Monthly Archives: May 2013

Camping Lac des Varennes, Vallée du Loir, Monday 15th April 2013

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Lac des Varennes 13 002

We have found the sun again at the always reliable Lac des Varennes near Marçon, one of our favourite spots in France, and not just for carp fishing.  This is just a very relaxing and beautiful campsite, especially this time of year when not too many people come on holidays.  We are surrounded by the lake, the trees and the sound of cuckoos: what can be more soul-lifting than that?

crocheting in the sun

crocheting in the sun

We’ve been here for 4 days already and are sad to have to leave tomorrow to start our slow journey northwards to the Channel Tunnel.  It was a very hot day yesterday, which required a hat and sunblock, and I definitely made the best of it after having been deprived of proper sun for so long.  It was just a wonderful feeling being outdoors all day, fishing, crocheting and reading by the lake in the heat of the first proper summer day of this so cold a year.

Carp Fishing in the sun

Carp Fishing in the sun

Our journey here from Lac de Léon can be summarised in 3 words: Rain and Roadworks!  They’re turning the free N10 motorway south of Bordeaux into Spain into a toll road and, therefore, they’re improving its surface and placing toll booths, so I fear next time we come this way we’ll have to pay.  Because of the massive roadworks, the road was reduced to one lane only and there were loads of lorries from just about everywhere in Europe, so the journey was slow and wet.

The very congested N10 south of Bordeaux

The very congested N10 south of Bordeaux

A very flooded Vallee du Loir

A very flooded Vallee du Loir

Our first stop on Tuesday was Verteuil-sur-Charente again, but it was still raining heavily, so we didn’t go to visit the château gardens as I would have liked to do.  Maybe 3rd time lucky next time!

Our usual pitch was under water at Lac des Varennes

Our usual pitch was under water at Lac des Varennes

Unusually high water's edge at Lac des Varennes

Unusually high water’s edge at Lac des Varennes

The next day we stopped at Ste Maure de Touraine, just south of Tours, where we found a lovely private aire with room for 6 motorhomes which provided toilets, showers and electricity.  We paid just €2.50 for the night as we didn’t need electricity, but a fee of €4.50 would have covered the electric hook-up and water.  Unfortunately, it was a very very wet day and we didn’t venture out of the motorhome, but there was a wood nearby for walks, handy for people with dogs.  When we left in the morning, the manager gave us a free baguette!  How nice is that?

We finally arrived here on Thursday morning, but the campsite itself didn’t open till Friday, so we spent the day and night at the Espace de Loisirs (Leisure outdoor centre), on the opposite side of the lake, where at least Adonis could do his fishing and, of course, we had a wonderful room with a view!

The beach at Lac des Varennes

The beach at Lac des Varennes

So, we’d been enjoying the relaxing atmosphere of this superb spot until Saturday afternoon, when Adonis woke me from my short siesta to tell me he’d shot himself in the eye with one of his fishing pellets as he was using his sling to propel the bait in the lake.  Somehow, very mysteriously, this boilie ‘turned back’ and landed on Adonis’s right eye and, as a consequence it was all blood-shot and he couldn’t see through it at all.  Without any delay, we marched into Reception and they very kindly called a taxi for us, who arrived very promptly.

The taxi driver himself went out of his way to help us and came into the hospital at Château-du-Loir with us and waited until we registered.  After a short ½ hour wait, Adonis was seen by one of the doctors on duty, who decided it was an urgent case and referred him immediately to the Ophthalmology department at Le Mans hospital, as he was worried that if Adonis didn’t get immediate treatment he might lose the sight in his eye.  They called another taxi for us and, amazingly, the same taxi driver appeared and so set off very downcast to Le Mans hospital,

45 km north.

Once again, we were seen straight away and the very kind taxi driver, David, waited through the whole examination to take us back to the campsite.  Unfortunately, there was too much blood at the back of the eye for the ophthalmologist to see properly or to even do a scan, so she gave us 3 different kinds of drops to use to help the eye settle and told us to go back on Monday.

By the time we got back to the campsite, it was already 8.15 pm, so we went to bed feeling exhausted and with just a banana for tea, as neither of us felt very hungry after all that trauma.

So we tried to enjoy the beautiful hot and sunny Sunday as much as we could, fishing included, as first thing on Monday morning we had to make an appointment to go back to Le Mans.  And so it was that this morning, at 8.30 am prompt, I started my first attempt to make an appointment with the eye department for later on in the day as I was told to do, but a whole hour passed before I got through to talk to someone, who told me an appointment wasn’t necessary and that we should just turn up.  So we called the taxi again and the same David came back, this time with his son in the back!

After dropping David’s son to his mother’s he kindly took us back to Le Mans hospital and directed us to the Ophthalmology department.  There, he spoke to the same eye specialist who’d examined Adonis on Saturday and she took us straight away for the scan.

