Category Archives: 2013

Les Montagnes, Mazamet, Tarn, Tuesday 20th August 2013

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Mazamet Lac

Les Montagnes, Mazamet 

 

 We’ve been very busy since we left the oyster farm at Mèze. We spent Monday at the aire in Marseillan Plage, which again operated on a barrier system for 10 a day, payable before entry, but well worth it, as it was only a 5 minute walk to the beach and all the restaurants and amenities in the town. Marseillan is a very lively seaside town this time of year and we made the most of the beach and the free evening entertainment.

 

At the tapas restaurant

At the very popular tapas restaurant, La Taberna

 

We went for a pizza at La Taberna, a Spanish tapas bar not far from the beach, where we enjoyed a nice meal serenaded by a wonderful blues singer. After our pizza (one of the best I’ve ever had) we joined the local celebrations with the equivalent of ‘The Voice’ being staged and televised from there and we got to see the contestants and vote for our choice. After that there were a couple more acts followed by the Grand Finale courtesy of Les Farfadais, an amazing group of acrobats and dancers that put on an spectacular show the likes of which we had never seen before.

 

The evening entertainment: Fantastic Blues singer

The evening entertainment: Fantastic Blues singer

 

 

We felt our €10 fee for the motorhome aire really paid for itself just by the sheer quality and entertainment value of this incredible show that must be seen to be believed. See more here: https://www.facebook.com/LesFarfadais?fref=ts

 So the night ended on a very high note indeed and we think we might make a point of coming here again next summer to enjoy these wonderful festivities once again.

 

Beautiful Marseillan promenade

Beautiful Marseillan promenade

 

After Marseillan Plage we left for Portiragnes in the Herault Department to spend a few days with Adonis’s parents and our friend and colleague Lesley, who flew from England on Wednesday 14th in order to celebrate Béziers summer festival. This was again another heck of a party and one couldn’t help but being drawn into the madness, chaos and fun of this charming city and its people.

 

The Saysells and Lesley enjoying a sangria at Beziers Feria

The Saysells and Lesley enjoying a sangria at Beziers Feria

 

The party started with an amazing parade very much in the style of the Brazilian Carnival, with very accomplished dancers, acrobats and amazing floats delighting the crowds of holidaymakers and locals alike. We particularly enjoyed the ‘firework-spitting’ dragon accompanying what looked like Orcs from the Lord of the Rings movies: simply jaw-dropping, with men on stilts doing the most impossible somersaults.

 

The Parade

The Parade

 

 

 

Lesley's 076

 

 

Lesley's 077

 

Lesley's 078

 

Lesley's 082

 

The Fireworks Spitting Dragon

The Fireworks Spitting Dragon

 

It was actually scary!

It was actually scary!

 

Somersaulting Orcs!

Amazing Orcs on stilts!

 

 

A Somersaulting orc!  You can just about see blur!

A Somersaulting orc! You can just about see blur!

 

And more amazing contraptions!

And more amazing contraptions!

 

And the Scots made it too!

And the Scots made it too!

 

Thank you for posing especially for me

Thank you for posing especially for me!

 

 

So we partied hard and joined the dancing, singing and drinking (I had never drank so much sangría in my life before) and simply had a whale of a time.

 

Joining in

Joining in

 

Don't ask me what I'm doing here: I don't know, but it was great fun!

Don’t ask me what I’m doing here: I don’t know, but it was great fun!

 

 Whilst at Béziers, we also went to see a Flamenco Mass at the Cathedral, which was beautifully done, but after a while we started to feel a bit dizzy in the heat, surrounded by so many people, and had to leave to get some fresh air and a drink (more sangría, I’m afraid).

 

Sangria

Delicious Sangria

 

While we were enjoying our cold sangría, we had the fortune of watching the beautiful Camargue horses being ridden by gorgeous young girls dressed in very showy Flamenco dresses that were a joy to see.

 

Flamenco dresses on Camargue horses: a perfect combination

Flamenco dresses on Camargue horses: a perfect combination

 

The rest of the time we spent chilling by the pool in the ‘Saysell Villa’ in Portiragnes and walking Huntley the dog, the family gorgeous and affectionate pet.

 

Time to relax at the Saysell's

Time to relax at the Saysell’s

 

We left Portiragnes this morning and headed west on the D612 all the way to Mazamet and after deciding that the aire in town wasn’t quite what we were looking for (being as it was in a car park), we came just a little bit further south on the D118 to this charming aire in the woods by the lake at Les Montagnes, which is free and has clean water and the usual emptying facilities for motorhomes.

 

Sunbathing after cooling swim

Sunbathing after cooling swim

 

We’ve just had a couple of swims in the cooling lake and sunbathed for a bit. It’s much cooler here, being higher up, which is rather welcome, but I expect tomorrow we’ll be going back to higher temperatures again when we come down from the hills. We are heading for Souillac in the Lot department.

