Category Archives: France

Lac de l’Uby, Gers, Thursday 31st March 2016

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Stunning sunset at Lac de l’Uby whilst Adonis enjoys a spot of evening carp fishing

 

We have been on the road for a whole week now, but we have finally arrived at our holiday destination at Les Rives du Lac, Lac de l’Uby, between Barbotan les Thermes and Cazaubon, in the heart of Gascogne country.  We got here on Tuesday morning, but we had to wait for the campsite to open for the season yesterday, so we spent a very plesant and sunny afternoon at the motorhome aire by the Tourist Information Office in Barbotan les Thermes and gardens before driving to the lake for the evening, as Wednesday morning is market day in town and parking is not allowed there, as some of the market stalls are placed in that car park.  It was just lovely being parked near the lake and we were able to take Beano for a walk along the shore.

 

The wonderful thermal baths at Barbotan les Thermes

The wonderful thermal baths at Barbotan les Thermes

 

 

Early Wednesday morning, we thought we’d make the most of the warm and sunny weather and we walked into Barbotan to buy some food at the market and came back with a tub of Paella, a punnet of delicious ripe strawberries, some radishes and, of course, our daily baguette and cake.

 

By the time we came back, the campsite had already opened and we duly checked in and set up for the week.  We were able to have lunch and dinner outside in the sun and indeed spent all afternoon and early evening outdoors by the lake, soaking up the much needed rays of sunshine and loving the early spring warmth.

 

Setting up camp for the week

Setting up camp for the week

 

Our pitch seen from across the lake

Our pitch seen from across the lake

 

Adonis got very lucky with his fishing on our first day here and caught a 19 lb (9 kg) carp soon after our evening meal and his luck has continued today with 3 more carp of 17, 25 and 29 lb respectively, even though the sunny weather has left us for now and it has been a very wet and blastery day.  Still, the weather is supposed to improve again for the weekend and we still have another week here, as we are leaving on Friday 8th April.

 

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The first carp of the holiday at Lac de l’Uby in the early evening

 

On the journey down, we stopped at our usual motorhome aires at Wissant, Pont de l’Arche, where we bought some lovely Nids de Pâques (Easter Nest cakes) for our morning coffee break, Villedômer, Verteuil-sur-Charente and a new one for us, Capian, near Bordeaux.

 

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Delicious Nids de Pâques from Pont de l’Arche bakery

 
 
 

Villdômer motorhome aire, one of our favourite stops

Villdômer motorhome aire, one of our favourite stops

 

We really liked the aire at Capian, which also offered a nice dog walk for Beano, past the cemetery and on the edge of the vineyards towards the woods at the far end.  We didn’t visit the Châteaux this time as we still had quite a bit of wine from our shop at Bouloge-sur-Mer, but we’ll make a point of buying some of the local products next time we are in the area.

 

The very attractive motorhome aire at Capian amongst the vineyeards

The very attractive motorhome aire at Capian amongst the vineyeards

 

We also tried stopping at La Bastide d’Armagnac aire, but it was mainly on grass and, as it had been raining, we didn’t think it would be very sensible to park there, although it would have been lovely in drier weather.  We finally stopped briefly at Notre Dame des Cyclistes chapel, but it was closed and couldn’t visit inside, althogh we still managed a couple of photos outiside in the rain.

 

Getting wet at Notre Dame des Cyclistes

Getting wet at Notre Dame des Cyclistes

 

I loved this gate at Notre Dame des Cyclistes

I loved this gate at Notre Dame des Cyclistes

 

I am afraid to say I have a bone to pick with the Lady of the Cyclists as I had a puncture on my bike this morning on the way back from the wonderful bakery at Cazaubon, just opposite the Château, and had to walk back (about 15 minutes), but Adonis has replaced the inner tube and hopefully, I’ll cycle into Barbotan les Thermes tomorrow and take some pictures of this most charming of towns.

