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Rudds in France on the Road to Spain 2013 PDF Printable Version E-mail


Rudds in France on the Road to Spain 2013

Continued at: In Spain on the Road to Morocco 2013

Brian and Patricia Rudd
January 2014
 

Introduction 

Brian and Patricia left England in June 2013 for what became a 105-day motorhome journey. They travelled through France and Spain to Morocco. Following a 30-day tour of Morocco, they returned to England, again through Spain and France. They  give detailed information on their journey, including co-ordinates, on all the places they spent a night, specialising in finding informal places to camp.

You can find equally detailed accounts of three other motorhome journeys they have made in the Fellow Travellers feature on this website.

For more information, you can contact the Rudds at:

Preliminary notes.

Friday 31st May 2013 

Well most of the van is packed. We've just got the last minute fresh food etc. to buy and load in the fridge. The tracker company confirmed all is ok to track us while away. The gas is bought and loaded. I am taking also an empty French gas bottle, which I will exchange when we get down south near the Alps.

This run all being well, will be the longest run in the van we have done. It should be five months in all. France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, back into France to pick up the Tour De France in the Alps, Spain, Morocco, then home for the end of October.  It's a beautiful day today, hopefully it's the start of some good weather.

Tuesday 4th June 2013

Well the van is all packed and ready to go. Today is a leisure day. We  went to Martin Mere with Lily and Rebecca. An absolutely glorious day. We had a picnic before going in and strolling around looking at all the wild fowl. We also had a lovely visit to the Otter enclosure, 5 Otters at feeding time. We had ice creams and bottles of water to cool down. Rebecca and Lily then ran around the play area until we were ready for home at 5-00 pm. Pauline had done tea for everyone. Pauline, Bob, Stephen, Rebecca, Marc, Helena, Lily, Nicky, Katherine, myself and Patricia. A merry little get together. We then went home with Lily to bath her. Patricia got her off to sleep. A lovely day. All in all.

Day 1  Wednesday 5th June 2013

Pauline, Marc, Helena, Lily and Nicky all came down to see us off. So we had a bit of a late start. A lovely send off.  We called at Tesco for last minute groceries and diesel. M6, M1, M25, M20, usual run. It was quite slow, with busy traffic. It was around 7-00 pm when we got to Deal to pick Charlie up. Parked up Mrs Elsie on the front at Warner. Just had  sandwiches and a brew. Nice to catch up with Charlie face to face. She is now a quite beautiful young woman. Chatted until around 9-00 pm, we then dropped her off so that we could head into Dover and get parked on the front before dark. Just four vans were parked up when we arrived, also a caravan.

Day 2 Thursday 6th June 2013

Dover Esplanade

Awake totally around 7-00 am.. Not a very good nights sleep. Large diesel engines chugging away during the night, they disturbed me, not sure what time, but didn't get off to sleep again, just fitful sessions.

Tricia was awake around 6-45am. Now having a brew. It's a beautiful sunny blue sky morning. The ferry is booked for 12-00pm, so no rush.

Quiet morning, put £1.50 into parking meter, for 90 minutes. It's free overnight, 6-00pm until 9-00 am. Sorted out and then rolled down the road to the port. No problems, straight in, DFDS ferry.

In lane 43 behind a new Elldis. The driver, who turned out to be Mike from Nelson with his wife Wendy and dog pointed out I had left my lights on from last night. We had a chat for a while, they are off around France and popping into Switzerland.

Quiet crossing sunny, but breezy. First call at Gravelines for toilet emptying. Called at Lidl for water, but they only had 1.5 litre bottles, got 6 off. Called at Super U, again only 1.5 litre bottles, so I got another six. Just to put us on until we can fill up on an Aire.

Now parked at Grande Fort Phillippe. Surprised it wasn't full, a few spaces left. The Aire at Gravelines seemed to be quite full.

Tricia put together a gourmet meal of, sausage, burgers, beans and mash. Quick and easy and plugged a hole. We hadn't eaten much today, just breakfast and a packed snack on the ferry.

Quite windy, the roof window keeps flapping, so I closed it down.

Another UK Rapido alongside of us. No other vans arrived after us. Now washed up and having a brew and cake to round off tea.

Changed time on clocks, we are now 1 hour ahead of UK. Had a read for a while then got off to bed early

Day 3 Friday 7th June 2013

Up around 8-30 am. A good night's sleep, just what was needed. The wind seems to have dropped this morning. The sun is out, with a little hazy cloud. A squad of people running along the other bank of the river, training it looks like. Buggering their knees, is our interpretation, they should be on bikes, a lot more sensible option.

Our neighbors in the next van are from the UK, not met them yet, they have the full layout for breakfast, with knapkins etc. The English on the road ! It turns out our neighbors are Peter and Molly, from Devon. They are off to Slovenia and Croatia to meet an organised tour. Their van was also a Rapido, two single beds , with a rear toilet across the back.

The wind has picked up again, 70 deg F in the van.

Decided to try some chips for dinner, from the local chip stall, about 40 yards away. I asked for a Petite Frites. I got a great pile of chips, glad I didn't ask for a Grande Frites. Cost was 2 Euros.

