Monthly Archives: October 2015

Wissant, Pas de Calais, Tuesday 1st September 2015

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Attractive Rugles

Attractive Rugles

We arrived at Wissant’s aire early enough this morning to be able to pick and choose a bay for our day and overnight stay, which is quite a luxury here these days, as the last couple of times we tried, it was absolutely packed and we ended up in Escalles or Audinghen, but, as it happens, there were only 3 other motorhomes on our arrival at 11 am. I am very pleased about this because I really enjoy our walks on the wonderful beach and it looks like the weather is brightening up a bit after a very wet day yesterday at Le Crotoy.

motorhome aire at Rugles

motorhome aire at Rugles

After La Fresnaye-sur-Chédouet, we travelled just a little further north east to the very attractive motorhome aire at Rugles, right by the park and the old water mill, which was free and also provided a free electricity hook-up and water, which is very unusual indeed! It was a hot day again and we enjoyed strolling along the old village and park, although we were slightly disappointed about the fact that most of the shops, including the butcher and pizza takeaway, were closed so I ended up making a Spanish omelette after a quick visit to the local grocery store, which was open, fortunately.

Water mill in background at Rugles

Water mill in background at Rugles

Looking toward the village from Rugles Park

Looking toward the village from Rugles Park

From Rugles it was only a short drive slightly north west to Broglie, where we spent all day Saturday and Sunday and, luckily, the weather remained sunny and very warm and we were able to eat outside and walk Beano along the Charentonne river to the lovely old water mill. On Sunday morning, there was a car boot sale by the aquatic gardens and we went to have a look, but there wasn’t anything of particular use to us.

Quaint Broglie

Quaint Broglie from Aquatic Gardens

Broglie

Broglie

Broglie

Broglie

Feeding the ducks in Broglie

Feeding the ducks in Broglie by aquatic gardens

The wonderful motorhome aire at Broglie

The wonderful motorhome aire at Broglie

I took Beano for his Pet Passport check at the vet’s on Monday morning and we left Broglie just after 9 am for Le Crotoy, which we so much like and always makes the end of the holiday that little bit more pleasant. The weather turned nasty again though, raining most of the morning and early afternoon, but it cleared sufficiently to allow us a long walk along the bay with Beano, where we can safely let him off the lead so that he can enjoy a good run to his heart’s content.

Beano's walk on the Bay of the Somme

Beano’s walk on the Bay of the Somme on a bleak summer’s day

We went for another seafood meal at Le Saint Pierre restaurant on the seafront and, as always, we were most impressed with the quality and freshness of the food, as well as the friendly and efficient service.

A very wet Le Crotoy, but beautiful all the same

A very wet Le Crotoy and motorhome aire, but beautiful all the same

I’ve just been for another walk with Beano on the newly built promenade at Wissant, but I hadn’t been there very long when a young gendarme approached me on his bike and told me the dog wasn’t allowed on the promenade and that I had to walk ‘in the street’. Very surprised by this, I got off the promenade and started walking on the road, following another dog walker a bit further on, but to my astonishment, the gendarme came cycling behind me again and said the dog wasn’t allowed there either!!! I felt most indignant about this and took off to a side street and started walking back to the aire without having been able to take any pictures and cursing under my breath at this most ridiculous of rules and I fear that until Beano and I develop the ability to fly, we won’t be going to Wissant’s promenade ever again!

The tide was right up and there wasn’t a patch of sand available, but I bet dogs won’t be allowed there either now that it has been all tarted up. I still think this goes absolutely against the wonderful and relaxed French attitude of ‘laissez faire’. Quel dommage! 

And so it ends a wonderful holiday that last lasted for 8 weeks and 4 days and I feel I am ready to start all over again, but it is home tomorrow morning and we’ll be back on the road again on 23rd October for 2 weeks for our autumn half-term break.