Amboise, Indre et Loire, Sunday 3rd January 2016

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Lovely Christmas decorations and lights in Amboise

 

At glorious Amboise again!  We got here just before 2pm yesterday after doing battle with the SatNav leaving Châtillon-sur-Loire and a shop just north of Orléans at Saran North Shopping Centre, which was very good, and then continued on the A10 to junction 18 for Amboise.

 

We had a lovely afternoon and early evening in town, all fabulously decorated for Christmas, and enjoyed a beer sat outside one of the bars by the Château, as it was very warm for this time of year and dry, as well as watching the world go by and taking pictures of the illuminated street with its various Christmas trees, fairy lights, etc.

 

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Fabulous Christmas decorations in Amboise

 

We then strolled gently along the Loire back to L’Île d’Or, where the motorhome aire is and our usual stop here at Place Gaston Pailhou (€12 a day with water and electricity).  We finished the evening with a very tasty king prawn curry we’d bought at Carrefour and a game of cards followed by another episode of Boardwalk Empire before bed: only one more episode to go before the final installment of the series, and very enjoyable it has been too!

 

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Strolling gently back along the Loire

 

This morning, we walked into town again and had a lovely coffee and hot chocolate à la ancienne (traditional) at the quaint Bigot Patisserie and tea room in the corner of Place Michel Debré. It filled up very quickly and all the tables were taken only a few minutes after we got there: I am not surprised, as it really is a very special place.

 

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Christmas decorations by the river

 

We were very glad to discover that the Sunday market was on and bought some black pudding and vegetable fritters for lunch and a tub of paella for tonight.

 

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The brilliant paella stand!

 

On arriving back to the aire, we found our next-door neighbours’ motorhome stuck in the mud and tried to help them using our bread crates, but that didn’t work and the neighbours on the other side joined us too and tried pushing the motorhome all together, but sadly to no avail either.  In the end, the unfortunate motorhomers had to call the rescue service to get out, who came quite quickly, thankfully, and finally our fellow travellers were on their merry way to Normandy as we sat down for lunch.

 

It’s been a very wet day, so Adonis has moved the van forward so that the front wheels are on the tarmac and not on grass in order to avoid being stuck in the morning.  He also took Beano out this afternoon while I caught up on social media and poor Beano came back wet as a drowned rat and covered in spiky seed pods, which were obviously distressing him, and I just had to cut his fur off, as I could not pull them off.

 

After such an eventful day, we are looking forward to our paella tonight and plan to stop at La Suze-sur-Sarthe aire tomorow to make use of their electricity suppy, as our leisure battery seems to be on the blink and we don’t want to take any chances. We will probably use aires with electric hook-ups for the rest of the holiday and have the battery replaced when we get home.

 

 

 

Chavannes-sur-l’Etang, Haut Rhin, Sunday 27th December 2016

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Motorhome aire in Chavannes-sur-l’Etang, La Porte d’Alsace

 

I am happy to report that Christmas dinner was a great success and that the chicken cooked perfectly well in our Andrew James multi-cooker, even if I had to cover it with some foil before placing the lid on top. It only took about 90 minutes and this was followed by the roast potatoes and parsnips, which only took about 15 minutes. On the vegetable front, I boiled some sprouts and carrots and even managed to to make some gravy with some Bisto granules I brought from home. It all turned out rather well and we have proved that it can be done without great difficulty and just a little bit of organisation. The pumpkin soup we bought from the Traiteur was also very tasty and we had this with some fresh pretzels we bought from one of the bakeries in town. Not bad for our first Christmas in the van!

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Preparing Christmas dinner in Hymer

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Chicken looking good in Andrew James multi-cooker

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Enjoying Christmas lunch in festive Hymer

 

The weather was sunny and bright, around 12°C, and that made the day even more special. The night before Christmas Eve, we enjoyed a lovely view of the full moon and all the other motorhomes decorated for Christmas around us. The temperature dropped yesterday and we needed our hats and scarves to walk into town, but it was still sunny and bright: just perfect for this time of year. It dropped even further last night to freezing temperatures and there was frost on the ground this morning at last!

