The idea: Get out of the rat race, live our lives & enjoy being together.
The reality: Who knows? Our aim is to both enjoy our time together whatever is ahead of us.
Where To? We haven’t a clue on this one. We’ll just go wherever we think. We’ll enjoy whatever we see, whatever we do & together we’ll look forward to whatever is ahead of us.
We both love the peace & quiet that nature offers, the rugged & rocky coastlines. No motorways, no toll roads, just heading for wherever we end up. No large populated places, just looking for peace & quiet wherever that is. Most of all we enjoy whatever we do together. So here is our journal on our trip into the unknown & as we see it.
We hope you enjoy reading about our journey & the road ahead of us. We’ll keep you up to date with as much information as possible. Who knows when that we’ll be? We’ll do it whenever the opportunity arises.
Day 1 – Tuesday 08/07/08
After an overnight stop at Devil’s Dyke we made our way to Dover to book a channel crossing to take us from Dover to Calais. After taking the coast road we finally arrived in Dover shortly after mid-day. Upon arrival we entered the port booking office looking for a crossing that would give us value for money. Sea France quoted us £114.00; P&O quoted us £104.00 & Norfolk Line a staggering £148.00. Just out side the port we had noticed an office offering discounted channel crossings. We drove to their office & after enquiring what available crossings there were that day, we were booked on the Sea France 16.25 ferry at the cost of just £47.50p for a one way ticket. So after thinking you could just turn up at Dover & buy a cheap ticket direct from the operators it turns out that it’s always best to either book online or use a discounted ticket office. We used Dover Eurochange, Townwall Street, Dover, Kent. CT16 1JR. Tel: 01304 210949 http://www.dovereurochange.co.uk So now with a couple of hours to spare we visited the national Trust site at Dover. The weather had been a mixture of a few small showers but now it was a nice sunny afternoon, but the wind was getting up. No problem for me, but I think Sonia had better take a couple of sea leg tablets just in case it does get a bit bumpy as we cross the channel. Parked on the hill in the site car park looking down on the port having a cup of tea was just the way to relax before our crossing. We left the NT site & headed back to the port for our 16.00 booking in time. After arriving back in the port we went through a brief security check then headed for the Sea France departure booth. We were greeted by the news that our crossing was delayed by about an hour. Not too worry we replied, we’re in no rush. I think they thought we were mad as probably most people groaned about being delayed. But we have got plenty of time ahead of us as we haven’t a clue where we are going or where we will end up on our tour. We boarded the ferry shortly after 5pm & set sail around 5.30 – 5.45pm. The crossing was fine & we both had a good look around the ship before our first sighting of France came into view. Wow we both thought, the shore line was looking good & the weather was bright. Shortly after 7:15 pm French time we had departed the ferry & we were off. Mm, where do we go? This way or that way? Now the first thing that I did notice was they drive on the wrong side of the road to us. They drive on the right & I had to quickly adapt as there was all this traffic coming off the ferry & driving out of the port. So what do you do? You just follow the motorhome in front & hope it’s going where you want to go. After driving away from the port of Calais I pulled over, programmed the sat nav to take us to the nearest supermarket which just happened to be Carrefour. Upon arrival we looked at each other, laughed & realised we had finally made it to France for the start of our tour. So now we were sat in the Carrefour car park & we decided to get some bread & bananas. How can a simple task be so different from home? Well after finding some bread & picking up a bunch of bananas we queued up & realised there were no express tills. So after patiently waiting in the queue for about 10 minutes we were greeted by a loud bonjour, we replied & then it was all double dutch to us. We just wanted to pay for our goods & then leave. This person was on about tickets, weights etc for the bananas so after a while we gestured we would just buy the bread & leave the bananas behind. After exiting Carrefour’s we didn’t realised that buying a bunch of bananas could be such a task. But it was fun trying & I’m sure we’ll have plenty more yet. Well it’s now getting on for 9pm & we still haven’t worked out where we were heading. But first of all we need some diesel. So after a little drive around we found an Esso garage where we filled up our tank with 50 litres of diesel for €73.95 @ €1.47 which equals £61.37p @ £1.22p litre. So our 1st fill up in France was a bit cheaper than the UK, but not a great saving. So after deciding we didn’t really want to spend the night in Calais we consulted our All the Aires France book & we decided to head for the aires at Audresselles, page 296 site no: 42 (if you have the all the aires France book or sat nav co-ordinates N50º.49.184 E001º.35.820 for Google earth). So now we have 2 lost Brit’s driving in the dark without a clue where they were heading or what to expect when they get there, this should be fun. Around 9:45 – 10pm we finally arrived at the aires, great we thought. What we didn’t know was the motorhome parking outside the campsite had been stopped. After being greeted by a lovely lady who we apologised to for arriving late, she told us in broken English that the motorhome parking had been stopped outside the campsite & we could stay on the site which included showers & services for the motorhome for €6 which works out to around £4.98p. Great we both said where do we park? Let’s put our 1st night in France to bed.
Day 2 – Wednesday 09/07/08
Well after a peaceful night’s kip I thought I’d better take a quick look around the camp site & pay for our nights stay. The camp site was fine & I did notice that probably there were some long term campers staying there. Showers were clean & the water was hot, toilets were clean, site had plenty of sinks & a launderette. On the whole we thought the site offered good value for money & we could also service our motorhome there (fill up with water, empty grey water etc). So after a good shower & a few cups of tea we thought we had better move on. Looking back we probably should have stayed on the site for a day or two so we could get a feel for the road ahead, but hey what the heck we hadn’t planned anything yet, so why bother now. The weather was mean & by mid morning it was still wet & rainy. So shortly after 11am we left Audresselles & headed for wherever we thought we should go. So with a map of France in one hand & a sat nav in the other we headed for Dieppe. We thought we would follow the coast road & see where the road ahead would take us. I found the roads easy to drive, good sign posting & not a large amount of traffic. Well we stopped at a few places on the way, Wimille, Boulogne-S-Mer, Etaples, Berck, St-Vallery-S-Somme, Ault, le Treport, Bracqemont & finally Dieppe. After a few stops & a few cuppa’s we decided to head for our 1st night at a France Passion site. Well that’s one thing we did do before we left the UK, we joined France Passion. Having heard about it & reading about the scheme on their site: http://www.france-passion.com We thought for £21 it sounded more than good value for money as there are over 5,500 places to park overnight for free & that means at night we should always be safe & sound. The book favours the 1,300 venues who are members of the France Passion scheme & the rest I think you just look for the Bienvenue A La Ferme sign. http://www.bienvenue-a-la-ferme.com So we picked out a site called Amfreville Les Champs 76560 page 342 which was a Cider Farm. Okay so I know what you’re all thinking, we only picked the site because they spoke English. How wrong you are, we picked the site because we don’t talk French. Well believe it or not we actually found the site without not to many wrong turns & it was great. The hosts were very friendly & we chatted with them for a while before being left to take a look around & discover what their property had to offer. We were parked by their pond for the night, we had a good walk around the orchards & it was great. There was only one other motorhome parked there for the night which we didn’t see the people come or go. There was also another motorhome parked there which unfortunately the owner had been rushed to hospital with appendicitis. Hopefully he has now fully recovered & is now safely back home. The weather had been a mixture of rain, more rain & even torrential rain, but the night was looking good. Bit chilly, but at least it was dry. Time to put Polly on once again; have a cuppa & a get a good night’s kip. We highly recommended this site to stay at.
Day 3 –Thursday 10/07/08
Well after a good night’s kip & a few cuppa’s it was time for us to depart our overnight stop. We bid a fair au revoir to our hosts & departed through the gates of this splendid property. So where do we go from here? We head that way to Rouen. Rouen was very busy & after negotiating the driving around this place we headed for Broglie. We stopped of at the aires no: 35 p264 (if you have the all the aires France book or sat nav co-ordinates N49º.00.514 E000º.31.833 for Google earth). The aires was a very pleasant place to park up which gave us time to wander around the village to see what it had to offer. The walk around the river was nice & there are plenty of places to have a picnic. Now one thing I had noticed by now was that in France every town, village etc seemed to have a large Church or Cathedral & there were plenty of places to stop & rest. Also everywhere seemed to be clean & free from rubbish as there were plenty of bins placed around the areas. Parking was FREE – yes FREE, no parking charges & everywhere we had been through all had places for Motorhomes to stop & park up. We could now begin to see why France was probably the motorhome capital of Europe. Long roads, easy driving, well sign posted, places to stop & friendly people. Are we beginning to miss England with all its’ rules & regulations, all its’ charges, all its’ rubbish, all its’ motorhome unfriendliness? Mm, don’t think so some how, do you? The weather was still miserable & we had a mixture of heavy rain & sunny spells throughout the day. So we left Broglie heading for a place called Ceauce. Well we never made that one, for some reason or another we got horribly lost after leaving Alencon & after a rather long drive around we headed for another France Passion site. This site was at Sees & was called La Hibou 61500 page 293 which was a cider farm. The parking area was okay & we could hear a little bit of road noise. The hosts didn’t seem that bothered we were there & weren’t interested in showing us their farm. There wasn’t any nice walks or views here, but it served its’ purpose & the night was quiet. We were the only ones’ parked there for the night. One thing we had noticed about using the France Passion book was trying to work out how to find some of the places. No sat nav co-ordinates, just a post code & maybe a road name. But that’s all part of the fun isn’t it? Getting lost & seeing something you would have missed.
Day 4 – Friday 11-07-08
We left Sees mid morning & decided to head towards Le Mont St. Michel. We went to Alencon – Pre En Pail – Neuilly Le Vendin – Haleine – Domfront – Le Teilleul – St. Hilaire Du Harcourt – Mortain – Ducey – Precey – Portoson – Pleine Fougres – Antrain. At Antrain we found an aires in the centre of the village that doesn’t seem to be in the aires book. It did look very new & had a nice area around it which could be used for a picnic. It was very clean, washing sinks, state of the art toilets & a service point which to use cost €1. Just think 86p to get rid of your waste water & empty & clean your toilet cassette, then top up & refill your freshwater tank with good quality water & perhaps any containers you may carry. Plus you could also use the sinks to have a wash & shave, or perhaps wash out some laundry & you also have nice clean toilets at your disposal. Not to mention all the rubbish bins & recycling points at your disposal. Where’s all the litter & rubbish we’re used to seeing? Are us Brits missing something or am I just beginning to think that the European way of life is just so much easier & even better than what we have in the UK? After a good look around we finally left Antrain heading for our nights destination. Well after a bit of a mare & trying to ask for directions without any luck there, with one last throw of the dice I turned up a road thinking we’ll still be lost & to our amazement there it was, Vieux Viel our France Passion site for the night. Vieux Viel 35610 page 197 was another cider farm. The site had a nice feel to it & was set in a nice quiet area. The hosts were very welcoming & even showed us how the cider press worked. We parked in a crescent shaped drive near to their home. After the day had seen a mixture of rain & sunny spells we went for a nice walk in the evening sun. It was very quiet at night & there were 2 of us parked there for the night. We highly recommended this site to stay at.
Day 5 – Saturday 12-07-08
Well after another good night’s kip & polly had come to the boil once again. We chatted with some people from Belgium who had also stopped at Vieux Viel that night. We got some useful information about travelling through Belgium & Holland & were now thinking the route we had taken may perhaps be the right one. There seems to be an opinion that no matter who you talk to France is the place to be in a motorhome. Many other countries seem to tolerate them but none seem to be as geared up as France. Well we’ll see as the time comes & our travels widen. Well it’s another cloudy wet start to the day, but we don’t care, we’re off to Le Mont St. Michel. After a hearty au revoir we left Vieux Viel & headed for our destination. If you’ve never seen this famous landmark you can’t miss it, you can see Le Mont St. Michel in every direction as you approach it. Upon arrival we paid our €8 for the car park which was huge. There was a dedicated motorhome parking area & for our €8 it entitled us to park there overnight. Wow, this place looks awesome. Magnificent landmark, magnificent views, magnificent sandy beaches as far as the eye can see, everything looked magnificent. We approached Le Mont St. Michel & were amazed when we entered the gates. A complete town built into a hill along with its’ narrow cobbled streets, houses & above all this one of the most famous Abbey’s in the world standing on top of it all, Le Mont St. Michel. The weather had taken a turn & it was raining hard, but not for long. By mid morning the clouds had disappeared & the sun was beginning to come out of hiding. The place was alive with the coming of people in their hundreds. By mid morning the car park was filling up & the coaches were arriving by the dozen. So many people, so many nationality’s joining together to savour the splendour of this magnificent Abbey. Well after a good look around the grounds & a spot of lunch we had both decided it was worth paying the €17 entrance fee for the both of us to see inside the Abbey. After joining quite a long queue & ascending up a rather steep set of steps we finally reached the ticket booth. After a short walk, tickets clipped we were on our way into the Abbey. Well what can we say? Le Mont St. Michel is an amazing place to see. The inside of the Abbey is magnificent, probably a little bit different to what we had imagined it would be like. But none the less it’s a must on anyone’s list. The views were terrific & the Abbey breathes life & energy. After spending the whole day in this magnificent Abbey we took a short walk around the outside before heading back to our motorhome, polly was calling & we were parched. So after such a magnificent day, what could we expect that evening? Just think €8 to park at one of the most famous landmarks in the world for 24 hours in a dedicated motorhome park. Wonder if we can park in St. Paul’s Cathedral for the same £6.64p, I think not. As the evening grew darker Le Mont St. Michel came alive. It was well lit up & the night was cloudy but dry. Fireworks went off late in the evening & it was great to be there. Polly was boiling & after a cuppa it was finally time to hit the sack.
Day 6 – Sunday 13-07-08
Well after another great night’s kip & polly had bought the morning to another fine start it was time for us once again to move on. We left Le Mont St. Michel under a cloudy sky which was sending down more rain. We had decided to head for St. Cast Le Guildo. We went via St. Malo & stopped at Rance. Now this was an interesting place. We had driven over a river & found a power station built underneath it. Rance power station is a tidal power station. It was the 1st in the World to produce electricity thanks to tidal energy. It was built between 1961 & 1966 at the exceptional location of the Rance estuary. I’m sure that if you search for this place on Google you’ll be able to read about it. Well worth a visit not only for the location but also to see what else this place has to offer. Sadly whilst we were there a Dolphin had been found dead in the bay. By mid afternoon we left Rance & had thoroughly enjoyed our stop over. We arrived at St. Cast Le Guildo & used the 1st Aires listed there to replenish our motorhome no: 135 page 67 (if you have the all the aires France book or sat nav co-ordinates N48º.37.738 W002º.15.219 for Google earth). Aires was okay, difficult to get onto as there was a caravan parked there at the time, but we managed. Cost was €2 which equals £1.66p we then drove to the 2nd Aires listed expecting to find somewhere to park. Aires no: 136 page 67 (if you have the all the aires France book or sat nav co-ordinates N48º.38.595 W002º.14.767 for Google earth). Well we found the coast guard building high above the harbour but nowhere to park. The car park had a height barrier on it & you couldn’t drive down the road as there was a no entry sign there. So after discovering this we headed for Plouha. How delighted we were when we arrived. Aires no: 125 page 65 (if you have the all the aires France book or sat nav co-ordinates N48º.40.554 W002º.53.107 for Google earth). We parked right opposite the beach with a nice view. There is plenty to do here, nice long walks along the cliff tops, fishing, swimming, volleyball, boules & sunbathing. There’s a couple of restaurants & a bar here. The local baker stops at the aires every morning between 08.30 & 09.00. So with your morning cuppa you can have fresh croissants or whatever else you fancy. We could only park here for the 1 night as there was a festival in Plouha on the Monday afternoon & all vehicles had to leave by 10am that morning, otherwise we would have stayed another day or two. One thing we had discovered by now was that most if not all the shops & supermarkets were closed on a Sunday. So if you had forgot to buy your food or fill up with fuel, then it was find somewhere nice to park up & use corn flakes as croutons for your soup.
Day 7 – Monday 14-07-08
Well after leaving Plouha we drove to Paimpol. We parked up at the Aires no: 123 page 64 (if you have the all the aires France book or sat nav co-ordinates N48º.47.003 W003º.02.821 for Google earth). Paimpol was worth the visit, the aires was secluded but right next to a busy road, so we wouldn’t be parking there for the night. After leaving Paimpol we drove to Treguier, Aires no: 119 page 63 (if you have the all the aires France book or sat nav co-ordinates N48º.47.410 W003º.13.863 for Google earth). There was no water available at this service point, just disposal. We parked up by the river, it was very peaceful, went for a lovely walk, plenty of Mullet fishing. We stayed there over night & even had a firework display because of Bastille Day. If it wasn’t for the fact that it rained late in the night & the next morning we probably would have stayed here a night or 2 more.