 

The cool motohome aire at Montagnes

The cool motorhome aire at Montagnes

 

Mèze, Herault, Sunday 11th August 2013

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Oyster beds in the Bassin de Thau

Oyster beds in the Bassin de Thau, Meze

 

Our stop at the Manade des Baumelles France Passion site at Les Cabannes de Cambon in the heart of the Camargue, 11 km from Stes Maries de la Mer on the D38, was a real treat. As we got there just before lunch yesterday, we went to introduce ourselves at the restaurant and had a ‘bière de Gardians’ and a delicious glass of sangría that had been prepared for a group of people who had booked the special guided tour and lunch. We were very impressed with the restaurant, offering mainly bull meat dishes, but also pork, Angus meat and fish and would have eaten there, except they only open at lunchtime and we simply couldn’t manage a big meal like that at lunch.

 

Manade des Baumelles Bull Farm

Manade des Baumelles Bull Farm

 

Manade des Baumelles Bull Farm

Manade des Baumelles Bull Farm

 

The Restaurant at Manade des Baumelles

The Restaurant at Manade des Baumelles

 

 

Enjoying a beer and a sangria in the shade

Enjoying a beer and a sangria in the shade

 

The place was very quiet all day, with just the sound of the bulls, horses and birds, and we were delighted with our evening walk, at around 9 pm to watch the aquatic birds on the marshes, like the Black wing stilts, pink flamingos flying in formation right over our heads, egrets and others. There was also a crescent moon in a most spectacular blue and purple sky I couldn’t tear my eyes away from.

 

A majestic bull

A majestic bull

 

The bulls

The bulls

 

Saying hello to the friendly horses

Saying hello to the friendly horses

 

Black wing stilts at sunset

Black wing stilts at sunset

 

Flamingos flying overhead

Pink Flamingos flying overhead

 

Another glorious sunset

Another glorious sunset and crescent moon

 

One of the guardians told us in the evening that they would be getting the bulls ready for a local feria at 9 in the morning and that we could go and watch them if we pleased, which of course we did. This was most interesting and we enjoyed watching them (from a safe distance) select the bulls to bring them round to the trailer by the farm. This took the most part of an hour and we finally left the site by 10 am.

 

The Gardians of the Camargue at work rounding up the bulls

The Gardians of the Camargue at work rounding up the bulls

 

Rounding up the bulls

Rounding up the bulls

 

Unfortunately, the downside of La Camargue is the mosquitoes and I hardly slept at all last night, as there were over 30 of them (yes, I counted them as I hunted them down!) in the motorhome. I think at one point I was doing some weird version of Kung Fu in bed trying in vane to fight them off. I’ve got LOADS of bites all over my body and I seem to have reacted to them, as some of them are really big and swollen (2” or 5 cm across), but fortunately they’re not itching too much because I’ve put some cream on which gives instant relief (Marie Rose soothing cream – and I swear by the stuff!).

 

The motorhoe aire at Meze in full-on sun

The motorhoe aire at Meze in full-on sun

 

After the Camargue, the idea was to stop at the large motorhome aire at Palavas-les-Flots, a bit further west and a mere 50 minutes drive, but it was really chock-a-block with motorhomes and too overcrowded for our liking. And that, combined with the fact that we drove round twice trying to find the entrance in a very busy sea-side town, where the summer fête and Sunday market were in full swing, made our minds up to carry on further west to the aire at Mèze.

 

Lunch in the shade at Meze

Lunch in the shade at Meze

 

 This aire in Rue du Stade is in full-on sun, has 6 pitches, it’s free and it has free fresh water and emptying facilities, so after making the most of these services, we drove just a couple of hundred meters down the road and parked in the shade of some pine trees, where we had our lunch and a siesta.

 

Karine and Yvan oyster farm at Meze

Stopping for the night at Karine and Yvan Caussel’s oyster farm and France Passion site at Meze

 

We decided not to stop for the night there after all and headed for this oyster farm France Passion site run by Karine and Yvan Caussel, where we’re hoping to buy some mussels in the morning, which they also sell, as I am not a great lover of the oysters themselves and Adonis had a bad experience with them a few years ago. This site can be found by following the signs from the town of Mèze to ‘Ecosite, Complexe Conchylicole and Ferme Pedagogique’.

 

Bassin de Thau

Bassin de Thau

 

We are overlooking the Bassin de Thau, looking towards Sète and all the oyster beds, very special indeed!

Carro, Bouches du Rhône, Friday 9th August 2013

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Motorhome aire at Carro, right by the Mediterranean

Motorhome aire at Carro, right by the Mediterranean

 

 We have made it to the Mediterranean at last and it’s only taken us 5 weeks! We’ve been here for 2 days at the motorhome aire on Quay Vérandy. We thought this aire was actually going to be in Martigues, which is where we were hoping to stay, but after driving around in Martigues looking for it without success, we entered the co-ordinates given on the aires guide book (‘Le Guide Officiel Aires de Services Camping Cars’: Lat 43º 19′ 46” N Long 5º 2′ 23” E) and it brought us here, about 6 or 7 miles further south!

