Tag Archives: Tours

Camping Lac des Varennes, Vallée du Loir, Monday 15th April 2013

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Lac des Varennes 13 002

We have found the sun again at the always reliable Lac des Varennes near Marçon, one of our favourite spots in France, and not just for carp fishing.  This is just a very relaxing and beautiful campsite, especially this time of year when not too many people come on holidays.  We are surrounded by the lake, the trees and the sound of cuckoos: what can be more soul-lifting than that?

crocheting in the sun

crocheting in the sun

We’ve been here for 4 days already and are sad to have to leave tomorrow to start our slow journey northwards to the Channel Tunnel.  It was a very hot day yesterday, which required a hat and sunblock, and I definitely made the best of it after having been deprived of proper sun for so long.  It was just a wonderful feeling being outdoors all day, fishing, crocheting and reading by the lake in the heat of the first proper summer day of this so cold a year.

Carp Fishing in the sun

Carp Fishing in the sun

Our journey here from Lac de Léon can be summarised in 3 words: Rain and Roadworks!  They’re turning the free N10 motorway south of Bordeaux into Spain into a toll road and, therefore, they’re improving its surface and placing toll booths, so I fear next time we come this way we’ll have to pay.  Because of the massive roadworks, the road was reduced to one lane only and there were loads of lorries from just about everywhere in Europe, so the journey was slow and wet.

The very congested N10 south of Bordeaux

The very congested N10 south of Bordeaux

A very flooded Vallee du Loir

A very flooded Vallee du Loir

Our first stop on Tuesday was Verteuil-sur-Charente again, but it was still raining heavily, so we didn’t go to visit the château gardens as I would have liked to do.  Maybe 3rd time lucky next time!

Our usual pitch was under water at Lac des Varennes

Our usual pitch was under water at Lac des Varennes

Unusually high water's edge at Lac des Varennes

Unusually high water’s edge at Lac des Varennes

The next day we stopped at Ste Maure de Touraine, just south of Tours, where we found a lovely private aire with room for 6 motorhomes which provided toilets, showers and electricity.  We paid just €2.50 for the night as we didn’t need electricity, but a fee of €4.50 would have covered the electric hook-up and water.  Unfortunately, it was a very very wet day and we didn’t venture out of the motorhome, but there was a wood nearby for walks, handy for people with dogs.  When we left in the morning, the manager gave us a free baguette!  How nice is that?

We finally arrived here on Thursday morning, but the campsite itself didn’t open till Friday, so we spent the day and night at the Espace de Loisirs (Leisure outdoor centre), on the opposite side of the lake, where at least Adonis could do his fishing and, of course, we had a wonderful room with a view!

The beach at Lac des Varennes

The beach at Lac des Varennes

So, we’d been enjoying the relaxing atmosphere of this superb spot until Saturday afternoon, when Adonis woke me from my short siesta to tell me he’d shot himself in the eye with one of his fishing pellets as he was using his sling to propel the bait in the lake.  Somehow, very mysteriously, this boilie ‘turned back’ and landed on Adonis’s right eye and, as a consequence it was all blood-shot and he couldn’t see through it at all.  Without any delay, we marched into Reception and they very kindly called a taxi for us, who arrived very promptly.

The taxi driver himself went out of his way to help us and came into the hospital at Château-du-Loir with us and waited until we registered.  After a short ½ hour wait, Adonis was seen by one of the doctors on duty, who decided it was an urgent case and referred him immediately to the Ophthalmology department at Le Mans hospital, as he was worried that if Adonis didn’t get immediate treatment he might lose the sight in his eye.  They called another taxi for us and, amazingly, the same taxi driver appeared and so set off very downcast to Le Mans hospital,

45 km north.

Once again, we were seen straight away and the very kind taxi driver, David, waited through the whole examination to take us back to the campsite.  Unfortunately, there was too much blood at the back of the eye for the ophthalmologist to see properly or to even do a scan, so she gave us 3 different kinds of drops to use to help the eye settle and told us to go back on Monday.