I am very happy to report that Adonis passed his eye test with flying colours, being able to read even the smallest writing on the projection.  The specialist was very happy with the results too and said Adonis had an inflammation of the retina, but that it would go down with the medication and time, but she still wanted to see him again the following Monday.  We said we were due back in England at the weekend and she said to visit an optician there next week, for which she gave us a letter explaining all about the examination, etc.

So here we are again, €300 lighter on taxi fares, but we’re hopeful to get a refund from the travel insurance, and very relieved knowing that Adonis won’t lose his sight on his right eye.  David brought us back after waiting with us at the hospital and suggested we should meet up for a drink next time we are down here, which might be in August or October.  So we have made a new friend!  Funny how these things happen.

Now Adonis is back fishing and I’m continuing with my crocheting and reading.  We might stay here tomorrow night as well if Adonis is not feeling up to driving as, much as I love travelling in a motorhome, I don’t enjoy driving it!  Qué será, será?

Another stunning sunset at Lac des Varennes

Another stunning sunset at Lac des Varennes

Camping Punta Lago, Lac de Léon, Landes, Sunday 7th April13

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A very generous pitch at Punta Lago campsite

A very generous pitch at Punta Lago campsite

 

I am so glad to be here for the third time and so happy to see that it’s just as good as we remembered it.  We first came here on a very hot August day in 2010, after a long journey from the north coast of Spain and were rewarded with this wonderful campsite with 2 swimming pools – one outdoors and one heated indoors with 2 Jacuzzis – very generous pitches separated by hedges and lots of space, all within a 5-minute walk to the Lac de Léon, even more beautiful.  We came back at Easter in 2011 and it was still quite hot, so we’ve tried it once again and, even though the weather is not as hot as last time for this time of year, it is still warm enough to sit outside in the sun, especially when the breeze drops.

 

It has been a long and cold winter in most places, so just to be able to sit outside or to walk around in shorts is a luxury not to be taken for granted.

 

The heated indoor pool all to ourselves

The heated indoor pool all to ourselves

 

It’s our second day here and, as before, I joined the Aquagym class this morning and thoroughly enjoyed it, though it wasn’t as busy as last time, being after Easter now.  Still, more room for the rest of us.  We have also enjoyed swimming in the ‘empty’ (no people) heated pool and a relaxing time in the Jacuzzi, all included in the €20 fee per day for the 2 of us, the van and the electricity supply: very reasonable indeed.

 

Enjoying a relaxing time in the jacuzzi

Enjoying a relaxing time in the jacuzzi

 

The outdoor pool

The outdoor pool

 

 We have also been for cycle rides around the lake, taking in all the gorgeous views from various angles and getting busy with the camera.

 

Lac de Léon

Lac de Léon

 

The Pedalos at Lac de Léon

The Pedalos at Lac de Léon

 

Lac de Léon

Lac de Léon

 

It’s all very quiet and most pitches are empty, but there are young families in the bungalows, albeit not many, unlike last time.

 

We have one more day here and then we’ll start to make our ‘very’ slow journey north, hoping to stop at Verteuil-sur-Charente again, then Lac des Varennes on the Vallée du Loir for 4 days and finally at our usual stop-over aires on the way to Calais (Broglie and Wissant).

 

Lac de Léon

Lac de Léon

 

Lac de Leon 022

 

Lac de Léon

Lac de Léon

 

Lac de Léon

Lac de Léon

 

Lac de Léon

Lac de Léon

Lac de Léon

Lac de Léon

 

 

 

Beauty Therapy at Barbotan-les-Thermes Health Spa, Gers, Wednesday 3rd April 2013

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Barbotan-les-Thermes Health Spa

Barbotan-les-Thermes Health Spa

 

I had a bit of a rush this morning, when I realised we hadn’t put our watches and clocks forward yet  (3 days overdue) and it wasn’t until I heard the church bells that I realised it was already 9 am!  Good job we had got up early anyway, so I had time to finish my breakfast and cycle to the Spa at Barbotan, where I had my appointment for a kaolin bath and a facial cleansing at 9.30 am.  It is also very fortunate that it’s a very easy and short cycle ride there, even though the market was on and I couldn’t really cycle on the road that leads to the Spa, so I had to push my bike and walk even faster than my usual pace (which isn’t very slow, I hasten to add).

 

Barbotan-les-Thermes Health Spa

Barbotan-les-Thermes Health Spa

 

I made it on the nick of time with a few minutes to spare and got ready for my treatment, which was prompt and just as heavenly as I expected.

We started with the kaolin bath (€30), which I had never had before.  The very friendly therapist explained how the treatment would proceed and gave me some information about the minerals contained in this very light and white clay as she was brushing my whole body with it, which felt just wonderful, like a hot cream being spread.  After I was covered in kaolin from my neck down, she wrapped me in the plastic sheet I was lying on and switched on the floating bed, making the mattress sink slightly to meet the hot water below, giving a gentle massage which lasted for 20 minutes.  This has to be one of the most relaxing and enjoyable things I’ve done in my life and I would have gone to sleep if it’d lasted any longer.  I was really loathe to leave, but I still had my facial to look forward to.