Day 8 – Tuesday 15-07-08
Well after a peaceful night at Treguier the morning was once again full of rain. So after me morning cuppa, it was time to search for some sun. We left Treguier heading for Locquirec which had parking right on the beach. We found Locquirec, Aires no: 112 page 61 (if you have the all the aires France book or sat nav co-ordinates N48º.41.189 W003º.40.579 for Google earth) the services here are free to motorhomes. That’s right FREE, to service our van dispose of & refill our water supplies it cost nought. So what have we got here? We are parked right on the beach, we can service our motorhome & it’s FREE. No height barriers, no restrictions, no hassle. We are welcome to stay here for FREE. Locquirec was a lovely place, great if you want to sit around on the beach, nice place for walking. Well as it was still raining & quite windy we decided to move on. So we headed for Roscoff, Aires no: 104 page 59 (if you have the all the aires France book or sat nav co-ordinates N48º.43.526 W003º.58.224 for Google earth). When we arrived the sun had popped its’ head out & the late afternoon & evening was nice. This place was pretty busy & we managed to squeeze ourselves into the corner for the night. Behind the aires there is a nice garden & an old Abbey on top of a hill which gives you a good viewing point to look out across the surrounding area & from here you can see the Isle of Batz. Now if you didn’t know, Roscoff is a ferry port. You can catch the ferry to Plymouth or Cork from here. The bay is pretty rocky & the town isn’t too far to walk to. The night air was pretty chilly, we had a good nights’ kip & it was very quiet.
Day 9 – Wednesday 16-07-08
Well after the morning had got of to another wet start we had decided to head for Camaret-Sur-Mer. Aires no: 88 page 55 (if you have the all the aires France book or sat nav co-ordinates N48º.16.442 W004º.36.525 for Google earth). Now this place has a Stone Circle by it, something that interests us both. Well we are both big fans of Avesbury & if this place is as good, wow we’ve hit the jackpot. We drove via Sizun, Le Faou & Crozon. When we arrived at the Stone circle our 1st impression was, yes you guessed it, what a load of old crap. If that’s a Stone Circle then me Father is Donald Duck. The aires is in a campsite & it costs €4 to park there over night. Well we found somewhere to park outside the aires for nought, put polly on & after having a cuppa we thought we’d better have a look around. Well the stones were just an alignment, no circle & dead energy. So we walked around saw a coastguard station on top of the hill & decided to head for there. The coastguard station is closed to the public but the views & walks from on top of the hill are great. If you love sandy beaches, surfing, fishing & dead stones then this is the place to head for. Well as the sun had been shining for the past few hours & the day was turning out to be a warm one. After another cuppa we decided it wasn’t worth parking up here for the night so we headed for a place called Guidel Plages, Aires no: 56 page 47 (if you have the all the aires France book or sat nav co-ordinates N47º.45.963 W003º.31.512 for Google earth). We went via St-Nic, Ploeven and Quimper. Well this place is right behind some shops & next to a skateboard park. It’s dirty & very noisy, not the place for us to park for the night. Now I had noticed there was another aires not too far from here, so we headed for that one. Kergahar, Aires no: 54 page 47 (if you have the all the aires France book or sat nav co-ordinates N47º.45.021 W003º.30.334 for Google earth). Bingo, okay it’s on a bit of a slope & it’s sandy. But it was secluded & about a 5 minute walk to the beach. So we decided this was the place to put polly on, have some dinner & park up for the night. The evening was warm & bright, so after dinner we went for a walk to have a look around. Well there was a lot here to see & tomorrow morning would be the time to have a look around. Well after our final polly for the night we had both decided that tomorrow was a day of rest. We had been in France for 9 days now & we had covered 781 miles looking for whatever we were trying to find & to get away from the rain. So a rest was just what was on the menu.
Day 10 – Thursday 17-07-08
Well after a peaceful nights’ kip & the morning cuppa it was time to take a look around. The path leading to our left took us to FortBloque which was open to the public free of charge. There’s that FREE of charge bit again. Free overnight parking near the beach & to look around a piece of history it’s still FREE. Must be why they have so many people visiting places instead of being stuck indoors watching the box. Anyway after a good look around FortBloque it was across the road to the beach. Now this beach was part rocky, part sandy. The rocky part had loads of people with buckets & nets crawling over the rocks. Now we had noticed that there were mussels & possibly whelks or cockles all over the place. So using their initiative they were collecting their dinner for free. We did manage to speak to someone who told us that they were collecting mussels & there were thousands of them. Walking along the beach we also noticed how clean & litter free they were as everyone seemed to use the large amounts of bins that are available. We walked for a few miles when we came upon another fort, however this one was private & closed to the public whilst we were there. After returning to our motorhome late in the afternoon as polly was now calling. We had dinner & then we went out for another walk. The area was lovely as we walked down the lanes. We stopped & admired one of the local properties which had a large fishing lake & we watched the Carp jumping. After that we went for a walk around the local nature reserve which was very nice. We then headed back towards the beach, past FortBloque & then back to our motorhome. Kergahar was a lovely place to stay & chill out. It had a lovely beach, history, nature reserve & was clean & peaceful. If it wasn’t for the fact that by the next morning the damn rain had returned we would have stayed there for possibly a few more days.
Day 11 – Friday 18-07-08
Well after another wet start to the day & a sky full of clouds we decided to move on. We left Kergahar & went to Ploemeur, Aires no: 31 page 41 (if you have the all the aires France book or sat nav co-ordinates N47º.44.280 W003º.25.875 for Google earth). This was another FREE aires & after replenishing our motorhome we had a look around. We then decided to go to Lorient, onto Port Louis & then Plouhinec. Well we found all these places not to our liking & rather uninteresting so we drove to EtelPort, Aires no: 27 page 40 (if you have the all the aires France book or sat nav co-ordinates N47º.39.316 W003º.12.383 for Google earth). Bingo, with parking right on the front of the marina I think we have found heaven. EtelPort looked great & it felt great. Well we followed the directions in the All the Aires book France & couldn’t believe it when we found the parking spaces were nearly all empty. So now we were parked up in the corner spot looking out to sea & we were feeling more than happy. A couple of French people were trying to tell us we couldn’t park there so after a quick chat with the local Gendarmerie they informed us we were in the right place for Camping – Cars to park. So now with a score of one nil to England did the French have something up their sleeve? Well after we had made good use of polly once again, it was time to walk around this port. We were both impressed with this place, nice marina, loads of fishing & the place had a nice buzz to it. Even the weather had brightened up & the sun was shining bright but there was a bit of a wind.
French fishing, now what’s all this about?
Swimming around were large shoals of Mullet & some of them were a pretty good size. So what were the French fishing for? Little silver fish about an 1” long. Did this make sense, not to me it didn’t. Decent Mullet & all they wanted were little sprats. Well they had nets, some big, some small. In these nets they put smashed shell fish, crabs & anything else that looked disgusting. They then drop the net into the water, wait for a shoal of tiddlers to come along & then they net them. They then haul in the net, put the fish in the bucket, take them home & somehow cook & eat them. But what about the Mullet? Surely a bigger meal, but much harder to catch. Anyway after watching & trying to converse with them we walked back to our motorhome as it was polly time. So after dinner we decided to go for another walk as we had noticed a lot of people had come to the Port, was there something going on? As we walked around there was an evening market, musicians & a sit down meal at the local RNLI centre. We had a good look around & were greeted by one of the guys we had watched fishing that afternoon. He enquired if we were planning on sleeping here for the night. Yes we replied (remember the bit about something up their sleeve) not possible he said. Ba Boom, Ba Boom, big circus on its way here. All this area is being shut off tonight as they will arrive by 5 – 6am to set their circus up. If you stay here & sleep they will wake you up & turf you out. He also told us that he had caught 200 of these little fish today & they were lovely to eat. So now going back a step, of course we could park there; they just forgot to tell us we couldn’t sleep there as the circus was coming to town. How clever the French are, 1-1. As it was now getting on for 10pm we decided we had better move on rather quickly. So without an escape plan, we decided to go to the local camp site, but at €9 just to park on some grass we passed on that one. We then headed for the aires at Erdeven which was full. So we found a nice quiet spot behind a lorry in a quiet side road & parked there for the night. After our 1st night of Wild Camping in France we had a quiet & very peaceful night’s kip. Even though we had to move late in the night we both thought that EtelPort should be on anyone’s list as a place to visit. Just like Plouha if parking hadn’t been banned in EtelPort we would have probably stayed there for a few days. Oh well its all part of the fun.
Day 12 – Saturday 19-0708
Well after the events of yesterday & our 1st night of wild camping the damn rain had come back. So after our morning cuppa we decided to head for Carnac where there was a large alignment of stones. We went via St Pierre Quiberon & Beg Er Lan which had a great rocky coast line. Well by the afternoon we had arrived in Carnac & by now the sun was shining bright. Carnac was a bustling place & parking was a little difficult. However we conquered that one & finally headed for the famous stones. Well just like the others we had previously visited these were just as disappointing. You couldn’t get near them & the energy was dead. So we found a nice quiet place to park up, put polly on & had a rest. We then drove to a France Passion site called Thiex, 56450 p287 which was a cider farm. The parking wasn’t great here but this was a lovely place to stop overnight. Our hosts were very nice & they showed us their farm & their shop which had some very nice awards & trophies hanging up around the walls. Some of the bottles of cider were priced from €25 - €60 a bottle. They obviously produced a high quality brand of cider & were proud of their farm. They gave us a map & told us there were some nice walks & 2 lakes which we could fish. So after dinner we went for a lovely long walk around their land, we spent some time at the lakes watching the fish rise before heading back to our motorhome. It was a very pleasant place to spend the night & it was very peaceful, we were the only ones parked there for the night. We highly recommended this site to stay at.
Day 13 – Sunday 20-07-08
After a cloudy start to the morning we left Thiex & headed for La Roche Bernard. Aires no: 14 page 37 (if you have the all the aires France book or sat nav co-ordinates N47º.31.274 W002º.18.312 for Google earth). After servicing our motorhome at the cost of €2 we looked around for somewhere to park. La Roche Bernard is a small port, parking was difficult but we managed. We had a good look around before we both decided this wasn’t for us. It had nothing that EtelPort had to offer so we decided to move on. Driving back over the bridge that leads to La Roche Bernard we found a picnic site on the right hand side that did give us some good views looking back down onto the port. So after a little stop there, polly providing another well earnt cuppa we moved on. We both decided that St. Joachim would be our French Passion stop for the night so that’s where we headed for via Herbignac & la Chapelle des Marais. The scenery was nice & wait awaited us was fantastic. Now one thing France does have is a lot of birds of prey. Over the past days whilst driving through France we have seen a large Eagle sat on the edge of the road, plenty of Hawks & even a Hawk Owl. So after driving through la Chapelle des Marais we found a lovely place to stop. We stopped on the edge of a marsh land & could see Sacred Ibis’s, Egrets, Marsh Harrier & even a Beaver swimming across the marsh. The afternoon had become very hot & sunny & we were looking forward to finding our stop over site. So after taking in some nice scenery & putting polly through her paces we headed for our final destination of the day. On approaching St.Joachim what we didn’t know was this place was a village built on marsh land. This area we had arrived in was called Parc Naturel Regional De Briere. It’s the second largest marsh land in France & it’s beautiful. Well after scratching the old grey matter & trying to work out where we were heading for. With a little help from some local people we found our site at Saint Joachim 44720 page 234. This site was classed as “other”, so we didn’t know what to expect. Looking from outside our 1st thoughts were mm, not sure about this one. We turned into the driveway drove around the back & were amazed, looks are sometimes very deceiving. We parked up on the grass & there was one other motorhome already parked there. Surrounding us was a very delightful property along with Turkeys, Chickens, Geese, Apple & Pear trees, nice picnic area & this person had Punts as I call them, that’s a boat designed for shallow water. Our host didn’t talk any English but made us very welcome. We could see he was busy taking people out on the marshes & he gave us some guides to the area which were in English. After dinner we went out for a lovely walk walking around the village & it was great. We saw plenty of properties with character & we came across a very nice picnic area which had Goats, Sheep, Geese & fish in the lake, we even videoed a Beaver swimming across the river. Arriving back at our motorhome we put polly on then sat down to recap on our days events. St. Joachim was great, it was a lovely place & there were only 2 of us parked there over night. Now the only sad part about France Passion was that we were invited as guests to stay on the owner’s property for a period of 24 hrs. If we could have stayed longer at St. Joachim we would have as it was a great place, plenty of nature, good for walking & good for bike riding. We highly recommended this site to stay at.
Day 14 – Monday 21-07-08
After a great night’s kip & polly providing the morning brew once again it was already becoming warm & the sun was bright. We were greeted by our host & we enquired about a trip out onto the marsh. He sort of understood us & we sort of understood him & along with 2 French people we were shortly heading out across the marsh land that surrounded us. Before we left he gave a talk about the history of Briere & what the marsh had to offer. We did look at a guide written in English but didn’t understand a word from his talk. Lucky for us a French lady spoke a little English & we enjoyed what our host was showing us. The trip was great & we both enjoyed it & at a cost of €14 for the 2 of us for an hour and a half it was great value. When we arrived back to the site we thanked our host for such a wonderful night’s stay & for taking us out on the marsh. By now there was already 3 motorhomes that had arrived so the chances of us staying here another night were slim. So we bid our host a hearty au revoir & headed of to our next stop. On leaving St. Joachim we stopped of at the spot we had previously stopped at the day before to admire the marsh land & the wild life for one last time. From there we headed for a France Passion site called Campbon 44750 page 229. Well we pulled up outside of this place looked at the parking area which was next to a bit of a smelly shed & we both decided this wasn’t the place for us, our 1st refusal of parking on a French Passion site. We then drove to Saint Mars De Coutais 44680 page 234. The host was very nice, the parking was fine, no nice long walks but it was a quiet & pleasant place to stay for the night & there was only 2 of us parked there over night.
Day 15 – Tuesday 22-07-08
The day started hot & sunny & after a brew it was time to move on. Well we had been in France for 2 weeks now & we needed to do some washing. So we headed for a place called St.Philbert-De-Grand-Lieu hoping to find a launderette. After finding the place & parking up next to the church we went searching for the launderette we desperately needed. We found one inside the 24 hour video booth, great. Now let’s go to the bank & get some change. Well this was a difficult one as we didn’t know but the banks don’t have money in them, they must be like pubs with no beer. So after 3 banks & no money in them, you can only use the hole in the wall machine to take money out. Not sure how you put your money back in them, but perhaps that’s for another day. So we tried the Post Office, cor blimey still no money. So not only do the banks have no money but neither does the Post Office, what do the old wombles do on pension day? So what do they do with all the old people when they reach retirement age? Do they just ship them off to the local cemetery as you can’t get money out of the bank or the post office or do they have another crafty scheme up their sleeve? Anyway we found on the wall in the post office a machine that gave change. So we put some notes in it & we were now laden with change for the launderette. Now before you read on, make sure you’re not driving, operating any machinery or a member of the French launderette federation for catching laundry snatchers. Arriving in the launderette we found 3 washing machines, one which was being used & a rather large tumble dryer. Now me clothes needed washing, so I loaded them into a big washing machine which had a notice on it. Now I don’t talk French so I definitely didn’t understand what the notice said. Glad to see me clothes in the machine I shut the door & put me money in the slot. By this time Sonia had loaded up the other machine & the washing was being washed. Now the machine I chose, wouldn’t take me coins & I was looking puzzled. By now a local French woman had come in to see to her laundry which was in the other machine. I sorted to try to ask her why the machine wouldn’t take me money & now I know what the notice on the machine meant “En Panne” in French means it isn’t working”, great. So now I have to take me clothes out of the machine, wait for one to become free & start all over again. Take me clothes out of the machine, now there’s a slight hitch here. I put me clothes in the machine, shut the door & now I need to take them back out, but the door won’t open. I shut the door & it had locked, but as the machine is broken the door lock button won’t open the door & give me my clothes back. So what do we have here? All me clothes in a machine that doesn’t work & now it won’t give them back. So what do we do now? Well after a smoke & rattling the old grey matter I came up with an idea. Smash the door, take me clothes & run. No that won’t work as I still am using a machine & I still need me clothes washed. So I looked at the machine & came up with another idea. Go get me screw drivers come back to the launderette & snatch me clothes back out of the machine. So armed with screw drivers I took the front of the machine off, flipped the bar & hey presto one open door. Was I glad to see me clothes again. So after emptying the machine of all me clothes I then put the front back on the machine without anyone seeing me. By this time our 1st load had finished so I could now load the rest of me clothes into that machine. We eventually got all our washing done & we were glad to get out of there without anyone knowing of the morning’s events. So if you see a sign & don’t understand it be prepared to snatch back your own laundry. Well after we got back to our motorhome, we put polly on & recapped on our trip to the launderette. We decided that from now on, we had better do the washing by hand. We left St.Philbert & headed for La Chapelle Achard via a very scenic route. We went to la Limouzinere – L’Egonniere – Touvois – Lege – Palluau – Le Poire-S-Vie – Aizeney – Beaulieu-s/s-la-Roche then finally to the France Passion site La Chapelle Achard 85150 page 372. This site was a Deer breeding farm along with a few other interests. What a discovery, this site was great, probably even better if you have children with you. We parked in a well grassed field which had picnic tables in. The field next to us had ponies & goats in, there was a rabbit, plus chickens, turkeys & cows at this farm; the best is yet to come. There was already one motorhome on the site when we arrived & their children were having great fun. There’s even a large sand pit with toys in it for the children to play with. After a well earned brew we had dinner & then it was time to go for a walk. The host here were very welcoming & had told us we could walk around wherever we wished. There was also a clean toilet & plenty of rubbish bins on site & water if you needed it. So we headed off down the lane, past the chickens & turkeys, past the cows & headed down a track to our left. Whilst walking down this track there were wild rabbits in the field, a bird of prey flying high in the sky & right in front of us was a herd of Deer. Now remember this place is a Deer breeding farm. They breed them, they kill them and then they sell them. Now the Deer farming area is pretty large, well fenced & out of bounds. But from not too far away we could watch them & we saw plenty of young Deer as well as 2 Deer with good sets of antlers. Below the Deer breeding area was a big lake which had very large Carp in, they were jumping while we were there & they certainly did make one hell of a splash. It was nice & quiet at night here & we would highly recommend this site to stay at.
