Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Gluges to La Palmyre

Sometimes we find places to stay by accident that are not in our Aires book. Gluges was one of these - we stopped by the Dordogne for lunch and with all the vans parked up we guessed it was a free Aire. It was a beautiful place, very tranquil by the river, away from the road and free!
After a few afternoon beers with another English couple we had a late night watching the satellites and stars.
The next day we went up to Martel which we were supposed to be staying at and there was a sheep shearing contest on. I thought Tim needed a hair cut, but he wasn't too keen. 3 sheep in 4 mins 26.....

There was also a market selling lots of sheep related goods. So we bought some wool for wet/needle felting and some Merguez lamb sausages!
Then we drove to the very quaint old village of Domme. Here there were fantastic views down onto the Dordogne.

We have never been to this upper part of the Dordogne before, but we will definitely return as it is like a forgotten land.
The next night we stayed on a vineyard near Bergerac, where Phillipe gave us a bottle of wine and Tim had a wine tasting session and came back with 5 litres!

Now we have completed a loop as we are back in La Palmyre by the sea.... As Tim was suffering from salt water deprivation. Thankfully the sun is still out and we haven't seen rain since the 12th June!

Location:Avenue d'Aunis,Les Mathes,France

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Saint Martin d'Ardeche to Beaulieu

For the past week it has been like a mini activity holiday. We had a campsite in St Martin as the Aire was 5 euros and right by a road. After a day swimming in the warm river and trying to stay out of the sun we booked onto Indigo Moulin campsite, at 27 euros it was more than we usually spend, but the location was ideal for a day kayaking down the river the next day. A coach took us to the drop off point and along the way we saw a wild pig and piglets in the road and a large deer.
The trip down the river took us 8 hours and was fantastic, though we did spend some time floating upside down and bouncing off a few rocks.
The strangest thing was paddling past a naturist campsite - I now know the difference between naturist and naturalist! Though it was like they were an exhibit at a prehistoric expo.

On the way to the Ardeche we passed lots of signs about the Tour De France. We considered staying a day longer to watch it, but July 14th was a bank holiday and it is the only time we had pre- booked into a campsite for 3 days.So we drove up the gorge to St Jean le Centenier and a campsite, Les Arches, which was like a mini Holland, as everyone apart from us was Dutch.
Thankfully we managed to meet up with friends who were over for a couple of weeks touring in their motor home. So it was lovely to sit out at night drinking wine and having a chat looking at the stars and spotting satellites.
The next day we went on a scenic walk with a map loaned from the campsite, though it turned out to be twice as long as we thought and there was no bar to be seen!
Fortunately the campsite had a new pool which had just opened and also a river to swim in.
Next we went off west in search of lentils. We have no plan as to where we are going and so a chance comment by someone at Le Moulin said to try Le Puy as it is very pretty and the lentils come from there.... So off we went.
We stayed at a lovely Aire on the banks of the river Loire at Coubon. There was a cycle route along an old railway track and so we had an afternoon cycle downstream to the next town.
Le Puy en Velay was lovely and we climbed to the St Michaels chapel on top of this volcanic outcrop.

Later in the day we drove to a ski station and had a ride on a chairlift up the mountain. We had a walk around at the top as a whole new expanse of France opened up to us, then we walked down.

The next Aire was in an idillic location on Lac de Feyt near the Dordogne.

We drove down the Dordogne to a France Passion site near Beaulieu and Tim did some fishing - but caught nothing. We finally have managed a 3 hour lunch break like the French seam to have every day!

Location:Avenue d'Aunis,Les Mathes,France

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

le marche

If you are considering a trip to France soon I'm sure you will be looking forward to the markets.
Here is a taster of what you generally find on all French markets, though I couldn't get a picture if Tim's favourite - the knife man!
The fruit and veg are always fabulous but were too much in the shade to photograph.

These bottles were for collecting water at Lourdes.

Soaps of every flavour!

These were tiny little beads.

There are always nylon tablecloths.

I think I bought something from this material stall!

There's always a chicken man and one that sells paella and potatoes. Honey, olive oil, wine and books........

So what would you buy?

Monday, 9 July 2012

Verdon Gorge to Vaison la Romaine

Libby is in the middle of the bridge, but it is such a massive gorge I can't fit the top and bottom in one picture.

We have been wanting to see the lavender fields and they are just coming into bloom. The fragrance is wonderful. This is Jean who kindly posed for us.

Les Mees is somewhere Tim saw in his I-spy book of Provence and as it was on our way north we took a look. The rock formation just appears out of nowhere.

This is the impressive rock formation in Sisterons and on the other side of the river is an equally impressive Citadel.

This Cyclelith marks the fact that the Tour De France was here in 2010.
We drove inland to go up Mount Ventoux, which is often one of the mountain stages on Le Tour. We were impressed by all the cyclists that passed us while we were having our lunch and admiring the view.

Next we went over to Malaucene, a busy little village at the foot of the mountain. Here we yet again visited a bike shop- as my back wheel was buckled after Libby had an argument with a wall.
Now we are in Vaison La Romain which has an old Medieval Section and it was great to go around and imagine what it would have been like back then.

We found somewhere to paddle, though I had to make Tim leave his surf board on the van!

I can get emails here, but can not send them ?? For some reason??

Location:Avenue Général de Gaulle,Vaison-la-Romaine,France

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Aire de Service

I thought I'd do a quick post to explain what an "Aire" is.

Aires provide overnight parking just for camper vans. They can be found in most European countries.... But not in the UK, though a similar thing called "night stop" is being developed Some aires are just a lay by with no facilities and these are usually free.

But most have electric, water and waste disposal at a service point or bourne.

If electric is available there is not always enough for each pitch and so it is pot luck.

Toilets and showers are available on some of the aires, but only usually on the ones that charge. Most of the inland aires are free, but usually the ones in tourist areas charge around 2 to 12 Euros. Each Aire has a time limit that you can stay, this varies between 24 and 72 hour, although we have found that on some privately run airs you can stay longer.

This Aire is between a railway line and a busy road and so we didn't stay here- though it is fine if you have a big white van and sit in and watch Sky TV. We look for aires that we can sit out and enjoy the view. These vans are all out on a harbour wall and Libby is just visible to the right of the boat shed!

The aires are listed in several books and so you can plan ahead. Though if it says limited to 5 vans and it is the holiday season then it is good to have a contingency plan.

The biggest Aire we have stopped at had 120 vans! And the best Aire..... Is in a secret location!

We haven't found one yet that has WiFi and so we have to buy the occasional beer to use cafe wifi or McDonalds!
Hopefully from this you can get the gist of what an Aire De Service is all about.