La Fresnaye-sur-Chédouet, Sarthe, 27th August 2015

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Our parking spot at the aire in La Fresnaye-sur-Chédouet by La Forêt de Perseigne

Our parking spot at the aire in La Fresnaye-sur-Chédouet by La Forêt de Perseigne

We made it to Parthenay early on Sunday morning, but, although the motorhome aire looked very good and right by the lake, we didn’t stay, as it was raining, windy and it felt a bit cold, so we decided to carry on driving and ended up in Étang de la Tricherie, just off the D160, about 20 miles north west of La Rochelle and just south east of Les Herbiers, south of Cholet. We were there for midday and soon after the weather improved considerably, so we spent a very warm sunny afternoon by the lake.

Enjoying a walk around the Étang de la Tricherie

Enjoying a walk around the Étang de la Tricherie

Being a Sunday, the area around the lake was buzzing with families picnicking, fishing, swimming or having fun on paddling boats. Adonis enjoyed a spot of fishing and Beano and I a long walk all the way around the lake. We finished this fine day with a BBQ courtesy of Adonis and first and last of the summer holiday, but we must definitely do this more often. Come to think of it, it’s the first time ever that Adonis has cooked in all the 6 years of our motorhoming life!

Plenty of water activities for the whole family at Étang de la Tricherie

Plenty of water activities for the whole family at Étang de la Tricherie

The aire at the Étang de la Tricherie is free and very large, with spaces on grass and hard standing, the services being by the shops, amenities and restaurants.

Motorhome aie at Étang de la Tricherie

Motorhome aie at Étang de la Tricherie

Monday morning started wet again and we intended to stop for the day at the aire at Brissac-Quincé, just south of Angers. We were there early enough to go for a walk around the lovely gardens of the Château during a break in the rain. The Château de Brissac is the tallest castle in France, boasting 7 floors, and it is quite impressive from the outside, but we just fancied a stroll outside and didn’t do the full visit, but no doubt we’ll be back, as the motorhome aire in town was quite adequate and free.

I simply loved this ivy-covered house at Brissac-Quincé

I simply loved this ivy-covered house at Brissac-Quincé

The impressive Château de Brissac

The impressive Château de Brissac

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A gentle stroll around the gardens of Château de Brissac

A gentle stroll around the gardens of Château de Brissac

After our visit to the château’s gardens we continued a little bit further north west to spend the rest of the day at the lovely aire at Bouchemaine in the Maine-et-Loire Department. We were surprised to see how much the fee has increased since we were here last, jumping up a whopping 5, costing now a total of €13.50 to include electricity, water and showers. Not too bad, I suppose, when you consider we paid €26 for the Sosta at La Villa/Stern in Italy back in July. Here, we just enjoyed the long walks along the rivers Maine and Loire and made the most of the showers, although the water was only lukewarm when I had mine and I wished I had taken it in the van instead, where the water gets really hot.

Wonderful (if pricey) motorhome aire at Bouchemaine

Wonderful (if pricey) motorhome aire at Bouchemaine

Bouchemaine

Bouchemaine

After Bouchemaine we intended to stop at the municipal campsite at Sablé-sur-Sarthe, but the access road the SatNav took us on was too narrow and too busy and we couldn’t get through, being forced to get out of town again. A bit annoyed by this, we continued on the A11 and A28 to Beaumont-sur-Sarthe, at junction 21 north of Le Mans, and stopped at the municipal campsite there instead. We came here back in 2012 and had really liked it and it has changed little since, except that there is now a coffee shop with a bread and pastries service, a large TV and book borrowing service at one end of the excellent shower and washing facilities block, which has also got access for the disabled.

Disabled access to wonderful shower and washing facilities block at Beaumont-sur-Sarthe campsite

Disabled access to wonderful shower and washing facilities block at Beaumont-sur-Sarthe campsite

The weather here was a bit mixed with showers and sunny spells, but we managed to have lunch outside and Adonis enjoyed some fishing, culminating with a prime catch of a 34lb carp!

We stayed here 2 nights, but it didn’t stop raining last night and it was still pouring down this morning and by 11 am we had had enough and decided to leave. The bill came up to €32.32 for the 2 nights, which is quite reasonable considering the idyllic location.