Taking a walk on the rocky landscape

Taking a walk (and a beer) on the rocky landscape – motorhome aire in background

 

The drive from St Remy de Provence was very easy, following the D99 west to join the D570 south to Arles and from there gently south east on N113 and N568. We just had a quick stop at Supermarché to stock up on food and we were here for 12 noon.

 

Carro

Carro beach

 

It’s still hot here, but very windy, maybe experiencing some of that famous Provençal Mistral, so much so that the wind pushed the motorhome off the levelling blocks earlier on when we were actually inside! It definitely rocked us like never before!

 

Cove and beach

Cove and beach – great for snorkelling

 

Still, it’s been very sunny for the last couple of days and we have enjoyed a few swims in the warm Mediterranean sea. We have also made the most of our snorkelling gear and have enjoyed a very peaceful time spotting the various fish around the rocks surrounding the beach. There is something very special and magical about swimming with the fish, oblivious to everything else, listening only to the sound of your breathing: it’s almost like being on another planet.

 

Strange sights at the fish market

Strange sights at the fish market

 

Carro is mainly a fishing village and this morning we bought some mussels directly from one of the port’s fish stalls by the aire. It was definitely the most popular stall in the market and we had to queue for a few minutes to get our kilo, which I cooked à la Marinière for lunch: fresh and delicious!

 

Preparing the mussels for lunch.  Can't get them fresher than that!

Preparing the mussels for lunch. Can’t get them fresher than that!

 

 

We feel really privileged here on this aire right by the sea: we’re a mere 50 metres from the water’s edge and just 5 minutes’ walk from the little beach in the cove, nicely sheltered and supervised during the day. It’s funny, though, how only around the corner from here, in the open sea, it’s really rough and a few people are enjoying windsurfing and body boarding in the strong current and waves.

 

The rough sea round the corner, perfect for windsurfing, etc

The rough sea round the corner, perfect for windsurfing, etc

 

This aire costs 10 a day, payable at the entrance by credit card: same system as in Bourget-du-Lac, and there is no electricity either, but plenty of water.

 

I just like this seagull hovering over the boats

I just like this seagull in the sun

 

Tomorrow we’re heading for a France Passion bull farm in the Camargue, which should be really different to everything we’ve seen so far.

 

Seagulls enjoying a meal

Carro and marina

Camping Monplaisir, St Remy-de-Provence, Wednesday 7th August 2013

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Camping Monplaisir

Reception at charming Camping Monplaisir

 

 We have enjoyed 3 wonderful days at this excellent 4* campsite just 10 minutes walk from the town centre of St Remy. We were initially thinking of stopping here just 2 days, but then Adonis noticed there was a market in town today, so we extended our stay an extra day as we didn’t want to miss it.

 

The very popular market at St Remy

The very popular market at St Remy

 

And what a market it was! We got there for 10.30 am, as we had to change pitches at the campsite before we left because ours had already been booked for the day, so the market was already heaving with people. We found exactly what we were hoping to find: lots of lavender-related products, which make perfect presents to take back home, as well as other local specialities, such as cheese and saucissons and I musn’t forget the delicious lavender ice-cream, which I’d never seen or heard of before! There was even a Spanish couple selling paella, so we had a kg of that too for our dinner (we simply couldn’t leave it behind).

 

It was a real treat to enjoy all those different market stalls, as often we miss market days quite simply because we’re not in the right place at the right time.

 

 

Monastère de St Paul de Mausole

Monastère de St Paul de Mausole

 

Yesterday, we went to visit the Monastère de St Paul de Mausole (Cloître St Paul), just out of town, where Vincent Van Gogh spent a year after cutting part of his ear off and where he completed more than 150 paintings! The place is still a rest home and patients are still using painting and other art forms as part of their therapy. I found it most touching, especially Van Gogh’s bedroom, so poor and desolate-looking, with bars across the window overlooking the hospital’s garden with its sunflowers and irises. There are over 20 reproductions of his paintings at the very place where they were created, according to our guide. It certainly is a very special place, full of emotion and beauty. The entry ticket was only 4.50.

 

Monastère de St Paul de Mausole

Beautiful cloister at Monastère de St Paul de Mausole

 

Cloister at Monastère de St Paul de Mausole

Cloister at Monastère de St Paul de Mausole

 

Monastère de St Paul de Mausole

Monastère de St Paul de Mausole

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The barred window at Van Gogh's bedroom

the view from the barred window at Van Gogh’s bedroom

Van Gogh's bedroom whilst convalescing at Monastère de St Paul de Mausole

Van Gogh’s bedroom whilst convalescing at Monastère de St Paul de Mausole

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The' bathroom'

The’ bathroom’

The view from the 'bathroom'

The view from the ‘bathroom’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lavender and Van Gogh's painting on the spot where they were created

Lavender and Van Gogh’s painting on the spot where they were created

The sunflowers with Monastery in background

The sunflowers with Monastery in background

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monastère de St Paul de Mausole

Monastère de St Paul de Mausole

 

The Sunflower Thief!