Day 16 – Wednesday 23-07-08
After waking up to another sunny start to the day, polly was on & another scenic route had been picked for the days drive. We left La Chapelle Achard & headed for Jard-S-Mer, Auiguillon, Triaize & Marans. The drive wasn’t that scenic even though we enjoyed Pointe de l’Aiguillon & Marans so we headed for what we thought would be our French Passion stop for the night. Vix 85770 page 373 was literally a Melon seller on the main D938; it was noisy so we left there. Charron 17230 page 92 was a wine merchant on the main D9; it was noisy so we left there. Now arriving & leaving 2 France Passion sites was so far alien to us, so where do we head now? Well we left the 2 France Passion sites behind us & headed for Aytre Aires no: 57 page 350 (if you have the all the aires France book or sat nav co-ordinates N46º.06.778 W001º.07.381 for Google earth). Finding this place was a blessing in disguise. If we hadn’t had left the 2 France Passion sites we would never have discovered this little gem. The aires was free & the parking was secluded. If you do come to this place I think arriving early in the afternoon is probably advisable. From the service point drive straight on, around the right hand bend & you will come up to a large wooden bridge on your left hand side, this is the turning for the parking area. There is probably enough space for 10 – 12 vehicles & some of the spots are very nice. When you walk back over the bridge, turn left & within minutes you’ll be on the beach. There’s windsurfing, fishing & swimming here. There’s plenty of long walks & plenty of places to cycle. If you take the path to the left which goes over another wooden bridge you’ll come to a headland, nice views but the path is quite eroded, so be careful. The parking area is very quiet at night, we couldn’t hear any noise from the camp site which isn’t too far away & we had a peaceful night’s kip. I did notice that the local Gendarmerie drive around here a few times during the day & night.
Day 17 – Thursday 24-07-08
Well because we found Aytre such a nice place we decided to have a day of rest here & spend it relaxing & just chilling out. Now the weather had been hot & sunny but by mid afternoon we had a little thunderstorm along with a drop of the wet stuff. But he evening was dry & sunny. We had another peaceful night & we were both thinking that we may be staying here for another day or 2.
Day 18 – Friday 25-07-8
Well the clouds & the rain had returned so after the morning brew we decided to move on. We drove to Rochefort stopped at Netto’s done the shopping & then a slight problem arose. We had locked our motorhome up & when we came out of Netto’s we couldn’t open the habitation door. So after a little investigation I think I had found the problem. It looked like to me that a spring had broken so the door lock wouldn’t move. I found a way to open & shut the door but it needed seeing to. So I phoned our European warranty company & they politely told us it was our problem & they weren’t interested. So I then phoned the people we purchased the motorhome from & were asked to give them a couple of hours to locate someone who could fix our door. Well I’ll give them their due, 2 hours later we were on our way to a motorhome dealer north of Rochefort. On arriving there we were told that they hadn’t been a Knaus dealer for the past 2 years. So we got back on the phone to Premier & after discussing our dilemma we were then told that we should look on the internet & find a Knaus dealer, after all that’s what they would do. So we have a dealer warranty, European warranty, AA European cover & now we have a problem it’s find your own dealer & sort it out yourself. Are all these warranties really worth the paper their written on or the money they charge you? So we drove to Mc Donald’s managed to down load a list of all Knaus dealers in Europe & found the dealer we required was in Bordeaux. We then we drove to the France Passion site at Pierre D’Oleron 17310 page 96 which was an independent wine grower. The hosts were very nice & they gave us a guide to the area which was written in English. It was okay as a night stop over & there were 7 of us parked there for the night.
Day 19 – Saturday 26-07-08
Well the rain seems to be following us. The morning started of with torrential showers & by mid morning the day had become bright & sunny. Now we came here because of the wildlife & terrific views. What we didn’t know was that Pierre D’Oleron was the 1st place we had come across that wasn’t that motorhome friendly. St.Denis was fine & we had a lovely walk around the light house, the gardens & the cliff top. However we found the rest of the area was a bit of a struggle. So as the area became less appealing to the both of us we decided to drive to France Passion site Tesson 17460 page 98 which was an independent wine grower. The site was an old Château, the parking was in a decent size field & the host was very nice. Be warned, they do have a rather large dog, could be a wolf, but it’s harmless. Even though there weren’t any nice walks we did see 2 Eagles flying near us we had a very peaceful night & we were the only ones parked there.
Day 20 – Sunday 27-07-08
The day started dry & warm & after polly had supplied the morning brew it was time to move on. So we headed for Cognac the town that’s famous for the names of Hennessey & Cognac etc. Well we headed for the Aires no: 63 page 351 (if you have the all the aires France book or sat nav co-ordinates N45º.41.910 W000º.19.962 for Google earth). We found the aires without an problems & we found a place to park just outside the tanker depot. The aires is free & even electricity is free here with a 2 hour time limit. But I’m sure with a long cable you can hook up all day long. So here we are in Cognac on a Sunday & the place seemed like a ghost town. We had a good walk around the town & visited the Cognac Otard. There was a Blue’s festival on at the site of the Hotel De Ville which seemed pretty good. We found Cognac an interesting town but not quite as I had imagined it to be. River walks are pleasant & there are plenty of restaurants. By late afternoon we decided to head for France Passion site Clion 17240 page 91 which was an independent wine grower. Hosts were nice, no nice walks, very peaceful & we were the only ones parked there over night.
Day 21- Monday 28-07-08
The day started dry & sunny then soon turned to torrential rain & thunderstorms. Well would this be a good day for us or would we have to travel elsewhere to find a Knaus dealer who could look at & fix the problem with our habitation door? We left Clion & travelled to our destination Aquitaine Evasion RN 10-64, Avenue Aquitaine 33560 Sainte Eulalie which is just north of Bordeaux. We arrived shortly after mid-day & they were closed until 2pm. So we found the nearest McDonalds & caught up with some email’s etc. Shortly after 2pm we were driving through their gates in hope for a solution to our problem. We didn’t have to wait long, a man who couldn’t talk much English was looking into our problem which he diagnosed as a broken spring on the door lever mechanism. He explained it was a job he could rectify there & then which he did. He carried out a superb job & the door now works superbly. It cost us €64 to fix & it was well worth the money. An hour or so later we were on our way to our night’s destination. We chose France Passion site Saint Germain Du Puch 33750 page 183 which just happened to be an old Château called Château Du Grand Puch which is listed as a building of historic interest. It produces Bordeaux Superiur Rouge & Viande Bovine. Well after driving down their reasonably long driveway & under the arch we came to the France Passion sign which guided us to our parking place. Now the parking here is on concrete & there is a bit of a slope & there’s a reason why. Just after we arrived there we had an almighty thunder storm. If you could have seen the water running down the drive from all directions you can now understand why there’s a slope. It was torrential running water & we were happy to see it go on by. After dinner the evening turned out dry & bright so we had a good look around the grounds of the Château & went for a nice long walk. The host was very nice & we were the only ones parked there for the night. We think it’s worth a visit if only to say you parked at a historic Château for free.
Day 22 – Tuesday 29-07-08
After a very peaceful night’s kip polly had supplied me with yet another morning brew or two to help kick start me day. We had decided to drive to Monbazillac so we bid our host au revoir & left the Château under a cloudy but dry sky, by mid morning it was hot & sunny. Monbazillac is Aires no: 4 page 4 (if you have the all the aires France book or sat nav co-ordinates N44º.47.321 E000º.29.751 for Google earth). It is also France Passion site Monbazillac 24240 page 120 & they are listed as a wine producer. This place should be at the top of anyone’s list of France Passion or Aires sites to visit, it’s great. We arrived hear shortly before 1pm expecting to just service our motorhome & probably move on. There were already 5 motorhomes here & the host had come out to greet us. He was a very happy person & even though we didn’t fully understand him & he didn’t talk English, he told us to park up & he would see us later. So we parked up, put polly on & the guy went for his lunch. This domain is on a single track road which is pretty quiet & the ground does slope a bit but there are wooden chocks there if you want to level your motorhome. Well the afternoon turned out to be a scorcher so we decided to stay here & chill out for the rest of the day. The people who were already here were friendly & though we didn’t talk French & none of them spoke English we kind of understood each other. Now the guy who owns this place came back from lunch & was talking to everyone & by now we had noticed some of the motorhomes had loaded up with cases of wine & then left. But no sooner had they left another motorhome would pull in. Well the guy was jostling people around & making sure everyone was parked in a reasonable place & making sure everyone was happy. Whilst this was all going on motorhomes & cars were pulling in & leaving with cases of wine. Well by 6pm there were 7 of us parked there for the night. We had decided to have an early dinner & we were glad we did. The guy was talking to everyone outside & seemed to be rounding everyone up. He came over to us & with the help of the others he told us that we were invited for a drink. I shouted to Sonia forget the washing up were going for a drink, so we dropped everything & joined the group outside. We went into this guy’s wine cellar & he seated us next to our saviours. A family from Ireland had just pulled in & we were thankfully seated next to them. Even though the guy didn’t speak any French his wife & 2 children did, so they translated & relayed back to us what we needed to know. Now the guy who owns the place explained that he likes to get the group of people who park there over night together so everyone gets to meet each other. Plus this gives him the opportunity to invite us all to sample his wine free of charge & without any obligation to purchase any & tell us some history of Monbazillac & the Dordogne. Well we had a great time there & after sampling 6 different types of wine, well I sampled 12 because I drunk Sonia’s as well, our wine tasting session had come to an end. Now for me to drink wine or even buy it, it has to be something special & to me liking. Sadly to say this guy’s wine wasn’t for me but from the amount he sells I’m sure he has thousands of more than satisfied punters. We more than enjoyed our stay at this site & highly recommend anyone to visit this place. You can service your motorhome there free of any charge but be warned, you either need a strong peg or no sense of smell if you use the camping-car WC.
Day 23 – Wednesday 30-07-08
Well after a good night’s kip & me morning brew the weather was bright but looking rather unsettled. Shortly after 8am we had another storm along with torrential rain but by 09.30 it was dry bright & sunny once again. The guy at Monbazillac gave us a guide to the Dordogne & had marked of several places which he said “were a must to visit”. So after another cuppa, we serviced the motorhome & bid a very hearty au revoir to our host. We drove to Lalinde, stopping of on the way to admire the Dordogne & watch some people fishing. Lalinde is a lovely little town with character & a few shops etc. We left there & went to Tremolet which is also a lovely little village. Aires no: 89 page 26 (if you have the all the aires France book or sat nav co-ordinates N44º.52.433 E000º.49.853 for Google earth). Now the Aires is situated behind the little hedge which is alongside the motor home sign. Where the parking is it is also the villages recycling point. So there could be a constant flow of vehicles in & out of the car park, there was while we were there. Also as it was hot the smell from the rubbish was unpleasant. The surrounding area is very nice & peaceful with some lovely views. Well after polly had provided another refreshing cuppa it was time to head for our overnight stop. Learning from our previous days we had decided to pick out a France Passion site & if it wasn’t what we were looking for then we would leave ourselves plenty of time to find another one or somewhere else to park for the night. Now lucky old me, not having much sense of smell, perhaps that’s why Sonia tells me that me trainers stink, or is it me feet. We had picked out a France Passion site that happened to be a Goose Farm. Now we were both wondering whether or not this place was going to be a stinky old farm or not. How pleasantly surprised we were when we arrived there. France Passion site Badefols Sur Dordogne 24150 page 115 was a tourist attraction as well as a camping site. They specialise in Foie Gras, Confits etc & we were given a warm welcome & the parking is in a nice field. The geese are kept well away from the main area & there was hardly any smell. There are ducks nearby which we could see in the field & they are a few shed’s of these, that was okay. Now I need a bit of education here. So what’s all the Foie Gras about? Sonia tells me it’s where they force feed the geese to make their livers swell & all I know is it comes in a tin & it’s bloody expensive. Well perhaps we may get to taste a sample along our way or perhaps we won’t. Now we’re getting brave & even starting to act a bit European leaving the British reserve behind us. We’ve parked up, got the awning out & even the barbeque has seen the light of day. Not bad since we’ve had this lot for about 3 months now. Okay so how does the awning exactly go out? Well we got there in the end, I’m not sure I had it set up exactly right but who cares, it’s out. Shortly after dinner it was time to go for a walk to see what was around. Now if you have bikes I’m sure there are some pleasant places to ride to, as we’ve only got our legs we’ll just tell you about the walking. The view of the forest & surrounding area is very nice. We were lucky to see a deer in one of the fields & a rather fast running rabbit. It’s very peaceful & quiet here & there was 3 of us parked here for the night. There was also a coach party here for quite a few hours in the evening who were having a good look around the place & then sat down to an evening meal & some wine. Think they left around 11- 11.30pm. Now I haven’t told you this. If you come here & park in the France Passion section if you look over to your right where the campers are, there is a long thin building. In here are toilets, hot showers & plenty of sinks. It’s very clean & well kept up together. So after that long hot day a good shower was in order. I did have to share me shower but I didn’t complain, but the slug on the wall kinda turned its head. Perhaps it didn’t like the smell of me feet or the feathers in me hat. Badefols is definitely worth stopping at & there is some lovely scenery in the surrounding area.
Day 24 – Thursday 31-07-08
After a peaceful night’s kip & me morning brew it was time to move on. The day started warm & the sun was shining bright. Now if you don’t ask you’ll never know & if you never know it’s probably because you never asked. So when I went over to bid our host au revoir I asked if we could come back as we were looking at some places of interest in the area. They told us we could stay as long as we like & that it would be no problem. So with that in mind we headed of for our 1st stop of the day which was at Le Buisson-De-Cadouin & we went there to see the Les Grottes De Maxange caves. We arrived around 11am & the next guided tour was at 11.30am. So we paid our €13.60 for the 2 of us & sat reading the English guide given to us. The caves were pretty interesting & we enjoyed the tour, but we wouldn’t say it was a knockout. We then headed for the Château Des Milandes which was the former home of AmericanMusic Hall star Josephine Baker who sadly died in 1975. The Château was built in 1489 & has had some pretty interesting owners with Josephine Baker probably being the most famous who fell in love with France when she came here after being spotted by a Paris talent scout. Shortly after we arrived there was a Falconry show which was great. We then toured the Château & had a good look around. There are plenty of walks around spectacular gardens & the views over the Dordogne are fantastic. It cost €16 for the 2 of us & we think it was money well spent. After leaving the Château we took a scenic drive back to our previous night’s stay which was the France Passion site Badefols Sur Dordogne 24150 page 115. We had a pleasant quiet evening & we were the only ones parked there.
Day 25 – Friday 01-08-08
Overnight the rain & thunder returned which gave us a cloudy but dry start to the day. After polly had kick started the day once again we bid our hosts au revoir & headed for Beynac. Beynac classed as one of the loveliest villages in France & dates back to around the 9th & 10th century B.C with its medieval look seemed the perfect place to spend the day. The road which runs along the front of Beynac is pretty narrow in places & it’s not the sort of place you want to meet an articulated lorry, but we did. Safely through we came to the signs which told us where motorhomes are to park. Now once you have got the main Beynac Street in view either on your left or right hand side, depending which way you come. You have to turn up the road with the Pharmacy on the corner, it looks narrow & it is tight in places but once you climb the hill you drive through the 1st car park with the toilets in & straight ahead. Once you have done this you’ll see a large car park on your right, take the 2nd entrance & that’s the place to park your motorhome. All parking is payable in Beynac & for €4 you get a 24 hour ticket. Once we were parked up polly was on providing me with a cuppa before all the walking before me. Beynac is very steep; on top of the hill is the Château Feodel De Beynac which to me is a medieval fortress. The cost to walk around the Château is €7 per adult & €3.50 per child. The views are fantastic & there is plenty to see. There are plenty of restaurants & shops in Beynac. This place should be on the top of everyone’s list as a must place to visit. After arriving back at the motorhome polly provided us with a well earned brew after all the walking we had done. We both had a great day at Beynac & would come here again. We then headed for our overnight stop which was to be a France Passion site called Sainte Mondane 24370 page 126. This place is well out of the way, after you turn either right or left to follow the domain signs you travel 3.5km up a very narrow windy road with very few passing places. Once you arrive you drive through the 2 posts onto the land & face the property. On arriving our hosts came out to greet us & they were very nice. They grow walnut trees & their products stem from these with gateaux’s, oils & other products derived from walnuts. The parking is nice & there are picnic tables for you to use. There are some nice walks here & if you have cycles you’ll be able to go for a good long bike ride. It is very quiet & very peaceful. We were the only ones parked here overnight & its well worth the visit.
