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Bordeaux and Brantwein ?? to get essential essences in the south of France and everywhere. Bikers also need gasoline. And that’s not always the case. The story of a hunt.

Eva Breutel


Rien ne va plus ?? nothing works anymore. Not that a false suspicion arises here: Klaus and I by no means wasted our travel budget in the casino.

But when we drove towards southwest France last September, this sentence developed into the slogan of the day at the petrol stations there. We remember: Because of high diesel prices, truckers had unceremoniously blocked the French fuel depots and thus more and more paralyzed the gasoline supply for the whole country. We had an enjoyable tour of the senses in mind, to where the famous names in France rush across the map: Cognac, Bordeaux, Château Rothschild ?? for passionate occasional drinkers, all of them are good friends. Now there was another liquid that we were after: the “essence”, as the French call the gasoline almost poetically. Even during the journey, the first signs of the impending crisis appear. Empty diesel pumps at the Lyon motorway filling station and drivers hectically filling entire truckloads of canisters with petrol. So let’s get off the train and through the frighteningly cool, but full of gas stations stocked Massif Central towards the Atlantic. First stage destination: Cognac, around 100 kilometers north of Bordeaux. This is where the famous brandy comes from. Like so many great things, it came about by accident. The wine from this area, according to contemporary evidence not exactly a pleasure for the palate, was exported to Northern Europe from the 16th century, probably according to the motto: Fort with damage. But around 1630 a war blocked the ports. So that the whole thing didn’t turn into vinegar, a few winemakers distilled the wine and stored it in oak barrels ?? and discovered years later with astonishment that their former bum luck had developed a miraculous aroma and gurgled into the glass in an appealing amber color. The cognac was born – on-site at the Hennessy trading house. The motorcycles can be fully loaded and prominently placed in the middle of the wide pavement in front of the modern facade made of glass, stone, copper and wood. Pas deproblemème, assures the porter that he will keep an eye on our noble ones Aprilia so that we can devote ourselves entirely to the fine wines of the house. It is no coincidence that, among the numerous cognac trading houses, we chose the one founded by an Irishman for our visit: The current boss of the house, Giles Hennessy, is a committed biker and was already portrayed by MOTORRAD during casual enduro jumps in the chateau park ((XXXX)). We cross the Charente with the hotel’s own ferry, then Hennessy tour guide Martine gives us a crash course in wine fermentation, double distillation and the art of cooper. The angels also get their per mille quantum: “Part des ans” is the name of the proportion of fuel that evaporates during barrel storage – around 23 million bottles in the cognac region every year. It should be quite funny with the angels. Since we are not in heaven but on public roads, we hold back during the rehearsal. After all, it’s not even noon, and a cognac like this has a whopping 40 percent alcohol. A bottle fits in the luggage, as well as new fuel in the tank of the motorcycles. When it comes to cognac, the blockage does not yet seem to take effect. We calmly steer south on gently curving roads through the vineyards. The next appointment is already waiting there, because Klaus has already arranged a visit to a winery from Germany in a fit of organizational rage. Nicole welcomes us to Château Cantenac in the wine-blissful medieval town of Saint-Emilion. In a mixture of German, English, French and Dutch, the spirited winemaker explains to us what is important on her twelve hectare winery. The trained lawyer has been doing this alone since the untimely death of her husband. And had to struggle, even though she comes from an old winemaking family: »Winegrowers are almost an all-male club. It took a while for me to assert myself. ”But since Nicole won a gold medal for her Bordeaux, her colleagues have treated her with respect. “Eyes, nose and tongue are important during a wine tasting,” she explains. “First you check the color, then you swivel the glass and inhale the aroma, and finally you taste carefully.” Wood and spices. I nod enthusiastically. Not that I would smell it all, but that the wine tastes great is confirmed by my not-so-fine palate. A little further west, Bordeaux, the capital of the Aquitaine region, welcomes us with wide boulevards based on the Parisian model. The Pont de Pierre swings elegantly on 17 stone arches over the Garonne and leads us into the heart of the city. But, as is well known, motorcycle clothing is only partially suitable for an extended stroll through the city, and so after a detour to Places des Quinconces, with the subsequent esplanade, the largest square in Europe, we roll out of Bordeaux along the Garonne. We follow the “Route des Crus”, probably the most important wine route in the world into the Medoc. One winery follows another, and here the châteaus live up to their name. The stately castles are splendidly located in fantastic flower gardens, here and there an oversized wine bottle advertises the expensive products. After merging with the Dordogne near Bordeaux, the Garonne has now transformed into the Gironde and is getting wider and wider. However, you rarely see them, because the road leads in wide arches through the middle of the vines, and they are at least a kilometer away from the Gironde. The winemakers don’t quite trust the river when it comes to flooding. Every now and then, however, at least side streets lead down to the water. As we advance further north into the endlessly wide fatigue delta, the other bank can no longer be seen. Châteaus, vines and the river now dominate the picture. Neither people nor cars far and wide, and the quiet is gradually becoming