Beautmont-sur-Sarthe

Beautmont-sur-Sarthe

We only drove for a mere 40 minutes to about 5 miles east of Alançon, where we’ve found this little aire by the Forêt de Perseigne, which is absolutely lovely. It’s been raining most of the day, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying a long walk with Beano through the forest, as the tall and mature trees made perfect umbrellas!

Perfect for walks rain or shine, Forêt de Perseigne

Perfect for walks rain or shine, Forêt de Perseigne

It’s only been 15ºC outside today, so for the first time ever we’ve put the heating on in the Hymer and I’m very pleased to report that it works perfectly well and it’s very efficient and quick.

Due to this wet and cold weather, we’ll be having that tin of Cassoulet that’s been on the shelf ever since we left home 2 months ago. Only 5 days left of this holiday and we have already made an appointment for Beano’s Pet Passport at the vet in Broglie. It really feels now like our long summer holiday is coming to an end. Where did the time go and were we really that hot in Italy and Croatia?

Niort, Deux Sèvres, Saturday 22nd August 2015

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Original Dragon sculpture in central Niort

Original Dragon sculpture in central Niort

Bourdeilles (Dordogne Department) was absolutely lovely: a little medieval town with an impressive château dating back to the 14th century still preserving its medieval gardens, growing all kinds of medicinal herbs and other edible plants like rhubarb, courgettes, etc and with access to some spooky caves which we entered to accompany a couple of little girls who asked me very kindly and sweetly if I could go in with them. Luckily, they had a torch on their phone and we were able to see into the depths of these ‘caverns’. I was surprised to see that there were blankets in the ground in a couple of them, so it looks like they are still being used!

Medieval Bourdeilles on the river Dronne

Medieval Bourdeilles on the river Dronne

View of river and town from bridge

View of river and town from bridge

Enigmatic rock carvings on Château walls

Enigmatic rock carvings on Château walls

Enjoying the views in Bourdeilles

Enjoying the views in Bourdeilles, looking down on Medieval Gardens

Medieval Gardens at Bourdeilles Château

Medieval Gardens at Bourdeilles Château

About to enter caves in Medieval Gardens

About to enter caves in Medieval Gardens.  Do you dare?

Exploring the caves using a mobile phone light!

Exploring the spooky caves using a mobile phone light!

Bourdeilles from a bit further up the river in afternoon light

Bourdeilles from a bit further up the river in afternoon light

We stayed at the motorhome aire by the Municipal swimming pool, right by the river Dronne, with easy access to the town over the quaint ancient bridge and with lovely views of the château and town. Nobody came round to collect the 4.50 daily fee, maybe because we were not exactly in the official aire, which was a few metres away on grass or because it was Sunday. Either way, we spent the night for free at this most charming of places in the Périgord.

Motorhome aire seen from bridge expanding river Dronne

Motorhome aire seen from bridge expanding river Dronne

View of Bourdeilles from motorhome aire

View of Bourdeilles from motorhome aire

On Monday, we drove to the Municipal campsite of La Fontaine du Pre St Jean at Dompierre-sur-Charente, near Cognac, as we really like it there, and we booked for 5 days, which came to a grand total of ₤54.70!  We usually enjoy this site for its peace and quiet, easy access to the river for swimming, fishing for Adonis, the Bac crossing the river and long walks along the Charente for Beano, but this year the usual tranquillity of the place was shattered by a group of young teenagers and children who came to the picnic area by river just outside the camping in the early afternoon and stayed till the evening, being rather too loud for our liking and accompanied by a dog that would not stop barking. This certainly was the case on our last night, Friday, when the rowdy group arrived at around 2.30 pm, waking us up from our siesta, and they were still there 5 hours later, with an almost constant bark from the wretched dog. We felt annoyed about this, as we were paying customers and they weren’t, and they really spoilt it for everyone, so much so that we were actually glad to leave in the morning. Shame!

