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Touring Europe's battlefields

Sunday, May 6, 2018   (1 Comments)
Posted by: Rod Steiger #68858

For all of you history buffs who wish to combine your passion for riding with military history, I have the tour for you. Long a military history enthusiast, I wanted to visit the beaches of Normandy. Having ridden on two previous European motorcycle tours with a well-known tour operator, I searched the web to find a tour which married motorcycles with World War One and Two battlefields and related sites. I found the perfect tour with Frenchman Laurent Dozias, owner of Ride-in-Tours.com.

Laurent operates several tours in Europe, including the “Memorial & Battlefield Tour” in which I took part in July 2017. The tour was comprised of ten days and nine nights with one rest day in Paris. I tacked on a day in advance of the tour and three after the tour to ride on my own before heading home to Ohio. The tour took us over 1,200 kilometers on winding mountain roads through five countries. It covered some of the most beautiful scenery in Europe. Cities we visited included Strasbourg, Saverne, Verdun, Reims, Paris, Honfleur, Ste Mere Eglise, and Carentan. On my own, I visited St Michael, St Lo, and St Malo, attempting to follow part of the route of General Patton’s Second Armored Division, the same division I was drafted into in 1970. I finished by turning in the bike in Tours before catching the train to Paris. I was gone two full weeks and enjoyed every minute, except when thieves stealing our saddlebags in Paris.

Co-riders on the tour included MOA members Jim and Judy Schuyler of Syracuse, New York, and we all rode newer BMW R 1200 GS bikes, as did Laurent. It was a small group, which provided for more flexible travel and great comradery throughout the tour. One of the many memorable moments for us was when Laurent presented a large American flag which Jim, Judy and I held up high at the American Cemetery in Normandy. As we were poising for a photograph, we were surprised by the positive attention it drew from nearby people.

Historical military sites we visited included the German Natzweiler-Struthof Concentration Camp, the only such camp in France during the war. We toured the underground WWI Maginot Line, had lunch and a tour of Bastogne, saw Patton’s gravesite in the Luxembourg American Cemetery, visited WWI Fort Douaumont and Verdun trenches, Pegasus Bridge, the Museum de la Reddition in Reims where the German High Command surrendered to the US Army and General Eisenhower, and of course the D-Day beaches of Sword, Omaha and Utah.

Non-military sites we visited included the home and gardens of famed artist Claude Monet, the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Reims where French kings were crowned for over 1,000 years, the medieval castle of Chateau du Haute Koenigsburg, the Orval Abbey where monks make bread and beer for sale, and the famous Champ de Mars (guided by Laurent).

We also rode through the famous region of Alsace-Loraine known for its world class wine. While off on my own I rode through the Le Mont-St-Michel region and visited the fabulous sixth-century island La Citadelle de Montmedy one kilometer off the French coast; it is home to a medieval Benedictine Abbey and church.

This tour was a dream come true for me, and I highly recommend it for anyone interested in European military history. Laurent was the perfect host and tour guide who offers other wonderful tours you might be interested in joining.

Comments...

Oscar Torres says...
Posted Tuesday, May 8, 2018
An appealing tour. I visited the company's website and found they will also sell you and buy back a motorcycle if you wish to spend months in Europe. Nice idea.

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