frightening. At the third barricaded gas station, we feel uncomfortable. It’s really nice here, but if we’re going to lie down, then maybe in a livelier area, where hotels and restaurants can be expected. When we have 100 kilometers on the fuel gauge, we turn away. We miss the most famous châteaus, namely those of Rothschild, but because of the weeks of registration times we would not have been able to visit them anyway. With very restrained gas hands we chug south. The lively holiday idyll at the Arcachon basin welcomes us with open arms and an open gas station. Happy we line up in the considerable queue, and then set off with renewed vigor to circumnavigate the Arcachon Bay. This also includes a view of the Grande Dune du Pyla below Arcachon – at over 100 meters, the highest dune in Europe. The French pay a little for the sweaty ascent, because the Pyla is only accessible via a paid car park. With our station wagons and boots in mind, we forego the sand hike and return to the sheltered Atlantic basin, which offers a rare delicacy: oysters. That’s right, seafood eaten raw is not for everyone. But after we saw Catherine on the quay of Porte de Larosse for half an hour, how she cleans the oysters with a sharp-edged knife in front of her snack hut and opens them for needy stomachs if necessary, even fish enemy Klaus allows himself to be softened and to a mini-sample entranced with six oysters. Don’t worry, their sickly green color is due to the fact that they feed on algae. And they are just green. In the afternoon, unfortunately, the gas station on the northern edge of the bay, which we hopefully drove to for the second time, also used up its supplies. Just don’t worry, we motivate ourselves, and after a long search we actually discover an open fuel station further south on a side street. But the friendly gas station attendant waves it off: Our motorcycles are way too new, there are still leaded super bikes, and that shouldn’t come in with us, right? A short discussion and, just to be on the safe side, a small control call to an Aprilia engineer friend ?? Yes, the Falco will swallow it. Add the lead broth, environmental awareness or not. Our destination is Biarritz, and a dead straight road leads there through the Landes nature park, the largest forest in Europe. Inside there is a smell of pine trees, summer and salty sea, the sun squints gently through the trees, and the occasional squirrel scurries across the street. Car traffic seems to be largely unknown. In sixth gear, I glide relaxed at 80 km / h, an unfamiliar way of enjoying motorcycling. Only shortly before Biarritz does the landscape on the Basque coast get wilder. The road winds its way along the steep cliffs 30 kilometers down to the Spanish border, and we enjoy it to the full. Then ?? there is fuel again: all petrol stations are open, all pumps are gushing. Later, a cafe owner explains to us: “These Basques,” he growls, “they just want to show us that they can get everything better organized than we French. They just get the fuel from Spain. ”That’s right. And it works wonderfully. The former whaling port of Biarritz was considered the most glamorous seaside resort in the world in the 19th century. This was mainly due to Eugenie, the wife of Emperor Napoleon III, who stayed here in the summer and thus also attracted France’s nobility and celebrities. Today the mixture of partly restored, partly crumbling facades develops its own charm, which also embraces strangers immediately. As the triumphant end of our Aquitaine tour, the Basque Country is on the program. One pass now follows the next and, accordingly, one curve follows the other. And finally, finally there is the prospect of leaving the murderous heat behind us in the mountains. Puff cake. Although it is pleasant on the heights, in the valleys the embers jump on us again with full force. The picture-book villages with their red and white half-timbered houses are drying up, leaving the markets and heated pelota courts where the Basques indulge their squash-like national sport. So let’s go up to the next pass. The town behind it seems somehow strange. Finally, the bilingual signs give the tip: In addition to Basque, Spanish is spoken here, and we have crossed the border into the neighboring country unnoticed. We repeat the game on several pass roads and find ourselves confirmed: national or border signs are missing ?? The Basques, who are looking for independence, really do not want to belong to France or Spain. The next morning we are on our way home. After almost 200 kilometers we get queasy again, because now there are no more petrol stations open. We try again at our favorite petrol pump in Arcachan Bay, no chance, everything is tight. So that at least the stomach is quiet, we return to Port de Larosse on a plate of prawns, where oyster cleaner Catherine welcomes us like long-missing friends. “We’d like to help you,” she says, “but nothing works here.” The local police kindly provided us with addresses of gas stations in the area that supposedly still had fuel, but when we arrived, they said it there: “Rien ne va plus.” We hang on to the cord. Winemaker Nicole assures that there is not a single drop left in Saint-Emilion either, except of course Bordeaux. The ADAC is pleased to announce that there are still 15 liters of fuel to be had per person in the greater Paris area, and no, the foreign protection letter does not apply in this case. So what to do Maybe we can still cover 50 kilometers. Klaus decides to go to Bordeaux. In the worst case scenario, there is the car train back to Germany. I, on the other hand, don’t feel like stewing in the sweltering heat of the big city or even lying on the highway. Then rather near the beach. I enjoy the wonderful Atlantic for two days until the fuel starts to trickle again. It’s a shame, actually. From pump to pump, I shimmy the 1300 kilometers to Germany. The quintessential Aquitaine tour? Good essences are indispensable for a motorcyclist’s life, regardless of whether they come from Bordeaux or cognac. Or from crude oil.