Day 26 – Saturday 02-08-08
After a very peaceful & quiet nights kip we sat down to the morning brew. After looking at our hosts products we bid au revoir & headed for Domme which is also classed as one of the loveliest villages in France along with our previous day’s destination which was Beynac. If you’re driving to Domme you must follow the coach & motorhome route which is clearly sign posted as there are some very narrow lanes & a low bridge which is less than 3 metres high. We found the Aires no: 94 page 27 (if you have the all the aires France book or sat nav co-ordinates N44º.48.050 E001º.13.300 for Google earth) without any problems & polly was soon on to boil. Parking here is free all day & if you wish to park over night then its €5. Services are €2 to use. We took a stroll into Domme & it’s amazing. It’s pretty steep in places & there is a lot to do here. There are plenty of shops, some with wine & food tasting, plenty of cafes, restaurants etc. The church which dominates the square is a must to see. The inside is so beautiful you’ll be amazed. Just past the church is a large viewing area & from here the views across the Dordogne are superb. There is a beautiful public park with more breathtaking views & even a train to take you around if your legs feel a little weary. If you do walk around Domme there are 2 other entrances with arch ways. It’s well worth finding them & walking around the promenade around Domme. To us this place should be on the top of everyone’s list as a must place to visit, it’s superb. Well after arriving back to the motorhome & getting polly ready to boil yet again the aires was just beginning to get busy & I’m sure the night time is very vibrant here. Well after me cuppa we headed for La Roque Gageac, Aires no: 71 page 21 (if you have the all the aires France book or sat nav co-ordinates N44º.49.500 E001º.11.017 for Google earth) to spend the night there. Now I can here all the cogs going & you must be thinking why we didn’t spend the night at Domme. Well La Roque Gageac is on the edge of the Dordogne & Domme is high in the sky. You should know by now that I like me rivers & the chance of any fishing shouldn’t be missed. We arrived in La Roque Gageac around 5 pm & were surprised to get a good parking spot. Here parking is €2 from 8am to 7pm & €5 to park over night. But you can’t get your over night ticket until the clock tells you its past 7pm. So if you arrive at 6pm you’re expected to pay the €2 then at 7pm the €5, but I don’t think anyone did pay other than for the over night ticket. This place has a working river with its canoe centre & boat trips which open from 10am until 7 pm. So we had a cuppa & then decided to have an early dinner then go & explore the town. La Roque Gageac is a nice place to visit & high above it you can see the TroglodyteCaves. So after dinner we went for a wee stroll that turned out to be a rather long walk. Now remember we have just walked quite a few miles around Domme & now were off on another marathon walk. The reason why, is there is so much to see & do here. Well me 1st thoughts were where can I fish. I could see Mullet & good size Roach in the river & me rods were itching to see some daylight. However because of the scenery, the way the town stands & the Troglodyte caves walk was what we just had to do. Just like Beynac & Domme, La Roque Gageac is pretty steep in some parts. After having another fantastic walk around we decided to splash out & have a couple of beers. The bar which is attached to the hotel had a nice outside area & a terrace across the street. We opted for the bar area & ordered 2 beers which slid down without touching the sides. After replenishing our glasses we sat down to reflect on what had been a fantastic day. There are so many picturesque villages, towns & so much breath taking scenery & of course the River, that in our opinion this area of the Dordogne is fantastic for the pair of us. So after the next beers slid effortlessly down we paid our bill of €8.10 cents & headed back to our motorhome for a coffee & to put our very aching feet to bed for the night.
Day 27 – Sunday 03-08-08
After a very peaceful nights sleep polly was whistling away & me morning brew was on its way. The day had started cloudy & there was the threat of rain in the air. Mid morning we serviced the motorhome & made our way to Vezac where there is a splendid park with Box trees in it & a place nearby which specialise in Crystals. Well the air was now full of drizzle & the park which looked fantastic seemed now to be off the menu as to appreciate it we felt a dry bright day was needed. We did stay at the park for about an hour but with the rain & mist we gave up. A very short drive took us to CMGB who specialise in crystals. We had a good look around this place & there is even an exhibition here which tells you a bit about the mining of crystals. We both enjoyed having a look around here & they do have some very nice crystals. Shortly after dinner we decided to head for Souillac, well we never made it. Only a few miles from Vezac is a place called Vitrac. It has a very prominent castle on the edge of a cliff & as there was a parking area for motorhomes we decided to stop there. Depending on which way you are travelling on the D703 you will see the castle & a turning either on your right or left telling you there is a Tourism Office & Aire De Camping Car, take this turning you’ll see the road narrows, keep going straight on & you’ll then see the tourism office in front of you & a large car park to your right which is actually an Aires. The parking is free; it’s sloping & the Aires uses a €2 jeton which is available at the tourism office or restaurant. If you get there early you can get the non sloping part at the far end which we did. There are very clean toilets & a very nice picnic area here & plenty of bins for your rubbish. So after me cuppa, well come on I have just driven 5 miles between towns, we decided to have a look around. Now this end of Vitrac has this outstanding castle perched on the edge of a cliff. Now we walked around this place looking for the entrance to the castle, there wasn’t one. We walked through an arch way, down a slope to a type of viewing area where we could see part of the castle. Still baffled to where the entrance was we asked someone & they shrugged their shoulders & just walked on. Now we could see people in one of the towers, so we walked around again, still no entrance. Was there a secret passage way or was the entrance over the draw bridge in the property close by? Well we gave up & walked back to the parking area. Now the guy from the tourism office was cleaning out the toilet block, so I asked him about the Castle. Now looking at the castle from the outside I thought it was an old Monastery, but the guy from the tourism place told me it was a castle, so we’ll call it a castle after all he should know. Now the bad news, the castle is now privately owned & is not open to the public. The views from this castle must be breath taking, seeing it perched there & the rock underneath it falling away seemed a must place to visit & we can’t because it’s private. Oh well you can’t win them all I suppose but I must say if you are this way then its well worth looking at. So for the rest of the afternoon we decided to stay put, put polly on & have a bit of a rest. We were the only ones parked here until early evening & it was very peaceful. A few motorhomes arrived between 8pm – 10pm & I suppose there were 11 of us parked there for the night.
Day 28 – Monday 04-08-08
Well after a great night’s kip & me morning brew was out of the way, it was time for a drive to Souillac. Well I’m sure Souillac is a great place to visit, but not for us. So after a quick cuppa we moved on to Martel. The Aires no: 96 page 249 which is listed without the sat nav co-ordinates we found by following the Aires signs clearly marked from the main roundabout at Martel. This aires is free & there is no parking there, but before you arrive at the aires you will see a large park on your right hand side where you can park safely overnight which is what we did. We had a good look around Martel which is a town with 7 towers. There are some nice shops & a few restaurants & bars to wine & dine in & they have a market here on Wednesday mornings We had dinner then went out for another gander & at night the place is pretty quiet, we enjoyed visiting this interesting town. So after a nice evening stroll it was back to our motorhome a few cuppas’ then bed.
Conclusion of our 1st month here in France:
Just think, 28 days ago we left the UK for an unknown unplanned trip to Europe. Well here we are in France & what do we both think of it so far? We are both enjoying our time together; we’re enjoying the unknown & the unexpected that lies ahead of us. We are both enjoying whatever we do & wherever we go together. From our 1st night in Audresselles to our destination now, which is in the town of Martel in the Dordogne region what have we learned? Now the most noticeable thing in France is how friendly everyone seems to be. The people here are polite & always greet you when you walk into their shops & they try their best to understand you. Even when out for a walk you’re greeted & even the children say hello & are nice & polite. Driving on the right is pretty simple to adapt to & the roads here are much better than the UK. Most roads are well sign posted & even the minor roads are easy to drive on. It’s only the real winding roads with lots of narrow bends that makes us think that if we were ever to decide to drive for a long time again in Europe then a left hand drive vehicle would be a must. A 3.5t low profile motorhome was a good choice as there are plenty of places with 3.5t weight restrictions. The traffic light system & priority on roundabouts takes a little getting use to, but it’s fine. Driving is a pleasure here in France & we find that French motorists are pretty damn patient when it comes to being stuck behind 2 lost brits that can’t seem to find the road their looking for. We haven’t come across or seen any road traffic accidents or come across any traffic jams apart from normal run of the mill traffic in built up cities. On route there are plenty of rest areas to stop at & have a break. These places are usually very nice picnic areas, some with toilets & there are always plenty of bins to put your rubbish in. Diesel prices vary & the cheapest places are the supermarkets which are currently selling diesel anywhere between £1.10 - £1.17 a litre. LPG is dearer here & doesn’t seem to be a problem to get hold of & that’s currently around 60 – 65 pence a litre.
Food, well that’s an interesting one.
I suppose it all comes down to what you’re looking for & what your likes & dislikes are. As with most European countries the food seems to be more interesting than ours but they do eat some things we probably wouldn’t. Everyday items like bread, milk, potatoes & eggs could probably cost you a small fortune but at the large supermarkets prices are reasonable. We’re paying 91 cents for a loaf of bread which is around 76p a loaf. You could quite easily buy bread at anything from €1.50 up to €9 but I’ll stick to me little squares of brown bread for now. Milk is cheaper if like me you don’t mind drinking UHT milk. Prices vary from cartons starting at 60 cents up to 90 cents a litre which is between 50 – 75 pence. The bottles of UHT milk are more expensive & I have seen them up to €2.70 a litre, must be pretty good stuff for £2.24p a litre. Potatoes are expensive as a 2.5 kilo bag costs around €3 which is around £2.49p a bag. They don’t seem to have the variety or large bags of spuds which we buy or the bags of salad potatoes. There are loads of fruit & vegetables to choose from & we’ve even seen violet cauliflowers. Fish is big on the list here & there are many wide & various species to choose from. Unlike us we put back our small fish & we don’t eat fresh water fish, but here you can buy Pike & Perch to eat. On the whole for the 2 of us mainly eating salads our shopping bill is around €20 to €50 a week. I thought DVD discs would be cheap here but most places seem to charge around €55 to €68 for a pack of 10 discs. So I’m hunting for some cheaper ones as I need to back up the photos. Clothes seem expensive here but at least Tobacco & Booze is nice & cheap. So at least we can carry on being healthy by boozing & smoking without breaking the bank. We are both really enjoying ourselves here in France & even though to some we have covered quite a few miles, we now seem to have found an area which we both love. We have seen some beautiful scenery & interesting towns & villages. Some we have briefly looked at some we have stayed at & some we just drove on by. Some will tell us we have missed the best but I suppose it all depends on what you’re looking for & where you are happy at. The weather hasn’t been at its best with torrential rain, thunderstorms & high winds. The sun does shine & some days are pretty hot, but at the moment we don’t seem to get more than 2 consecutive sunny days. One of the best things we decided to do was go into the local Tourism Office, they have lots of guides to the areas in English & now we seem to be enjoying our time here even more as we can now see what each area or region has to offer. One thing we have noticed is the different types of pet’s people take with them whilst on holiday in their motorhome. We have seen, cat’s, kittens, dogs, a cockatiel which sat on the table whilst the family were having their dinner & we have even seen a rabbit. All the pets we have seen sit outside the motorhomes on leads when the owners are parked up & I’m sure we’ll see on sat in it’s own chair before our trip is over. We’re thinking of buying a pet goldfish just to frustrate the cat’s & birds whilst their sat outside on their leads or perhaps a baby Tiger, that’ll give those cat’s & birds a bit of a scare. In all honesty we are thoroughly enjoying our trip through France. We have come across some beautiful scenery & lovely friendly people. We are looking forward to whatever is ahead of us & we love the quality time we are spending together.
Day 29 – Tuesday 05-08-08
Well after a peaceful night’s kip the day has started rather hot & sunny. So polly’s on the boil & where are we heading for now? Well after me morning brew we decided to head for Gramat. We had let the hand washing slip a bit & now we needed to find another launderette & hopefully this time I won’t have to snatch me clothes back. We arrived in Gramat to find there was a fair in town & finding somewhere to park was difficult, but we managed to find a spot not too far away from the shops. So off we went hunting for the auto laverie (launderette), well we found one tucked away in rue du notre-dam & all the machines were in use. As there was a market in town we decided to have a look around before heading back to the launderette. I didn’t realise there were so many different varieties of tomatoes on sell. So we picked a few different ones for us to try with our salads. We also had a taster of some locally made fruit juice, but we found it tasted rather strange. Around dinner time we headed back to the launderette where the task of doing the washing was about to commence. You’ll be pleased to hear that we got all our washing washed & dried without a screwdriver in sight or me snatching back me clothes. After we arrived back at the motorhome & polly had been put on the temperature was already reaching 96º C & we needed to find a place to cool off. So we headed for Rocamadour & found a wonderful place to park up which is sign posted parking sanctuaries. Now to find this place if you’re coming from Gramat & you come into Rocamadour with the La Foret Des Singes (Monkey Place) on your left just pass that you’ll see the turning on the left. If you’re coming the other way into Rocamadour go past all the other car parks & on your left you turn left towards the campsite go past La Feerie & the turning will be on your right. After you have turned up this road you go up the hill & come to a crescent with lots of trees offering shade. Just find a parking spot & you’ll soon realise why we picked this place. Now this parking place is away from the hustle & bustle of the other car parks & it not only has wonderful views but it is also very peaceful & quiet to park there overnight. When you’re parked up if you look in front of you there is a stone wall with gaps in it. Walk through one of the gaps & to your right is a path, along this path you will have terrific views of Rocamadour & the valley below. Now if you keep walking along this path there is a view point on the corner, go past this, past that lovely house hogging all the corner of the land & you’ll come out where the shops, bars & restaurants are. There is another great viewing point straight ahead of you & even better ones past the tourist office. You can park for free in the Château car park but it’s nowhere as nice as the place we found to park at. First impressions of Rocamadour, unbelievably stunning. It’s a place of inspiration & pilgrimage. Now if you do park where we found & you walk into the busy bit, there’s a lovely little church which should be on your list to visit. Now if you’re brave you’ll take the walk along the top of the cliff, past the tourist office to the stunning viewing point opposite the shop on the corner. If you’re totally mad, just like us you’ll then walk all the way down to Rocamadour passing through the magnificent Palace of Bishops & the Rocamadour Sanctuary which is absolutely stunning. We walked down to Rocamadour in the evening & the place was totally amazing. The sanctuary is unbelievably built into the rock face & it’s absolutely stunning inside. Now when you leave the sanctuary there are some very steep steps which take you down to where the cafes, bars, restaurants & shops are. We had a great look around Rocamadour at night, had a drink in one of the local bars & then realised it was one hell of a steep walk back to where we had parked. When we eventually got back to our motorhome & polly was getting ready to brew me cuppa, we both decided that tomorrow we just had to see this place during the day. So after me final cuppa of the day I took me weary legs & aching feet to bed for a well earned rest.
Day 30 – Wednesday 06-08-08
After a great night’s kip & the morning brew was out of the way we had decided to revisit the Medieval City of Rocamadour the easy way, well that’s what we thought. So we left our parking spot & headed for the Château. We found a nice place to park there walked straight past the cliff lift & headed down the long & winding path to Rocamadour. You just have to walk down this path, it’s fantastic. There is a tomb like place under the rock face which you can see & on each turn of the path there are amazing little chapels as I call them. Eventually you’ll come to the sanctuary arch & once again we were in this stunning place. Seeing it during the day was just as amazing as seeing it at night. The sanctuary is unbelievable & there is a lot to see here. After leaving the sanctuary we once again took the steps into Rocamadour & looked at the parts we had missed from the previous evenings walk. If you turn right at the bottom of the steps & go past the sculptors’ house you may be lucky enough to see some very large birds of prey flying around. We had another good look around this amazing place before taking the cliff lift back to the top where the Château is. Well after all the previous days walking & today’s, our legs needed an easy route back to the top. Once back to the top & back in our motorhome polly was on & a well deserved cuppa was needed as the temperature was reaching 98º C. What else can we tell you about Rocamadour? The place is just absolutely amazing & should be on the top of everyone’s list as a must place to visit. Well after me cuppa it was time for us to move on & we headed for St.Cere. Well after reading up on this place we found it, we also eventually found the aires no: 122 page 251. The aires is at the stadium, not very well sign posted but the services here are free. When you come into St.Cere follow the all routes direction & you should see a supermarket on your right. At the end of this road (you’ll see the motorhome symbol, it’s the only one) turn left then right & follow the signs to the stadium. The aires is to the left in front of the Club House. Well we didn’t like the look of St.Cere, so we swiftly moved on. We decided our night’s stop was going to be the France passion site Queyssac Les Vignes 19210 page 105 their products all derive from Walnuts. Well this place is certainly out in the sticks & there is quite some hairy bends & single track road to get there. The parking here is sloping, it’s shaded & the host is very nice. The views from this farm are very nice, there are no nice walks to go for but it’s very peaceful & quiet at night. There were 2 of us parked there overnight & we had a thunderstorm which lasted for about 1 ½ hours at around 2am which dropped the temperature down from 92º C to around 88º
Day 31 – Thursday 07-08-08
After a lie in which took us up to 9am it was time to get polly on the boil & get ready to go. The weather was still very cloudy but warm & dry after the earlier thunderstorm. We bid our hosts au revoir & headed in to see what Beaulieu-S-Dordogne was like. Parking here is a bit of a nightmare but if you follow the signs for the stadium you can park there without any hassle. Beaulieu was okay & after taking a look around we decided to take a scenic drive to Marcillac-La-Croisille, Aires no: 76 page 174 (if you have the all the aires France book or sat nav co-ordinates N45º.15.700 E002º.00.333 for Google earth). We found a lovely spot in the corner to park overlooking the lake. The parking here is pretty much sloping, the aires is free to use, this place is a water park & there’s water-skiing, canoeing, swimming & fishing here. If you drive around to the other side of the lake you’ll find a camp site here complete with beach. It was very quiet & peaceful here overnight & there were about 11 of us parked there overnight.