 

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Full moon on Crhistmas Eve

 

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Other festive motorhomes and full moon at Obernai’s Camping Municipal Le Vallon de l’Ehn

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You’ve got to love some people’s festive spirit!

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icicles formed overnight above wheels!

 

The veal pie we bought in the same shop as the chicken was also very good and we still have some left. This was a bit trickier to warm up in the multi-cooker as it was very thick and compact inside and, as I didn’t want to burn the crust, I cooked at No 3 for 20 minutes, but this wasn’t enough and I then tried again for another 15 minutes at No 4; the crust at the bottom burnt a little, but the rest was lovely and hot. Next time, I will cut the pie into quarters and see if that works better.

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Reception area at La Porte d’Alsace on a frosty morning

 

We left Obernai this morning after finding out that barrier at campsite needed a magnetic card to exit, which we didn’t have, and had to wait until someone turned up with one, which thankfully didn’t take too long. That must be a problem for people who wish to leave early in the mornig as, if they have a card, there is nobody to give it to. Being a Sunday, Reception didn’t open till 10am and we were ready to leave for 9.30am, as we had paid the day before. There is a slight flaw in the system, me thinks.

Finding an open supermarket today was our second challenge of the day and we decided to leave the A35 motorway at junction 28 south of Colmar to try our luck in the villages along the national road N83 to Belfort, as we are only about 10 miles east from there. We found no supermarkets open, however, but were lucky to find a bakery on the south sid of Cernay where we bought some orange juice and water, as well as the daily baguette.

 

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Map with walking tours at La Porte d’Alsace

 

We got here at La Porte d’Alsace for 11.30am and it’s been a lovely sunny day again, reaching 12°C outside and 26°C inside, so no heating needed. We are the only ones here, so it’s been very quiet except for the traffic on the D419, which has been quite busy today. The motorhome aire is open, but the electric hook ups and the water taps have been turned off. Still, it is a lovely spot.

I enjoyed my walk with Beano around the field adjacent to the motorhome aire, except for the final 100 metres or so, where there is no path and, as I didn’t want to walk on the busy road, I stayed on the field and my trainers got clogged up very quickly, making it very difficult to walk. Thankfully, it wasn’t far to go and I rinsed the mud off when I got back to the van: the trainers are as good as new!

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Bautiful frosty landscape at Chavannes-sur-l’Eetang

 

The sun’s going down, as is the temperature, but still blue skies all around. Adonis is putting the windscreen cover on the outside for the first time this holiday, as forecast is 0°C tonight.

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Frozen Chavannes-sut-l’Etang in glorious mornig light

 

I might cook a Spanish omelette to go with the rest of the veal pie tonight and tomorrow we are heading for Baume-les-Dames, about 40 miles south west of here on the way to Besançon.

Le Crotoy, Somme, Friday 31st October 2014

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Marina by motorhome aire

Marina by motorhome aire

 

I just can’t seem to get enough of this place on the Bay of the Somme. We always end up here on our one but last day of travelling before crossing back to England and I never tire of its simple beauty, serenity and how the changing light plays on the water and buildings alike.

 

The Bay of the Somme and Le Crotoy in the background

The Bay of the Somme and Le Crotoy in the background

 

It was a lovely morning and the promise of a great day, so just after breakfast, while Adonis was walking Beano on the Bay, I couldn’t help myself and grabbed my camera to try and capture that wonderful morning light in this most charming and soothing town. Let the photos speak for themselves.

 

An old fishing boat

An old fishing boat on the Bay

 

The replica of the old fishing boat

The replica of the old fishing boat

 

The large Motorhome aire right on the Bay

The large Motorhome aire right on the Bay

 

I so would like to see this kind of thing in the UK: a welcoming stopping place JUST for motorhomes on a beautiful spot at a very reasonable price!