The south of France with a difference: the Atlantic coast in the north of Aquitaine offers quiet corners for connoisseurs and in the Basque Country a paradise for curve robbers.

Arrival and travel time From Germany to Bordeaux it is between 1000 (Cologne) and 1500 (Berlin) kilometers. This can be done in a day, but it promises little entertainment. In addition, fuel and French motorways are expensive: A toll of around 40 marks is charged to Bordeaux, including a 500-kilometer stretch of country road. An alternative is the AutoZug, which runs from several German cities to Bordeaux. Man and machine pay there and back from around 900 marks. More at 01 80/5241224, Internet and in MOTORRAD 8/2001. May / June and September / October are better than the hot and expensive midsummer season for the trip. When arriving by axle, however, it can be very cold in the interior of the country.Overnight As the hotel breakfast in France is usually sparse, expensive and better in the cafe next door, the following overnight prices are for a double room (single rooms cost hardly less) without Breakfast: Domaine du Breuil, cognac, from 110 marks, phone 0033/545/353206, fax 364806. Le Chantry, 155 rue Georges Bonnac, 33000 Bordeaux, from 110 marks, phone 0033/556/240888, fax 989172. Le Dauphin, Arcachon, from 60 marks, high season 120 marks, phone 0033/556/830289, fax 548490. Biarritz Lousiane, Biarritz, from 90 marks, phone 0033/559/222020, fax 249577. Hotel Euzkadi, 64250 Espelette, from 75 marks, phone 0033/559/939188, Fax 939019. Camping: Panorama, Grande Dune du Pyla near Arcachon, also rents out equipped huts and tents. Telephone 00 33/556 / 2210-44, Fax -12, Internet Essences The region is the world’s largest growing area for quality wines and produces around 700 million bottles annually. Incidentally, the Romans planted the first vines over 2000 years ago, establishing the area’s international reputation. Despite Asterix, Gaul also benefited from the Roman Empire. The wineries vary in their appearance between farms with slightly morbid charm and grand chateaus. The predominantly red wines of the region are not cheap, but they are good. Usually those that are filled directly on the goods are ideal, recognizable by the label “mis en bouteille au château”. Guided tours and wine tastings offer many goods, but often require long registration times. Our tip: Chateau Cantenac winery, Nicole Roskam-Brunot, 33330 Saint-emilion, phone 0033/557/513522, fax 251915. In Germany, the wines are available from Luc Chevalier Distibution in 63674 Altenstadt, phone 06047/5180, fax 7665. In and there are numerous brandy producers for cognac, from Remy-Martin to Martell to Courvoisier in neighboring Jarnac. The trading house Hennessy in 16100 Cognac offers German tours daily between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. from March to December. Registration by phone 0033/545/357268 or fax 357949. Information and literature French tourist office Maison del la France, Westendstrasse 47, 60325 Frankfurt, phone 069/97580126, fax 744446, Internet Aquitaine Tourist Office, phone 0033/556 / 0170-00, fax -07, Internet Tourist information Charente (all about Cognac), phone 0033/545/697909, fax 69 48 60, e-mail Bordeaux tourist information, phone 0033/556 / 0066-00, fax -01, internet Biarritz Tourist Information, phone 0033/559/223710, fax 241419, Internet, Basque Country Tourist Information, phone 0033/559 / 4646-64, fax -60. Literature: DuMont, Travel correctly, “French Atlantic coast”, 39.80 marks with useful overview and detailed maps. Maps: Michelin No. 233 and 234. A special tip: Kurt Tucholsky, »A Book of the Pyrenees«.

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