Day 16 – Langres to Arras – 431 km

Last full day on tour. This has been such an amazing trip, and each stop, town, lake or mountain has offered us new and inspiring experiences. We have seen and learned so much, swum in clear, cool lakes, sat atop the Alps and wrestled an unwieldy motorbike through twisty mountainous roads that would challenge the most agile chamois. Looking back, I can’t quite believe that we have been through all of this.

A road trip has the attribute of so much change, that it seems a lifetime ago that we set off. We have stayed at 12 different hotels/B&B’s, visited 5 different countries, and ridden over 3,400 km already. I am not sure how many borders we crossed, but on the ride from Lake Como to Lake Maggiore, we crossed between Italy and Switzerland at least 8 times. It is the subject for another blog, but I spent a fair amount of time on this trip thinking about the madness of Brexit, and what we will lose when we secede from the EU, and I could find no upside.

The bike has added a significant dimension to the trip, and I will probably reflect more on that at some future date, but I have loved having it as our trusty steed on this journey. It is solid as a rock when moving, by far the most comfortable ride I have ever had, and a joy to master. It offers some challenges, with the size and weight making low-speed manoeuvres and parking tricky, but it has served us brilliantly. It is built for eating up distance, in comfort and style.

Anyway – today was a motorway day. The main aim was to schlep us most of the way back to the Channel Tunnel, so that we can cross on Monday morning with ease. We left Langres in a slight drizzle this morning, and within 15 km were on a motorway. We switched motorways a few times, mainly navigating north.

Several stops for coffee, fuel, leg-stretches and wee’s at motorway services along the way. We left Langres at 9 this morning, and arrived in Arras around 1430. Sunday afternoon means the town centre is pretty dead, so it was easy to navigate. We are staying in a lovely B&B about 10 minutes walk from the main square and tourist centre, and after a shower and nap we wandered down to take in the sights and have a beer and dinner – which we did successfully.

Lovely as this place is, their internet connectivity is shockingly poor, so this is being done via my phone. I still owe you some photos, but that will have to wait until we are back home in London.

For the last time in a while: Bonne Nuit, Guten Nacht, Buona Notte from the Continent.

Day 17 – Arras to London – 225 km

Last day. We woke up in our lovely room overlooking the garden of the house we stayed in. Another blue-sky day outside. We packed our gear for the final time, and then went for breakfast. Nell, the 3 month old French Bulldog puppy of the owners was the morning entertainment, and she certainly was very sweet.

Nell of Arras

Having broken our fast in the lovely garden, and suitably interfered with Nell, we loaded up, and hit the road. Arras centre was still a ghost town, and we were back on the motorway steaming northbound very quickly. The road is good, and there was not a lot of traffic so the 110 km to the Eurotunnel terminal was easy going, and passed by in a flash. We checked in, showed our passports to the relevant officials, and just had time for a wee before we were called to our train.

Us and one other bike with a couple on board were at the very back of the queue. A crew of about 15 bikes were just ahead of us – they had spent a long weekend on a Benelux tour, and were heading home. We loaded onto the train, and I had a chat with some of the chaps around us. We admired each others bikes, swapped war stories and talked about the kinds of things that bikers talk about.

The journey seemed to pass by in a flash, and soon enough we were rolling off the train. England was please to see us, and had brought out the sunshine as a welcome. The journery home was pretty quick – about 80 minutes. The last ten minutes was actually superfluous, but I had forgotten to tell Sally Satnav that we moved to a new apartment a few weeks before the holiday, so I was un-thinkingly heading back to our old place until I realised where we were going.

A quick stop for fuel and some sandwiches (the fridge was going to be bare at home), and we arrived home at lunchtime, to a happy but vocal cat.

It has been a wonderful, special holiday, and I am sorry that it has come to an end, but the memories and experiences will carry on. I am still going to write a few more posts about the trip, I will update and refresh photos and galleries, and otherwise entertain you with my sparkling wit and charming writing style. Auf Wiedersehen, faithful readers.