This year’s TWIKE adventure was planned at very short notice – our initial plans would have seen us hiking across Switzerland’s beautiful landscapes and mountains. (and I would have a 10-day trip sometime later this year.)
One evening, around two weeks before the departure date, we noticed that the various challenges during the last 3 months had taken its toll and how tired we both were. Over a glass of very nice red wine we discussed how nice it would be to just relax somewhere at the sea, complete with good food and recharging by just doing nothing somewhere in southern France.
I told my wife how much I had liked the trip along France’s southern coast last year and suggested we just drive south and stay at the sea for some days before driving back home along the French and Italian coast.
Since we both don’t like reserving and planning, this was the extent of our preparation for this trip.
Which brings us to today. We got up at 4.30am, ready to leave at 5am – our final destination for today is not yet set – it will be somewhere in central France. We are both still a little tired as we had been a friend’s birthday party the evening before – complete with Rum and Cigars – until 1.30am…
Packing the TWIKE is a 5 minute task. My travel boxes containing all the tools and cables to be able to travel worry-free.
The day promises to be very nice – the sky’s colours today are beautiful.
TW560 is ready, canopy is already down (we need some fresh air to clear our heads from yesterday’s party).
As previously mentioned, I’m always in awe at the start of any TWIKE adventure – regardless of how far away we’re going – that the stretch of tarmac in front of our house is the start of an uninterrupted band of tarmac all the way to our destination – across Europe – across continents!
Below is our traditional Team TWIKE pic – we typically look fresher 😉
Driving along Switzerland’s flatlands, we’re still in no-recuperation zone with pack voltages going immediately above 410V when attempting to recuperate. It will be at least 50km until we’re able to reliably get energy back into the pack.
This morning I was pleasantly surprised to find the pack at 418V OCV which means my recent pack balancing has helped keep the voltage high and allow for the maximum amount of energy to be stored. Let’s see a little later how this pans out for this trip.
After a few hours we arrive in the French speaking part of Switzerland and the town of Lausanne on lake Geneva. I’ve written about Lausanne a few times on this blog.
The region around lake Geneva is a seriously nice place on earth.
Just as last year, we find a place that just needs a TWIKE to be placed in and a photo taken – welcome to lake Geneva!
We continue along the lake and drive through many smaller villages – the closer we get to Geneva the less we can see of the lake, as the mansions and associated land of the super rich are typically protected from prying eyes by thick shrubs and trees.
Arriving at the outskirts of Geneva, we decide not to cross through town as we don’t want to get bogged-down in mid-day traffic.
Then, as always, it is time for a photo documenting us leaving Switzerland! Welcome France with all your good food, wine, beautiful landscapes and lovely language!
The hilly Savoie region is a TWKE eldorado. Small windy roads, not much traffic and beautiful views when combined with a sunny day make for maximum driving joy.
At lunchtime, we don’t feel tired and will definitely drive further than our max pack capacity. Why not combine an hour of quick charging with some lunch?
Unlike the Carrefour ones in Spain, the charging stations in France are not for free. I try the QR-code based login which takes me down a rabbit hole of badly designed webpages and missing descriptors (Charger 1 activated… no numbers on the chargers and no way to know which one was active and the confusing concept of ‘charging credit tickets’.)
Anyway, I then used one of the dozen or so charging cards I have and was lucky that it was accepted by the charger and the charge could begin.
Another discovery was the fact that one of the supplementary chargers in my TWIKE was inactive/idle and therefore the maximum charge rate was roughly one third lower than the theoretical maximum.
This didn’t really bother us as we would only need around 100km more range which we could easily charge during lunch with the available onboard chargers.
Off to ‘Le Bureau’ – a franchise Pub/Bar chain to which I used to go to very frequently during the days i worked for a French company and was in Paris roughly once every quarter. Yum.
We browsed some places south of Grenoble we could stay and decided on a cute-looking Auberge in the hills around 30 km from Grenoble.
We continued onwards and were quite happy about the clouds towering around the mountains south of Grenoble – the temperatures weren’t unbearable but any respite was welcome.
Having arrived at the Auberge we chose with around 45km left in the battery, we saw that it was one of these no-staff-enter-by-code affairs without any secure parking at all. Whilst this usually also means that we could arrange for an overnight charge without any problems, we also saw that the place being in the middle of nowhere and no way to park the TWIKE securely, we might run too much of a risk of attracting some unwanted attention.
Since we hadn’t reserved yet, we quickly changed our plans and drove back 30 km down to Grenoble and ended up at a B&B hotel with a super friendly manager who was very helpful. He let us set up our charge through the window of the main entrance – easy & no problem at all. With Around 15km left in the pack, we have to charge overnight at 9-10A to be able to start with a full pack (which we will be needing for our next part of the trip tomorrow!)
We parked our TWIKE as closely as possible and started our charge – we then took all our stuff to the room and thought all was good.
An hour later we had the guy knock on our door and ask how much longer we would be charging as he had to close the windows in around an hour due to the security policies in place.
We then explained that the charge would be all night … he then put us in another room on the other side of the hotel and asked us to drive our TWIKE up through the secured garden all the way to our room…from which we could charge to our heart’s content!
This is how customer focus looks like! Thank you B&B Hotels!
Our trip today was 465km with an average consumption of 37.5 Wh/km.
We’re looking forward to tomorrow. A trip with some passes and hills … and most importantly our goal: the sea on France’s southern coast!