France in 2011

The land of fine foods, pristine beaches and motorcycling nirvana.

 

It was raining that September morning when I landed at Nice international airport but soon cleared up and for the next week it was picture perfect riding weather.

The little Honda was freshly serviced and waiting for me.

The next morning not 5 minutes into the ride I was in the curvy goat trails headed for one of my favorite passes. The road carves its’ way up through rocky canyons.

I soon came to the part every motorcyclist lives for, the laces.

Gaining altitude I could see over the town of Nice to the Mediterranean sea.

What lay ahead was equally inspiring.

Past the Turini Pass and I find laces on a 17% grade, plenty of braking practice here.

Rounding a turn I look up the mountain and spot someone who really enjoys his privacy.

Getting back along the coast I catch Monaco, a place known for its wealth.

Like this guy who couldn’t settle for a simple water fountain.

After spending a week riding around the neighborhood it was time to visit mom some 30 miles away.Here it’s a whole different world of scenic views, rest and relaxation…if you don’t count the 77 steps and 2 steep ramps it takes to get to the house from street level.

The view from her living room at sunset is awe inspiring, on a clear day you can see as far as Corsica.

With the house built into the mountain side, rock walls are in place for safety during hard rains.

After a week of rest and relaxation I went back to my sister's. She had just quit her job and decided to join me on the trek to see the Viaduct at Millau. We would be using her car a 2002 VW Golf with a 1.6L engine, surprisingly this thing not only scoots right along but hangs the curves pretty good too.

At the first site of the viaduct I realized that none of the pictures I’d seen on the internet did it justice. This is a marvel of engineering standing 1,125 feet tall and spanning over 8,000 feet of space over the town of Millau laying claim to the tallest bridge in the world.

After checking on the nights’ accommodations we went to get a closer look, it did not fail to impress. I happen to catch a passing semi putting the size of the massive structure in perspective.

The next morning the weather was once again clear so we found a nice spot for this pic after some off-roading.

For the trip back home we decided on a 2-day out of the way route through the mountains to take in the views and sample the local cuisine. To call some of these roads goat trails would be an understatement. From time to time we would happen on a small village that time forgot built during a period when horses were the main source of transportation and the streets reflect it.

A reservoir to supply the needs for the town of Avéne had a worker suspended some 100 feet above the water with just a rope, I hope his workman’s comp is paid up.

In town we find ourselves behind this little munchkin of an old lady riding a 50cc quad, all legal here.

In town we pick up some vittles and find a nice spot for a picnic along Lake Salagout under a clear sky with just a hint of a moon high above.

We get back to the house and it’s time to pack, I’m chauffeured back to the airport the next morning after stopping off at the bakery for a dozen fresh baked croissants with promises to return in another year for more of what memories are made of.

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