Day 32 – Friday 08-08-08
Overnight the rain had returned & it was a bit chilly here by the lake. After me morning brew we decided to make use of the rain & just go to get the food shopping, LPG & diesel. We decided to take a rather scenic drive to Tulle then to Dampiant where we done the shopping, filled up with LPG & diesel so we were all set for the weekend. We then drove to Brive La Gaillarde –Forges & Argentat before heading back to our previous night’s location parked at the lake. The rain had died away & late afternoon & evening was warm with sunny spells. We had another quiet & peaceful night & there were 9 of us parked there.
Day 33 – Saturday 09-08-08
The sun has returned again & today has started nice & bright & pretty warm. After polly was boiled & we had the morning brew it was time to head for Gimel-Les-Cascades, which has a waterfall there. After a lovely scenic drive & spotting some wild Deer on the way we arrived in Gimel-Les-Cascades. Now if you’re lucky like we were you can park in the car park on the right. If not, then you must turn left go up the steep hill & park behind the town hall. The road which leads to the waterfall is very narrow & steep so do not try to drive down there in a motorhome. This village is very picturesque & has some great walks. There are the ruins of an old Château you can walk around & there is a view point there. You can hear the waterfall all around you & as you walk down to it you can see the start of it as you pass over the narrow bridge. Entrance to the waterfall & scenic walks is €5 per adult. We had a great time here & as we walked back out of Gimel-Les-Cascades to look at the waterfall from a distance you’ll see a very nice house with a platform in front of it. The man who lives there came out & showed us some wonderful photographs which were taken in the winter showing large icicles around the waterfall. He doesn’t sell any of his photographs but he does put on display some of his paintings which we believe are for sell. Gimel-Les-Cascades should be on everyone’s list as a place to visit, but food & drink here is pricey. Back at the motorhome polly was boiling away & a well deserved cuppa was on it’s way. After me drink of tea we decided to take the scenic route to Treignac, Aires no: 34 page 164 (if you have the all the aires France book or sat nav co-ordinates N45º.32.731 E001º.48.046 for Google earth). The drive here was fantastic & the scenery was breath taking. Correze & St.Augustin are lovely places to stop & have a look around. When we arrived in Treignac we found a lovely spot right by the river to park. The river here is shallow & there’s no swimming or fishing here & there is a warning of flooding which can even happen in good weather due to the dam nearby. The services here are free to use & there is also a toilet block here. The tap doesn’t have a screw fitting on & it has a short end to it which makes it near damn possible to get a hose on to. I did try & got completely soaked when the end of the hose came flying off. At least I could do everything else here, empty the grey water, toilet & fill up me containers. The parking here is fine, it’s very peaceful & quiet & there were about 11 or 12 of us parked here overnight. The day had been warm & sunny & the moon was shining bright at night.
Day 34 – Sunday 10-08-08
Today started bright & warm & polly was soon on ready to provide the morning cuppa. We had decided to go to the aires at Chamberet to fill up with water then on to Lac De Vassiviere which is known as France’s great lake which covers 1000 hectares, 45km of shores in the valley & moors, with 300km of waymarked paths which was Limousin’s 1st tourist resort. We arrived in Chamberet & found the Aires no: 101 page 181 which doesn’t have the sat nav co-ordinates. Now depending on which way you come into Chamberet you need to follow the signs for the Stade (stadium) or agricultural experimental laboratory which is on Route De La Font Blanche. When you turn into Route De La Font Blanche the aires is just past the public toilets opposite the cemetery. There are 4 parking bays there & each one has a water tap at the end of the bay by the fence. There is a waste disposal point for your grey water & your toilet cassette is emptied in the public toilets, which are pretty grim. The services here are free & there is also rubbish bins provided. While we were there I pressed on my sat nav & it gave me these co-ordinates Nº45.34.804 Eº1.43.216. Hopefully these co-ordinates will help you locate the cemetery end of Route De La Font Blanche. We left Chamberet & took a lovely scenic route to Lac De Vassiviere stopping at Domps – Mouret – Eymoutiers & Peyrat-Le-Château. On the way we saw a terrific well coloured Red Squirrel, quite a few birds of prey & some great forests. When we arrived at Lac De Vassiviere the 1st thing we had to do was put polly on. After a well deserved cuppa we had a look around the lake which has some terrific views before finding a lovely spot to park away from the tourist side. There are plenty of things do at this vast sized lake & the scenery here is great. After dinner I went fishing & caught 5 Roach on good old sweetcorn. It had been a dry warm sunny day & the evening was nice & bright. After the darkness had crept up & I couldn’t see me float it was time for me to pack up, put polly on & have another well deserved cup of tea before bed.
Day 35 – Monday 11-08-08
Overnight the rain had returned & the day started wet with the odd bright patch. So after me morning cuppa we both decided that we would spend the day just chilling out. Lucky for me by late morning the day was brightening up & the fishing tackle was out & raring to go. So after another swift cuppa I went exploring on one of the banks of the lake to see what fish were about. Sonia had decided to stay at home (well we do live in our motorhome) & catch up on some reading. After negotiating some woodland I found a nice spot to fish which was on the other side of the lake to where we were parked. Shortly after casting into the water more rain came down but at least it was only a very short shower. Shortly after the rain had gone I hooked my 1st fish of the day. By the time I had finished fishing for the day I had bagged another 5 Roach & polly was more than needed to supply me with a very well deserved cuppa. The afternoon & evening had been dry & quite warm but the clouds were once again beginning to arrive in the evening sky. We had another quiet & peaceful night here & I was looking forward to perhaps another day’s fishing.
Day 36 – Tuesday 12-08-08
Overnight not only did we have torrential rain but high winds had also accompanied the rain. So after a peaceful night’s kip my day of fishing was looking very bleak. After polly was on & getting ready to supply with me morning cuppa the weather was showing no signs of easing up. By 11 am we had both decided that we might as well move on as the weather was still a mixture of torrential rain & high winds. So no fishing for me to day & a drive to Felletin was on the agenda. Felletin is a nice little village & worth stopping at just to stretch the legs & of course have a cuppa. From there we headed for the World’s Tapestry Capital, Aubusson. We found the Aires no: 39 page 165 (if you have the all the aires France book or sat nav co-ordinates N45º.57.407 E002º.10.514 for Google earth). Well what can we say? To get to the aires is probably easier if you’re coming from Gueret or south on the D990 if not then you’re in for some fun. As we came from Felletin we came into Aubusson with the Intermarche supermarket on our left hand side. You then drive past the TapestryMuseum & approach a roundabout; at this roundabout you’ll just about see the motorhome parking sign, if you not just take the 1st exit to your right & then you’ll be faced with a split road. You have to take the right hand fork as it’s a one way system. When you first look at the road you’ll probably think, they’ve got to be joking. Just as long as you are in a motorhome under 3.5t & under 4.0m high & no more than 3m wide you’ll get through without any problems. Get through without any problems, well it is a one way street what problems could you have? We drove up the hill around the narrow bend & then came across some workmen right on the corner. Well I couldn’t get past & there was no pavement to drive on so I had to sit & wait until they came back & moved their barriers & cones as there was the wall of a house sticking out & I couldn’t get around their work stuff. Mind you I will say that the long trail of traffic behind me was pretty patient as they could see the problem ahead. After that was out the way you then come down the hill turn right at the end of the road & you’ll see the aires part way up the hill on your right. So here we are in the Tapestry Capital of the World & we are taking a look around. Well all we can say is that if you don’t need to go to Aubusson, then don’t. In our opinion it’s the worst place we have been to so far in France. It’s dirty, the pavements are covered in dog mess, Aubusson is just crap. It definitely wasn’t a place for us & in our opinion we thought it was a filthy hole. We were soon glad to be back in our motorhome & heading for Jarnages. On the way we did briefly stop at Cressat which is a lovely little village & the Aires no: 2 page 156 (if you have the all the aires France book or sat nav co-ordinates N46º.08.382 E002º.06.604 for Google earth). The aires is just past a large lake with children’s play area & picnic tables but there’s no fishing at the lake. There’s 5 parking places which are nicely laid out. We arrived at Jarnages Aires no: 50 page 168 (if you have the all the aires France book or sat nav co-ordinates N46º.11.064 E002º.04.870 for Google earth) early evening. It felt great to be parked in a lovely little village with a lovely large lake to look at, peace, quiet & above all the place was clean. Shortly after arriving here polly was on & so was the dinner. After dinner we took a lovely stroll around the lake & through the village & the evening was dry, but windy. At this aires there is a tennis court, fishing lake which a permit is available from the local Tabac at a cost of €6 for the day or €3 for part of the day. The lake from what I can understand is stocked with good size Carp, Trout, Tench & other species. There is also a nice play area for children & some nice picnic spots. In our opinion this aires is well worth stopping at & it was peaceful & quiet at night. There were about 8 of us parked here for the night & the weather was starting to turn once again.
Day 37 – Wednesday 13-08-08
Once again high winds & rain overnight returned to plague us. After a seemingly peaceful night watching the rain falling & drinking me morning cuppa we decided it was time to move on. If the weather had been reasonable perhaps a day’s fishing was looking good but the rods had to stay packed away as more torrential rain fell from the sky. We headed for Montlucon as we needed a bit of shopping & it was on the way to our day’s destination of Neris Les Bains. On the outskirts of Montlucon we found a nice lake to stop at & have a cuppa before heading into town. Once the cuppa was out the way we stopped at McDonalds to use their Wi-Fi to update the blog & catch up on some other bits & pieces. While parked there we saw 3 birds of prey circling & we managed to get a few photos of them, but they were not that clear. Montlucon is quite an interesting town but we soon moved on & headed for the thermal spa town of Neris Les Bains, Aires no: 93 page 178 (if you have the all the aires France book or sat nav co-ordinates N46º.17.201 E002º.39.144 for Google earth). The aires is well sign posted & all you do is follow the signs Camping du Lac & the aires is situated in front of the camp site. The parking here is very spacious & each parking area is separated by a nice hedge. There is a small toilet block with shower, sink & mirror & its’ nice & clean. To park outside on the aires is €3 per night up to a maximum of 3 nights & to park inside the camp site its’ about €12 - €15 per night. Just outside the camp site there is a new hotel being built which has a fascinating design on its’ roof. Once settled in our parking spot for the night & a quick cuppa it was time to take a look around this thermal spa town. Our 1st stop was the local tourism office that was very helpful but only had one piece of info written in English. After there we walked through the lovely gardens to the theatre & casino before heading in to see what the thermal centre had to offer. Well what can I say? After looking at their treatment list & noticing the prices the 1st thing that came to mind was its’ expensive for what it is. We all look at things in a different way & I think I’ll stick to me healthy diet of fags & booze. We then headed for the town centre, mmm. Its’ a square on the hill & there’s a magnificent church to look at & the remains of some Roman tombs. But that’s it, that’s the town centre just a few shops, plenty of hotels, a few bars & restaurants. The main part of this lovely place is the thermal health centre. Now if you’re into walking there are plenty of lovely walks here & there is a lake you can fish for the cost of €10 per day & after looking at the lake I didn’t think it was worth it. We had a good walk around the lake & could see the old viaduct & water mill. However the lake is only really fishable from one side & that’s on the side where the public foot path is. So that’s why I didn’t think it was worth buying a day ticket to fish there. There are tennis courts & a nice size swimming pool in the parks & the theatre puts on some great shows as well as opera. We thought Neris Les Bains was a lovely little place & the church is a must to see. As for the rest of the place, unless your looking to off load a good wedge of that hard earned dosh on some healthy feel good treatments then apart from the theatre that’s it. We enjoyed our stay here & we are glad to have seen the town especially as it had such a lovely church to look at. One last thing in the old town square you’ll see the market service point with its electrical points & fresh running water & it all is still in working order.
Day 38 – Thursday 14-08-08
After a peaceful night’s kip polly was whistling away & it was time for me morning cuppa. The day started dry but cloudy & by 9am we left Neris Les Bains heading for St.Eloy Les Mines. We stopped of at Montaigut for a quick cuppa, well I had been driving for about half an hour, so I think I had earned me cuppa. After polly was packed away we proceeded to St.Eloy. Approaching St.Eloy we noticed one of those places where you do you washing. So we pulled over & once again after being a bit slack on the hand washing we thought we had better get the washing done as we were shortly to meet our friends at their home in Pionsat. After a trouble free time at the laverie we headed for Pionsat. When we arrived in Pionsat shortly after mid-day our friend Rod was there to meet us & guide us back to his house which is just outside Pionsat in a lovely little hamlet. After arriving at his house Caroline made us a lovely lunch & as the two boys were busy playing, it was time for a catch up on what we had all been doing. It was great to sit down & have a natter with friends & we could all speak & understand each other. Rod & Caroline’s home in France is just terrific. The property has a lot of character as well as potential & it was a great place to chill out for a couple of days.
Day 39 to 40 Friday 15 -08-08 to Saturday 16-08-08
After a very peaceful night’s kip & me morning brew it was time for a quick trip to the supermarket with Rod, as today was Assumption day which is a Bank Holiday in France. The afternoon was spent chilling out & helping out with a little painting on the barn before Caroline had prepared for us all a wonderful evening meal. We had another great evening & we all enjoyed the warm evening sitting outside eating, drinking & talking. Saturday was a cloudy but dry day & it was the day we discovered we had a gas problem on the motorhome. On checking the motorhome over in preparation of us getting back on the road we discovered that the gas on the hob was burning a very low flame & if you put 2 rings on it would go out. After investigating the gas locker, cylinders etc we decided we need to head for Aubiere which is south of Cleremont Ferrand as there is a Knaus dealer there. Saturday evening was our last night staying at our friend’s house in France & we would like to say a big thanks to Rod, Caroline & the boys for letting us stop over. We had a fantastic time whilst we were there. We both hope your visions evolve & become your reality.
Day 41 – Sunday 17-08-08
Today started cloudy with sunny spells & by mid morning it was time to leave our friend’s & get back on the road as we wanted to be in Aubiere 1st thing Monday morning to get our gas problem looked at. After leaving Pionsat we headed for St.Remy De Blot Aires no: 29 page 178 (if you have the all the aires France book or sat nav co-ordinates N46º.04.624 E002º.55.894 for Google earth). We had a very scenic drive to the isolated hilltop village of St.Remy & the views are terrific. Apart from a lovely church & the great views there is nothing else to see at St.Remy De Blot. The service point was out of order but there are toilets & a play area adjacent to the Mairie (town hall). After a cuppa (good job we bought a spare gas stove with us) & a walk around St.Remy we decided to head for St.Pardoux, Aires no: 1 page 156 (if you have the all the aires France book or sat nav co-ordinates N46º.03.624 E002º.59.710 for Google earth). When you take the road heading towards this aires it’s a quite narrow road & when you turn onto the track heading for the aires it’s a single track road without any passing places. You then go down a hill & you can see the aires on your right, at the bottom of the hill you turn right over the bridge & you then drive around the lake to the service point. The service point is all in working order & there are 4 parking bays there. However the 2 middle bays are quite tricky to get in to as the wooden posts around the service point make it a bit tricky. As we were the only ones there we didn’t have any problems parking. St.Pardoux is a very rural place with a good size lake. There were signs saying no fishing but there were a few people fishing there & I think you need a permit to fish the lake. Whilst walking around the lake I saw some good size Carp & I believe there are also some good size Pike in the lake. We saw plenty of birds of prey whilst we were there & if you want an out of the way place to stop which is going to be very peaceful & quiet then this is an ideal place to stop at. After a few more cuppas & dinner we decided to move on a bit as we wanted to be in Aubiere 1st thing Monday morning. After leaving St.Pardoux we stopped at St.Bonnet-Pres-Riom, Aires no: 9 page 158 (if you have the all the aires France book or sat nav co-ordinates N45º.55.648 E003º.06.809 for Google earth). As we were travelling south the sign post to this aires was just around a corner & we nearly missed it, but we didn’t. Now if you’re a light sleeper or don’t have any ear plugs then I wouldn’t stop here unless you were really tired or you just wanted to stop. The parking here is right behind the local church & the bells ring 2 or 3 times an hour every hour there is. It was a bit noisy up to around 11pm with taxi drivers & local youths stopping there. We never had any problems whilst parked here & there were 7 of us parked there over night. Lucky for me I’m a very heavy sleeper & the church bells didn’t keep me awake but as for Sonia well she woke every half hour along with the church bells. Anyway it did us for an overnight stop.
