About the Author

author photo

Andy Smith is a former Police Motorcyclist with years of experience in motorcycle training at all levels. He offers training through 1stClassRider.co.uk, and ride outs through his newsletter blog right here. To contact Andy click here.

See All Posts by This Author

Going To Garmicsh Partenkirchen


“I can’t wait to go to Garmicsh!”

It’s the time of year again to make plans to visit the World of BMW Bilker Meeting at Garmicsh Partenkirchen. Where??

Nestling in the foothills on the Austrian / Bavarian border the pretty town of Garmicsh hosts the annual event, attracting bikers from all over the world.

We paid a visit last year but unfortunately I am unable to attend this year but here are a few bits of advice for anyone wishing to make the trip.

‘World of BMW’ do run an organised trip but last year six of us decided to make it up as we went along setting up, well… more of a ‘disorganised’ trip.

The show is running over the first weekend in July.

We had not pre-booked any accommodation and equipped with tents we made a pact that we would have failed in our endeavours if we had to unpack and pitch our tents. These were for emergencies only!

We left Cardiff on a rainy Wednesday night travelling to Dover to to converge on the local Travel Inn to catch the 8.15am ferry from Dover the next morning.

Using Sea France the crossing was easy and uncrowded and costing just £49.50 return. (yes we intended coming back!)

Landing at Calais… the trouble started. My Sat Nav wasn’t up to the job and it guided us past Calais’s 12 identical Cathedrals and we crossed the 27 rivers that flow through the small town 36 times before finally finding ourselves well and truly lost in the fields just South of the town.

It was our intention not to use the Motorway because of the tolls but now we had some time to make up.

The first night we made it to a small town just over the German border, Soufleheim and booked ourselves into a fantastic Bed & Breakfast. Each room was superbly decorated in different themes and set in it’s own grounds and a courtyard which afforded us secure bike parking off the road.

Friday morning we set off after consulting a map (yes the old fashioned way of doing things) and travelled through Baden Baden (So good they named it twice!) finding a small mountain back road out of town up over the mountains. For those wishing to give it a go the road number on the map was the 500, just South of Baden Baden (so good they named it twice, twice).

Just as we approached the first bend we spied a large poster on the side of the road showing a crashing/ skidding motorbike and a warning of sharp bends for the next 36 K’s.

As none of us were riding a K, (I was on a GS) we decided to ignore the sign and carry on.

What a ride that road was. I left half of my boots behind!

We arrived in Garmicsh late Friday afternoon and unable to find any vacant hotels in town we made our way out a few miles to the Ski resort town of Oberau where we quickly found a vacant Ski Lodge offering cheap bed and breakfast. One draw back. The lodge was a working dairy farm and the back end of the house was a cow shed…. occupied by a fine selection of flies and just a few cows.

A short taxi ride back into town found us in the beer tent at the show enjoying the food, atmosphere, food, beers and food.

Saturday was a day out of the saddle spent at the show and taking a cable car ride up a very large mountain.

Spectacular scenery and countryside and air so fresh and clean it makes you retch. (Being a City boy I need some pollution to thrive on).

Sunday morning we left Garmicsh heading North through Germany crossing a bit of Luxembourg, France and Belgium before finding a hotel in Fontenville. (Belgium).

This was World Cup final weekend so hotel spaces were a bit rare, but find one we did. (A bit touch and go really as we did actually stop and look at a camp site as desperation was setting in)

Hotel De France (Yes in Belgium) with underground secure parking and high quality rooms, with a Chinese Restaurant directly across the road.

Monday morning gave us a short days ride back to Calais for the evening ferry, travelling through some exceptionally twisty forest roads just as we left Fontenville.

Arriving back in Dover some decided to stay again in the Travel Inn in Dover but some also continued the trip home arriving back in Cardiff around about 10.30pm.

A grand total of 2000 miles.

A word of warning for anyone travelling in France on a Sunday is that fuel stops are rare in some of the more rural areas.

The signs say “24 hour” but that is only for automated sales using a Credit Card….. a French Credit Card that is. UK ones didn’t work. So for Sunday rides fuel up when you can and plan for more frequent stops. We were fortunate enough to find a local willing to lead us to the nearest petrol station and he was kind enough to use his credit card to fuel up our six bikes, which allowed us to settle up with him in cash (and a little bit extra for his trouble) Without his help we really would have been stranded…. and just might have had to pitch our tents until the following morning.

Price wise the fuel worked out to cost about the same as it does here so your fuel budget should be easy to work out.

All in all this was a great trip and I would recommend anyone having a go. The roads were great. In much better condition than UK roads and the car drivers that we encountered we found to be far more biker friendly and bike aware than at home.

A few more pointers which might help to make your trip trouble free.

You should carry with you a kit of spare bulbs for your bike. You risk an on the spot fine if a bulb goes and you can’t replace it.

A first aid kit is also required.

It is advisable to have some form of puncture prevention/or repair.

I dosed my tyres with Ultraseal before leaving but also carried the puncture repair kit that comes with any BMW. It uses rubber plugs, adhesive and compressed air canisters to re-inflate your tyre. A must for when you are miles from home faced with the prospect of a long wait for recovery services. Hein Gericke also sell their own version for about £15-20.

Bikers are a friendly bunch and the custom of waving or nodding at fellow bikers or other motorists who may have extended any courtesy towards you is replaced in France with a sticking out of the leg!

Quite strange at first but on seeing a biker approach you will see them stick out their foot as a greeting. If a car pulls over to allow an overtake, again it is customary to acknowledge this by sticking out your foot just after passing it.

Beware of speed limits as the French authorities are reported to be treating speed infringements with increasing seriousness. This can mean on the spot fines, instant suspension of your driving licence and even impounding your bike.

As a general piece of advice you should always obey all road signs…….apart from one maybe??

In Germany a ‘W’ is pronounced as a ‘V’ and on your journey you may pass through the small town of Vank (only it’s not spelt that way!).

What action you take as you pass this sign……..well it’s best to just keep going and enjoy the trip!

There Is 1 Response So Far. »

  1. Done it, got the T shirt! It was certainly a trip to remember. Did you ever see my photos?

Leave a Comment