Motorcycle Summer Report 1: The Loire Valley and a Bit of the Alps

“No Name” BMW 750GS after being “outfitted” for the trip.

Here’s the headline for this report:  We’re eight days in and we’ve driven east through France, then into the Swiss Alps and we’re now about to enter northern Italy.   No big disasters (we fell over once on Day 2:) and given everything leading up to this; all’s well as we figure out what/how/where to do this trip.   We only touched the Alps as a 6-day storm is just about to happen, so we decided to skip the rest of the Alps and head to Italy ahead of the rain.  Maybe.

Here’s what it looked like.

Getting Started

A Walti/Rutherford travel tradition: a before shot of Karen with luggage standing in front of our place. For the last 11 years that place was the Arts District in LA. This is El Centro, Puerto Vallarta.  Before you start thinking that’s a lot of luggage, remember it holds ALL of our motorcycle gear and enough clothes for two people for two months.

Just getting to the motorcycle in France required an Uber, 2 flights lasting 14ish hours, two 4 hour layovers, a train ride, and two more Ubers. Trains in Europe are fast, comfortable hooked up to Wi Fi

A public-use piano in the Charles de Gaulle airport and train station. Piano bench not included.

Hotel in Tours, France. Welcome sight after the trip “over.”

First dinner in France and the best so far. This type of walk street is scattered throughout France/Switzerland/Italy

Next morning picking up the m/c at Ride in Tour rental. At this point, KR realizes that we have find a place to go since we’re leaving in a couple of hours. This is late trip planning in the extreme

“No Name” wasn’t well fitted out for a two month, two-up trip. We spent the afternoon of the first day at the nearest BMW store getting it ready. Changes made all the difference.

The Loire Valley

Just another beautiful  country road, this one lined with trees. The next couple of days were spectacular as we rode down tiny back roads through the French countryside. Big difference in Garmin routes between “fastest” and “curvy road” settings”:)

Hotel in first on the road stop in Chenonceau. Disadvantage of rolling into town with no reservations is that your own hotel won’t sit you for dinner without a dinner reservation. We encountered this attitude a lot, probably because we looked like motorcyclists

How not to make a hotel reservation. We’re out in the middle of nowhere Loire Valley version and KR says stop so I can find a hotel. This is not optimal for lots of reasons, spotty internet reception top of the list. Miles and miles of small country road through endless sunflower growing fields (on the right).

The sunflower field hotel search yielded this tiny street in Sancerre. Took about 30 minutes to find the hotel, once we were close.

Dinner than night in Sancerre.

Breakfast the following morning ALMOST made the place worth the big bucks. There have been no more breakfasts like this.

Another charming French town somewhere in the Loire Valley

Lake Geneva/ Thonon-les-Bains

We finally made it to Lake Geneva in the foot of the Alps. Geneva, Lake Geneva and Thonon are quite pretty. We spent three nights in Thonon — a record — just chilling out and doing some work/errands

Overlooking the lake in Thonon

Sunset in the Park

A Touch of the Swiss Alps

We went north east into the French/Swiss Alps. We really only got to the foothills of the Alps at this stage.

Swiss chalets were everywhere, even at weird angles

Lunch in the Alps. As soon as we entered Switzerland, the attitudes we encountered changed 180 degrees. Our waitress even said, “drive carefully!”

More Alps

More Alps

Lots of Sound of Music green

Bern is a very beautiful, larger Swiss town

Easily the worst hotel so far, the Ibis Budget Bern Expo. I think our RV was bigger and certainly more comfortable.

Lugano on Lake Lugano, in southern Switzerland. KR takes a rest.

Travel to communities around the lake is by boat.


I’m finishing this post in Verona, Italy.  Tomorrow, if all goes to plan — and what does? – we will continue to head south toward Croatia.


6 replies
  1. Judi says:

    Brings back many memories of a few of these stops. Don’t forget stop in Chiavari. Have fun! Love you

  2. Ryland Owen says:

    Fred, if you are not laked-out from Switzerland, the lake district in Northern Italy is also very nice: Como, Garda, etc.

  3. Peter Carlo Paccone says:

    I love this part of the world. Used to live in Lausanne, down the road from Geneva. Have family that lives there. Thanks for the share and, as always, great pics.

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