The Sunflower Thief!

 

 

The rest of the time here, we have divided between exercising in the campsite’s fabulous swimming pool, chilling at the bar (lovely alcohol-free mojito!) and relaxing in the shade of our pitch, as it is still very hot down here (34 ºC). Having said that, there was a storm early in the morning and we’ve had some very heavy showers, so today it is only a mere 24 ºC, mercifully!

 

Large pool at Camping Monplaisir

Large pool at Camping Monplaisir

 

 

Chilling at campsite bar

Chilling at campsite bar.  Really enjoyed my alcohol-free Mojito

 

Tomorrow we are off to the Mediterranean coast, heading for Martigue and then Carro.

 

I love all the flip flops hanging around swimmimg area

I love all the flip flops hanging around swimming area

 

 

Château Maucoil, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Vaucluse, Sunday 4th August 2013

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Chateau Maucoil

Chateau Maucoil

 

How wonderful to be here again 2 years after our first visit and to find it is just as fantastic as we remember it! This is really a jewel in the France Passion stops, with room for abut 8 motorhomes with stunning views over the Rhône Valley, the gorgeous wines and a swimming pool to boot!

 

The stunning view over the Rhone Valley from Chateau Maucoil

The stunning view over the Rhone Valley from Chateau Maucoil

 

We got here after a bit of a fiddle this morning, as we were really heading for the motorhome aire at Viviers (Ardeche Department), just south of Montélimar on the D86, but that aire seems to have been shut permanently and, although we could have parked for the day at the port fluvial by the river, we couldn’t have stayed the night, as several notices warned.

 

Port Fluvial at Viviers

Port Fluvial at Viviers

 

As it was already midday and very hot still, we didn’t feel like travelling for too long, so we thought that Châteauneuf-du-Pape, just south of Orange, would be a good bet, as we knew we could get some shade and a swim in the pool.

 

Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Chateauneuf-du-Pape village

 

So we followed the N93N and N7 down south to Orange and then the D976 and D17 here, except that the village was celebrating its annual Medieval Fête and we couldn’t drive through it and had to follow the detour signs, a bit of a long way round.

 

view from parking area at the chateau

view from parking area at the chateau

Still, we got here for 1.15 pm and after a swim and a beer, we enjoyed our lunch before a much needed siesta, as this dry heat (37 ºC today!) really takes your energy out of you.

 

Our friendly host, Pierre, with Peter and St Peter!

Our friendly host, Pierre, with Peter and St Peter at Chateau Maucoil

 

At about 4 pm, we went for another swim and a wine tasting session at the cave, where we met our very friendly host, Pierre, and I just happened to mention to him that we had come here 2 years before for Adonis’s birthday and that this year we’d be celebrating my 50th in September and he very kindly gave me a bottle of their 2009 Privelège wine. Isn’t that a wonderful gesture! I’m definitely keeping it till the 8th September. We also bought some very special wines again. That was followed by another swim and we were entertained by some guests staying at the gîte doing some antics on the pool: a lot of good-hearted fun.

 

 

Messing around in the pool

Messing around in the pool at the chateau

 

The pool is shut now, after 8 pm, so we’ve just had a shower using the hose provided to fill water tanks: simply heavenly! Still enjoying the simplest things in life, like a cold water shower when it is so hot!

 

St Hilaire du Rosier Cherry and walnut farm

St Hilaire du Rosier Cherry and walnut farm

 

Yesterday, we stayed at another France Passion site at St Hilaire-du-Rosier (Isere department), where they specialise in cherry products, such as juice, Kirsh, jams, etc as well as walnuts, very aptly named Le Cerices en Fête. This was an easy drive from the campsite at St Pierre d’Albigny following the A43/E70 motorway to Grenoble and A48 and 49 towards Valence, then there’s a choice between the D1092 north or the D1532 south of St Hilaire and we took junction 10 and followed the latter for a more scenic route.

 

Safely parked under the shade of a big tree.

Safely parked under the shade of a big tree.

 

We were there late morning and the proprietor Jocelyne Guilhermet, came to greet us and show us where we could park under a huge tree, where we enjoyed the shade for the rest of the day. She also explained that they would not be there in the afternoon as they were celebrating a friend’s daughter’s wedding, so after lunch, her husband, Jean Paul, gave us a map of a couple of interesting walks we could do and telling us where other motorhomers could park should any more arrive, they left us in charge and off they went. So we relaxed in our new position as custodians of the farm and enjoyed a couple of walks in the surrounding area and down to the river Isere, taking in the views of sunflowers, corn, cherry and walnut trees.