By the time we got back to the campsite, it was already 8.15 pm, so we went to bed feeling exhausted and with just a banana for tea, as neither of us felt very hungry after all that trauma.

So we tried to enjoy the beautiful hot and sunny Sunday as much as we could, fishing included, as first thing on Monday morning we had to make an appointment to go back to Le Mans.  And so it was that this morning, at 8.30 am prompt, I started my first attempt to make an appointment with the eye department for later on in the day as I was told to do, but a whole hour passed before I got through to talk to someone, who told me an appointment wasn’t necessary and that we should just turn up.  So we called the taxi again and the same David came back, this time with his son in the back!

After dropping David’s son to his mother’s he kindly took us back to Le Mans hospital and directed us to the Ophthalmology department.  There, he spoke to the same eye specialist who’d examined Adonis on Saturday and she took us straight away for the scan.

I am very happy to report that Adonis passed his eye test with flying colours, being able to read even the smallest writing on the projection.  The specialist was very happy with the results too and said Adonis had an inflammation of the retina, but that it would go down with the medication and time, but she still wanted to see him again the following Monday.  We said we were due back in England at the weekend and she said to visit an optician there next week, for which she gave us a letter explaining all about the examination, etc.

So here we are again, €300 lighter on taxi fares, but we’re hopeful to get a refund from the travel insurance, and very relieved knowing that Adonis won’t lose his sight on his right eye.  David brought us back after waiting with us at the hospital and suggested we should meet up for a drink next time we are down here, which might be in August or October.  So we have made a new friend!  Funny how these things happen.

Now Adonis is back fishing and I’m continuing with my crocheting and reading.  We might stay here tomorrow night as well if Adonis is not feeling up to driving as, much as I love travelling in a motorhome, I don’t enjoy driving it!  Qué será, será?

Another stunning sunset at Lac des Varennes

Another stunning sunset at Lac des Varennes

Villedômer, Indre et Loire, Saturday 30th March 2013

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Villedomer Motorhome aire

 

We’ve been laughing all day about the change in the weather again as, soon after leaving Pont-de-l’Arche this morning, it started snowing and it continued on and off until this afternoon!  Our initial plan of stopping at the lovely and spacious aire at Marboué was quickly replaced by heading as far south as we possibly could before stopping for lunch.  So, after a very much needed hot coffee and ‘Nid de Pâques’ (Easter Nest) cake at Marboué, we carried on driving until 2 o’clock and another late lunch.

The drive was easy from Pont-de-l’Arche and we laughed again at the amount of motorhomes at this newly-found aire, for, as in theory there’s only room for 4 campervans, reserving the rest for normal car parking, Adonis counted 14!!! Obviously, when it is not needed as a car park in the evening, motorhomers take advantage of the available extra space.  And why not?

So we left by 9 am on the A154 past Evreux and Dreux to Chartres and from there the A10 south to Marboué, where we enjoyed our coffee in a snow shower, much to our disbelief and consternation.  From there, we continued on the A10 slightly southwest towards Tours, past Vendome and Château-Renault and we are just about 3 miles south of that town or about 15 miles northeast of Tours.

 

Walking through the woods at Villedomer on a misty and cold day

Walking through the woods at Villedomer on a misty and cold day

 

This is another wonderful free little aire just outside the local campsite, which is shut at the moment, perhaps waiting for the weather to warm up, as we all are!  There is a borne for water, which works with a jeton (token) and the whole area is surrounded by hedges and trees and there’s room for 5 vehicles.  A very pretty stopping place altogether.

