So the theory of where you can ride your off road motorcycle in France is as follows:
· Unless it has a legal sign prohibiting it (there are many homemade signs that have no legality)
· It must be wide enough for a car to fit along it, although this is often ignored. Many of the trails that might once have been wide enough are no longer, due to vegetation and lack of use.
· Unless it’s a National Park. There are 7 National Parks and these should not be confused with a Natural Park of which there are many more. We are on the edge of the Perigord Limousin Natural Park and many of our routes go through the park – this is fine.
Please note: in France they don't generally discriminate between users i.e. if it is legal for hikers, it is legal for all users including horse riders and motorised users. So there’s no concept of footpaths, bridleways etc. They are just trails or chemins as they are known here.
The rights of users of the chemins are represented by an organisation called Codever (www.codever.fr) and they produce a booklet which tells you all about where you can ride including what are the legal and illegal signs which may scupper your plans. However you need to be a member to receive this. Oh and it’s in French.
Where can I trail ride on motorcycle in france
The rules are quite wide ranging, meaning there is plenty of off roading to be had in France.
Generally you may NOT ride in a National Park, you may not ride where the trail or chemin is too narrow for a car and you may not ride where there is a legal sign forbidding it. There are many illegal signs which are not valid.
What is the equivalent of the UK Ordnance Survey series of MAPS in france
You should look for the IGN Series Bleu 1:25000. There are updated versions of these maps that show more trails but they are only available in some regions. Be careful because they are not the same as Ordnance Survey maps - they don't show all trails and many they do show are not passable or go nowhere.
Will i meet many people on the trails in france? will they be upset at sharing the trails, as they often are in the uk?
It very much depends on the area if you will come across anyone else using the trails. There are very many trails and not many users in France. In our area we rarely see walkers or horse riders, sometimes we will meet quad riders and very occasionally another bike rider. Other users of the trails are generally welcoming to bike riders, just slow down,smile and say "bonjour". Do just watch out for the "Chasse" (hunt) as often in hunting season they will be using the same trails. We try to avoid areas where we know they are hunting with a detour elsewhere.
Are the trails in france suitable for big bikes?
This is a "how long is a piece of string" question. It depends on the area and your skill! Undoubtedly some trails will be very challenging on a big adventure style bike and others will be just right. Local knowledge goes a long way in this situation as does being honest about your ability. :-)
does my off road bike have to be road registered to ride trails in france
This an important question and the answer is a resounding yes! Your off road motorbike has to be road registered and legal in the country where you are resident. So if you're from the UK, it needs tax, insurance and MoT (although a French policeman is unlikely to ever ask for proof of MoT because they are not required on motorbikes in France.....yet!)
Do I need to have a motorcycle licence to ride on the trails in france?
YES! In most areas you need to use some road to get to the trails anyway. If you don't have a licence to ride on the road you can only ride on private land like the 3Bs Biking enduro course.