So after a shower in the same cubicle, I proceeded to my next treatment (€8 for a simple facial) and a different therapist.  I’ve always enjoyed this and they used to be part of my monthly treats once upon a time, but I hadn’t had one in a few years and, again, it was just magical.  I love the scents of the products used and the light finger touch around my eyes, forehead and jaw: another little pleasure in life.

After the treatment, the therapist gave me a leaflet with the Décleor products she used for every step of the treatment: the cleansing milk (with lavender oil essence, orange and kiwi), the exfoliation cream (jojoba and cardamom), the eye lotion and the moisturising cream with flower nectar.  I bought this last one as an extra treat and I look forward to using it in the coming weeks.

All I can say now is that I left the Spa wanting to make another appointment to try other treatments of the many offered there, from thermal waves to manicures: pure heaven!

 

Barbotan

Barbotan

 

The rest of the day has been very relaxing indeed, adding to it that it has been the hottest day of the year for us so far and we enjoyed a bit of sunbathing, wearing shorts, hats and sunblock, as the sun was really biting by mid-afternoon (26°C in the van).

 

Barbotan

Barbotan

 

View from Barthelemy Gardens

View from Barthelemy Gardens

 

Adonis’s caught another carp: this time 18lb (9kg) and I’ve finished another motif for my crocheted tablecloth.  A very productive and fulfilling day all in all.

 

Another carp (18lb - 9kg)

Another carp (18lb – 9kg)

2 more nights to go here at wonderful Barbotan-les-thermes.

 

Pond at Barthelemy Gardens

Pond at Barthelemy Gardens

 

 

Barbotan

Barbotan

 

Barbotan

Barbotan

 

Barbotan

Barbotan

 

Crocheting and relaxing in the sun at Camping Lac de l'Uby, Barbotan

Crocheting and relaxing in the sun at Camping Lac de l’Uby, Barbotan

 

 

 

 

 

Barbotan-les-Thermes, Gers, Tuesday 2nd April 2013

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Our pitch at Camping du Lac de l'Uby

Our pitch and fishing swim at Camping Lac de l’Uby

 

We are now at our first proper destination of our Easter holiday at Camping Lac de l’Uby in Barbotan-les-Thermes in the Gers department in the Midi Pyrénéés region.  We arrived yesterday afternoon after having tried the motorhome aire at Lac de Clarens just south of Casteljaloux and, finding it shut just before 2 pm with a sign saying it’d open at precisely 2 pm!  We waited until 2.20 pm and the place didn’t open, so we arrived here one day earlier than expected.

 

Adonis with his prize catch

Adonis with his prize catch

 

We have pitch number 134, right by the lake, where Adonis has set up his bivvy on his fishing swim and has just caught a 14 ½ lb (7kg) carp, not as big as last summer’s catch, but since he only se up ‘shop’ this morning, he can’t really complain.  We are hoping to stay for another 4 nights and then we’ll move west to the coast at Lac de Leon.

I have just booked myself my holiday treat at Barbotan’s spa (or Thermes de Barbotan), what this lovely town is well known for.  I have an appointment at 9.30 am for a kaolin bath followed by a facial cleansing.  I can’t wait, as I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed one of those treatments, something I used to do regularly years ago.

 

The weather turned misty at Lac de l'Uby

The weather turned misty at Lac de l’Uby

 

The weather has been all over the place for, after a beautiful start yesterday morning at Verteuil-sur-Charente, it started pouring down in the early afternoon and continued with rain and wind for the rest of the day and part of the night.  The temperatures are higher, thankfully, and we didn’t need the blanket last night (first time since November!)  This morning the van felt much warmer and we had a bright start to the day, but the wind picked up and it’s not so pleasant sitting outside.  Still, it was nice enough to cycle into Barbotan earlier on following the cycle path, which only takes 5 minutes.

 

Our pitch and motorhome seen from the opposite side of lake

Our pitch and motorhome seen from the opposite side of lake

 

The drive here was very straightforward from Verteuil-sur-Charente, following the A10 south to Angoulême, Barbezieux-St-Hilaire, St André-de-Cubax (just northeast of Bordeaux) and from there the D670 est to Libourne, past St Emilion and south to La Réole, D1113 to Marmande and finally D933 to Casteljaloux and Barbotan.  The roads are excellent, except for one short stretch somewhere I’ve already forgotten about, and were mainly empty due to it being bank holiday Monday.

 

A little Weir at Lac de l'Uby

A little Weir at Lac de l’Uby

 

Lovely sunset on the opposite side of lake

Lovely sunset on the opposite side of lake

 

It looks like a lovely evening now with the sun dropping at the opposite side of the lake: a room with a view indeed!

 

Priceless sunset!

Priceless sunset!