 

Walnut and cherry trees at Les Cerices en Fête

Walnut and cherry trees at Les Cerices en Fête

 

Our walk took us down to the Isere river

Our walk took us down to the Isere river

 

Sunflowers on our walk round the farm

Sunflowers on our walk round the farm

 

 

It was a very quiet evening and night and we didn’t even hear them coming back. This morning I popped into the shop and bought some cherry juice, jam and a 2-kg bag of walnuts, which I look forward to enjoying in the autumn and winter.

 

Walnuts!

Walnuts!

 

 

Fields of corn too

Fields of corn too

After saying goodbye, we followed the D532 towards Romans-sur-Isere and the free portion of the A49 towards Valence, then the N7 south to Viviers.

 

Spectacular sunset at Chateau Maucoil

Spectacular sunset at Chateau Maucoil

 

We are just enjoying the most amazing sunset down in the Rhone valley that really has the ‘WOW!’ factor. This, of course is accompanied by the magic sounds of cicadas, which hasn’t stopped at all all day.

 

The splendid Chateau Maucoil.  Until we meet again!  A bientot!

The splendid Chateau Maucoil. Until we meet again!  A bientot!

 

Camping Lac de Carouge, St Pierre d’Albigny, Savoie, Friday 2nd August 2013

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Lac de Carouge

Stunning  Lac de Carouge

 

 It is hard to believe we’ve been going for 4 weeks already! But it’s wonderful to think we still have another 4 to go!!! Yipeeee!

 

Enjoying a meal with John and Julie

Enjoying a meal with John and Julie at Lathuile

 

We spent 3 days at the aire in Lathuile in the end, as Julie and John texted us saying they were coming that way too and we thought it would be wonderful to see them again. They arrived on Wednesday afternoon, so we enjoyed a couple of days in their company and had dinner with them last night.

 

Quaint and beautiful Annecy

Quaint and beautiful Annecy

 

Stunning Annecy

Stunning Annecy

 

Yesterday morning, we took the bus from outside camping le Polé to Annecy for only €3.50 each and just 35 minutes ride. We had a marvellous morning and lunch in that picturesque town, with its canals, old bridges , houses and charming streets, full of just about every kind of shop and restaurant to tempt you inside. We were very happy just to stroll around town, through the gardens and by the lake before enjoying a beer in one of the many café-bars, followed by lunch at the very popular Le Pont Morens, where we had the local speciality of Tarteflette, made of boiled potatoes, bacon and cheese sauce, and a quiche, accompanied by wine ‘de la maison’.

 

Quaint and beautiful Annecy

Quaint and beautiful Annecy

 

As the buses back to Lathuile were not very frequent, we opted for the 2.15 back (the next one was after 5 pm!) and went back to the lake for a swim.

 

Quaint and beautiful Annecy

Quaint and beautiful Annecy

 

Soon after we got back to the motorhome aire, Julie and John arrived from their cycle ride to Annecy (just over an hour) and enjoyed the rest of the evening with them.

 

Annecy

Annecy

 

Annecy

Annecy

 

This morning, we had a bit of a problem with our awning as it would not shut properly on the left (front of van) side, so we had to fiddle with it for a while until it was more or less acceptably shut, but this is something we must look into properly a.s.a.p.

 

Annecy

Annecy

 

A different way to get around in Annecy

A different way to get around in Annecy

 

So we said goodbye again to J & J through FB, Motorhome Facts Forum, and other social media and set off to Albertville on the D1508 and D1212 to stock up on supplies. From there, it was just a short drive south west on D1090 to St Pierre d’Albigny. We were here for 11.30 am, early enough for a swim in this much cooler lake de Carouge, but very soothing still in this heat (35 ºC today). We were lucky again to find a pitch in the shade and the campsite is nice and quiet with direct access to the lake and wonderful and clean shower and washing facilities, as we have been accustomed to. It cost us ₤25 for the night, with electricity, to be paid in advance.

 

The cooling Lac de Carouge

 Enjoying a swim at the cooling Lac de Carouge

 

Tomorrow, we are hoping to go to a France Passion cherry farm south west of here, between Grenoble and Valence, and we’ll be using the motorway (E70/A41) for an easy drive.

 

 

Our shaded and generous pitch at Camping Lac de Carouge

Our shaded and generous pitch at Camping Lac de Carouge

 

 

Lathuile, Lac Annecy, Haute Savoie, Tuesday 30th July 2013

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The beautiful view from Lathuile Motorhone aire

The beautiful view from Lathuile Motorhone aire

 

 

We didn’t make it to Hauteville-Lompness as we had planned simply because it was too hot to try that hill and it seemed more sensible to head for the lakes instead. So we set the Tomtom for Le Bourget-du-Lac and we got there for 11.30am, with plenty of time to enjoy a swim and a cold beer before lunch.