The peaceful Municipal Camping of La Fontaine du Pre St Jean at Dompierre-sur-Charente

The peaceful Municipal Camping of La Fontaine du Pre St Jean at Dompierre-sur-Charente

The picnic area by the Charente river outside campsite

The picnic area by the Charente river outside campsite

The 'bac' providing a river crossing service during the summer months

The ‘bac’ providing a river crossing service during the summer months

I couldn't resist this happy sunflower by the river Charente

I couldn’t resist this happy sunflower by the river Charente

After our shopping in Leclerc this morning, we carried on north on the free A10 to Niort and were very glad to find a couple of available pitches at this wonderful motorhome aire, attractively separated by old stone walls and hedges for privacy and so near the city centre over the bridges: a real bargain for ₤7.50 a night, to include electricity and water. The fee is collected by guardian in the evening.

Our pitch at Motorhome aire at Niort, with hedges and stone walls separating parking bays

Our pitch at Motorhome aire at Niort, with hedges and stone walls separating parking bays

I really enjoyed my walk with Beano in the park along the river Sèvre Niortaise by the aire while Adonis cycled 5km out of town to get some fishing bait. It is a very attractive leisure area for families with a well equipped children’s playground, fitness course and pony rides.

Niort seen from park

Quaint Niort 

After Beano’s walk and Adonis’s cycle ride, we walked into town just to look around and cool down with a beer at one of the many bars at the Esplanade du Jardin de la Brèche.

The Esplanade du Jardin de la Brèche in N

The Esplanade du Jardin de la Brèche in Niort

Niort really is a very charming city, with a mixture of old and new and even the shabby-looking old houses only seem to add to the overall charm of the place, with a great feeling of space and laid-back attitude. Les Halles de Niort Market near the Donjon (or Château de Niort) are open every day except Mondays, offering all kinds of specialities of the region and are worth a visit. We didn’t go inside the Donjon this time, as it was getting late, but it is something I would like to do on our next visit.

The Donjon de Niort

The Donjon de Niort

We also discovered on our way back to the aire an Indian restaurant and thought it would be a good idea to try it, but then Adonis read a good review of another one, The Taj Mahal, also very close to the aire, and we decided to go there instead, but, although the starters were very good (a selection of Samosas, Onion Bhajis, prawn puri, etc) the main courses did not quite hit the mark and they were definitely not a patch on what we are used to at home in England. Nevertheless, it was still a good evening out and the service was courteous and efficient and the prices reasonable.

Shabby façades in Niort only add to the charm of the city

Shabby façades in Niort only add to the charm of the city

Water mill near the motorhome aire

Water mill near the motorhome aire

Tomorrow, we are heading north to Parthenay, only 45 minutes away!

Les Eyzies de Tayac, Dordogne, Saturday 15th August 2015

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Fascinating rock formations at les Eyzies de Tayac

Fascinating rock formations at les Eyzies de Tayac

We didn’t like the look of the motorhome aire at Luzech outside a campsite, as it was mainly used as a car park and it wasn’t all that attractive, so we carried on a little further west to Albas, where we parked right by the dam and we found this very pretty and tranquil with the added bonus of a lovely walk along the river Lot. It rained on and off, but we still managed to give Beano a couple of long walks and take pictures of the picturesque village from the bridge near the aire.

Convenient aire at attractive Albas

Convenient aire at attractive Albas

The aire is free, but there is also a municipal campsite next to it that would have roughly worked out at about 9.60 for the night.

Weir at Albas dam

Weir at Albas dam

Fishing by the dam at Albas with motorhome aire in the background on the left

Fishing by the dam at Albas with motorhome aire in the background on the left

Pituresque Albas

Picturesque Albas

This morning, we continued on the D660 past Villefranche-du-Périgord and D710, D25, D51 and D31E to Le Bugue, but there was a market on with very slow moving traffic and the access road to the aire was closed, so, again, we had to change our plans and drove a bit further north east to Les Eyzies de Tayac, where we finally stopped at midday. This is a very large aire for 5 a night, payable to the guardian who comes round in the morning, so one can actually stay here for the day for free. We love the location by the river Dordogne and the attractive village with its amazing rock formations and cliffs.

