Bit of a lie in and then we broke camp, packed Van the Van and set off to France. We were aiming for a small campsite in the ACSI book.. It is on the coast of the Carmargue and is on the banks of a river. Off we set stopping off before midday to buy a couple of days worth of food. Had to be done before the shops all close on the Sunday afternoon. We continued along the toll free roads, travelling on the ‘A’ roads where they were free. Stopped off at an Aire for lunch. The toilets here were so bad, people had been trampling shit all over the place. Disgusting.
We arrived at 3.30 at the campsite, getting slightly perplexed by the number of vans driving in the opposite direction, yes it was full up. The Aire outside the campsite was also stacked with a hundred plus vans. We looked at the AXI map and were about to head to another site 30 minutes away on the other side of an Etang. But before heading that way we tried another site the other side of the town I had previously spotted. I had not considered it because it was not an ACSI site and looked huge. Yes it was huge, and also tremendously expensive. There were walks along the beach, and into the Etang de Monro. We decided we would book for a couple of nights to allow us to check out the town and site. We could always extend.
The site was packed, pitches are very close together. The people near us all seem pretty good and international, Germans, Dutch, Swiss and Brits. Here there were also quite a few VM camper vans and small vans. These had been missing from the Spanish site.
In the hedge, just next to our van, a very cooperative dragonfly perched under the leaves. It remained there for the duration of the photoshoot, never moving. It was still there after supper.
We walked along the beach, figuring out where the flamingos were for tomorrow’s walk. Near the sluice gates and Archimedes screw there were some very aggressive little egrets who seemed to be attacking each other.
It had been mainly a sunny day, but cloud was coming in and rain forecast for the morning. A cheerful Brit who had been here for 5 days said it had been sunny all the time. Not quite how it had been in Spain.
Up early before Mike and Linda arrived to claim their home back, breakfast and farewells and of we set to good old blighty. We were going to take it easy and stopped off at a campsite in the village of Le Bec-Hellouin just West of A24 a few miles South of Rouen. Pleasant enough municipal site, pretty open plan and living grass to pith the tent on. Probably will have Moules et Frites at the camp bar.
Walked down into the village, and discovered there was a monastery there, along with a church and French wedding. No it was not a monk getting married. Cooled off with a beer, rather slow service, must have caught the bar on a busy day. The village houses were not like the houses we have seen else where, very English looking in many respects. The monastery we discovered had been under the control of the diocese of Canterbury.
Back at the campsite we sipped a beer, order a bottle of wine and food. Chips and sausage for R, and Moule frites for S.
Today we were evicted from the Eaton’s gite. They had some proper clients arriving, a couple who played musical instruments. The proper clients lived in London and Aldburgh, he played the cello for the London Philharmonic, while she played the harp wherever she could.
Car packed we paid a visit to the super market at Mauze-sur-le-Mignon, rather a rush visit because it would be closed at midday for lunch. Oh fooled again, it was Friday, all day opening. So we had a relaxed shop, buying their entire stock of 10 litre Bordeaux boxes of wine.
Back at the Eatons we had lunch and then off in the car to La Garette for a grockle. Visited a couple of shops, and Rosemary even bought something, a lace bordered pillowcase. Beer and ice cream on the river bank. Back at the Eatons, Mike had been left in charge of the dinner, and welcoming the new guests. The dinner was a vegetable and lamb tagine cooked on a BBQ tagine. A much later supper today, the tagine had got off to a slow start. The new guests came round and shared some rose, seem pretty nice people.
Time for bed and we kicked the Eatons out to sleep in another house.
Stayed in Arcais all day. First a short walk around the town, discovering the items in the second hand shop and the various pottery and local produce shops. The second hand shop had a large box marked fragile. Steve look a little peak inside and jumped back in shock when a brown object inside moved and clucked. From then on the hen inside the box clucked away until the owner came over and placed a cloth on top to reduce the light. The hen had laid an egg earlier, I had been perturbed by a dark brown egg amongst the items for sale, had thought it might be an item of bric-a-brac, but it had looked so real down to the lion stamp.