 

Camp International l'Ile des Cygnes

Camping International de l’Ile aux Cygnes

 

The motorhome aire at Bourget-du-Lac, just north of Chambery, is right outside the Camping International de L’IIe aux Cygnes and we paid 21 for 2 nights, with full access to the campsite facilities, including the lake and and free wifi. The system operates by card payment in advance and you get a gate code for going in and out. The pitches are of a reasonable size (big enough to get the awning out) and they are separated by logs screwed onto the ground. We were lucky to park under a tree, which provided welcome and much needed shade.

 

The motorhome aire outside Camping International de l'Ile aux Cygnes

The motorhome aire outside Camping International de l’Ile aux Cygnes

 

It was very hot when we arrived and we enjoyed several swims in the lake throughout the day, but in the evening the storm approached through the mountains, accompanied by heavy rain, which didn’t stop until lunchtime the following day. There was one particular clap of thunder that was right above us in the night which shook the van and made me sit up in bed, as it felt like a bomb had gone off nearby. Fortunately, the storm moved away, if not the rain, and I eventually fell asleep sometime in the wee hours of the morning.

 

Enjoying the sun at Lac de Bourget before the storm

Enjoying the sun at Lac de Bourget before the storm

 

Before the storm, however, we met a lovely couple from Manchester, Julie and John, and had a very pleasant evening chatting, drinking and swapping experiences with them.

 

Part of the Marina at Lac de Bourget

Part of the Marina at Lac du Bourget

 

As it was such a wet morning yesterday, I took the opportunity to catch up with my FB friends and family, as well as checking my mail and Twitter messages.

 

The gardens at the Abbey at Bourget du Lac

The gardens at the Priory at Bourget du Lac

 

The Priory Gardens, Bourget du Lac

The relaxing Priory Gardens, Bourget du Lac

 

The weather improved in the afternoon and we went for a stroll around the town of Bourget-du-Lac and visited the priory and Thomas II Chateau, which at one point, from 1438 to 1456, belonged to the Seyssel family, of local renown and power! Are we related to this family? One can only speculate…

 

Thomas II Chateau, which belonged to the Seysell family for a few years before fire

Thomas II Chateau, which was entrusted to the Seysselfamily for a few years before fire struck

 

Chateau entrusted to the Seyssel family until fire struck

Chateau entrusted to the Seyssel family until fire struck

 

Mr Saysell at the Seyssel Chateau

Mr Saysell at the Seyssel Chateau

 

The views from Thomas II chateau

The views from Thomas II chateau

 

After enjoying the beauty and tranquillity of Lac du Bourget for 2 days and saying goodbye to Julie and John, we left this morning for Lac Annecy. We were planning to stay at the campsite Les Rives du Lac at Sévrier, but it was full, so we kept driving around the lake until we found something suitable, so here we are at this motorhome aire at Lathuile (190 Route de la Porte, 74210), an organic farm just by Bout du Lac, or end of the lake, on the far south shore of Lac Annecy, and very nice it is too! We have water, electricity and plenty of shade under the oak trees, with a short stroll of just over 5 minutes to the lake itself. It costs 8 per night, plus €2 for electricity, collected by the farmer, Michèle Cavagnod, at around 7.30pm.

 

The motorhome aire at Lathuile, Bout du Lac, Lac Annecy

The motorhome aire at Lathuile, Bout du Lac, Lac Annecy.  Plenty of shade here.

 

We might stay here more than one night before heading south again, slowly making our way to Provence.

 

St André-sur-Vieux Jonc, Ain Department, Saturday 27th July 2013

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Although we didn’t plan it this way, this has turned out to be the Holiday of the ‘Wine Routes’.

 

Following the Wine Routes.  Chardonnay grapes

Following the Wine Routes. Chardonnay grapes

 

After enjoying an afternoon walk around the vineyards at Merceuil and our Frankfurters with a cool Bourgogne Rouge in the evening, we carried on south the following morning on the D19 to Calon-sur-Saône, the N6 past Tournus and the D56 slightly south west to the motorhome aire at Lugny, travelling through beautiful Chardonnay country and the Chardonnay village itself, where the wine gets its name from.

 

Passing through Chardonnay

Passing through Chardonnay

 

It was an easy drive and we were there before 11am, which is a good thing, as travelling in the middle of the day in this heat is very unwise. The motorhome aire at Lugny is just outside a very simple and cheap campsite, with loads of shade, so we opted for the latter, as the former was in full-on sun and not really very sensible this time of year, and for the sake of €10 for the campsite it really was a non-brainer decisions.

 

Our shady spot at camping de Lugny only €10 a night.

Our shady spot at camping de Lugny only €10 a night.

 

After lunch, we walked down the hill to explore Lugny itself and ended up at the local Chardonnay Visitors’ Centre and wine tasting shop, totally unplanned, of course! Being unable to decide which variety we enjoyed the most, we settled on a selection of 6 different bottles, which we intend to take back home to England if we don’t succumb to temptation in the next 5 weeks.