Amazing Eyzies de Tayac

Amazing cliffs and caves at les Eyzies de Tayac

The Museum at les Eyzies de Tayac

Les Eyzies de Tayac

We’ve just been to visit the National Prehistoric Museum for €8 each and it really is worth a visit. We saw, among other fascinating exhibits, the famous Lucy’s skeleton, as well as some very finely carved relieves, Stone Age tools, weapons and jewellery made from bones, shells, teeth and antlers: very captivating and engaging.

Lucy's Skeleton and the Lake Turkana Teenager, Homo Erectus

Lucy’s Skeleton and the Lake Turkana Teenager, Homo Erectus

The Cro-Magnon Man in the National Prehistoric Museum

The Cro-Magnon Man in the National Prehistoric Museum

Impressive sculpture outside the National Prehistoric Museum

Impressive sculpture of the Neanderthal Man outside the National Prehistoric Museum

Overlooking town and surrounding landscape

Overlooking town and surrounding landscape

Pretty Les Eyzies de Tayac from Museum

Pretty Les Eyzies de Tayac from Museum

Interesting cliffs and landscape surrounding Les Eyzies de Tayac

Interesting cliffs and landscape surrounding Les Eyzies de Tayac

Intriguing rock formations above town

Intriguing rock formations above town

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The weather seems to have improved again and it is quite a nice evening now.

Tomorrow, we’ll carry on further north to Bourdeilles, south of Brantôme.

Boisee-Penchot, Aveyron, Thursday 13th August 2015

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River Lot at Boisse-Penchot

River Lot at Boisse-Penchot

Sommières was absolutely lovely and we enjoyed a restful day in the free motorhome aire by the arena and the River Vidourle. We found a very convenient bay under a tree, which provided us with the all important shade, and were happy to stop there for the day.

Motorhome aire at Sommières by arena

Motorhome aire at Sommières by arena

After lunch and swim in the river, we walked into the medieval town and climbed up to the castle to enjoy some lovely views of the surrounding area, followed by a beer and ice-cream (yes, again) at one of the many bars in the town.  

View of Sommières from castle

View of Sommières from castle walls

Bunting in festive Sommières

Bunting in festive Sommières

Sommières dates back 2,000 years and it boasts a Roman bridge built by Tiberious at the beginning of the 1st century as part of the road between Nîmes and Toulouse and which leads into one of the gates in town, the Tour de l’Horloge. The whole town is quite fascinating and we really enjoyed strolling peacefully along the vaulted passageways and narrow streets, some decorated with bunting for their summer festivities, and there is also a great variety of shops catering for just about every need.

The First Century Roman Bridge in Sommières

The First Century Roman Bridge in Sommières

The Tour de l'Horloge at end of bridge

The Tour de l’Horloge at end of bridge

Medieval vaulted passages in Sommières

Medieval vaulted passages in Sommières

Typical street in Sommières

Typical street in Sommières

Festive Sommières

Festive Sommières

In the evening, there was a Encierro bull show in the arena, in which young men take turns at taking ribbons off the bull’s horns, as well as live music by the river, which was quite pleasant.

Encierro

Encierro

Encierro

Encierro

On Friday morning, we drove to Portiragnes to stay a few days with Adonis’s parents, which, as always, was very pleasant and peaceful and we enjoyed a couple of delicious meals out, one in a magnificent restaurant called Vogue in Agde and the second one in Portiragnes Plage. Both meals were of very high quality and innovative food with efficient and friendly service.  We also had another opportunity to watch the exciting Abrivado and enjoy the happy atmosphere in the village.

