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