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All the gear, not a clue …...(Day 1 & 2 of The Grape Escape)

Updated: May 8, 2018


“Motorcycling ain’t for the faint hearted”



Famous words from the enthusiastic sales guy at the motorbike shop where we did a last-minute dash to the shops to buy all the possible waterproof clothing, boots and bag covers. But they don’t make waterproofs for the mind L Seeing that rain and clouds were looming on the planned day of departure; we chickened out and decided to postpone the departure ever so slightly …

On the day of departure, the weather gods smiled. We were up nice and early i.e. couldn’t sleep because of butterflies in our stomach. Rode to Calais and excitedly rode into Le Shuttle.


As hunger pangs struck – we realised we hadn’t eaten anything and there was no food on Le Shuttle. Somehow made it to the on the other side and made a dash for the first Aires (just a posh word for Services on French motorways)

Motorway sandwiches have never tasted so good.


From then, it was onwards and upwards all the way to Rouen. Onwards and upwards lasted till we reached the hotel and realised there was no parking. Was advertised as “having parking” but clearly, I forgot to read the fine print that the parking is a mile away. Should really have known better, having spent vast majority of working life in marketing and writing aforementioned fine print for unsuspecting customers.


M Patate

Rouen, popularly known as the City of Thousand Spires, has been famously portrayed in a series of paintings by Monet. We found a really nice bar, had a quick drink and snack at late night joint, M Patate. And then crashed out.


Day 2 saw the necessity for a complete change of luggage packing strategy. I had a backpack, which pretty much broke my back on day 1. It had to go. An hour was spent on repacking and rearranging. Obviously, much blame was bandied around regarding who has the most stuff. The effect of all the choice abuses thrown around was that the packing was finally done to the satisfaction of both riders and we set off to Poitiers.


A few stops along the way, at various Aires, to stretch out and drink coffee. Lunch time comes and goes, we haven’t eaten again. We really seem to be making a habit of this. Hunger pangs have caused tempers to fray. We find a pizzeria, sit inside after explaining that we need to be close to the window so we can keep an eye on our bike with all the luggage strapped on. My French conversational skills aren’t so great as I think because after we take off the helmet and all the other layers that bikers wear, the waiter informs us that they are closed!!



We head off and suddenly I realise I don’t have my gloves …Panic, panic, panic ….

We go back to the pizzeria parking and there the offending gloves, lying on the floor. Obviously, I had to take a photo to put on this blog, you can imagine what that did to the temper of the other ride ;)


Anyhow, we find a really nice café that is open and serving a nice lunch menu. Small problem, I’m vegetarian and the only thing on the menu that I can eat is chocolate pudding. And they don’t speak any English …




What better time to put my French conversation to use and seek favours from strange French men J. I do speak the language, after all – ignore my terrible accent and the width and depth of my vocabulary!!!

Ah sweet success ...as the chef kindly prepares me a dish with legumes (that’s vegetables for you …).


After this, it is on to Le Mans, 24-hour circuit. The 24 Heures du Mans (The 24 Hours of Le Mans) is one of the most prestigious automobile races in the world. It has been called the Grand Prix of Endurance and Efficiency.

We were really lucky to see some bikes practicing for a race. We took some photos and videos. I believe there were some unspoken resolutions made – to hopefully come back and be part of something there.

There is lots of more riding then - motorway, non-motorway and so on. The only notable incident was when my helmet decided not to play along and I had a moment of “I quit, why am I doing this”. A hearty chuckle from Vikram, made me laugh as well and then we were on our way.


Arrived at a hotel in Futuroscope in Poitiers. Ate a pizza and drank some terrible wine.


Day 3 - woke up with a headache from the wine and after the usual circus of luggage loading, we’re on way to Saint-Emilion to meet our first winemaker


More to follow...


Jesal