Day 42 – Monday 18-08-08
The day started bright & sunny & after me morning brew it was time to head for Aubiere to hopefully get our gas problem fixed. Well we arrived in Aubiere shortly after 9am, found the street where the dealer was located & what do we do now? The dealer was no longer in business & we still needed our problem fixed. After making a few enquires I decided to give Richard a call at Gaslow. As usual he was more than helpful & diagnosed our problem as a failing regulator. All I had to do was find a regulator, fix it myself, check for any leaks & that should be that. After driving around Aubiere & a few other places we tried to get a replacement & we were even refused the sale of a regulator as the guy tried to explain that it was not possible to fix. Well by mid afternoon we were both getting frustrated & needed a solution. So we sat down, had a brew & then went to the local E.Leclerc supermarket where we bought more spare cylinders for the portable gas stove, a large camping gaz cylinder, plenty of food & most important alcohol & chocolate. By late afternoon we left Clermont Ferrand heading for wherever we would end up. We took a very scenic drive & ended up at the France passion site Le Mont Dore 63240 page 296. The site is at Lac de Guery & it’s a hotel, bar & restaurant. The owner came out to greet us, he was very pleasant & he spoke English. He guided us to the parking area which you have to reverse into by the side of the lake. I immediately enquired about fishing the lake & for €6 I had my day ticket to fish the TroutLake in the morning. The lake is also stocked with Carp, Pike & Zander. The area around the lake was great, plenty of walking, cycling etc & in the distance you could see the ski slopes. We did see some people rock climbing & at an altitude of 1,250m we were feeling high. After dinner & a few drinks we were still debating on how to get the gas regulator fixed but for now the job in hand was to get some kip as I was up early to fish the lake.
Day 43 – Thursday 19-08-08
The alarm was ringing at 6am; it was time for a quick cuppa & then of to see what the lake had to offer me. By 6.30 I was heading for the spot I had picked out to see if the Trout were feeding there. By now there were already quite a few people fishing & the Trout were rising along with a few Carp on the top of the water. By 6.45 my line hit the water & I waited in anticipation. The day had started very misty & there was the threat of rain in the distance. By 7.15 I had hooked my 1st fish; it was a decent size Roach, not the trout I was after. I moved into a shallow pool & could see some rises on the water; surely this could be where I catch me dinner. Well every 30 minutes for the next 2 hours I hooked into fish & they were all Roach. The weather was deteriorating & all of a sudden cloud came over the lake & you couldn’t see more than 2 feet in front of you. I had moved a few times & even though I could hear the Trout jumping I didn’t catch one. By late morning the heavens had opened up & I thought it was time to move on; after all we still needed the gas problem fixed. By late morning we bid our host a hearty au revoir & headed for a scenic drive to an aires we had stayed at before Marcillac-La-Croisille. By now we were both thinking that we may have to go back to Bordeaux & see if Aquitaine Evasion can once again help us with our problem (they were the ones who fixed our door when we had our last problem). When we arrived at Marcillac-La-Croisille the place was deserted, it was like a ghost lake, no activity like before on our previous visits here. Polly was whistling away & a brew was on the way. As we were both feeling frustrated about the gas problem we done the next best thing. We set up a pan on the outside stove, cooked some chips, had a few drinks & ate some tasty chocolate. It’s all good healthy stuff & it makes you feel good. The chips were a bit of a disaster but at least I could even have a chip butty with me cup of tea.
Day 44 – Wednesday 20-08-08
After a peaceful night’s kip & the usual morning cuppa we were heading for Bordeaux only stopping on the way if we came across any motorhome dealers or marine places who could possibly take a look at our gas & fix the regulator. Well after reaching Perigueux & having another person tell us that our problem couldn’t be fixed we jumped onto the motorway to Bordeaux. We arrived at Aquitaine Evasion at 2.30pm & by 3.30 we were leaving with a fully working gas system. At 1st they didn’t think they could help us but the guy who fixed our door came to the rescue, he just happened to have the correct regulator for our motorhome & it was soon fitted, tested & all was in perfect working order. What a sigh of relief that was & it had only cost us €30 to have it fixed. We did give the guy a tip just like before as he had once again carried out a brilliant job. So now we are already to once again set off, so where to now? After a quick cuppa & update on the web courtesy of McDonalds we left Bordeaux around 4.30 heading for Caumont-Sur-Garonne. After negotiating the now busy traffic & stopping for a cuppa at Cadillac we were back on the road. Now in the aires book Caumont-Sur-Garonne is described as well worth the effort to go there. As we were getting closer I spotted something, it’s only got 2 parking spots. Well we might as well take a look as we are this close. Now on approach to Caumont-Sur-Garonne the road is a bit narrow & you have a tricky little bridge to negotiate. The road is marked with a 16t weight limit without any width or height restrictions. When we approached the aires we could see more than 2 motorhomes parked there & we were approaching this tricky canal bridge. Now the only thing I can say about this bridge is approach it with caution & it probably can take a vehicle up to 8ft 6 wide. It does look narrow & it’s easy to negotiate. So here we were now at Aires no: 50 page 16 (if you have the all the aires France book or sat nav co-ordinates N44º.26.506 E000º.10.781 for Google earth). The service point is to the left of the parking area & the best way to park is to reverse into the bays. This place is also a canal service point where sometimes boats moor up & collect water & go on electric hook up. There are 5 parking bays all with a view over the canal & the services are €1 for water & €1 for electric which lasts for an hour & a half. To empty your toilet cassette there is a round drain hole by the front of the service point, just lift up the drain cover & empty your toilet cassette down it. All the parking bays are generously spaced with the exception of one which is a bit narrower than the others. Along the canal part there is 2 service points for water & electric so you could fill up from your parking bay. This place is definitely well worth the effort to get to & you’ll see why.
Days 45 – 49 Thursday 21-08-08 to Monday 25-08-08 resting at Caumont-Sur-Garonne
After a very peaceful night’s kip polly was whistling away & the 1st cuppa of the day was soon being drunk. The day started bright & sunny & stayed that way all day becoming rather hot. Well after our recent events & the worries of how to get the gas problem rectified we were both feeling a little bit drained. This aires is a jewel in the crown, it’s right on a canal, very peaceful & there is some lovely walks & wildlife in the area, plus of course I can go fishing. So we decided to chill out, relax, recharge our own batteries & just do nothing. So we spent the day doing just that, nothing. In the evening we saw 2 beavers coming down the canal & they went in search of food just across from where we parked. There are quite a few owls around here at night & they get quite near to the aires. After a relaxing peaceful day it was time for a cuppa, then bed. Overnight we had torrential rain & our 2nd day here started cloudy but by late morning it was warm & sunny. We had a good sort out & changed things around in the motorhome & we then tried out our Remoska. If you haven’t heard of a Remoska it’s an all in one electric cooking pot made in Czechoslovakia & Lakeland are a main distributor of them in the UK. With a Remoska you can cook all sorts of things & since buying ours in March we still hadn’t used it. So hooking us up onto the electric that’s available here we decided to cook some red onion & bacon and then pour in 5 beaten eggs to make an omelette. Amazing, the flavours from the onions & bacon were not only retained but the omelette raised & was light, fluffy & very tasty. We are definelty impressed with the Remoska & we will be using it whenever possible. Once again in the evening there we the beavers on the canal & the owls busy hooting away at night. Our 3rd day here started as usual with me morning brew & the weather was bright & sunny. We walked into the small village here & there is only one shop to get your provisions. The guy who runs the store with his wife speaks English, so that was handy. As expected the prices were a little more than you would pay at the supermarkets but for the peace quiet & scenery here it’s well worth paying the extra coppers. I had been watching the canal over the past couple of days & I knew there were plenty of fish here so in the afternoon I went fishing & caught 10 good size Roach & they were all put back to swim for another day. I have noticed that the French mainly eat what they catch & there are plenty of freshwater fish on the menus at the restaurants. Once again in the evening the beavers came swimming down the canal, but tonight there were 3 of them. As usual the owls were busy hooting away & the evening was once again peaceful & quiet. Our 4th day here started much the same, morning brew, walking & then fishing. If you follow the canal towpath on the aires side & leave the aires behind you there are 2 graveyards with plenty of good bamboo growing behind. There is a little bridge behind the cemetery that leads to some open fields. We have only seen a few birds of prey while here & we did see our 1st fox whilst here. There is a forest to walk through the other side of the canal & there are plenty of people riding cycles around the area. After a good walk I went fishing in the afternoon & caught more Roach which 2 of them were around the 12oz mark. We had a nice lazy evening & there were only 2 of us parked here along with 2 boats which had moored up for the night. Our 5th day here started just as before, with me morning brew & the day was cloudy but dry. We spent the day just relaxing & preparing to once again get on the open road. In our opinion this is the best place we have stopped at so far. It has everything we like, water, nature & plenty of peace & quiet. I know this place isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but its well worth a visit & it’s a great place to chill out & watch the world go by.
Day 50 – Tuesday 26-08-08
After another relaxing & peaceful night watching the beavers on the canal & listening to the owls hooting away we’re getting ready to get back on the road. After me morning cuppa & servicing the motorhome it’s time for us to finally drag ourselves away from Caumont Sur Garonne. It’s going to be a tough day thinking of the wonderful place we have left behind, but there’s a long open road ahead of us along with the unknown & unseen pastures. We headed for St-Sylvestre-Sur-Lot Aires no: 68 page 20 (if you have the all the aires France book or sat nav co-ordinates N44º.23.765 E000º.48.331 for Google earth). We stopped on the way to fill up with LPG & diesel & to have a cuppa of course. Well it’s thirsty work travelling along these long roads with not much traffic on & I do have to keep an eye out for birds of prey, so I think I deserve all my tea breaks. Without diesel the motorhome doesn’t work & without me cuppa I don’t either, so that’s settled we’ll stop & drink to my health whenever we can. We arrived in St-Sylvestre-Sur-Lot late morning & our 1st stop was the local Intermarche to stock up on fresh fruit & vegetables. Plus we needed to buy the good things in life, tobacco, alcohol & most important chocolate. After stocking up it was time to put polly on & have a well deserved cuppa & of course a healthy banana followed by chocolate mousse with cream whipped on top. We keep telling you, it’s a hard life out here on the road, so we need some comforts. The service point for the aires at St-Sylvestre-Sur-Lot is adjacent to the Intermarche fuel station & the parking area is to the far left of this road, the opposite end to where the campsite is. The parking area is a type of circle & probably there’s room for about 10 – 12 motorhomes. It’s right next to the LotRiver & its quiet picturesque with a small port across the river. After our well deserved break we took the scenic route to Maurox. This place is a small village in the middle of nowhere & we stopped at the Aires no: 50 page 238. Now this aires is listed without sat nav co-ordinates & I logged it as N44º27.114 Eº001.02.872. I suppose it depends on which way you come into Maurox but the way we came in was through the village, past the La Poste on our right & Mairie on our left & if you look over to your right you’ll see a type of woodland area encircled by a brick wall, well that’s the aires, it is sign posted. This place is also a public picnic site with a new brick built building where you can use the built in barbeque & there are sinks to wash up in. There are a few picnic benches & it looks like there are more planned. There is also a children’s play area & the good thing is there is plenty of shade. Now to the aires bit. The service point is outside the toilet block, there is a drain for your grey water & your toilet cassette gets emptied down the inside toilet. There is also a sink here & the outside water tap requires a large tap hose adaptor. The parking is sloping but there are a few spots where you can get pretty level. It is adjacent to the main road, but it’s pretty quiet there. The village has a good Tourist Information Office, Hotel, only a couple of shops & a couple of restaurants. We took advantage of the hot afternoon here & we gave the motorhome a good clean inside & out. We parked here overnight & were the only ones parked there. It was very peaceful & very quiet.
Day 51 – Wednesday 27-08-08
After a very relaxed & peaceful night’s kip polly was whistling away & me morning cuppa was on its way. We left Maurox shortly after 9am & took a very scenic route to Albas Aires no: 93 page 249 (if you have the all the aires France book or sat nav co-ordinates N44º.28.488 E001º.13.965 for Google earth). When I say scenic we mean scenic. We were way up in the hills driving along some very narrow winding roads & we descended down into Albas. That’s one thing we have discovered whilst here, if you come off the main roads & take the D or C roads it can be very scenic but also very interesting. We crossed a river bridge that looks massive when you’re approaching it, but when you turn to go over it you only have about 3 – 4 inches either side of you, but the weight limit is 16t. So you have to be able to get over it otherwise a lorry of that weight couldn’t. I sometimes look across to look at Sonia’s face when we’re going through these tight places or these high up cliffs & I think sometimes the blood is draining out of her, she looks scared, lol. So here we are at Albas, lovely little village & the aires is right next to a Hydro Electrical Dam. The service point is just before the entrance to the campsite & there is a large parking area here, probably enough room for a good 30 motorhomes if everyone was to park sensibly. So its time to put polly on & look at the dam & the river around us. As we both love water this place was great, rushing weir, calm waters, twisting river & of course the bright hot sunshine. I could stay here, drink me tea do a bit of fishing & sleep sound as a pan. One problem, Sonia is a light sleeper & the noise from the dam would probably keep her awake most of the night. So we just had a few cuppas, a walk around the village & chilled out here until late afternoon. We left Albas & headed for Cahors. We already had a map of Cahors but thought we would check out the Aires no: 81 page 246 (if you have the all the aires France book or sat nav co-ordinates N44º.26.420 E001º.26.468 for Google earth). The aires is pretty straight forward to find just as long as you follow the directions parking St.George or Rodez. The aires is the same entrance as the car park except you turn left as there is a 2 metre height barrier in front of you for the car park only. The aires only has 3 parking bays & they were taken up so it’s of to find a campsite for us to stay on. If you leave the aires & go back to the roundabout before the river bridge, take the 1st exit sign posted Rodez & go straight on up the hill. You’ll come to a set of traffic lights, turn left go under the bridge & up to the roundabout, take 1st exit & carry on to the end of the road & there is a campsite called Riviere de Cabessut there. Well we want to take a good look around Cahors & as the aires was full we needed somewhere to stay. They do speak a little English on the campsite & there is a swimming pool, showers, washing facilities, electric hook up, bar & free Wi-Fi here. The pitches are nice & spacious & some have lovely shade around them. As were on electric it was time to get the Remoska out & conjure up another one of my cordon bleu dishes. This time I put a little olive oil in the Remoska, turned it on & left it for about 10 minutes. I then put in some mince, cooked that off and then drained it. Then I added, courgettes, red & white onions, mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes & bolognaise sauce. Then I left it for about half an hour stirring it occasionally & hey presto you have one very tasty dish. Served with fresh French bread & washed down with pelforth beer & for afters another one of those delicious chocolate mousses, what else could you want for a perfect evening meal. Tomorrow we are going into Cahors to take a good look around & as there is an Irish Pub here, have a guess were we will be tomorrow night? Well its time for one final cuppa before I hit the sack & get another good night’s kip.
Day 52 – Thursday 28-08-08
After a peaceful night’s kip polly was whistling away at 7.30 this morning. After a few quick cuppas it was time to head into the centre of Cahors. We left the campsite shortly before 9am expecting a long walk into Cahors. As we approached the Stade L.Desprats & the car parking area on the right we noticed a bus stop. After making some enquiry a French woman told us there was a shuttle bus from the car parks into the centre of Cahors & all shuttle buses are free. That’s right, all shuttle buses are free. So they want you to park out of town just like in the UK except there shuttle buses are free. They certainly do know how to get things pretty damn right here in France. So shortly after 9am we were in the centre of Cahors. Our 1st stop was the Tourist Information Office that didn’t have any info on events in English apart from the ones we had already collected from other TI sites. We headed for the south bank towards the Pont Valentre. We had a lovely walk along by the river & there are some fascinating little gardens here which are specially designed for the disabled & the blind with all information given in French, English & brail, how smart is that? The gardens encourage you to touch & feel the different plants & even eat their produce. In our opinion the south bank of the Cahors was the part we enjoyed the most & our visit to the Pont Valentre was interesting as it’s by a dam. From there we walked back into the centre & down to the east bank, which once again was pleasant. We walked all the way to the Irish Pub & it was shut. So we walked back towards Cahors centre & Sonia managed to get her hair done. The people in the salon were very friendly & fitted her in there & then. She had her hair washed, cut & blow dried for the amazing price of €22. Now she looks even more beautiful than before & she feels great. We then stopped off for a large cappuccino & beer, once again the price was good €4.50 = £3.73p. Late in the afternoon it was getting very hot so we decided to get the bus back to where we started from, take the short walk back to the campsite & chill out for the rest of the day. I’m sure to some that Cahors is a fascinating place but to us it was just another city, we were glad we came here & saw it for ourselves. As usual the people were very friendly & helpful. Tonight I’m going to cook a type of vegetable miss-mash in the Remoska, sit down have a few beers & some well earned chocolate. In the morning we are going to leave Cahors & take the scenic route heading for Cajarac.