 

Enjoying the views over Chardonnay country

Enjoying the views over Chardonnay country

 

View from the road outside Lugny campsite

View from the road outside Lugny campsite

 

The Chardonnay Visitors' Centre at Lugny

The Chardonnay Visitors’ Centre at Lugny

 

We really enjoyed the extremely quiet and cool campsite at Lugny and the fact that there was nobody at the Reception hut to book customers in, relying on people’s honesty once again to put their money for their stay in the envelopes provided, to be inserted in the postbox by hut, just like with the wine the night before at the France Passion site in Merceuil. I just love this laid-back and trusting attitude of the local folk in this part of eastern France.

 

A heavy walk back to campsite after purchasing our wine

A heavy walk back through vineyards to campsite after purchasing our wine

 

 

There was a storm in the night which seemed quite strong and intense for a few minutes, but which I believe sadly heavily damaged some of the vineyards around Beaune, where we’d been the night before, and I understand that the damage could run into thousands of euros in this area that produces some of the finest wines in the world!  What a shame!  I do hope they’ll be able to make up for it somehow.

 

Cluny

Cluny

 

On Wednesday morning, 24th July and Adonis’s birthday, we paid a visit to the historic town of Cluny, following the D82/D15 slightly south west, where we visited the famous Benedictine Abbey and walked around the old streets.  Amazing to think that the monks here had so much power they practically ruled Europe for centuries in the Middle Ages.

 

The Benedictine Abbey at Cluny

The Benedictine Abbey at Cluny

 

From a different angle

From a different angle

 

 

And another angle

And another angle

 

We left Cluny late in the morning for our short drive to Cormoranche-sur-Saône in the Ain Department, about 4 miles south of Macon, as we had been quite impressed with the campsite/base de loisirs here last year. Once again, we really enjoyed the cooling lake for swimming, fishing and rowing our boat and there are, of course, lots of entertainment for young families, including the huge inflatable castles of various shapes and descriptions.

 

The lake beach at Cormoranche-sur-Saone

The lake beach at Cormoranche-sur-Saone with children’s entertainment in the background

 

We had intended to stay 5 nights, but unfortunately, this time round it turned out to be quite noisy in the evening, first with our ‘neighbours’ talking and laughing until the wee hours in the morning, then a duo playing and singing on the beach until 11.30pm and last night a disco that went on till midnight. Although we appreciate that some people enjoy this type of entertainment in a campsite, it is not what we really look for whilst camping, so being Saturday today, we thought they might have another noisy ‘soirée’ and we voted on making a move. The 3 nights here cost us €62: not bad for high season.

 

Beach and larger lake at Cormoranche-sur-Saone

Beach and larger lake at Cormoranche-sur-Saone

 

Sailing and pedal boats at Cormoranche-sur-Saone

Sailing and pedal boats at Cormoranche-sur-Saone

 

An unexpected visitor in the evening at Cormoranche-sur-Saone

An unexpected visitor in the evening at Cormoranche-sur-Saone

 

 

After doing a quick shop at Super U in Pont-de-Veyle, we headed for the lakes a bit further south east on D2.  We first tried Parc des Oiseaux by Villars-les-Dombes, but couldn’t wild camp there and we didn’t fancy another campsite, so we tried other lakes around the area with no success, as parking wasn’t available. As it was almost lunchtime, we decided to head north again on D1083 to this aire just south of Bourg-en-Bresse, which has proved to be just right for us, with shade under the trees and a water supply with a hose, which I’ve just used to have a cold shower to cool off a bit. It’s still 34 °C inside the motorhome in the shade.

 

The free aire at St André-sur-Vieux Jonc

The free aire at St André-sur-Vieux Jonc

 

This aire is free with free water and emptying facilities, but no electricity; the bays are clearly separated by grassy patches and bushes and have gravel pitches: not bad at all!

 

We’re going to try another France Passion site tomorrow at Hauteville-Lompness before heading for the lake at Aix-les-Bains in the Savoie Department.

Domaine Dury, Merceuil, Côte d’Or, Monday 22nd July 2013

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Domaine Dury France Passion site, Merceuil. Motorhomes between hedges in background

Domaine Dury France Passion site, Merceuil. Motorhomes between hedges in background

 

What a find this is! Probably the best France Passion site we’ve been to so far, and they’ve all been pretty good. There are 4 pitches with electricity divided by hedges, water and wifi provided for free. There’s also a hut with a fridge where they sell their various Burgundy wines from and buyers can leave their money in an envelope with their names, emails, etc written on it, which, of course, we have done. Don’t you just love this kind of trust?

 

Enjoying a nice bottle for lunch

Enjoying a nice bottle for lunch in the much needed shade

 

Cheers!

Cheers!

 

We have bought one bottle of Meursault and one of Bourgogne Rouge 2007, which we have already enjoyed for lunch and we really loved the lightness and subtlety of flavour. We are saving the Meursault for Adonis’s birthday on Wednesday.

