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France (Gastro) Tour – September 2015

Ta Tour France

This France tour was in its seventh year and as a celebration to those who had attended previously, the trip was invitation only. The invitation went out to some selected customers of RMT Motorcycle Training who had helped me over the years and also to a number of regular tourers who had enjoyed a number of tours with us.

This tour was very different, it was going to be known as the ‘gastro tour’ and a more holiday-like feel to it rather than the usual training delivery and coaching. The riders were told they could do their own thing or explore the area in groups, or go along with the flow and just enjoy the ride.

There were 10 invited people to make it a very small and selected group as a thank you and also to make it a very cosy place to be in the Chateau with plenty of space to spread out. 

Ferry Crossing

Outbound:  Portsmouth to Caen – Depart Thursday at 14.45 hrs, Arrive 21.30 hrs

Inbound:  Caen to Portsmouth – Depart Monday at 16.30 hrs, Arrive 21.15 hrs

Trip itinerary is:-

Day One

We departed Redditch at 09.00 hrs to ride down to the port in Portsmouth. We aimed to arrive in Portsmouth midday-ish, to catch the ferry at 14.45 hrs which would then dock at 21.30 hrs.

The evening meal was onboard the ferry and I would be treating myself and the instructors to A la carte to start the gastro feel of the trip. Others were free to join us but not everyone did.

After we disembarked (approximately 2300 hrs) we rode straight to the Chateau for a nightcap and headed to bed after a long day.

Distance travelled

Redditch to Portsmouth – 150 miles 

Caen to Chateau – 80 miles

Total mileage 230 miles

Day Two

We had a late breakfast in the Chateau due to the late arrival. Afterwards we took a familiarisation ride around Normandy, we found some nice roads to get into the swing of things and to acclimate to riding on the right hand side of the road again.

First thing in the morning after breakfast, we went to a local shop to purchase Champagne to put it in the fridge for later that evening. This was because we went to the coastal town of Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue to purchase Oysters, we also grabbed a load of lemons and some red wine vinegar and shallots. 

This was so that we could enjoy champagne and oysters on the lawn to finish off the first day in style. This is no ordinary biking holiday, it is about fine wine, fabulous food with fantastic roads and riding. I always carry an oyster shucker with me when I tour, it has become part of my bike’s tool kit. Everytime I come across a place selling oysters, they have to be sampled to compare to everywhere else I’ve ever tried them.

Evening meal in the Chateau 19.30 hrs

Total mileage 170 miles

Day Three

Another late start for everyone after a late night, the Chateau is a great place for being sociable and sitting chatting until the early hours. Breakfast was served by our hosts, starting with cereal and coffee and finished off with croissants and fresh bread with lashings of butter and local jams.

The ride down the West coast to Granville on fantastic twisty coastal roads, we stopped for lunch after 3 hours of riding. The worst restaurant in the world certainly does not live up to its name but is a great marketing piece to bring in the hordes of hungry travellers and locals.

During the afternoon we took some scenic roads that meandered their way north back towards the Chateau. The riders were all pretty good and the day went as smooth as clockwork, the pace was good and everyone enjoyed themselves.

Of course, we’d bought that many oysters. They had to be finished off today and as everyone was aware of the culinary take on the French trip we also had a bottle of champagne to open too. Life doesn’t get much better than a great day’s riding finished off like this.

Evening meal in the Chateau 19.30 hrs

Total mileage 210 miles

Day Four

Breakfast in the Chateau again and a spot of sightseeing organised for the day. The day consisted of visiting the landing beaches of Utah, Juno, Gold and Sword to get a flavour of Normandy for a future trip for visiting and seeing the area in more detail.

Lunch was booked at Barneville-Carteret, if possible we would purchase fresh lobsters from a local fisherman ready for the pot when we get back to the Chateau for the evening meal. It didn’t happen as planned, so we found a local shop and purchased ready cooked whole lobsters, once again more champagne was necessary to wash it down. 

It was a great end to the last day in France, the weather had been kind and we were once again well fed. The French certainly know how to eat and the food is amazing if you know where to look. Most people from the UK don’t eat fresh fish or seafood as it is not on their home cooked menu, I’ve also found most people do not know how to eat a fresh crab or fillet a whole fish that is presented to them. 

I get a lot of pleasure from helping people experience what I love and teaching them how to eat a fish off the bone, crack open a whole fresh crab or eat something different. This is why our trips have been nicknamed the gastro tours.

Evening meal in the Chateau 19.30 hrs

Total mileage 190 miles

Day Five

Our last breakfast in the Chateau is always a sad time, a month would be too short a trip but we always know there is another trip next year or in a few months depending on when we are there. 

After saying our goodbyes again we headed to the coast road, we rode to the American war cemetery to allow those who have not been there before to look and pay their own respects to the fallen who lay here.

After a quiet ride back to the ferry in Ouistreham, we headed home on the 6 hour crossing. We had time to get a cabin and have a few hours sleep before landing in Portsmouth and riding home in the dark. Until next year, we can only dream of fantastic short gastro tours like this.

Total mileage 250 miles


At the Chateau Epinguet, 10 miles south of Cherbourg

The essential facts

Return ferry crossing

4 nights bed, breakfast and evening meal

Evening entertainment – muppetry awards for the day’s events

Money required for fuel and lunch

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