Day 53 – Friday 29-08-08
After a wonderful night’s kip polly was as usual whistling away & me 1st cuppa of the day was soon ready to be drunk. We spent the morning cleaning the inside of the motorhome & replenishing our water supply & by 11.30 we left the campsite heading for Vers. From there we then followed the scenic route to St-Cirq-Lapopie stopping of at St-Gery to stock up on some supplies & of course have a cuppa. St-Gery was a nice little village & they have signs up saying “they try to talk & understand English”. We arrived at St-Cirq-Lapopie early afternoon & it was getting rather hot. Today the weather had reached the early nineties & it was a bit hot for walking around. We enjoyed our visit to St-Cirq-Lapopie which is a hilltop village with some great scenery. From there we took the scenic route to Cajarc & then onto Figeac. We found Figeac to be just like Cahors but bigger, we didn’t like the place so we headed for Boisse-Penchot Aires no: 74 page 244 (if you have the all the aires France book or sat nav co-ordinates N44º.26.420 E001º.26.468 for Google earth). The aires is in good condition with 8 well spaced parking bays. There are no views of the river from the aires but it’s only a 2 minute walk. There is a brasserie on the corner where you can get the tokens for the service point or you can get tokens at the bar / tabac, there are a few picnic tables by the river, a children’s play area & a public barbeque point. The scenery is nice & there’s plenty of walking, cycling & fishing in the area. We had a peaceful night & there were 6 of us parked there.
Day 54 – Saturday 30-08-08
Today is our 5th day of continuous sunshine & already it’s getting hot. So after cooling myself down with the usual morning brew it was time once again to hit the road. We left Boisse-Penchot & took the scenic road via Montbazens, Villefranche-De-Rouergue, Lagupie, Cordes-S-Ciel to Albi. The scenic drives here aren’t as good as the ones we have taken in the past & even though the roads are good the scenery seems to be mainly farmland. Cordes-S-Ciel is a fascinating fortress town built on a hilltop, well worth a visit. We arrived in Albi early afternoon & found the allocating parking for motorhomes without any problems. There are no services here but at least we are parked within a stones throw of the cathedral. After another well earnt cuppa we headed into Albi. Our 1st stop was the Sainte-Cecile Cathedral, fascinating, amazing, a true work of art & craftsmanship. The Cathedral is a one-of-a-kind monument & it’s the world’s largest brick cathedral. It’s one amazing place to visit. To see the entire Cathedral you have to pay €2 to enter each of the two parts known as the Chancel Screen & the Salle du Tresor (treasure room), well if you have come all this way you gotta see it. The cathedral was the main reason we came to Albi & believe you me, it’s totally amazing & should be on everyone’s list as a must place to visit. After coming out of the cathedral it was now late afternoon & the sun was getting hotter, 92º F. Here in Albi there are loads of shops, bars, cafes & restaurants. The city has some great architecture in its old red brick buildings & there are plenty of places to walk around. Our visit coincided with a BMX festival & there were lots of people doing things on bikes & there were some climbing activities going on in the square at the back of the cathedral along with some kind of dance stage. We had a good walk around Albi & the best part for us was the walk along the river. There just happened to be a bar there so after a nice refreshing pint we walked along the rest of the river & back to our motorhome. In the evening there was a concert nearby & there was plenty of partying going on nearby. It was very noisy here until around 5am this morning. On the whole we really enjoyed our visit to this wonderful city & would recommend that Albi should be on everyone’s list as a place to visit.
Day 55 – Sunday 31-08-08
Today started cloudy but dry & after me usual morning cuppa we left Albi heading for Millau. We stopped at Roquefort Sur Soulzon Aires no: 9 page 228 (if you have the all the aires France book or sat nav co-ordinates N43º.58.867 E002º.58.867 for Google earth). We stopped here because there is a tourist office by the aire & I needed a well earnt cup of tea. The parking here is sloping, there are nice views, a few picnic tables & of course you can buy Roquefort cheese, which is lovely. After our little break we headed for Millau. Just after the Millau Viaduct 1st came into view we found a turning where we could pull into, take some photo’s & of course have a quick cuppa. We drove into Millau & briefly stopped at the Aires no: 4 page 226 (if you have the all the aires France book or sat nav co-ordinates N44º.05.750 E003º.05.133 for Google earth). The aires is not in the best of areas, there’s plenty of parking places & it’s probably okay as a night stop over. We drove around Millau took the A75 south over the Millau Viaduct which cost €11 & we were disappointed with the views from the viaduct, but glad we drove over it. We then came off the A75 at junction 47 & headed back into Millau via the D809. By doing this we had now seen the viaduct from all views & coming into Millau this way there is a terrific viewing point to stop at. We then drove back through Millau & took the D809 scenic route to Le Rozier then the D907 through the Gorges Du Tarn. What a fantastic choice of route & what fantastic scenery. The Gorges Du Tarn is a great place to visit the drive is great the scenery is fantastic. We saw loads of birds of prey, at one time there were about 25 – 30 flying overhead & the river in the gorge is crystal clear. There is so much to see & do here it really is a must place to visit. There’s canoeing, kayaking, white water rafting, walking, cycling & of course fly fishing. We spent a long time here & as time was now getting on we needed to get to our overnight stay at Florac. So I punched in the sat nav co-ordinates picked the roads we would drive along & off we set. Now as some of you may know, the aires are not always near the named places. We carried along the D907 through Ste-Enimie until we reached the junction of the N106. We turned right heading for Florac turned left onto the D998 drove through Le-Pont- De-Montvert, nearly there. Then we turned right onto the D35 only a couple of miles to go, sat nav tells me to turn left. It’s now getting rather dark & I can’t turn left as there is a dirt track road in front of me. Something not quite right here I’m thinking, okay carry on & let’s see if we can take the next turning, another dirt track road. Now it’s getting very dark & all we can see are the shadows of the mountains & occasional lights. Each time we turn the sat nav tells me I’m further away & the mileage is more & so is the time it’s going to take to get there. Well after driving now in the pitch black on mountain roads with some very nasty bend we end up at Tavernole. This place is no where near the aires we are trying to find & it’s now 9.45 pm. So what do you do? You turn right heading for Ales & just up the road on the left hand side is a big parking area for a château. So we’re now in a place called Portes & are now parked up in the car park of a château. So what happened to the aires & where is it? Well it’s now 10.15pm & all I can think of is a nice cup of tea & then bed. The château we parked at overnight at Portes I logged the co-ordinates as Nº44.16.089 Eº004.01.559. It was very peaceful there & it has a picnic area, toilets & public barbeque. The château is open from July to the end of August & costs €4.80 per adult. The views there are very nice & when you walk around the château you can see the restoration work they are carrying out.
Day 56 – Monday 01-09-08
After yesterday’s long hard day & frustrating drive into the darkness of the night, today we are on a mission, to find the aires we seemed to get lost trying to find last night. We didn’t have much sleep last night as we were up at 7.30 this morning to admire the views & take a good walk around the grounds of the château. So after several morning cuppas we looked at the map, re checked the sat nav co-ordinates & off we set to find the missing aires. From Portes we re-traced some of our route & the sat nav still told me I was only 4 miles from our destination & to turn right. No can do it’s a dirt track road leading into the mountain. We drove & we drove & we could now see what we drove through in the darkness of the night, twisting mountain roads & narrow bridges along with some very narrow streets to drive through. After driving through Vialas & once again through Le-Pont- De-Montvert we pulled over to have a cuppa & to think about what was going on here. In the aires book the co-ordinates are Nº44.19.517 Eº003.52.400, well that seems to be the middle of a mountain & I ain’t driving through it. Now we have the Camper Stop Europe book & up to now we haven’t really looked at it. So out of curiosity Sonia had a look through it & found the aires we were looking for which is actually at Florac. Camper Stop list the co-ordinates as Nº44.19.32 Eº3.35.25 bingo, on the sat nav I am now looking at Florac. So after reaching the end of the D998 we turned left onto the N106 took the 1st turning to Florac, followed the motorhome sign & we were soon parked up having a cuppa at Aires no: 104 page 211 in the aires book. I logged the co-ordinates as Nº44.19.548 Eº003.35.406. So from this we have learnt always park up before it gets rather dark & don’t go driving through the mountains at night if you can help it. Also check & re check your co-ordinates, destination, route even if it’s getting late & you are feeling tired because of the wonderful day you have had. At least we had seen some even more great scenery whilst on our aires chase. From Florac we drove to Aubignas Aires no: 40 page 377 (if you have the all the aires France book or sat nav co-ordinates N44º.35.236 E004º.37.899 for Google earth).
Day 57 – Tuesday 02-09-08
After a wonderful relaxing evening & a very peaceful nights kip polly was busy whistling away. After a couple of tough driving days we decided to stay at Aubignas for the day & have a nice peaceful & relaxing day. Once again the day had started bright & sunny & it was getting hot. So I decided to have a good sort out in the garage, change a few things around & clean the motorhome. After lunch we went for a walk around Aubignas & thoroughly enjoyed the wonderful panoramic views this hillside village has to offer. This place nearly has it all. It has wonderful panoramic views, birds of prey, wild blackberries, figs, mistletoe and fresh spring water, properties with character, no shops, lovely walking & cycling routes. So what’s missing? A river, if this place had a river I would have probably stayed there for a week or two. Oh well you can’t have it all but in our opinion Aubignas is a lovely place to visit & the aires is in tip top condition.
Day 58 – Wednesday 03-09-08
Overnight we had a spot of thunder & a few showers but the morning started cloudy with sunny spells. After a few morning cuppas we left Aubignas & drove to Montelimar & then we took the scenic route to Dieulefit, Bordeaux & Saillans. We then headed for Die & stopped at the lovely le Claps which is a kind of place created from fallen rocks. Le Claps has some great scenery & it’s great for walking, rock climbing & watching birds of prey. There is also a river which runs into a beautiful sea green pool which turns into a mini waterfall the other side of the gorge. Unfortunately motorhomes are banned from parking there over night so after spending quite some time here we headed for Gap & when we saw the aires we quickly drove on by & headed for the parking spot at Col Bayard which is aires no:24 page 191 & is listed without co-ordinates. To find this ideal parking spot when you leave Gap you take the N85 Grenoble road. You go past the D944 on your right, past the Col Bayard resort on your right & as you start to drop down the hill you will see a small church on your right & on the left hand side of the road is a restaurant. Just as you approach the sign for the restaurant turn right & you will see the communal parking area on your right. Just find some where to park, enjoy the mountain views & have a very peaceful night’s kip. Even though the church rings its bell until 10pm & the N85 is close we found the noise was minimal & it was very peaceful & quiet all night & we were the only ones parked there for the night. I logged the co-ordinates for here as: Nº44.38.415 Eº006.05.170.
Day 59 – Thursday 04-09-08
After a wonderful night’s kip & the usual morning brew we left Col Bayard heading for Orcieres. We have decided that as we’re in the Rhone Alps region we might as well look at some of the ski resorts while the weather is still good & take in some hopefully breathtaking scenery. Orcieres is at an altitude of 1850m & is apparently one of the top ski resorts in this area. So here we are driving up these steep winding mountain roads & I’m scared of heights. Well at least I have me cups of tea & plenty of fags to calm me nerves. The scenery certainly is well worth the effort to get to theses places & I’m now probably turning grey before I should be. Seriously the drive to the resort was great & even though some parts of the road was a bit tight it was well worth the effort to get there. We arrived at Orcieres Aires no: 81 page 206 (if you have the all the aires France book or sat nav co-ordinates N44º.41.704 E006º.19.562 for Google earth) by mid morning. To get here you just follow the D944 to Pont Du Fosse & keep going until you reach the ski resort of Orcieres. Motorhomes park on the top level of car park no: 5 & it costs €12 per day with electric hook up. There are instructions on how to enter the car park outside & the machine only takes French credit cards. There is a warden who comes around to collect cash but as it’s out of season we parked in the car park by the tourist office. There is a service point in the car park & those who arrive early I’m sure get the best views overlooking the mountains. The tourist office told us that most places are shut until the ski season starts in December & there is extensive work going on in the resort as they are putting in a brand new ski station & chair lifts. It all looked great & I’m sure those of you who know this resort can tell us what a great place it is in the winter. We had a look around the resort & after a nice cuppa we took the scenic route to La Rochette. From there we stopped at Lac De Serre Poncon which is a 3,000 hectare reservoir & claims to be the largest lake in Europe. The water is an amazing colour & there are the usual activities associated with this type of resort. From there it was back up the winding mountain roads to Les Orres Aires no: 105 page 212 (if you have the all the aires France book or sat nav co-ordinates N44º.30.010 E006º.33.371 for Google earth). The drive up to Les Orres was very scenic & it’s at an altitude of 1564m. The aires is well sign posted & the parking is on a large gravel area behind “Salle de Hors Sacs”. It’s right by the ticket office & chairlift & even though these resorts are also advertised as good summer walking resorts everything is closed until the winter season starts. The views of the mountains are great & we were lucky enough to have 5 birds of prey circling overhead. Tonight we have had some thunder along with some great streaks of lightening & it’s fascinating to watch the mountains appear & disappear under the clouds as they roll in & out of the valley. I’ve managed to calm me nerves a bit by relaxing, having a few beers & plenty of nicotine. In the morning I know I have to drive all the way back down the mountain road but at least I’ll be back on the ground. Just to make myself feel good we are heading eventually for Mont Blanc.
Day 60 – Friday 05-09-08
After thunder storms & heavy rain overnight the morning started bright & sunny. After me usual morning cuppas we decided to leave Les Orres & head into Embrun. The aires no: 19 page 190 is listed without co-ordinates is at the Intermarche supermarket off the main N94 road. The LPG is expensive here & you get it & pay for it in the Roady tyre garage which is also handy for any motoring accessories you require. There is a Bricomarche next to the Intermarche supermarket & there is also a McDonalds there. After getting some supplies ready for the weekend we drove into Embrun to have a look around. The town has an interesting cathedral along with quite a few shops & the usual bars & restaurants. We left Embrun heading for Mont Dauphin; from there we took the road to Guillestre & then the D902 Combe Du Queyras road which is amazing. This was the most scenic & amazing road we have driven along so far. There is a dam & river gorge running all the way along this stretch of road & the scenery is amazing. We stopped at nearly every opportunity to admire the surrounding scenery. We stopped off at some of the Kayak launching trails & the water here was ice cold & very refreshing. We were very lucky at one point as we could sit & watch Salmon trying to jump up the river. If you love rafting, kayaking this is a great place to visit. We eventually arrived at Château Queyras where we found a nice parking area next to the river. We stopped there over night along with a few other motorhomes & it was very peaceful & quiet.
Day 61 – Saturday 06-09-08
The morning started bright & sunny just what we wanted as we were heading for Casse Deserte. So after the usual morning cuppa we set off along the D902 heading for Arvieux. The road is a slow winding climb & there are plenty of altitude markers just to let you know how high you are climbing. This is also I believe a Tour De France route as there are plenty of cyclists pedalling their way up these steep hills. After passing through the ski resort of Arvieux we headed up for Casse Deserte. There are quite a few places to stop & have a picnic on route & the main parking area for the Casse Deserte is marked at an altitude of 2360m. After a well deserved cuppa we headed for one of the view points. There are plenty of walkers along with cyclists in this area & the views are fantastic with Mont Thabor which stands at 3181m visible in the far distance. Sadly there was an extremely ice cold wind blowing here so we cut our walk a bit short & headed back to our motorhome for a cuppa & to get warm. We left Casse Deserte heading for Briancon & stopped along the way to admire more amazing scenery & to taste the fresh running mountain water. We drove through Briancon & headed for our overnight stop at Le Montier Les Bains. We found an area which has a large parking area & services which is near one of the ski lifts & I have logged the co-ordinates as; Nº44.58.256 Eº006.30.760. There are about 25 of us parked here & there is probably parking for around 100 motorhomes here. This parking spot has plenty of mountain views & we could see 2 mountaineers walking along the top of one of the ridges. The weather has turned a bit sour with heavy rain & low rolling cloud but it’s still great to be here. We are heading for La Grave which has an Ice cave at 3200m & some terrific views of Mount La Meije which stands at 3983m & from here you can also see Mont Blanc which stands at 4810m. La Grave has cable cars to get you to the 3200m point & from there you can take breath taking walks to PuyVachierLake, refuge Chancel & there is even mountain biking here. I don’t think we’ll be visiting the glacial crevasses but we’ll definelty be visiting the ice cave with its amazing ice sculptures. Here are some useful websites for you to look at: Grotte De Glace: http://www.grottedeglace.com Excursion onto the glacier, mountaineering & hiking: http://www.guidelagrave.com For now its time for a cuppa then off to bed & we’ll hopefully wake up to another beautiful day.