 

I so would like to see this kind of thing in the UK!  Stopping places just for motorhomes

 

 

Camping Des Bords de l’Eure, Chartres, Tuesday 28th October 2014

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Stunning Chartres Cathedral

Stunning Chartres Cathedral

 

We have spent two lovely days at this charming and convenient campsite by the river Eure, enjoying all the space around us under oak tress and with a superb walk just outside along the river which, will take you all the way to the city, a mere 3 km away. As usual, the pitches are very generous and the shower and toilet blocks are immaculate, which makes any stay all the more pleasant. We’ve only paid €30.44 for the two nights, electricity included, thanks to our ACSI card.

 

Our generous pitch at Camping Des Bords de l'Eure

Our generous pitch at Camping Des Bords de l’Eure

 

We came here, of course, mainly to visit the famous Cathedral, which is very impressive indeed, with some jaw-dropping architectural features, not to speak of its intricate carvings inside and outside, especially around the choir. The most amazing thing about it is that it was built in only 30 years, during the first quarter of the XIII century and thus, it has great architectural unity of the Gothic period. I was very impressed by the flying buttresses and the triple portals on three of the entrances, with stunning detailed stone carvings, the stained-glass windows, in particular the amazing blue of Notre-Dame de la Belle Verrière (or Blue Virgin Window), simply exquisite, but they are all superb, all 172 of them, almost all of which date back to the XIII, forming one of the most important samples of medieval stained-glass in the world!

 

One of the Triple Portals of Chartres Cathedral

One of the jaw-dropping  Triple Portals of Chartres Cathedral

 

Close-u of Portal stone carvings

Close-u of Portal stone carvings

 

Stone carvings above door

Stone carvings above door

 

Stunning Notre Dame de la Belle Vierge or Blue Virgin stained- glass  window

Stunning Notre Dame de la Belle Verriere or Blue Virgin stained- glass window

 

Magnificent Rose Window

Magnificent Rose Window

 

Exquisite choir stone carvings

Exquisite choir stone carvings

 

Flamboyant flying buttresses

Flamboyant flying buttresses

 

A sun dial

Angel holding a sundial

 

Another sundial?

I love this clock

 

 

Near the Choir there is another religious wonder: The Sainte Voile, or Holy Veil, safely kept in an elaborate guilded frame, said to have been worn by the Virgin Mary when she gave birth to Jesus. Belonging first to the Imperial Treasury of Constantinople, but offered to Charlemagne by the Empress Irene when the Emperor proposed marriage to her in 802, it has been in Chartres since 876, when Charles the Bald presented it to the town, and the Cathedral was built because the Holy Veil survived the fire of 1194. Amazing!

 

The Holy Veil (worn my Mary when giving birth to Jesus)

The Holy Veil (worn my Mary when giving birth to Jesus), the reason behind the building of the Cathedral

 

On the way back from the Cathedral, we stopped briefly at the Church of St Pierre, a former Benedictine Monastery of the VII century , which also exhibits very impressive architecture.

 

Church of St Peter's

Church of St Pierre with beautiful flying buttresses

 

Since leaving Étang Neuf last Friday, we have stopped at various motorhomes aires, the first one being Les Roches l’Évêque in the Loir-et-Cher department. This is a very pretty free aire by the river with some lovely chrysanthemums at the edge of an allotment, but I would have liked a better walk nearby for Beano, as we couldn’t walk along the river bank because both ends of the aire were closed off. Still, it was quiet and peaceful and we had a lovely view of the river and cliffs above.

 

A very pretty location for motorhome aire at Les Roches l'Eveque

A very pretty location for free motorhome aire at Les Roches l’Eveque

 

We spent Saturday in beautiful Amboise, at the gated motorhome aire (€12 a day, but can be paid by the hour too) on Ile d’Or, right in the middle of the river Loire, with stunning views of the Château and town.  As always, we enjoyed a walk in the town and watching the world go by whilst having a coffee and a delicious cake at Bigot Café and Patisserie, founded in 1913 and just exquisite.