 

The lodge we found in the woods

The lodge we found in the woods

 

We took our chances with the cold weather and have just returned from a very refreshing walk in the surrounding woods, where we discovered a very interesting old building that looked like a lodge for a range keeper to the grandiose house or chateau a bit further up.  There was an old and ornate gate that didn’t look like it had been used for a long time and which we by-passed by going round the old lodge, followed a wider and better maintained access road and arrived at what looked like the gardens of the main house.  We could hear some dogs barking in the distance, so we decided to turn back and try and find out what the big house might be.  When we made it back to the village, we saw signposts in that direction that said ‘Jardins de Beauregard’, so it might have been that.  Perhaps on a warmer and sunnier day it would be nice to go back and have a proper look.

 

The lofty gate we couldn't resist going round

The lofty gate we couldn’t resist going round

 

The other side of the lodge

The other side of the lodge

 

The big house.  Is it Jardins de Beauregard?

The big house. Is it Jardins de Beauregard?

 

 

Adonis is still studying the map trying to find where to stop tomorrow.  Qué será, sera…?

Le Crotoy, Thursday 3rd January 2013

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Le Crotoy as seen from motorhome aire.

Le Crotoy as seen from motorhome aire.

 

My first entry of the year happens to be on the Bay of the Somme on a misty, but warmish afternoon.  The thermometer in the van reads 17 °C and, as we haven’t had the heating on since 1.30 pm and it’s 4.45 pm now, the temperature inside can’t be very different from the outside.

 

Motorhome aire as seen from the Bay of the Somme

Motorhome aire as seen from the Bay of the Somme

 

We’ve just come back from a long walk with Sasha around the bay and the marshes and Sasha had a whale of a time leaping about, chasing the seagulls and the ducks.  I took lots of pictures all the way as I never tire of the beautiful sight of the town of Le Crotoy from the motorhome aire and the marshes.

 

Sasha enjoying herself on the marshes of the Bay of the Somme

Sasha enjoying herself on the marshes of the Bay of the Somme

 

 

Enjoying a long walk around the Bay

Enjoying a long walk and a run around the Bay

 

The aire still costs €5, plus €2 for the water and electricity borne if needed.  There are 8 vans here at the moment and it’s hard to imagine now how busy it was in the summer, with hardly any spaces left, even though the parking area is quite big, with room for 200 vehicles!

 

The Bay of the Somme

The Bay of the Somme

 

The Bay of the Somme

The Bay of the Somme and Le Crotoy

 

We thoroughly enjoyed our break at Amboise, as always, and left on 1st January for Montbizot, north of Le Mans, following mainly the D938/338 from the north of Tours.  Montbizot has a little aire with enough room for 6 motorhomes, but the water and electricity supply borne was switched off for the winter, but as we had topped up in Amboise, it didn’t really matter.  Again, the river Sarthe was overflowing and the walking area and path were waterlogged and flooded in parts, so walking was difficult and Wellington boots were a must!

After Montbizot, we carried on north on the D338 past Alenҫon and D438 to Broglie, where once again we had made an appointment with the vet to have Sasha wormed and checked before returning to England.  The guard came early in the evening to collect the €5 fee and we also bought a jeton (token) for water for €2.50 to last us until the end of the journey.  We were glad to see that everything was in working order.

It felt very strange this time round not to have Bramble with us, as we’ve been here so many times with him, especially during the walk along the Charentonne river.  Even the vet asked about him.  Still, Sasha loved the walk too and I hope it will be the first of many happy walks in this lovely village.

The vet was booked for 8.30 am, so we made an early start this morning and got here for 12.30 pm, following the A28, joining it at junction 14 north of Bernay and on past Rouen, but we had to take the A150 for a little while as the bridge was still closed on the Eastern side of the city and the traffic was diverted westwards.  We joined the A28 again at J.11 and followed the usual route past Abbeville to J.1 and D40 to Le Crotoy without any further disturbances to the traffic.

 

Le Crotoy

Le Crotoy

 

Various aquatic birds at the Bay of the Somme

Various aquatic birds at the Bay of the Somme

 

We are off to Auchan at Boulogne-sur-Mer for our final big shop to stock up on wine and beer before our final overnight stop at Wissant and going home.

We’ll be back in February!

