I set last night’s aire stop without realising that we were within 10 miles of where Marleen lived and worked for a couple of years around 12 years ago. A few years ago we had flown around it a couple of times but not the same as visiting; particularly as one of her neighbours was still there and we had a coffee with them and it gave Marleen a chance for a good snoop around.
Journey to Cherbourg was mainly in sunshine and without event. There were dark clouds but they very thoughtfully stayed out of our way.
So this is the last post in this blog. I always look for a nice setting sun in clear sky above waters as smoothe as a millpond. Not tonight so this’ll have to do.
It’s always bitter/sweet when we end a trip and no less true with this one. We have the intention of setting off again in October for Spain and Portugal and hope it will come off. The van is getting older (like me) and I am used to things packing up when we are away and so it will be good to sort out a couple of things from home rather than when we are on the fly.
Today was a travel day making our way towards Cherbourg for the Cherbourg to Poole ferry on Sunday with the expectation that all we would have was pictures of vehicles overtaking us on dual carriageways. And so it was. A day of movement and weather.
An apology first to those who follow us on Facebook as you’ve seen these pictures before; we did a little tour of the Île de Ré in light winds and blue(ish) skies knowing that the weather wasn’t going to be so good as we made our way North.
We were out of Nantes and on our way to Rennes when we had this sky in front of us. Lovely pictures taken by Marleen.
As we drove towards it, the light outside was like dusk and we were welcomed into this darkness with flashes of lightning and developing rain. And gradually the rain began to go from torrential to hail.
There were people who pulled over to the hard shoulder during the worst of it but I felt safer by just slowing down and keeping going. Never let it be said that there is nothing new to learn. In my 78th year, this is the wildest thunder storm I have ever experienced and I’m very pleased not to have missed it 🙂
We arrived at our stopping point (a lovely aire in a small village) in heavy rain but by the time we went to bed, the stars were out wishing us ‘Bonne Nuit’ 🙂
Decided to do another night here before moving on and giving Granville a miss. This island is a pretty place, the sun has shone most of the day and Marleen took herself off for a good walk. She went on her own as my gout revisited me so I took a ‘knock-it-dead’ dose of painkillers and expect it to be completely gone by tomorrow morning. Mind you, it didn’t stop me from limping with surprising enthusiasm to the local boulangerie to join Marleen for a coffee, baguette and other sinful delicacies.
Leaving the campsite this morning I heard some geezer saying to his other half as he looked into the aire “There isn’t much distance between those vans”. I was a bit surprised as I thought the amount of space for each van was pretty generous for an aire and it got me thinking (dangerous) about aires and their value.
Here is a picture from the ‘Find Friends’ App showing our location. The blue dot is our location(ish)
There are hundreds of aires around France where the overnight parking is free or almost free. On rare occasions it is even free and electricity is supplied. They are not always in pretty places but they are normally in very useful places like walking distance from a town centre. There are many that are in pretty places on the outskirts of villages.
So, they do not supply services. Go to a campsite and there are showers, toilets, electricity and dumping unmentionables (often available at aires either for free or €2). This aire here costs, in September, €13.50 a night plus €3 to empty our kitchen and other waste and load fresh water. When it’s time to leave tomorrow we’ll put our ticket into a machine together with a credit card and the amount owing will be deducted. It will be €30. If we had gone into the campsite next door we would have had the additional services and the total cost for two nights would have been €52.
The truth is that we don’t need those services all the time. We can go three days without replenishment. With propane gas and 2 x 12v batteries, we have TV, fridge cooking, hot water and heating and lighting – in other words, everything that can work on mains suppy. Haven’t mentioned wifi yet. It’s expensive on campsites and usually very slow and poor value. Nowadays there is data at good speeds almost everwhere at either 3G or 4G. For another £5 a month I can increase my data allowance from 4Gb to 10Gb. All the uploads for this blog have been done by using phone data rather than wifi so a campsite wifi isn’t necessary.
Proximity to another van doesn’t seem to be a big deal to us. Everyone tends to keep to themselves although there is chatter from time-to-time. This aire is a good example of a great location with useful shops and restaurants very close by. And, always, the feeling of increased security of not being parked in total isolation.
Two days in one blog. We travelled up from the Dordogne to La Rochelle on a mainly dark and wet day so a good one for travelling. We aimed specifically for this aire on the Île de Ré chancing that it would have space free as late as 6:30pm. And that’s what we found on arrival – one small plot, so it’s always worth taking the chance. This morning we moved as other vans moved on.
We meandered around a bit and I slept quite a lot nursing another attack of gout.
We walked down to the oyster beds. I was curious as over the years I have flown over many of these beds which go for mile after mile on this coast.
The westerly today would have made cycling over this bridge almost impossible. Thoughts of Alec and Vivi Armitage when they cycled over it (without electric in those days:)
We didn’t go very far today – another day of some sunshine, some rain and mainly cloud. So we decided to go and see round Chateau des Milandes. Didn’t mean anything to me but Marleen, over breakfast read out some stuff from Google about the owner from 1947 until the early 70s – Josephine Baker.
Josephine who? Am I the only person in the world who has never heard of Josephine Baker? I’ll spare the blog a detailed biography but this was one occasion where I visited a chateau and finished up hardly noticing the long history in its structures and totally involved in the story of a recent owner.
Josephine Baker. with an Afro-American mother, unknown father but a Brazilian is in the frame, early life in poverty, married first at 13, singer and dancer and famous in Europe by the age of 24 and subsequently committed to France. Married four times, decorated for her part played in the French Resistance in WW2, adopted 11 (or was it 12?) children after purchasing Chateau des Milandes in 1947 and eventually (literally) physically removed from the place when it, and all its contents, were sold to cover her debts. She was given the use of a grace-and-favour apartment by Princess Grace of Monaco and ended her days in the South of France.
Enough biography. Marleen very sensibly paid (it’s always sensible when Marleen pays 🙂 for audio guides and by the end of the tour I was unsure how I felt about it all. Her ending here was very sad but there was no doubt that she had gone from rags to riches and lived a very full and colourful life. In the end, given that all lives have moments of grief and trial, she certainly had some very good bits in between and so it was a life well lived.
An added attraction here (no historical context that I could see) was a breeding programme for birds of prey. They have a very enjoyable and informative display three times a day which gives the audience the opportunity to see these birds up close.
Another peaceful night in an aire with plenty of other vans.
An easy day driving-wise broken in the middle at Les Eyzies-De-Tayac-Sirieul (try saying that after a skinful). Whilst Marleen went up to the prehistoric caves in search of some of my recently departed forebears, I stayed in the van contentedly nursing an attack of gout.
A day of rain and some sunshine which finished at La Roque Gageac in a pleasant aire right on the edge of the village and on the bank of La Dordogne.
Resting today at a very good campsite with a passable cafe and bar and showers that were hot with unlimited amounts of water without having to keep pressing a button. Which only goes to reinforce the fact that it’s the little things that give pleasure when push comes to shove 🙂
This village is at the confluence of the rivers Dordogne and Vézères – wide, shallow and slow. Marleen had a plan to be sitting in a chair on the stony water’s edge with her feet resting in the water whilst she read her book and lapped up the sun. Almost no sun and a bit nippy yesterday so that didn’t happen. Never mind, we wouldn’t want to be anywhere else 🙂
Got the water pumping OK into the basin and sink but not to the loo. That’s solvable so we are OK for staying in aires once again and plan to stay in an aire tomorrow night.