Abrivado in Portiragnes

Abrivado in Portiragnes

Abrivado in Portiragnes

Abrivado in Portiragnes

We left Portiragnes yesterday and went back to Lac de Pareloup, where we went 3 years ago at Easter time with Bramble. Last time we were there, we camped wild and there was nobody else around, but it was cold and windy. Yesterday, by contrast, was very hot and we stopped at a new aire which used to be a municipal campsite, so it had wonderful facilities with toilets, showers, etc and only cost 10 a night. Payment is on exit, but there is a barrier at entrance with a machine issuing tickets, for which your vehicle registration number must be entered prior to entrance.

The motorhome aire at Paraloup

The motorhome aire at Paraloup

The aire is very large and on 3 different levels, most pitches with shade and separated by hedges and all with wonderful views of the lake.

Our pitch directly above the lake

Our pitch directly above the lake

We were going to stay 2 days, but the weather changed dramatically overnight with a mighty storm that kept us awake for a while and, although it looked like it had cleared by morning, another front came in after breakfast and we decided to leave by 10 am. Pity, as it really is a magnificent place to stop with all kinds of water sports available, bread delivery service in the mornings and a pizza van on Thursday evenings, which we had decided to take advantage of today, but alas! It wasn’t to be.

The sky got even blacker as we were driving towards Rodez and had to stop for a few minutes to give the windscreen a chance to clear the steam that had built up whilst driving, as we could hardly see through it!

The rain was on and off for the rest of the morning and it was still raining when we got to Boisse-Penchot at midday, so we had lunch inside, but the skies have cleared again and it’s back to 30ºC.

Boisse-Penchot

Boisse-Penchot with motorhome aire in background

This aire is lovely too, right by the River Lot, with neat pitches on hard standing and with grass bays, a bit like Broglie. It is free with a borne that works with jetons (tokens) to be bought at Brasserie du Château or Bar-Tabac for water and electricity. There is also a pretty walk along the river for Beano and refreshing swimming for everyone.

Attractive location by river Lot for motorhome aire

Attractive location by river Lot for motorhome aire

Tomorrow, we are thinking of going further west past Cahors to Luzech, but we’ll see what happens…

Carro, Bouches du Rhône, Wednesday 5th August 2015

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The attractive and shady aire at Comps

The attractive and shady aire at Comps on the Gardon River

We did make it to Comps and what a wonderful aire it is too! We found a nice large spot under the trees just a few metres from the river Gardon and we knew immediately we were going to love it there and that we’d stay put for a couple of days, which in the end turned into 3 and only left because we were getting very low on provisions and also needed to fill up with water. The aire costs 6 a night, but the guard who collects the fees didn’t turn up on Sunday night, so we had a day for free!

Our large pitch in the shade

Our large pitch in the shade

We had arranged to meet John and Julie there and they turned up at lunchtime on Monday, which made our stay all the more fun and special. Together we enjoyed a few swims in the river and Julie was kind and strong enough to row the boat for the two of us while we soaked up the sun and admired the views and the boys stayed on the shore.

Julie at the helm!

Julie at the helm!

John and Julie enjoying a refreshing swim

John and Julie enjoying a refreshing swim

The rest of the time, we just chilled by the vans, sharing our drinks and food and we were lucky enough to join them for their 31st Wedding Anniversary last night, which we celebrated with some Gin and Tonics and a chilli con carne, plus the usual glasses of wine and cheese and biscuits. And a good time was had by all!

Celebrating John and Julie's Wedding Anniversary

Celebrating John and Julie’s Wedding Anniversary

Adonis even enjoyed a spot of fishing and caught this little beauty: a Golden Orfe. The first of its kind he’s ever caught.

A proud Adonis with his Golden Orfe

A proud Adonis with his Golden Orfe

Golden Orfe

Golden Orfe

The only thing missing from Comps is a proper store to stock up on food and drinks, as they only shop there didn’t sell alcohol and Adonis and I had to cycle to the nearest town of Beaucaire, about 3 miles away, where there is a very good Intermarché which catered for our needs very well indeed.

We left Comps this morning after queuing up for a while to empty the grey water tank and top up with fresh water, as there were several vans leaving at the same time, and we headed south towards Arles and from there on the N113 and N568 to Martigues and finally the D5 to Carro.

