Monthly Archives: April 2013

Verteuil-sur-Charente, Sunday 31st March 2013

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Verteuil-sur-Charente's  impressive chateau

Verteuil-sur-Charente’s impressive chateau

 

Once again we’ve come here on the off-chance of finding somewhere to stay by the river and we have been pleasantly surprised and gratified by our instincts.  This place is just charming and, although it meant a longer drive than we intended today, it was well worth the extra hour on the road.

The river and park by the motorhome aire at Verteuil-sur-Charente

The river and park by the motorhome aire at Verteuil-sur-Charente

 

Our initial plan was to stop at Vivonne, just south of Poitiers on the N10, but we arrived there a bit too early to stop for the day, so we just had coffee and continued on south on that road, which is very good indeed and partly the reason why we made such a good time.  We then tried an aire listed in the guide at Sauzé-Vaussais, on the D948, just 5 km west of the N10, but it was just a big car park with a borne and not very inspiring, so we headed for the Charente river south of Rouffec and here we are.

 

Motorhome aire at Verteuil-sur-Charente

Motorhome aire at Verteuil-sur-Charente

 

This free aire has room for 10 motorhomes and has free fresh water, with just a €2 charge for electricity payable at the town hall or Mairie, but being Easter Sunday it is shut.  Nevertheless, we still managed to get a couple of hours supply from whoever had paid previously.  Adonis put the hot water on in that time and we enjoyed a lovely hot shower before our walk through this beautiful village with its water mill and chateau offering guided tours of the gardens.  Unfortunately, by the time we got there after 4 pm, the chateau was shut, but it was still a very pleasant stroll in the sun in the hottest day so far of this Easter holidays.  It’s 5.20 pm now and the thermometer in the van is showing 22°C and we haven’t had the heating on at all since we got here just before 2pm.

 

Beautiful water display and rainbow by watermill

Beautiful water display and rainbow by watermill

Adonis was brave enough to walk in his shorts, but I need another 5° or so more, as I still wore a jumper for the walk. It felt more like mid-teens temperature, which is a massive improvement on the last 3 days, or indeed the last 3 months!

We’ve taken lots of photos with both our cameras and we’re comparing shots: while I just point and shoot with my simple Canon digital SX220, Adonis plays with the exposures, light and speed with his fancy Nikon DSLR, so he wins!

 

The Watermill and cafe

The Watermill and cafe

 

 

A lovely view from the bridge

A lovely view from the bridge

 

We’ll be somewhere south of the Garonne river tomorrow and we’re looking at various possibilities to stay for the night, so everything is open to chance again.

Villedômer, Indre et Loire, Saturday 30th March 2013

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Villedomer Motorhome aire

 

We’ve been laughing all day about the change in the weather again as, soon after leaving Pont-de-l’Arche this morning, it started snowing and it continued on and off until this afternoon!  Our initial plan of stopping at the lovely and spacious aire at Marboué was quickly replaced by heading as far south as we possibly could before stopping for lunch.  So, after a very much needed hot coffee and ‘Nid de Pâques’ (Easter Nest) cake at Marboué, we carried on driving until 2 o’clock and another late lunch.

The drive was easy from Pont-de-l’Arche and we laughed again at the amount of motorhomes at this newly-found aire, for, as in theory there’s only room for 4 campervans, reserving the rest for normal car parking, Adonis counted 14!!! Obviously, when it is not needed as a car park in the evening, motorhomers take advantage of the available extra space.  And why not?

So we left by 9 am on the A154 past Evreux and Dreux to Chartres and from there the A10 south to Marboué, where we enjoyed our coffee in a snow shower, much to our disbelief and consternation.  From there, we continued on the A10 slightly southwest towards Tours, past Vendome and Château-Renault and we are just about 3 miles south of that town or about 15 miles northeast of Tours.

 

Walking through the woods at Villedomer on a misty and cold day

Walking through the woods at Villedomer on a misty and cold day

 

This is another wonderful free little aire just outside the local campsite, which is shut at the moment, perhaps waiting for the weather to warm up, as we all are!  There is a borne for water, which works with a jeton (token) and the whole area is surrounded by hedges and trees and there’s room for 5 vehicles.  A very pretty stopping place altogether.