 

Buying delicious wines from Visitors' hut at Domaine Dury

Buying delicious wines from Visitors’ hut at Domaine Dury

Out pitch surrounded by hedges and large enough for awning.

Out pitch surrounded by hedges and large enough for awning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s been very hot today (35 °C in the motorhome in the shade), so we have spent a lot of time in the ‘cooler’ visitors’ hut using the free wifi service and the large table provided. We have also taken advantage of the hose provided to enjoy a couple of much needed cold showers: a real luxury.

 

Helpful sign

Helpful sign

 

There is even a barbecue available and we are tempted to use it for our Frankfurters tonight! What else do you need?

This is definitely a place to come back to and no doubt we will!

 

Burgundy vineyard

Burgundy vineyard

 

Lac de Panthier Camping, Vandenesse-en-Auxois, Côte d’Or, Sunday 21st July 2013

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Lac de Panthier camping

Lac de Panthier camping – Restaurant area

 

 

We have spent 3 very sunny and hot days at this strategically placed campsite ‘with a view’, about 24 miles west of Dijon (Lat 47º 14′ 12” N Long 4º 37′ 40” E). Our very large pitch, No 14, is about 20 meters from the lake beach and amongst the trees, so we have also enjoyed some welcome shade in the heat of the day.

 

Our generous pitch, a stone-throw away from the lake

Our generous pitch, a stone-throw away from the lake

 

Enjoying a paella on our generous pitch so near the lake

Enjoying a paella on our generous pitch so near the lake

 

 

 

Our pitch seen from the lake beach

Camping seen from the lake beach

 

We arrived late on Friday evening after deciding that the parking place at Lac de Liez by Langres wasn’t really appropriate as it didn’t have any shade at all, so we left after lunch, a rest and a swim at 3 pm.

 

Lac de Liez

Lac de Liez

 

 

Again, we have enjoyed some relaxing time swimming, fishing and rowing in the lake and early this morning, just after breakfast, I went on a cycle ride around the lake before the day got too hot. It’s a beautiful ride, which took me just ½ hour, including a few stops to take pictures of the wonderful views all the way round.

 

Views of lake taken during morning cycle ride

Views of lake taken during morning cycle ride

 

Views of lake taken during morning cycle ride

Views of lake taken during morning cycle ride

 

Views around lake taken during morning cycle ride

Views around lake taken during morning cycle ride

 

Views of lake taken during morning cycle ride

Views of lake taken during morning cycle ride

 

 

This site has a shop, a restaurant, an indoor pool (which I made good use of first thing in the morning), a sauna and a fitness room with cycling machines, all included in the price, although I have to say that being so hot outdoors, I don’t really feel like a sauna, but other people were using it. There is also, of course, fishing in the lake and Adonis has been making the most of it, even if he has to walk to the far side of it. I think that, all in all, the daily price of 28 for us in the height of the season with all those facilities provided is very reasonable and I am more than happy to pay for it.

 

Adonis baiting the lake for his fishing sessions

Adonis baiting the lake for his fishing sessions

 

 

Attractive children's play area at camping Lac de Panthier

Attractive children’s play area at camping Lac de Panthier

 

 

Being Sunday afternoon, it’s very busy on the lake right now and we had a bit of a drama earlier on when an ambulance and helicopter were called to assist someone on the beach. I don’t know exactly what happened, as I was happily crocheting away outside our van with my back to the beach, when I suddenly saw a few people coming over to our pitch looking at the lake. Then I heard the paramedics shouting for people to evacuate the beach to make room for the helicopter and I saw another paramedic performing CPR on someone near the water with all the holidaymakers and day-trippers standing on the side of the road or, in our case, from the campsite, as it is higher up and commanded a better view. I think the person in need of help must have been all right in the end, as I also saw the paramedics holding a drip bag above him/her for a while and they all left with a smile and everyone rushed to the beach again.

 

our van high up above lake and under the trees

our van high up above lake and under the trees

 

We followed the Tomtom out of Corre on Friday morning, deciding to take us on the ‘interregional’ and less congested road (yellow on our Michelin atlas) on the D44 to Fay-la-Forêt and the N19 to Langres, where we visited the market and had a stroll in the old town. We then headed for the lake for lunch and a swim, but decided to try our luck with a better parking space at Reservoir de Charmes, but that didn’t work out either. After consulting the camping guide, Adonis chose this 4* site and we have been very happy with his choice, especially after arriving all hot and bothered at 6 pm on Friday evening.

 

Quaint Langres with summer Fete decorations

Quaint Langres with summer Fete decorations

 

 

As we are in the heart of Burgandy (or Bourgogne), we are planning to stay at one of the many France Passion sites in the area, so we’re heading towards Beaune and we also plan to visit Cluny. We might then spend a few days at the lovely campsite of Cormoranche-sur-Saone, like we did last year, as we were very impressed with it.