DAY 11 – CRAWLING THROUGH FRANCE

THE SITUATION:

Bank card stopped.

11 Euros.

50 English pounds.

100 Pounds that could not be used, it was for the channel crossing.

Not eaten since Italy.

Have to ride 800km across France to Calais and UK.

We woke up very early and talked about how we would survive this lack of funds, We could have phoned my bank from abroad, but my bank uses  automated systems, it can sometimes take 20 to 30 minutes to reach a Human, with every single Pound and Euro in our possession now being precious we could not risk loosing our last 11 Euro’s on a phone call that we might not even have enough money to complete.

The decision was made to crawl through France at 60 KPH (37 MPH) to extract the maximum Miles per Gallon from the old girl, at 60 Kph she would return 80+ mpg despite being two up and loaded with gear.

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With a full tank and a 3 litre reserve can I knew I could travel over 500KM’s before having to search for petrol or try to exchange 50 Pounds for 50 Euros, the 100 Pounds had to be kept for crossing the Channel. Once in England I can sort things out with my bank card very easily, so off we set at 05.30 crawling through France heading towards Paris and Calais some 800KM’s away, we had planned on touring around France for three days but this is no longer an option, just get to Calais.

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Towards lunch time it was search for petrol time, we called in at a number of petrol stations but they would not accept Pounds, our 11 Euros was also being consumed by road Tolls, at one petrol station we met a couple of French bikers, we got talking, mostly just to ask them the best route to Calais when your short on money. The two bikers said we should avoid Paris because the road system was a mess and we would be stuck in traffic for hours burning precious fuel but not moving much distance. He recomended an alternate route to Calais, and then in an act of kindness gave me 20 Euros petrol money, I put 15 Euro’s in the tank, kept 5 for tolls.

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Not only did these gents give me some petrol money but they said follow us and we will show you the short cut to the roads you need for Calais.

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We made good progress towards Calais but unfortunatly the Toll roads were eating into our  Euros, I used my reserve can to strech out the miles towards Calais, I guessed (Hoped) that as we got nearer to Calais, a major European port, they would by more accustomed to taking Pounds etc.

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Now we were less than 200 Km from Calais and needed petrol again, we pulled into a petrol station, they would not take Pounds, so we parked up and looked around for GB number plates. Linda went off to the truckers park where there were some GB number plates, the truckers were more than helpful and she found a Scottish truck driver who was looking to change 50 Euros for Pounds….fantastic!!…..flush with cash I put 15 Euros in the tank , enough to get us to Calais, a packet of fags 6 Euro’s, some batteries for the camera, and some sandwiches and Mars bars plus two coffees, we had not eaten since Italy and crossing the Alps, we had 10 Euros left for tolls…life was good again !!

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We took the wrong turning at Calais and ended up at the tunnel instead of the ferrys, the  road Tolls had left us with 1 Euro, but we still had the 100 Pounds I saved for crossing the Channel.

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The lady in the ticket office said “103 Pounds,”……bollocks, we didn’t have enough money !!

Then she said,  “Oh  sorry,  70 Pounds”

We had made it, plus 30 Pounds for petrol to get up North when we reached Dover, we were both very relieved and very happy.

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The crossing was smooth and fast, only 25 minutes under the sea and we were in Dover England, first port of call was a petrol station, there was a cash machine in the petrol station so I tried my card again, it spat out 50 Pounds but would not give me any more when I tried it again, and again.

It was very noticeably colder in England that it was in France, we had to put on every layer of clothing and headed out of Dover towards London. The driving on the left thing was not working for me, I was so tired after riding through the whole of France in a day on just three hours sleep since Verona, I was making mistake after mistake, I saw a motel sign and went for it, I had to sleep, my eyes rolling in my head, I missed the turn for the motel, so I parked on the roundabout to get my bearings (It makes sense when you are very tired) A police car  parked up   beside me and the officer asked me what I thought I was doing, I explained I was too tired to think and had to get to the motel to sleep. The police officer was great and pointed me in the right direction, the motel was only 50 Pounds.

I explained to the motel receptionist that I was having trouble with my  bank card and she might have to put through more than once………..four times, befor the bastard card would work.

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~ by travelswithmymotorbike on May 16, 2009.

10 Responses to “DAY 11 – CRAWLING THROUGH FRANCE”

  1. What wonderfully kind French people! I wonder if they would have met with such kindness had they run out of money in Britain. I doubt it. I’m ashamed to say I doubt I myself would have given/lent them the money. Shame on me.

    The lady in the ticket office said “103 Pounds,”……bollocks, we didnt have enough money…….then she said “Oh, sorry 70 Pounds”
    Hah! Must remember to try that one next time!
    So many hiccups on your journey. But it makes it so much more entertaining to read.

    • Hi andy,

      Yes a few buttock clenching moments, we have since found out on our return that we can book on Eurotunnels website and in the small hour its only 37 Quid 00.00 to 06.00 so thats what we will be doing this Wednesday..

  2. You guys showed great resolve in that situation, in a foriegn country with no money, you still kept your cool. Well done you two !!

    Regards Peter

    • Hi Peter,

      Panicing never got any one anywhere, you just have to get on with it and make the best out of a bad situation, thanks for the kind words.

      Cheers

      Dave..

  3. Really, most people would have fallen apart in your situation Dave, I think you must be an experienced traveller or just cool under fire.

    J

    • Hi James,

      A little bit of both, travelled many places in Asia and been around Europe a fair few times….things always sort themselves out.

      Cheers

      Dave..

  4. The man who gave you 20 euros is a saint…AND they showed you short cuts !!

    What a story, I was on the edge of my office chair wandering how you would make it.

    • Yes he was indeed a Saint, it makes one think just how helpful have we been to travellers we have met in our lives !!

      Cheers

      Dave..

  5. You have kept me reading, I wanted to know how you would resolve your financial situation and reach England.

    Well done sir on crawling through France to eek out your Miles per Gallon, I don’t think many people would have thought of doing that !

    • Hi Stan,

      I’m 50% biker and 50% geek….I calculate everything lol..

      Cheers

      Dave…

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