 

The lodge we found in the woods

The lodge we found in the woods

 

We took our chances with the cold weather and have just returned from a very refreshing walk in the surrounding woods, where we discovered a very interesting old building that looked like a lodge for a range keeper to the grandiose house or chateau a bit further up.  There was an old and ornate gate that didn’t look like it had been used for a long time and which we by-passed by going round the old lodge, followed a wider and better maintained access road and arrived at what looked like the gardens of the main house.  We could hear some dogs barking in the distance, so we decided to turn back and try and find out what the big house might be.  When we made it back to the village, we saw signposts in that direction that said ‘Jardins de Beauregard’, so it might have been that.  Perhaps on a warmer and sunnier day it would be nice to go back and have a proper look.

 

The lofty gate we couldn't resist going round

The lofty gate we couldn’t resist going round

 

The other side of the lodge

The other side of the lodge

 

The big house.  Is it Jardins de Beauregard?

The big house. Is it Jardins de Beauregard?

 

 

Adonis is still studying the map trying to find where to stop tomorrow.  Qué será, sera…?

Pont-de-L’Arche, Eure, Friday 29th March 2013

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Motorhome aire at Pont-de-L'Arche

Motorhome aire at Pont-de-L’Arche

 

We’re on the banks of the river Eure, just south of Rouen, after driving on the first sunny day (did I say sunny???) we’ve seen for a long time.  We saw this very pleasant motorhome aire when we crossed the bridge north of the town on our way to what we thought would be our final destination for the day at Le Vaudreuil (lat 49° 15’ 29” N Long 1° 12’ 30” E), but we didn’t find the aire there all that attractive or welcoming – although it might have been alright in an emergency- and turned back to Pont-de-L’Arche hoping to find a space, as it was already 2 pm.  We were lucky another motorhome left soon after we arrived and we were quick to move and take over this prime spot with a wonderful view of the river and the church of Nôtre Dame des Arts on the hill.  The aire doesn’t appear on the Guide Officiel aires de Services Camping Cars, but it does exist and it’s free!

 

Prime parking spot right by the river Eure

Prime parking spot right by the river Eure

 

View of motorhome aire at Pont-de-L'Arche form above

View of motorhome aire at Pont-de-L’Arche form above

 

We’ve just come back from a walk around the small town in the sun (yes, in the sun!) – if still only 4°C – and had a look inside the impressive Gothic church I’ve just mentioned.  We also enjoyed the half-timbered houses, so old and rickety and typical of this area, and took a few pictures of all these quaint sights.

 

The Church of Notre Dame des Arts

The Church of Notre Dame des Arts

 

Impressive stained-glass window in church

Impressive stained-glass window in church

 

Half timbered houses

Half timbered houses

 

half timbered houses

half timbered houses

 

Half timbered houses.

Half timbered houses.

 

 

For the first time ever, we were delayed by a whole hour at the Eurotunnel terminal, as there seemed to be a technical fault of some sort in the tunnel itself, so we didn’t leave England till about 7.45 pm and arrived in Calais at 9.20 pm local time, being one hour ahead of GMT.  We drove down to the aire at Wissant and luckily there were still a few spaces left, so we quickly parked and heated up our pizza in the oven for a very late supper.

We were a bit tired after such a long day and went to bed after pizza without even bothering to do the washing up (very much unlike me!)

 

We were woken up this morning by one of the buses that usually park there for the night, blaring out some horrendous ‘circus-type’ music at the tender hour of 6.30 am.  I couldn’t go back to sleep after that, but stayed in the warmth under the bed covers until 8 am and still the temperature was only 5°C.  I let Adonis do his usual chores ‘downstairs’ first and put the heating on, so when I finally ventured down to the living quarters it was already a balmy 10°C.  Thank God our Elddis Autostratus has such an effective and fast gas heater!  I couldn’t do this otherwise in the winter (I know it’s spring, but the temperatures haven’t caught up yet with the dates).

 

We left Wissant just before 9 am and headed for Auchan at Boulogne-sur-Mer as usual for our big shop to see us through the Easter weekend.  We were on the road again by 10.45 am and followed the A16 to Abbeville and A28 to northeast of Rouen, where we found that the Matilda bridge is still shut (3 months now!), so we took the D6015 south, which runs alongside the river Seine, and very beautiful it was too and a nice and welcome change to our usual route.

Tomorrow we’ll be heading for Marbué in the Eure et Loir department; it should take just under 3 hours.

 

Pont-de-l'Arche

Pont-de-l’Arche