Monthly Archives: April 2014

St Nicolas-de-la-Grave, Tarn-et-Garonne Department, Tuesday 1st April 2014

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Lake at St Nicolas-de-la-Grave

Lake at St Nicolas-de-la-Grave

 

We spent a lovely day at Meung-sur-Loire on Sunday after an easy drive from Pont-de-l’Arche following the N154 past Evreux, Dreux and Chartres to Orleans and then took the A10 south west to J.15.

 

Attractive Motorhome aire at Meung-sur-Loire

Attractive Motorhome aire at Meung-sur-Loire

 

Collegiate at Meung-sur- from motorhome aire

Collegiate at Meung-sur- from motorhome aire

 

 

We really loved the free motorhome aire there by the river, sports facilities and with lovely views of the Collegiate and the Château, which we visited in the late afternoon, having forgotten that the clocks had gone forward and it was already 5 pm and not 4 pm, as we thought. Still, we paid our €8.50 entry fee and, although the château was supposed to close at 6 pm, nobody came looking for us and they let us finish our visit undisturbed. We finally came out at 6.40 pm with the attendants waiting by the gates ready to lock up. 

 

Meung-sur-Loire

Meung-sur-Loire

 

The Chateau at Meung-sur-Loire

The Chateau at Meung-sur-Loire

 

Pont de l'Arche to Meung-sur-Loire 043

 

The modern façade of the chateau

The modern façade of the chateau

 

 

It’s amazing how each château has something different or unique to offer, and on this one, we really enjoyed the loft, where the laundry would have been dried, and the Medicine and Herbal rooms. There was also a short video in the dungeons, 7 metres below ground, with a brief history and information about the place. Well worth the visit!

 

 

The Medicine room

The Medicine room

 

The Herbal room

The Herbal room

 

The attic/laundry room

The attic/laundry room

 

All set for a special feast

All set for a special feast

 

The dungeons, where a short video is shown

The dungeons, where a short video is shown

 

 

Yesterday, we turned east to join the A71 south of Orleans to Vierzon and the A20 south to Châteroux, past Argentan and La Souterraine to J.25 to Lac de St Pardoux, where we spent a relaxing afternoon and Beano enjoyed a swim and a play with his ball in the lake. It was lovely to see him run on the grass and the sand after having spent a whole month in the crate and having only short walks on the lead. His leg seems to be fine now and we hope he’s not going to have any future problems with it.

 

St Pardoux lake

St Pardoux lake

 

 

St Pardoux was beautiful and quiet and we enjoyed a very peaceful evening with a chilli con carne followed by the second episode of series one of ‘House’, which we have bought especially for this trip, and very good it is too!

We are also very happy with our new ‘All the Aires in France’ Vacarious guide book, as it has pictures and brief information about the location of each aire, as well as GPS co-ordinates, except that our new TomTom has packed up and it’s absolutely useless at the moment. We are annoyed about this, as we spent over £300 before the summer holidays last year, so it’s only barely 6 months old and have hardly used it! We might have to send it back.

 

Wild camping at St Nicolas-de-la-Grave

Wild camping at St Nicolas-de-la-Grave

 

 

This morning, we topped up with water at the bourne, which works with a jeton (token) to be bought from the Information Centre, and we set off again at 9 am back on the A20 south past Limoges, Brive-la-Gaillarde, Cahors and Montauban, where we took off at J.65 (only £13) west on D958, past Castelsarrasin and a short distance north to St Nicolas-de-la-Grave. We were here on our Christmas holiday 2012 with Sasha and it had been very wet and I didn’t get to enjoy the place, but today it’s been very hot and sunny (25 ºC in van) and I took Beano for a long walk by the beautiful lake and came back when he started panting. I then sat outside in the glorious sunshine for nearly 2 hours until the wind picked up and it cooled down. The parking is free, but there’s no bourne here, as we are in the Plan d’Eau and not actually in the proper aire, so I expect we’ll go there to empty tomorrow before going to Barbotan-les-Thermes, our first proper stop of the holiday at a campsite.

 

Pont-de-l’Arche, Eure Department, Saturday 29th March 2014

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Church of Nôtre Dâme des Arts, Pont de l'Arche

Church of Nôtre Dâme des Arts, Pont de l’Arche

 

We are back at this lovely motorhome aire, one year to the day, and it looks even better today, as the sun’s been shining all day and it’s hot – 24 ºC inside – and very pleasant indeed outside. For the first time this year, we’ve gone out for a walk in shorts and t-shirts and sat outside a café in town and enjoyed a beer in the sun. I hope this will keep up for the next 3 weeks, but that’s too much to hope for…

 

Going for a strol in town in the sun

Going for a stroll in town in the sun

 

Old half-timber houses at Pont-de-l'Arche

Old half-timber houses at Pont-de-l’Arche

 

We left England yesterday evening on the 5.20 pm Eurotunnel crossing as always, which wasn’t very busy at all. We only just made it by the skin of our teeth, for the traffic on the M25 was bad and we had to crawl along for a while. So we were in Calais for 7 pm, local time, and found a very busy aire at Wissant, with only the bus lanes available, which we are loathe to use as you could be moved on, so we parked on the far side from the road by the houses and the little lane leading to the town, which is not a proper bay but not really in the way of traffic flow.

 

Enjoying a beer in town outdoors

Enjoying a beer in town outdoors

 

I had made a pizza at home to cook in the van and, although I kept turning it every few minutes, somehow it managed to catch fire and in a matter of seconds the van was engulfed in smoke and I could hardly see Adonis at the other end. After opening the windows, moving the shelf a bit higher and turning the oven control down, I got busy with a tea-towel waving it and shaking it about in order to clear the smoke. 10 minutes later, we had our lovely home-made pizza, slightly charred at one end on the bottom, but very edible and tasty, which we enjoyed with a bottle of Californian Cabernet-Sauvignon. Must remember to move shelf up next time at the beginning of cooking time, but I believe the pizza base caught fire because I put a generous amount of olive oil when making dough, as it makes it taste a lot better. Live and learn.

 

Old Wall Tower at Pont de l'Arche

Old Wall Tower at Pont de l’Arche

 

We had an early start this morning, as Adonis woke up and came down at 7.30 am and I followed some 15 minutes later and we were ready to leave Wissant by 8.30 am en route to Auchan at Boulogne-sur-Mer, where we tend to do our big shop for the week and fill up with diesel. We were out by 10 am and didn’t stop until we got to Pont-de-l’Arche (just south east of Rouen) at 12.30 pm, so very good going indeed.

 

View of river from the hill

View of river from the hill

 

We were surprised to see that the field adjacent to the motorhome aire had been taken over by travellers and at lunch-time there were quite a few cars and caravans coming in and out of their camp, which was a bit irritating as they turned in and out of it just behind us with a very narrow margin and I feared they might hit us, but luckily they were good drivers and no accident occurred and it’s all quiet now at 5 pm. They were very good neighbours.

 

The river Eure by motorhome aire

The river Eure by motorhome aire

 

This is still a beautiful aire by the river Eure and with lovely views of both, the river bank and the town itself, with the church of Nôtre Dâme des Arts on the hill right above. The campsite at the other end of the aire is open now and it looks very pretty, with lots of blossom on the trees at the moment, so that could be a possibility if the aire is full.

 

Campsite by the river Eure at Pont-de-l'Arche

Pretty Campsite by the river Eure at Pont-de-l’Arche

 

 

We are going to Meung-sur-Loire tomorrow, south of Orleans, a new route for us and I am really excited about going to a new place.