 

Gorgeous Amboise seen from Ile d'Or on the River Loire

Gorgeous Amboise seen from Ile d’Or on the River Loire

 

Amboise Chateau

Amboise Chateau

 

As the clocks went back on Sunday morning, we enjoyed that extra hour in bed, still getting up at around 8 o’clockish by the new autumn time, and after breakfast and dog-walk, we joined the D952 east, past Blois and followed diversion signs south of Blois to continue on D951 to Lailly-en-Val, about 12 miles south west of Orléans. Here, we stopped for the day at the pretty aire by the lake, where Adonis enjoyed a spot of fishing after lunch and even managed to catch a 17 lb carp, which really put the icing on the cake.

 

Driving past Blois

Driving past Blois on the River Loire

 

This aire is also free and has free water and public toilets. The area around the lake proved to be very popular with the locals and, being a beautiful warm and sunny Sunday, there were quite a few people fishing and walking and children playing in the playground.

 

Motorhome aire at Lailly-en-Val

Motorhome aire at Lailly-en-Val

 

Enjoying a walk round the lake on a sunny Sunday afternoon

Enjoying a walk round the lake on a sunny Sunday afternoon

 

Round the lake at pretty Lailly-en-Val

Round the lake at pretty Lailly-en-Val

 

We left yesterday morning to join the A10 at J.15, just south west of Orléans to J.12 to join the N154 to Chartres, where we arrived for 10.30 am, after a very bumpy ride on some sections of the road that had been prepared for resurfacing.

 

We have made an appointment at the vet in Pont de l’Arche for tomorrow afternoon, so that’s where we’ll spend the day. After that, it will probably be Le Crotoy on the Bay of the Somme, still one of my favourite stops in France, followed by Escalles and home on Saturday morning.

 

Étang Neuf, Neuilly-sur-Eure, Orne Department, Thursday 23rd October 2014

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Beautiful Etang Neuf at Neuilly-sur-Eure

Beautiful Etang Neuf at Neuilly-sur-Eure

 

We have enjoyed five fabulously lazy days at this marvellous and peaceful carp fishing lake just north west of Chartres and it is with a heavy heart that we’ve just packed all the bulky stuff prior to our departure tomorrow. There are some places that you just simply don’t want to leave and this is surely one of them, so I expect we’ll come back next Easter.

The pitches are enormous, at least 20 metres across and about 15 m. from the lake, so we estimate we’ve had 300 m² solidly for our use. There is also a hut with a shower and a toilet, both immaculately clean, and a sink for washing up with a hosepipe to fill up the tank.

A very spacious pitch at Etang Neuf

A very spacious pitch at Etang Neuf

 

 

We have also benefited from a couple of very sunny days and just one rainy day and today has been overcast but warm. Adonis has caught 2 carp so far and he still has a couple more hours before tonight’s dinner, so he might yet catch another! All in all, it has been a wonderful 5-day break and we are already looking forward to our next visit.

The first carp!

The first carp!

 

And the second!

And the second!

 

I developed a morning routine of walking Beano after breakfast, followed by a shower and a cycle ride to the village for baguette and croissants, which took me around 12 minutes each way, making that my daily exercise. I really love the walk around the lake with Beano, watching the herons and the coots gliding in the water.

 

Walking around lake.  Our pitch from the far side

Walking around lake. Our pitch from the far side

 

We spent our first day, Saturday 18th, at pretty medieval town of Pont-de-l’Arche, just south east of Rouen. It was a very hot day (25°C outside) and sat on the grass by the river Eure, as well as walking along it to Les Damps and enjoying a beer in the sun outside one of the bars in the town square. This is another wonderful free motorhome aire with a charming view of the church of Notre-Dame-des-Arts and the river. We noticed that the access to the green by the river had been blocked by big boulders, perhaps to stop the New Age travellers from camping on it, like it happened at Easter.

 

Notre-Dame-des-Arts Chuch at medieval Pont-de-l'Arche

Notre-Dame-des-Arts Chuch at medieval Pont-de-l’Arche

 

Medieval Pont-de-l'Arche

Medieval Pont-de-l’Arche

 

I will mention that we were badly delayed leaving England at the Eurotunnel terminal, as we sat inside the train for 45 minutes due to a technical fault and we didn’t arrive in Calais until 9.10 pm, which is a bit too late for our liking, for we still had to heat up our usual pizza and had to content ourselves with some crisps during the crossing, being rather hungry by then. I suppose we travel so frequently that these things must be expected from time to time.

