen once, bought another one, ate a lot of patisserie, visited lots of castles and caves and museums. I speak french but dont understand them too well.

i can't tell you anything about the wine, hiring bikes, province or the alps, winter, or fashion shopping.
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by BNA » Tue Jul 23, 2013 8:41 am

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Re: French experienced now...

Postby RonK » Tue Jul 23, 2013 8:41 am

Sounds like you had quite an experience. Too bad about your bike being stolen. What were the circumstances - are there any lessons we can share to avoid such a sad loss.
Cycle touring blog and tour journals: whispering wheels...
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Re: French experienced now...

Postby Meditator » Tue Jul 23, 2013 4:09 pm

Copied response to a private message enquiry. I thought it might save me and others time to paste it here.

The question was which route did you fly? I added a few other points.

I used the lonely planet guidebook and another historical guidebook by Ina Caro called The Road from the Past which was excellent to help me decide where to go. I read them through virtually from cover to cover to work out my itinerary. more on this in a tic.

I flew with China Eastern via shanghai. I bought my ticket a year ahead and was really surprised to discover close to departure time that i had a 46kg baggage allowance. It was a special. So that was great and made it easy for me to decide to take my usual bike.

However the airports really make travelling with a bike difficult i found. I am so sick of the bike box experience. It made me miss my return flight home from sydney.

Shanghai airport is ok, particularly if you arrive in the day time when more of the shops are open. The exchange rate is not great - a coffee costs $10 if you get there at late at night but you have more options during they day. I had quite long stop overs there both directions.

I also went via melbourne which was superfantastic and sydney on the way back was superfantastic because of missed flight but otherwise probably good.At least they give you free trolleys to lug your stuff around.

The food is not nice on china eastern and i actually got food poisoning from a fish meal on my way there and was spewing and shitting on my first day in paris when i didn't eat a thing until day 2. So take a bit extra with you on the flight just in case you dont like the food either. Especially after
France you notice the bad quality. But my flight only cost me $1600 which is fine.

Also i camped in paris at the only campsite which is camping indigo. It is expensive but its still a good place to stay if you want a budget option. The bois de boulogne is lovely and the campsite borders the Seine which is also lovely. Also there is a decent supermarket only 10 minutes ride away across the river. You should be able to avoid paying the exorbitant booking fee of 20 euros. Email and ask them how busy it is and if you need to reserve. If you have to reserve maybe you are better off staying elsewhere. The staff are nice there. It costs 20 euros per night for one person and tent and bike and maybe only a bit more for an extra person. in the peak season. 17 euros in shoulder season and maybe there is a lower rate in off season but i don't know. I think this is the only camping ground within reasonable riding distance from paris.

Also from this campsite there is a regular shuttle bus to the metro and then with a carnet of 10 tickets which is affordable, you can avoid taking your bike everywhere though i like riding around. As you may know i had my bike stolen. My ideas now about avoiding that are to try to fit your bike with a wheel lock and have the extra heavy duty lock and/or remove one wheel when you leave the bike and store it in the museum cloakroom. I really doubt anyone would steal your bike if you adopt these measures for daytime paris touring. Of course you have to keep you bike close by at night.

Paris is beautiful and generally about twice the price of the rest of france for most things but dont skip it is my recommendation.
Avoid long distance train travel as much as possible but if you can make a bag in which you can dismantle your bike and carry it on the train as hand luggage you will have all the advantages of pedestrian travellers and none of the disadvantages of bike travellers.
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Re: French experienced now...

Postby STC67 » Tue Jul 23, 2013 8:08 pm

We spent 2 weeks in France last May riding around Provence and a few days in Paris. Absolutely unbelievable trip. Great scenery, great food, great weather. Did I mention it was great !!!!!
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