After lunch we all went for a paddle around the Marais in Mike and Linda’s boat. There were masses of dragonflies and damselflies. The Marais had some large patches of weed, which were teeming with small fish. Mike was excited this would mean a good season fishing in the future. There were ducks, but alas no Kingfishers. The trip was 3 kilometres and at one time there was some consternation amongst the crew as to whether we were in fact lost amongst the maze of canals.
After supper took a quiet walk along the tow path to a major arterial waterway. Very quiet as the last Herons flew back to roost, and then the owls were out hooting. Very peaceful and idyllic. Spotted yet more satellites amongst the stars.
Set off to Rochefort to see the reconstruction of 3 mast galleon. This is a long project and using mainly traditional techniques. The boat is now on the water, launched in the last year. It is now waiting for the masts to be made. The boat is called Hermione. The boat is a typical French English bashing project, they are building a reconstruction of the Frigate of Liberty, on which La Fayette embarked in 1780 to bring help and support to the American revolution.
The work yard was open at lunchtime, but alas all the people working there were taking the long French lunchtime. We bought some food to eat on the hoof after visiting the museum.
Back at Mike and Linda’s, we were preparing to have our evening snifters, when were invited out to a cheese and wine party by some local Scottish ex-pats. Dutifully drove over there and tasted a few glasses of wine. They were drinking some red Bordeaux in a 10-litre bag, the very same I had been eyeing up in the supermarket. Now a chance to taste the wine before committing to a large quantity.
Once back home Mikie prepared Moo Cow Soy. Thai noodles and pork. V good. Spent the evening listening to the Owl screeching away and looking at the stars with the aid of the mobile phone and Google star application. Very impressive app to help aid you in identification. Saw a satellite pass overhead, and a bright flash in the sky. I wonder if that was one of the Iridium satellite flares.
Another lovely dry and hot day idling in the Marais region of France. Went for a cycle ride with Mikie on a circuit route to Damvix and back. Spotted a few Dragons flying around. Rosemary and Linda headed off to Coulon and visited a very good museum all about life on the Marsh. Rosemary had headphones with an English translation of a film about the history of the Marais. Main commentator had a Welsh accent of which Rosemary much approved.
The night was a disturbed night. The owl in the roof space decided to become a noisy owl, and proceeded to make a sound like crunching bones. I know owls don’t have molars, so really can’t at all be sure what it was up to. Rosemary flushing the loo at 3 am elicited a hiss of protest from the resident.
Linda, Rosemary and I set off for a cycle ride, cycles prepared, seat lowered for Rosemary, and tyres pumped up and off we set. Three hundred yards down the road there was an explosion like a gun, Linda was horrified the neighbour was out shooting rabbits. Nope, it was the inner tube of Rosemary’s bike bursting. Quick walk back to the house and left Rosemary behind, and off we went again. Did a quick circuit along the dykes and through the fields. Little wildlife to be seen. One escaping bull calf, and a dead Coypu on a bridge.
Back at the ranch lunch was prepared and then we were off to Surgeres. Surgeres is apparently the centre of the dairy industry of the region. Even butter labelled Surgeres can be found in the supermarket. There is an citadel in the centre, but little remains other than part of the fortified wall, a church and a tower. We took an English guide leaflet from the tourist office. This leaflet provided much light entertainment and brain exercise, but we discovered Surgeres was the centre of the diary industry. We suggested Mike and Linda set up a tourist guide translation company. A beer at a local cafe, where the waitress was a Brit heading back home to start her University course at Cardiff.
Some supper shopping and then home for wine, and some manual labour podding Linda’s white bean harvest. This continued while the pizza dough base rose Finished the evening making and consuming pizza and red wine. while reminiscing on the long lost colleagues from the Walker era.
Well better late than never. Here is the start of our French holiday to France in 2009. This is a visit to the BBC Merlin set in France, the Pierrefond castle. The pictures in the gallery show the Pierefond castle, and the BBC sets. Enjoy.