Busy Carro's beach on a very hot day

Busy Carro’s beach on a very hot day

The bay from a different angle

The cove from a different angle

There were a few spaces left at this large aire on the Mediterranean, but as we arrived just after 1 pm, all the spots facing the sea were taken and we are now parked more towards to middle, but that’s not a major problem for we’ve spent most of the time snorkelling, first in the little cove and later right by the aire, where the sea is more open, but still wonderful for spotting sea life, with lots of different fish, little and large and of every colour imaginable and I even saw an octopus!

The beach closer to the motorhome aire and the open Mediterranean sea, still great for snorkelling

The beach closer to the motorhome aire and the open Mediterranean sea, still great for snorkelling

And with a stunning sunset to boot, what’s not to like?

The beginning of a stunning sunset

The beginning of a stunning sunset

The WOW factor sunset

The WOW factor sunset

This is truly a magnificent stop for a couple of days for only 10 a night with water included but no electricity. Payment is at machine on entrance, where you’re given a receipt with a code for the exit gate.

Tomorrow, we are going to Sommières, between Nîmes and Montpellier.

Gréoux-les-Bains, Alpes de Haute Provence, Saturday 1st August 2015

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Attractive fountain at Greoux-les-Bains

Attractive fountain at Greoux-les-Bains

We’ve just had the first storm and rains of the holiday and, considering we’ve been travelling for four weeks now, we can’t really complain.

On the windy and narrow road though the Gorges du Verdon

On the windy and narrow road though the Gorges du Verdon

It has been a very interesting drive since we left Italy, especially around the Gorges du Verdon area, Europe’s largest canyon, which is a succession of hair-pin bends on sometimes very narrow roads barely wide enough for two vehicles and with numerous overhanging rocks that could easily rip off the top of a motorhome should one be distracted for a second. This is a road definitely NOT for the faint-hearted and, although I was doing my best to remain cool and keep a lid on my nerves as not to cause an accident, I kept holding on to my seat’s armrest and to my stomach and managed to keep my breakfast down. Thank goodness I only had a very light breakfast of coffee and croissant, as anything bigger than that wouldn’t have stayed down!

A tight squeeze!

A tight squeeze!

Our first stop in France was at the very convenient and adequate aire at Lac de Thorenc, which is a charming spot for picnics and days out and indeed there were a few buses with young school children enjoying their lunch and ball games on the lovely area surrounding the lake. There were also pony rides available and Adonis and I enjoyed a swim in the cooling waters of the lake. Fishing was allowed too, but Adonis decided to give it a miss as there were a few fishermen already scattered around the lake.

The tranquil Lac de Thorenc

The tranquil Lac de Thorenc, perfect for picnics

Lac de Thorenc from far end

Lac de Thorenc from far end

The motorhome aire is free and with some shade, a bourne for water and chemical toilet emptying facilities for 5. There are also proper toilets and these were nice and clean.

On Thursday, we followed the D2 out of Lac de Thorenc and joined the D6085/4085 to Castellane, where we arrived early enough in the morning to enjoy a gentle stroll trough the town to soak up the atmosphere and admire the sights. After lunch, we went back for a spot of souvenir shopping, ice-cream and beers and to watch the world go by.

The medieval village of Castellane

The medieval little town of Castellane

Castellane is a lovely old town with a medieval feel with some very narrow streets and interesting buildings, but the most striking thing is a huge rock looming over the town where the Chapelle de Notre Dame du Roc stands proud 184m above the town and part of the fun of visiting this charming location is to walk up to the top to make a ‘pilgrimage’ to this Chapel. We did part of this walk, but it would have taken 3 ½ hours to do the whole trek and we were not appropriately shod for the task, nor did we have the time due to Beano being left in the motorhome.