Our parking spot at the motorhome aire of Le Crotoy

Our parking spot at the motorhome aire of Le Crotoy

 

 

Amboise, 31st December 2012

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A Festive Amboise

This is our third time at this very convenient and well equipped motorhome aire with a fantastic view of Amboise Château.  We had such a wonderful time last New Year’s Eve that we decided to come back and welcome 2013 at one of our favourite places in France and, where better that right on the banks of the river Loire?  We were more than happy to pay the €20 for our two-day stay here, as it has clean water and electricity included in the price, not to speak of the extremely pleasant walk all around L’Île d’Or, right in the middle of the river, dividing the north and south parts of the town.

 

A festive Amboise

A festive Amboise

 

We arrived yesterday after spending one night at Vars, practically on top of the Charente, as the river was so swollen it had burst its banks and the place we had chosen to stop for the afternoon at Le Portal was badly flooded and we were worried that if it rained again, we might get stuck.  Still, we spent a very pleasant afternoon there and Adonis managed to do some fishing for the first time this holiday and caught two roach.  Vars is just about 10km north of Angouleme, as we were quite keen to find a new overnight stop in the Charente area in order to have more options for the future.

 

The swollen rive Charente at Vars, our overnight stop

The swollen river Charente at Vars, our overnight stop

 

A flooded Le Porta,l where Le Charente burst its banks

A flooded Le Porta,l where Le Charente burst its banks

 

From Vars we went back on the A10 north of Poitiers, Châtellerault and Tours, where we came off at junction 22, south of La Loire and east on D751 to Amboise in time for lunch.

 

Sasha enjoying a good run by the Loire on L'Ile d'Or

Sasha enjoying a good run by the Loire on L’Ile d’Or

After our afternoon walk with Sasha around L’Île d’Or, we went into town to admire the Christmas decorations and enjoy a beer in one of the many lively café bars along the main street by the Château.

 

Christmas lights at Amboise

Christmas lights at Amboise

 

Christmas lights at Amboise

Christmas lights at Amboise

 

This morning I went on a long search for mussels and king prawns, as we fancied these as our last supper of the year.  I first went into the town on the south side of the river, but I couldn’t find a fishmongers or a supermarket selling fresh shellfish, but plenty of oyster sellers on little stalls on the street.  I asked a gentleman who looked local, as he had a carrier bag with shopping in it, and he told me to cross the bridge to the north side and find the market there.  I followed my instinct out of town until I saw signs for Aldi and Intermarché.  I tried the first, but had nothing in the way of fresh fish and so I carried on to Intermarché in Villeret, where I struck lucky and got what I needed.  I was surprised to see it was nearly noon by the time I got back to the van, as I’d left at 10am!

 

Posing by Leonardo da Vinci Statue at L'Ile d'Or

Posing by Leonardo da Vinci Statue at L’Ile d’Or

 

I quickly got changed and we set off to visit Château du Los Lucé Parc Leonardo da Vinci, home to the Artist/Genius from 1516 to 1519 and where he died on 2nd May 1519.  We thoroughly enjoyed our tour of the place and it seemed quite surreal to be standing where he’d lived and worked and by the bed in which he died.  We particularly enjoyed the models (both small and life-size) of the inventions he dreamt of, tanks and aeroplanes included.  We loved the fact that there is an exhibition of interactive life-size models in Leonardo’s Garden for people to admire and enjoy and we couldn’t resist the temptation of trying them out: great for children of all ages (especially those pushing 50!).

Trying out one of Leonardo's inventions (an early tank)

Trying out one of Leonardo’s inventions (an early tank)

 

The prototype for a helicopter

The prototype for a helicopter

 

A parachute

A parachute

 

Car and bicycle

Car and bicycle

 

Double staircase: you can see people on the opposite side, but you never meet!

Double staircase: you can see people on the opposite side, but you never meet!