Tomorrow we’re heading for Les Roches l’Évêque near Vendôme and then to Amboise for a couple of days.

Dinan, Ille-et-Vilaine, Tuesday 19th August 2014

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Charming Medieval Dinan

Charming Medieval Dinan

 

This is our second, and sadly, last day in Brittany, as there has been a slight change of plans and we are returning home a couple of days earlier than anticipated.

 

Soaking up the atmosphere in Dinan

Strolling on the cobblestone streets in old Dinan

 

We have enjoyed our short stay in this stunning region very much as it hasn’t been as crowded as we feared this time of year and neither has it been too hot to make it uncomfortable, so we’ll probably come back at some other time in the future and go further west, as I would have liked, as far as Finisterre, the most westerly point in France. Still, that leaves us with something to look forward to in the future.

 

Chateau Dinan

Chateau Dinan

 

Dinan is a beautiful medieval town with half-timbered houses and cobblestone streets as well as a very impressive castle, Château Dinan, which contains a collection of traditional Breton lace headdresses, but we preferred to walk around the charming old streets and have a drink at one of the many bars. I really enjoyed my Kir Breton, which contained cider, a very refreshing and delicious drink indeed.

 

The Chateau walls

The Chateau walls

 

We are staying at the Municipal Campsite for only 15.10 a day and I have to say that I’ve just had the worst ever shower on my travels (now on our 5th year): only a trickle of water reached me from the high shower head and perhaps I should have moved to the next cubicle, but not knowing if it would be any better, I stuck with it till the bitter end. The funny thing is that one of the reasons why we like to stay in campsites is to have the ‘luxury’ of hot showers without having to use up all our water in the van, so if these facilities are not good, there’s little point in coming. Well, I suppose we also have electricity and we can charge up our mobile phones and Kindle, so let’s look on the bright side!

 

Savouring the local flavours: Gorgeous and refreshing Kir Breton

Savouring the local flavours: Gorgeous and refreshing Kir Breton

 

Yesterday, we visited another charming medieval town with an impressive castle: Josselin, and again, we went for a long walk around the town, along the river Oust and the town’s gardens, with a trail for children to follow and stunning hydrangeas with conical flowers, the like of which I had never seen before. Funny how neither of us was in a mood for visiting the castle, but sometimes a gentle stroll getting lost in a new place is just as much fun and, after all, we have seen and visited our fair share of châteaux!

 

Josselin Chateau on the River Oise

Josselin Chateau on the River Oust

 

I love how these castles were built on natural rocks and cliffs

I love how these castles were built on natural rocks and cliffs

 

We stayed at the free motorhome aire by St Martin’s Church, which was a tad too busy for our liking, but still quiet at night and we both had a good night’s sleep.

 

The busy but free motorhome aire at Josselin by St Martin's Church

The busy but free motorhome aire at Josselin by St Martin’s Church

 

View of Josselin from the town bridge

View of Josselin from the town bridge

 

Half-timbered house in Josselin

Half-timbered house in Josselin

 

Josselin en Fete

Josselin en Fete

 

Amazing conical hydrangea flowers

Amazing conical hydrangea flowers

 

The gorgeous hydrangea bush with conical flowers

The gorgeous hydrangea bush with conical flowers

 

 

The day before that, we stayed at the motorhome aire at St Philbert de Grand Lieu by a lovely lake, around which we took Beano for a long walk. It had no electricity, but it did have free water, it was peaceful and on hard standing. There was a huge municipal campsite nearby which might be useful for future reference.

 

Motorhme aire at St Philbert de Grand Lieu by the lake

View of Motorhme aire at St Philbert de Grand Lieu by the lake

 

Wakling around lake

Walking around lake at St Philbert de Grand Lieu

 

Tomorrow, we’ll be heading east again to the lovely La Ferté-Macé before moving north again to Broglie and our usual visit to the vet.

We’ll be back on the road during the October half term!