This is our journey from Semelay to Saint Victor. Part 4 of our European Tour videos. From Central France towards the Bordeaux region.
To be clear, because there are several Saint Victor’s, our destination today was Saint Victor in Nouvelle Aquitaine, a small village near Riberac. Google said 406km without detours, but I had decided to do as much of the journey as possible on smaller roads, so journey time was always going to be longer and detours were inevitable. Googles projected journey time was 5 and a half hours with no stops. My guess was around 7 and a half hours.
A Long Day Ahead
Regardless, it was going to be a long day, but it would take us down towards the Bordeaux region in one journey. It was looking like it was going to be a hot day too, so hydration was going to be really important.
I never ride that far with no stops either, so we had a rough plan to set off at 9am and stop for food somewhere near Limoges at least. It was a bright sunny morning and as you can see the cows came to say goodbye to us as we wound our way back towards Semelay and then south.
The link to the route we took is here.
The village of Semelay and roads around it were empty, as they had been throughout our stay. Even 2 up fully loaded with luggage these roads were a pleasure to ride on the 650 Vstrom. At 9am it was already hot, so riding gear had been kept to a minimum. It was definitely a day for kevlar jeans instead of waterproof trousers.
3 Parts to the Journey
The journey was split into 3 sections, and i’m sorry if I butcher any of the names. The first stretch was through back roads for about 70km towards Moulins before hitting the A79 to Montmarault and Montracon, then eventually onto the motorway past Limoges and south towards the Perigord-Limousin National Park. The last part of the journey took us through the National Park to Firbeix and onto Mialet on some faster back roads, before we got back onto single track roads for the last 100km or so.
The first stretch was mainly small single track roads, through endless miles of open countryside, with smaller lush areas of forestry between. As we headed south, there was more forestry and it was nice to see deciduous trees, not just endless mono-cropped fir plantations like we get in the UK. There were more towns and villages here and even some other traffic, but it was far from busy as you can see.
The only main roads we saw were the ones we crossed over. It was an easy, relaxed ride and as always the Vstrom felt solid underneath us.
After Monlucon the roads got bigger and eventually turned to motorway for a while as we entered cattle country. The only thing more boring than riding on motorways would be watching someone else do it, so I haven’t included any footage of that.
Time to Eat
By the time we reached Bessines-sur-Gartempe we were both hungry and it was very hot, so it was time for a stop. A small cafe in the village square fed us and with a quick stop to fuel up the bike, we continued south, around Limoges.
The shade of the trees here was a nice break from the sun and the roads were bigger and faster with long, predictable, sweeping bends. It still wasn’t busy though, especially compared to British roads. Even on the back roads the tarmac was smooth too. There were none of the jolting pot-holes we suffer so badly with in the UK.
Once we were south of Limoges the architecture did seem to change quite quickly. Many of the buildings were older, some stone built, but many with smooth rendered walls. There were more towns and villages to begin with and then the forestry got thicker, with less open countryside.
The Heat was Exhausting
The heat was exhausting now and we had to stop and drink a few times. It wasn’t an easy journey in some ways, but it had been a beautiful ride. Knowing when to stop can be the hardest thing sometimes, but it is important not to push things too far.
It got empty again after Champagnac de Belair. You can see in the video there were miles of roads with very little anything except the countryside. The only signs of life were scattered farms and small communities. I deliberately left a 12 minute section uncut to give you an idea of how empty this area was.
We continued through the lush river valleys with old forests all around and the houses just seemed more affluent. You can see in the video as we pass through Villars, the age and history of the communities was obvious. We got to see our first real château too.
One of the sad things was as we got closer to St Victor it appeared that more and more properties were empty and abandoned. Some of them were fantastic houses. I guess it is a problem in many rural communities, but it was very evident here.
Following the River Valleys
The roads continued to follow the river valleys as we got closer to St Victor and the scenery was quite special. Big rocky outcrops lined the road at one point and it looked like there would be plenty to explore while we stayed in the area.
It had been a long day of riding with a few stops because it had got so hot, and we were both looking forward to arriving. 9 hours after setting off, we arrived at the village of Saint Victor. It was a tiny hamlet built around an ancient church and we didn’t have to look far for the Gite.
A Lovely Welcome
We got a lovely welcome but it was almost 6pm when we arrived. The last 40 miles had taken over an hour and a half because the roads were so small and wound through lots of tiny villages. By the time we had unloaded, showered and eaten it was simply a matter of crawling into bed. We could explore tomorrow.
I will show you the area around St Victor in the next of the European Tour Videos.
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The next stage of the tour will be posted soon.
If you are interested, the links to the Vstrom merchandise are below too.
Definitely worth a look if you are another certified Stromtrekker.
Ride free everyone.