 

Various models of Leonardo's inventions

Various models of Leonardo’s inventions

 

Tank model

Tank model

 

A paddle steamer in Leonardo's Garden

A paddle steamer in Leonardo’s Garden

 

Leonardo's study

Leonardo’s study

 

Leonardo's bed

Leonardo’s bed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We made it back to the van for 2pm for a later than usual lunch, followed by a quick siesta and another walk around the island and we are now going to get ready to celebrate New Year’s eve with the king prawns and mussels I walked so far to get.

I wonder if we’ll come back here next New Year’s eve again!

 

 

 

French windows, shutters and doors

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I know this is a bit of a lame topic, but I have to admit that over the last two years travelling through France, I seem to have developed an obsession with French windows, shutter and doors, often staring at them for ages and losing my husband in the process of photographing them.

There is not much to say, just that I think they are beautiful and I will understand if nobody else agrees with me or people find the topic boring or uninteresting.

For those of you who might be interested, here are some that caught me eye.

Arles, Provence

 

Arles, Provence

 

 

Arles, Provence

 

Arles, Provence

 

Mers-les-Bains, Le Somme

 

Mers-les-Bains, Le Somme

 

Mers-les-Bains, Le Somme

 

St-Cirq Lapopie, Le Lot

 

St-Cirq Lapopie, Le Lot

 

Rouen

 

Rouen

 

Rouen

 

Tours

 

Tours

 

Tours

 

 

Amboise aire, Saturday 31st December 2011

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We stayed two nights at La Suze-sur-Sarthe and the second day turned out to be quite sunny, but chilly.  We walked into the town and around the market, but there wasn’t much of particular interest.  Adonis continued with his fishing, although he didn’t catch anything, and I continued with my crocheting and reading.

aire at St Genouph by the Loire

On Friday morning we left following the D12 to La Flèche, the D308 to Baugé, the D766 east to Chateau La Vallière and D34 south to Villandry and St Genouph, just west of Tours, where we stayed all afternoon and spent the night.  St Genouph is a tiny village  right by the river Loire, very quiet and just perfect for an overnight stay, behind the church and Marie in the village free car park.

This morning we just drove to Tours itself and parked by the Cathedral of St Gatien, where we admired the numerous 13thcentury stained glass windows and the stories they told, especially the martyrdoms of the various saints, like St Martin.  They are all quite amazing, as are the rose window and the majestic gothic faҫade.  Apparently, on a sunny day, all these windows project some incredible colours inside the cathedral, but today’s been a gloomy grey day and unfortunately we didn’t see this spectacle.

 

Tours' St Gatien Cathedral

We then walked into the old quarter and admired the Renaissance faҫade of Hotel Gouin and went looking for the Ecole des Langues Vivantes to see the sculpted figures mentioned in the guide book, but it proved to be a fruitless task, as we were getting tired and only had 30 minutes left on the car park ticket.  We had a coffee instead in the Rue du Grand Marché and enjoyed the old half-timbered houses dating from the XII to XV centuries, some of them so crooked and slanting that it’s a miracle they are still standing.  They reminded me a little of Canterbury.

 

Stained-glass windows in Tours cathedral

Back in the van, we carried on east out of Tours to Amboise, north of the river on the D952 and were here for 12 noon.  We have paid 20€ for two nights and I had another moment’s panic when the machine wouldn’t read the ticket, no matter which way I inserted it.  I pressed the help button and a helpful assistant sorted it out for us.  So here we are again opposite the Château: an aire with a view indeed, just superb and well worth the money.

 

 

Rose window at Tours's cathedral

 

Half-timbered houses in Tours old quarters

Hotel Gouin's faҫade

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’ve just come back from a long walk with Bramble to the end of the Île D’Or and are about to have a shower ready for our New Year’s Eve meal at the Lion D’Or just on the other side of the bridge, which we booked from home.  It should be quite special.

Amboise on New Year's Eve

Surprise pudding at the Lion d'Or

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adonis has been complaining about a pain on his left knee and has been limping a bit today, so I hope he’ll be alright for tonight, but he might need to see a doctor when we return home.