Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Fast Forward - Provence 2014

So where next?  Summer came & went, 'head south young man', so we dutifully did.  The plan, my plan you understand [more of that later], was to head down to southern France via the 'cheap' route, ie] autoroute toll free, read also 'it will take longer' and more 'scenic'.  The route, l had discussed this with several of our visiting motorhomers - we have a CL Site - was to head through Belgium then turn right in Luxembourg city, then on down eastern France to Gap then over the mountains following the Route de Napoleon to the Gorges du Gordon.  Good plan.

As you can see, to make the job of exploring narrow & bendy roads, we decided to take my smart car, which is attached via an 'a frame', along with us.  

Our route to Europe, we live close to the Port of Hull, was via the P & O ferries overnight service to Zeebrugge.    Often when travelling this route there are various interesting sights to gawk at, this time was no exception, there was this wonderful motor parked alongside us at customs in Zeebrugge. Only a classic gull wing mercedes! 

Every year the road connections from Zeebrugge improve, thanks to ongoing upgrades, fast dual carriageways & toll-free motorway speed you on your journey.  All pretty easy driving, little traffic, except round Brussels & no tolls.  Our overnight stop was to be at a municipal site to the south of the city of Luxembourg which was easy to locate, although we did have to wait an hour or so until the warden returned from an extended lunch break.

If was at this point that we had our first inquisitive inspection of the A frame.  This came from a German motohomer who had never seen anything like this before.  Yes he'd seen cars pulled on low trailers but, as he said, 'this is so much better, l want one!'.  We duly passed on details of suppliers in the UK.  Keen to practise his English & in no hurry to return to his 'van, he also very helpfully recommended the very useful app, Camper Contact which has details of motorhome stops, including photos & reviews [often in Dutch].

Day number 2 saw us heading into France, down A31 then branching eastwards along the E23 finally coming to an overnight halt at the almost deserted  municipal camp site at Le Val-d'Ajol, a really pretty village set in a valley surrounded by the dense forests of the Vosages region.  

This gave us an opportunity to take the smart car for a quick spin, it was great fun bouncing along the heavily-forested, winding mountain lanes. You could imagine  ancient Celts launching attacks guerilla upon unsuspecting Roman legions very easily here! 

Another long drive on day 3, the roads, well they are main roads & dual carriageways, are certainly cheaper to travel along, but, a lot of rounding of roundabouts & slowing down & breaking - so could this not be such a good idea? 

Anyway, by the time we reached Gap, the driver, my husband, had had enough:  'autoroutes are much easier to get from A - B fast'.  OK, revert to Plan 2.  We stopped at a small site to the south of Gap set amongst walnut trees & fruit trees, with views up the sides of the vertical mountain side, a little claustrophobic if l am brutally honest.  The host was as mad as a hatter too, certainly what you could possible term, 'a bit of a character'!

So, what next? What is Plan 2? Is there a Plan 2?

Monday, 19 October 2015

ok what has happened to my timing then?

Nothing like returning to a long lost blog, l ask myself, 'can l remember?', 'where did we go / stop / see?'  Normally, l complete a log of where, how & when, l'm afraid l didn't do one for this trip, but, it's amazing what you can remember by just looking at photos isn't it?

Anyway, if my memory serves me well, from the rain soaked aires de camping car at Pont d'Ouilly, we continued our journey through Normandy, stopping overnight near Mortain, then westwards heading to the Brittany coast where according to BBC weather, was going to be warm, dry & sunny!

As a youngster, l had visited Carnac & Quiberon with parents and, what with me being 'tour guide', decided that it would be an interesting re-visit to the standing stones & dolman of the area.

There is something about Brittany that is timeless, the brilliant light, the blue of the sea, the fine sandy beaches.   The ideal place for rockpooling, bird watching & eating fruits de mer!

So with the sat nav set to Carnac, that is where we went.  Deciding to spend a few days in the sun, we booked onto a site next to the beach, watched the locals prise limpets off rocks & rake for cockles, sat in the sun & tucked in to moules frites and ice cream.

The amazing megaliths, well, these were pretty much unchanged, but, and a big but too,  you can't go up to them to huge / touch / chant [?], they are fenced off, signs saying keep out & protect the wild flowers, big disappointment that.  After all those millennia of people getting up close, to now being kept at arms length, tragic, mind you, the wild flowers did look nice, probably the first time ever that they had had a chance to bloom!

Out return journey took us through the centre of rural Brittany, empty roads, forest, small villages. We broke our journey at Dinan, the aires just under the viaduct, chatted an English couple who ran a small cafe & gift shop half way up a steeply cobbled road, & who took great pleasure in telling us tales of motorhomers who, on leaving the aires, proceeded to turn left UP the steep, narrow road only to find half way up they came to a grinding halt ................ it was a regular occurrence apparently, something to do with blindly following your sat nav & forgetting common sense together good old fashioned map reading!

So, that brings to a close, the first trip in the IH.  Great fun, it does so help to be spontaneous. Everything more or less worked & the bits that needed fine turning or sorting out were added to the 'to do list'.  

Happy Days!