This is the second of the videos from our Tour of Europe in 2022. Showing you the areas we visited as we travelled. This video covers the route from The Vosges to Semelay and some of the fantastic roads around Semelay in the very heart of France.
The total journey for the day was just over 400km or 250 miles, which would be around 4 to 5 hours with no stops depending on traffic and the roads. It wasn’t a short day of riding but it would take us into the very centre of France. One of the least populated areas of the country.
Leaving the Vosges
We were sad to leave our friends in the Vosges, but looking forward to exploring more. We left the Vosges via Gerardmer and Remiremont and then travelled South West to Besancon. It would be a long day of riding so part of the route would be highways, but we did had some nice open roads to break the journey up. After Besancon we went West on the A36 until we left the highway completely for the day.
As we turned into wine country the roads got more exciting and empty. It wasn’t the spectacularly rugged scenery we had seen in the Vosges now. but gentle hills and valleys dominated by miles and miles of farmland. The villages were more spread out here and the emptiness of the roads meant the ride really was a joy.
The weather had been hot in the Vosges but it got a lot hotter as we travelled towards Autun. We found a fantastic little Boulangerie in Nolay for a well earned coffee, pizza and cakes to fuel the rest of the journey. They had conveniently put a tree in the car park opposite so the bike could stay in the shade too.
The D973 took us all the way to Autun through picturesque towns and villages surrounded by open countryside and then onto the D681. From here there were no more towns really. Just a few small scattered villages. These are the roads you will see most in the video.
The roads seemed tiny with the Vstrom fully loaded. We hadn’t done bad for time so I took a few random side roads in vaguely the right direction once we got off the beaten track. I am a fool at times for seeing a good looking road and just following it to see where I end up. We just wound our way gradually through the empty rolling hills of this beautiful area.
The middle of nowhere
We usually choose out of the way places to stay and this was no exception. The nearest village was Semelay but to give you some perspective, the nearest supermarket was about half an hour of spirited riding away.
The place we had booked didn’t show much in the pictures but when we arrived it was a bikers haven. Tucked away on the side of a hill was a small plot of land surrounded by trees on 3 sides with a clear view of the sunset as you can see in the photos. The driveway could have fitted about 8 adventure bikes at least, so we had plenty of room. We had an open firepit outside the glass fronted eco cabin and to the side was an outdoor kitchen area. It was built in a lorry container which had had the side opened up.
The views across the valley were stunning, but it was the sunsets that were the most breathtaking. Looking West, it seemed like the emptiness went on forever. A rural masterpiece that was shaped by the agricultural history of the area. Low hedges and smooth tarmac with just the occasional tractor or car, meant riding here was relaxing compared to the Vosges. It allowed great views of the road ahead most of the time so my throttle hand got a little more exersise once we had unloaded.
You can see some of the towns and villages in the video. I have left a lot of the footage unedited to give you an idea how empty it got. The area was made up of farming communities and the buildings could have been plucked straight from a history book.
The footage towards the end is all of the area around Semelay. The time lapse footage is of the journey from the Vosges. We had 2 days to do some exploring before the next leg of our adventure. This gave us time for some great riding. The weather just kept getting hotter, so all the layers of gear were packed away for a while.
Onwards into France
From here we would continue south west, diagonally across France, past Limoges and then south towards Bordeaux. We had found a small Gite in another tiny village in Nouvelle Aquitaine called St Victor. The nearest town was called Riberac. Neither of us could wait to see what else France would add to the journey.
Don’t forget to like the video on YouTube and subscribe. It does help. Sorry for the wind noise and I hope it doesn’t spoil the footage for you..
I will keep adding the next leg as soon as the editing is done. Keep a look out for new episodes. You can find more on the website in the motorcycle adventures section of the blog