Day 62 – Sunday 07-09-08
Just what we ordered, the day has started dry bright & sunny. So after the usual morning cuppa we left Montier Les Bains heading for La Grave. The drive on route provided the usual good scenery & after a few stops & a few cuppas by mid-day we had arrived at the Telepheriques De La Grave. So here we are parked in the large parking area just past the cable car lift where there’s a bar & a rafting centre with some gites above & I’m wondering what on earth am I doing here looking at the height of the mountain & the route the cable cars are taking. So after a cuppa & a few fags we walked to the entrance of the cable car lift. You can take single trips or return trips up to either stage 1 which is at 2400m or go to the top at 3200m. Single trips, I want to come down not be stuck up there. So after looking at the information which is at hand we decided to buy 2 return tickets to the 3200m stage at a cost of €36 for the 2 of us. So here we are getting in to the cable car which is going to whisk us up to 2400m & then we have to change cable cars to reach the 3200m summit. Well I must admit the trip up was great, the scenery was fantastic & the weather was dry & bright. When we departed from the cable car at 3200m the wind hit us & it was time to get the jackets on. So what’s the 1st thing you do when you get to this height? You go into the restaurant & order 2 coffees & a large plate of chips along with bread rolls so you can make a chip butty. After our meal at 3200m it was time to explore this glacier. The views were great from here & the tables of orientation show you where the different mountains are. I must admit I was a bit disappointed with the view looking from the restaurant to the ice cave. I thought it was going to be a fantastic see for miles type of view instead of being in a kind of dip on a glacier view. Hopefully you’ll see what I mean from the pictures. The glacier with its crevasse’s looked mean & if there would have been the opportunity to hire the necessary equipment & the guide we would have paid the €85 each to walk out onto the glacier. We believe the glacier walk has to be arranged a few days in advance of your arrival & there is a telephone number for you to ring to arrange the glacier walk. So we headed for the ice cave, easy access & safe. Well the route to the cave is a bit tricky especially as its quite a steep walk down & the snow is quite deep in places. I trod in one part & my foot went down to my calf muscle. As you start to head towards the ice cave there are ropes which you need to hold on to but if your unfortunate like Sonia was then you just slip up on your bum. Of course I rushed to help her after I stopped laughing & took a photo. The ice cave costs €4 each & as your there it’s worth seeing. It has matting laid down inside & it’s surprisingly warm inside. You can see & hear the glacier melting in some parts & one part of the cave was closed as it was underwater. The sculptures are interesting & were well worth visiting. At 15.45 it was time to depart the glacier & take the 30 minute trip back down to earth. By now the cloud had come over the mountain & there was very little to see. Back in the cable car I put the camera into movie mode & videoed the whole trip down. On playing the video back it seemed like we were hardly moving but believe you me, the trip down was scarier than the trip going up. Safely back on the ground it was time to get back to the motorhome & put polly on. Sitting there reflecting on our trip to 3200m all we can say was it was brilliant & I’m looking forward to the 3,842m trip when we arrive at Mont Blanc. Hang on; did I just say I was looking forward to it? I don’t like heights & I want to do it again. Must be the air I’m breathing here, making me think strange things. Where we had parked the motorhome we had fine views of MountMeije & we decided to park there overnight. I logged the co-ordinates as Nº45.002.643 Eº006.18.044 it was very quiet & peaceful parked there overnight & the mountain views were great. Funny enough we were the only ones parked there.
Day 63 – Monday 08-09-08
After a very peaceful nights kip the views of MountMeije at 07.30 in the morning are great. Polly was busy whistling away & it was time for me morning cuppa. We left La Grave heading for Vaujany which is aires no: 88 on page 386 & is listed without co-ordinates. I was going to take the scenic D211 to Alpe d’Huez but with its 21 hairpin bends Sonia was looking a little pale as some of the mountain roads we had already taken were a little bit on the dodgy side. So after leaving Le Bourg D’Oisans we took the D44 & then the D43A which was a steep climbing winding road. We arrived at Vaujany late morning & this aires should be prominently listed. I logged the co-ordinates as Nº45.09.415 Eº006.04.793. There is parking at this ski resort for 15 motorhomes & some of the parking is sloping. The aires is free & there is electric available for each of the 15 parking bays with tokens available from the hall in the centre of the village. The scenery is great & there are 3 cascades in the mountains in front of you. There was plenty of construction work going on as with all the ski resorts we have so far visited as perhaps they are preparing for the coming season. We can only presume that people who go skiing know about this lovely place & to get the best views you probably have to arrive early. Now one thing we would like to know is that do all ski resorts have major construction work carried out in preparation for each season? Some seem to have new cable car stations along with chairs, chalets etc being built in the resorts. So is that why skiing is so expensive & do people really travel up in those chair lifts. Some of them really do look scary so I think I’ll stick to the cable car. If we would have arrived at Vaujany later in the afternoon we would have stayed there but as it was late morning we decided to move on. So after a good look around Vaujany & a well deserved cuppa we decided to head for Barrage De Grand Maison. The scenery on route was great & we found a nice place to park by this massive lake which I logged as Nº45.13.479 Eº006.08.755. There is plenty of walking, cycling, fishing & birds of prey in the area & with fresh running mountain water all around you it was a great place to park up overnight. So we decided to have a bit of a lazy afternoon here as it was a lovely hot sunny day & to just chill out. There are some decent size Trout here & even though I could see them we didn’t have fresh Trout for tea. We enjoyed our stop here & I even done my good Samaritan bit by jump starting a car which had a flat battery. At night the mountain views were great & with a half moon shining bright in the night sky the views were awesome. It was very peaceful here & there were 5 of us parked there overnight.
Day 64 – Tuesday 09-09-08
After a little spot of rain overnight the morning started dry bright & sunny. After me usual few morning cuppas we left Barrage De Grand Maison still heading for Mont Blanc. We followed the rest of the scenic D927 heading for St-Etienne-de-Cuines. On route we stopped at St-Colomban-des-Villards where I tried out a bit of mountain climbing. Now for someone who is scared of heights I think I must be either going mad or it’s the water I’m using for me cuppas that’s making me do these strange things. As you can see from the pictures it was tough & I didn’t use the suggested safety equipment. I don’t look that scared in the pictures but believe you me that was quite a high climb. Well it’s a start, who knows perhaps one day I’ll try a much higher climb. From there we followed the N6 going through Modane to Lanslebourg Mont-Cenis. From there we took the very scenic D902 which is a rather steep winding road where we reached the Col de L’Iseren at the altitude of 2770m so we thought it would be a good time for a cuppa & a photo shoot. Now as you all know polly has been working rather hard throughout this trip so I thought it was about time I showed her some of the sites. So with polly in hand I showed her around the summit & even took her photo at the 2770m marker point. I think the French thought we were mad standing there with what they must have thought was just a kettle. But polly is no ordinary kettle, she’s a trophy of British tea. After polly was safely back in the motorhome she was happily whistling away & after a quick cuppa we left Col de L’Iseren heading for Val-d-Isere. On the drive down from the mountain we spotted a lovely parking spot at a place called St-Charles. So under the mountains watching the Lammergeier’s flying high we decided to park there overnight. There is plenty of walking routes in this area & I must admit the road across from Lanslebourg to St-Charles was pretty scary in places. So after a great day’s drive we spent a very peaceful night parked here along with a few other motorhomes & I logged the co-ordinates as Nº45.27.284 Eº007.02.230.
Day 65 – Wednesday 10-09-08
After our morning cuppa we left St-Charles taking a rather interesting drive to Bourg-St-Maurice. From there we took the D902 to Beaufort which was once again another scenic steep winding mountain road with a peak at 1969m. We stopped at Les Saises Aires no: 4 page 368 (if you have the all the aires France book or sat nav co-ordinates N45º.45.749 E006º.32.024 for Google earth). This aires is at an altitude of 1650m there is a large parking area where you have to pay €7 to park overnight & there is no Flot Bleu service machine here, there’s nothing apart from the parking area. You only get good mountain views from the other side of the road so after a quick cuppa we decided to head for Les Contamines – Montjoie Aires no: 7 page 369 (if you have the all the aires France book or sat nav co-ordinates N44º.18.872 E005º.06.004 for Google earth). From St-Gervais-Les-Bains we took the D902 & drove past the Montjoie aires to a large parking area on the left before you get to the no through road sign. There is a WC there, lovely views & plenty of walks, cycling & climbing in the area. If you walk up the road there is a bar restaurant & a fantastic Chapel to see. If you take the river route you will come to another fantastic chapel built in the rock face. So after a good walk around we decided to park in the car park overnight instead of going into the aires & paying €15.50 to stay there. We were fortunate enough to take some pictures of a squirrel very close up & the river which runs next to the car park was another great asset. I logged the co-ordinates as Nº45.47.678 Eº006.43.069.
Day 66 – Thursday 11-09-08
After a very peaceful night’s kip & the usual morning cuppa provided by polly, we decided to carry on & head for Mont Blanc. We stopped in St-Gervais-Les-Bains Aires no: 9 page 370 (if you have the all the aires France book or sat nav co-ordinates N45º.53.250 E006º.42.783 for Google earth). This aires requires a jeton which is available from the tourist office. So we walked to the tourist office picked up a few tokens & enquired about trips to Mont Blanc. Now it seems funny to us that a lot of the tourist offices have a lot of information in French, German & Italian & hardly any in English. Do the English not travel to many of these places or are they trying to tell us something. After we looked around St-Gervais-Les-Bains we went back to the aires, serviced the van & left. I couldn’t think why anyone would want to park at this aires overnight unless you really needed to. By mid afternoon Mont Blanc was in our view & it looked great. There was a rather large traffic jam waiting on the tunnel approach road so that gave us the opportunity to take some photos & look through the binoculars & what was in store for us. We parked at Chamonix Mont Blanc Aires no: 27 page 374 (if you have the all the aires France book or sat nav co-ordinates N45º.55.150 E006º.52.133 for Google earth). The parking area here is large & it’s a chargeable car park costing €5 for 10-15 hours & €10 for 16-24 hours. There is fair ground people occupying one part of the car park & no one can get to the service point. So after a cuppa we decided to go to the Telepherique office & enquire about the trip up to see Mont Blanc. After getting our information we decided to have a look around. About 3 hours later we were heading back to the motorhome. There is plenty to see & do here & it’s a shopper’s paradise. There are plenty of shops, bars & restaurants here & there’s even an Irish Pub. So we decided to park at the aires overnight & after having dinner we set off back into town to have another look around & of course a few pints of Murphy’s & Guinness to calm the nerves before our very high cable car trip up to the 3842m view point of Mont Blanc. You can get more information on the Aigulle du Midi & other Compagnie du Mont Blanc sites by looking at the following website: http://www.compagniedumontblanc.com
Day 67 – Friday 12-09-08
We were hoping the day was going to start bright, dry & sunny. From 3am we had nothing but heavy rain & low level cloud. Looking out of our motorhome drinking my 1st cuppa of the day our trip up to the Aiguille du Midi was looking bleak. I thought I would catch up on some typing & a few other things & by 11am the weather had shown no signs of improvement. So we decided to head into Chamonix to have another look around. From the car park we walked towards Chamonix stopping off at the Telepherique to view the webcam. The Aiguille du Midi was dry, bright & sunny & the HelbronnerPass was open. We rushed back to the motorhome got all the necessary clothing & supplies & at 11.30am we were purchasing our return tickets at the cost of €76.00 for the 2 of us, by 11.50 we were on our way. I was itching to get up to this 3842m peak. Hang on, did I say I was itching to get up there, I think I’m going mad, I don’t like heights. After a change of cable cars at the 2317m stage in 20 minutes we were there at the 3777m section. After exiting the cable car you walk across a foot bridge to the most amazing scenery that awaits you. As the Helbronner pass was open our 1st stop was to purchase our tickets & head for Italy. The return tickets were €34.00 for the 2 of us. We got into the panoramic cable car for our 30 minute journey across the 5km Helbronner pass & it was amazing. The cable car stops 5 times on route allowing you to take photos & take a good look at the amazing scenery around you. When we arrived in Italy it was time for one of those gorgeous Italian coffees & a hot Panini filled with Italian ham. After our pit stop we went up to the terrace & cloud was everywhere, you couldn’t see a thing. Then all of a sudden the cloud disappears & there was Italy below us & mountain peaks which had been previously disguised appearing all around us. We absolutely loved the journey across in the panoramic cable car & the Italian side was great. If we had only gone to the telepherique office earlier then maybe would have had time to go down the Italian side in their cable cars. Well after having a good look around the Helbronner peak it was time for our journey back to the Aiguille du Midi in France. The journey back was just as amazing as the outward journey & this is one trip we feel you just have to make, it’s absolutely brilliant. Back at the Aiguille du Midi we went onto the terraces to watch walkers & climbers arriving & departing from their sections. We then paid the €6.00 for the 2 of us to take the lift up to the highest viewing terrace of Aiguille du Midi which stands at 3842m. It’s just amazing, the scenery that surrounds you is just breathtaking & it’s forever changing. One minute you can see for miles, then it clouds over, then there’s a mountain which you never saw before appearing out of the sky, then everything once again changes & you see things you never noticed before. Watching the walkers across the glaciers was fantastic & we really would love to do this. Mont Blanc looked great & we could see 2 vehicles south of the summit going along one of the trails. I probably could go on & on about this most amazing, most fantastic trip, but I won’t. All we can say is if you’re in the Chamonix region then you just have to visit the Aiguille du Midi. Safely back on the ground & having a well deserved cuppa all we could do was sit there & reflect on the day’s events. After a while we came back into the here & now & decided to go into Chamonix & have something to eat. The night was chilly & as we looked up into the sky that night before returning to our motorhome we both were amazed & what we had achieved today.
Day 68 – Saturday 13-09-08
After a peaceful night’s kip, polly was busy whistling away & my 1st cuppa was on its way. The day started just as yesterday, dark, dull & a sky full of rain. But we somehow knew that high above us the sun was shining & the people who were planning a trip up to the Aiguille du Midi were in for an amazing adventure. We decided to pay our parking fee which was €20 & head for Switzerland. We left Chamonix mid morning & took the road to Vallorcine. At the Swiss border we paid €30 for our viginette & after a quick passport check we were now in Switzerland. We drove to Sion & then onto Brig where we decided to take the SimplonPass. The day was a mixture of cloud & a few showers but once again the scenery was just fantastic. Driving across the Simplon Pass was a mixture of twisting roads with hairpin bends & a few tunnels. When we arrived at the Italian border they just waved us on & shouted goodbye. Were now in Italy, just think this morning we left Mont Blanc & now by late afternoon we were now in Italy heading for Verbania. As we have the Guida Camper book finding a place to stay near Lake Maggiore was pretty straight forward. The place we stopped at was listed as VB 04 on page 268. Although there are no sat nav co-ordinates listed it was quite straight forward to find. There was a free service point here & parking for around 30 motorhomes. Our 1st night in Italy was peaceful & the weather still hadn’t shown any signs of improvement.
Day 69 – Sunday 14-09-08
After a peaceful nights kip & listening to polly whistling away I was getting ready for my 1st cuppa of the day. We went for a walk around Verbania & even though the weather was still damp we enjoyed our walk & all of a sudden we have had a brainstorm. We have enjoyed the Dordogne & Alps region of France the most since leaving the UK. The thought of having to go back to the UK in March for our MOT & tax meant we could miss some of the most amazing scenery in the Alps when the thaw takes place & the rivers rage. So what do we do? We’re into day 69 of our trip & we’ve had a very strange brainstorm. So after sitting down, deliberating & of course having a cuppa we’ve made our minds up. Even though we have a 3.5t motorhome some of the places we really wanted to get to, some of the activities we wish to pursue we couldn’t because of the size of the van & as we don’t want to buy cycles or a motor bike there’s only one thing to do. Get back to the UK, sell the motorhome, buy a smaller one & hopefully by the end of October we’re be heading for sunnier climes in the south of Europe & then go into Romania, Czechoslovakia, Slovenia, Poland etc; then back to the Alps for the thaw & back to the Dordogne for all the places we couldn’t get into. Are we mad, probably but our minds are made up & we’re on our way back to the UK. So after another cuppa we left Verbania & drove to Locarno, Luzern and Basel, across the Swiss border into Germany heading for Strasbourg. From Strasbourg we headed for Metz & all we are going to do is follow the motorway to Calais. As a professional HGV Class1 driver long hauls are not a problem to me & as usual I will use my skills & judgement on the miles I will drive in a day. Just north of Reims I decided it was time for a few hours’ kip before the final leg to Calais.
Day 70 – Monday 15-09-08
After having sufficient rest & my morning cuppa we left Reims heading for Calais. When we got to Calais I phoned Dover Eurochange & we were booked on the 15.15 Sea France crossing from Calais to Dover at the cost of £67.50p. We arrived in Dover late afternoon & are now back in the UK. We stopped off overnight before surprising our families & friends who we were glad to see & we are now putting our plans for our return trip to Europe into action.
Conclusion of our 70 day trip.
Well what can we say? We have had a fantastic time & have gathered some invaluable experience & knowledge of just how good France is for motorhomes. The UK is listed as the most least friendly motorhome destination in Europe & we can now see why. All the aires France book, good maps & an up to date sat nav are invaluable. Going into tourist offices finding information about the area you are in is invaluable. Carrying sufficient supplies spare parts for your vehicle & regulators for your gas & a back up system is probably invaluable. Take the best pair of binoculars, camera & video recorder that you can afford plus extra data cards & batteries etc. Look for where the locals park, watch what they do & just blend in with them, it’s great. When we all go on our trips we all have different visions of what’s ahead of us & what we would like to achieve on our travels. The Dordogne & the Alps ring all our bells & pushes all our buttons. We are going back to Europe relishing the Countries & friendliness that awaits us.