The impossibly narrow streets of Castellane

An impossibly narrow street in Castellane

Admiring the town from above on our way to the chapel

Admiring the town from above on our way to the chapel

The Chapel of Notre Dame du Roc, 184 metres above town, seen from motorhome aire

The Chapel of Notre Dame du Roc, 184 metres above town, seen from motorhome aire

The chapel from a different angle

The chapel from a different angle

The motorhome aire here, although very large and with numerous bays designated for recreational vehicles with a painted logo on them, seems to have been taken over by cars and the annoying thing is that motorhomes have to pay 6.50 at the entrance in order for the barrier to go up and allow access, but the cars go under the barrier without paying, even though some of them stayed there all day and some all night too, as they were still there first thing in the morning. This doesn’t seem fair as it feels as though motorhomers are being discriminated against and that we are paying and financing the car park for everyone else. There is water and emptying facilities, but no electricity, so the charge of 6.50 a day seems rather excessive, as there was no privacy either due to so many cars and other motorhomes parked so close together because of lack of space. I hope the local council will sort this problem out and put in place a better dedicated area for ‘camping cars’ only.

Too close for comfort in the motorhme aire of Castellane

Too close for comfort in the motorhme aire of Castellane

Yesterday, we gingerly drove to Moustiers-Ste-Marie on that hair-raising D952 and felt greatly relieved when we finally arrived safe and sound at this most charming of villages. We were very impressed with the motorhome aire at the bottom of the cliffs and were happy to pay 8.50 to the gendarme who came round in the evening to collect the overnight fee, but in theory, we could have stayed there during the day for free.

Interesting rock formations on the road through the Gorges du Verdon

Interesting rock formations on the road through the Gorges du Verdon

The amazingly beautiful Lac de Ste Croix on the way to Moustiers-Ste-Marie

The amazingly beautiful Lac de Ste Croix on the way to Moustiers-Ste-Marie

A much better motorhome aire at Moustiers-Ste-Marie

A much better motorhome aire at Moustiers-Ste-Marie

Once again, we went to explore the town and sights, enjoyed a lovely passion fruit Artisan ice-cream and a beer and this time we donned proper footwear and tackled the steep climb through the mountain to visit the Chapelle de Notre Dame de Beauvoir, a 14th century church built on the site of an 470 AD temple, where traditionally parents brought their stillborns to be miraculously revived long enough for them to be baptised.

Picturesque Moustiers-Ste-Marie

Picturesque Moustiers-Ste-Marie

Water gardens in Moustiers-Ste-Marie

Water gardens in Moustiers-Ste-Marie

Mouth watering artisan ice-cream - I had passion fruit!

Mouth watering artisan ice-cream – I had passion fruit!

Moustiers-Ste-Marie

Moustiers-Ste-Marie

The walk felt a bit challenging, even in the after 4 pm heat, but we were rewarded with stunning views of the village and the surrounding area. This is definitely a place worth a visit and spending a day in or to buy souvenirs, which include local hand-made earthenware, for which Moustiers is also known.

We made it to the Chapelle de Notre Dame de Beauvoir

We made it to the Chapelle de Notre Dame de Beauvoir

And were rewarded with stunning views of town and surrounding area below

And were rewarded with stunning views of town and surrounding area below

Moustiers-Ste-Marie from above

Moustiers-Ste-Marie from above

It was a much easier drive this morning to Gréoux-les-Bains and, again, we got here early in the morning to allow ourselves a walk into town and enjoy a beer and a hot chocolate, as it was a lot cooler and I wasn’t in the mood for larger yet.

Unusual decor in Greoux-les-Bains

Unusual decor in Greoux-les-Bains

The motorhone aire is on an old campsite, the payment is on exit according to the duration of your stay and it has all the facilities one would expect in a campsite, including shade.  We paid €9 for the day.

the motorhome aire at Greoux-les-Bains

the motorhome aire at Greoux-les-Bains

The town is not as impressive as others we have seen lately, but it is pretty enough with lots of shops and restaurants.

Attractive plant and flower display at Greoux-les-Bains

Attractive plant and flower display at Greoux-les-Bains

Tomorrow, we are heading further west and might make it to Comps, just south west of Avignon, on the River Gard.