Trans Euro Trail: France, Section 13

A 560 km long trip from Luxembourg to the Swiss-border. 

The track crosses the Grand Est region from north to south. This region is formed by a combination of the Alsace, Champagne-Ardenne and Lorraine-regions.

It’s a relatively recent TET-route and was made available at the beginning of this year. Due to corona we had to wait several months to be able to explore it. The route is a proven concept of the Trans Euro Trail, a mix of field- and forest roads, small asphalt tracks and the occasional single track or technical passage. Kick off is just south of Shengen, but I start about 50 kilometres further. The route winds south between the French - German border. To make a turn to the west underneath Metz, the former capital of the Lorraine region. This part of the route mainly runs on larger field roads.

The lack of forests is more than compensated by the beautiful fields of thousands of sunflowers.

It is striking that many paths are overgrown with grass. Does this have to do with less "traffic" passing here? 

Maybe, but you must watch out for possible obstacles under the vegetation. When the weather is dry, there is no problem, but you get a different story when rain pours down.  Good knobby tires are a must! 

Just to the side of Nancy, near Liverdun, the track leads you to the river Moselle; it feels nice to relax and take a break next to the water. To continue your drive further west through the rolling French countryside towards Toul. You can make a detour to visit the cathedral in the old town. However, the route continues through Bois Le Compte and transforms from field roads into forest trails. A particularly nice change after those previously open paths. Things also are getting a bit more technical (without getting difficult) which only enhances the driving pleasure. After this particularly beautiful section a fairly long section of asphalted roads follows from the Vittel region.

It is warm and I feel the studs of my tires wear over the warm asphalt. Fortunately, there is very little traffic and, in this way, you can also enjoy the beautiful landscape and the cosy villages that you pass.

However, it is a relief to get stones and sand back under the wheels. While I realize that I haven’t encountered any other TET rider during this entire route, I see a Yamaha XT660 Ténéré standing at a dilapidated church in the middle of the forest. A French-speaking compatriot who drives the route from south to north. We make the time to share experiences and strong stories. Always nice to meet people with the same passion.

And that is the only motorcyclist I will meet during the entire trip. This is certainly a fact that you should always keep in mind. Especially if you, like me, are on the road solo. Sometimes I did not meet a living soul for many kilometres and have driven through deserted fields and forests. Always keep enough reserve, make sure your motorcycle is in order and always bring water and something to eat. You are not exactly in the middle of the jungle that, but if the nearest house or farm is 20km away, it is a long walk or long wait clamped under your bike...

We continue our way, where at Luxeuil-les-Bains the roads become a bit more fun and playful. To find asphalted roads again some kilometres further. But just when you get tired of this paved road, you will find some narrow path with muddy tracks in the neighbourhood of Belfort... this is fun!

At a next stop I notice a mistake is made quickly. I want to put my foot on the ground, but it seems to be 15cm lower than expected.  There goes my Husky!

At such a moment I am satisfied that I am on the road with a light bike that I can easily get back up on my own. Just wipe the dent out of my ego and the case is solved.

The last part of the track still has some nice surprises in store. I don't pay attention to my navigation for a while and before I realize it the front wheel of my bike is on a fairly steep descent. The route actually runs to the right of this downhill. However, I have already driven too far down to get the bike turned on my own. 

A glance at the GPS tells me that I just get back on the right track once down. Buttocks closed, and carefully going down!

At Delle you cross the N109 and skim along the border with Switzerland. The end of the ride is near. And just when you think you can drive relaxed to the finish, you will be treated with a nice ending. A beautiful forest road that turns into a piece of single track with roots and mud. Good to wring out those last drops of sweat.

One more gravel road with 10 storks looking at me suspiciously and I arrive in Winkel. The endpoint of section 13.

A beautiful route! In dry weather it can certainly be driven with a larger/heavier adventure bike. The more difficult or more technical pieces are really limited. If it’s wet then I would still opt not to ride alone on an adventure bike. It is too dangerous to ride it solo. The route contains a lot of asphalt (I estimate 65% of the route is paved road), so it is not exactly the ideal route to drive with a hardcore enduro. Although of course it all is possible.

It just depends on what you expect. In my opinion it’s a nice ride, not too difficult and occasionally just enough adventure. What are you waiting for? You had to be gone already!

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