Went for a stroll around the village after dinner. We met a little old lady, Frans, she said her name was. She invited us back to her house. Had a chat, a glass of coke and a biscuit. Got a photo with her. She drooled over photographs of Lily.

She lived alone, she said. 85 years old. Her store cupboard was stocked with tins of chicken and pasta, all stacked up neat. Also tins of fruit, bottles of Martini, she had it all organised. She came out to the road and waved us off until we disappeared around a corner. Lovely and trusting lady.

Walked around past the monument near the pier walk. Did 1.5 miles in all. Quite windy and sunny.

What a small world, Patricia spotted David and Sandra who we met on our way back from Turkey last year. They are parked next place but one. Will have a natter after tea, just said hello for now. Amazing.

Had chicken curry and rice for tea. Washed up then popped around to David and Sandra to invite them around for a chat. We spent the rest of the evening with tea and biscuits catching up and swapping information. They had been back to England for a month and were now back on the road. We are passing their place in Spain later around late August. We may call in to see them if they are at home. 11- 40 pm when we wrapped up for the night. A lovely evening spent in good company again.

Had a read in bed for a while before getting down to sleep.

Day 4 Saturday 8th June 2013   ( start of day temp 58 deg F )

Awake 8-30 am, a quiet and peaceful night. Weather looks rather cloudy and grey, breeze still blowing. One of the units on the fish market has set up a stall and is now selling fish. They must only do it on Saturday, locals are browsing and buying. River is now low with the tide out.  Had breakfast and a rummage through the maps and guide books, to check where we are heading tomorrow.

Walked into the village for a baguette. We asked the Chemist if he stocked Doctor Bachs remedies, no.

Had a read for a while then had a walk up to the Super U, it's 1.1 miles up the road. Had a browse for a couple of things we needed, but no go. Bought some coffee bags to try out.

Still sunny and windy on the way back. A van alongside us has the Satellite dish up, 4-00 pm in the afternoon. Made coffee when we got back, but not very good, it maybe needs around 4 bags per cup instead of one. Quite a lot of motor homes are rambling around.

Had left over curry from last night, Patricia had rice and cooked meat. We were not very hungry, maybe because of late dinner.

Got out the Backgammon set after tea, played all night until 11- 20 pm. I eventually came out winning for a change, 4 games to one. Off to bed for a read. We could hear some loud voices in the distance. There was a couple of wedding celebrations came through the village yesterday, all the cars honking their horns. Maybe it was one of the celebrations.

Day 5 Sunday 9th June 2013        SOD temp 57 deg F

Location Grande Fort Philippe

A quiet and peaceful night, the only sound was the wind, which has not stopped blowing since we came. Very grey and overcast this morning, no blue sky in site.

Had breakfast and prepared to leave. We called at Super U, 70 Euros for diesel, also picked up some bottled  water. Very busy, we are wondering, some supermarkets are closed on Sunday, this was busy !

Called at Gravelines service point to do toilet, then onto A16.

A25, we stopped on the St Eloi Aire de Service for some dinner. Then 1km down the road to junction 13,  D 948 then N38 around Poperinge and Ypres to Langemark-Poelkapelle, where there is an Aire, 12 Euros for the night. We only wanted water, so popped in, filled up, fired the water pump up, then away.

Just after we crossed the border into Belgium we spotted a strawberry vending machine near a farm, so we stopped and bought a punnet, 2.8 Euros.

Went to look for Tynecot war cemetry, which I found with the sat nav by entering Tynecotsveg. Sure enough there it was across the fields. Quite an enormous place. We were taken back by the number of unknown soldiers. An incredible loss of life. There is a small exhibition at the entry, coming in from the car park. We looked for family names, but amazing, there is not one. All our family names must have avoided it all, quite unusual we thought.

From there we decided to head for the Free Aire for tonight. Mesen Messines, only two places, near the church. Luckily, no one there, so straight in and got the tea on. Steak, Jersey potatoes, sugar snap peas, followed by the strawberries we had bought this afternoon. The strawberries were lovely and sweet.

We were just washing up, when a large truck cum campervan came around the corner into the Aire. No way could he park in the Aire designated places, so he got in at the front of the church.

We popped out for a walk after tea and got chatting with the couple from the big truck,  Joop and Elge from Holland.

It actually looks like a refrigerated lorry, which has been converted into a camper van. Big green windows on the side, enormous.  8 cylinders, 15 Tonne. They can't go on camps, it's too big. 1000 litre water tank. I'm glad I don't have to fill it with diesel.

The church near us, has a crypt where Adolf Hitler was treated in the first world war apparently.

Played dominoes for a while before getting down for the night.

Day 6 Monday 10th June 2013      SOD Temp 59 deg F

Location N 50  45.830   E 002  53.883

Awake 7-15 am with church bells, I thought they weren't going to stop. Quiet night, but a little noisy this morning, there is some building going on near us. Well it wasn't building, it was trimming the hedges behind us. Really loud hedge trimmers, they looked like they were petrol driven, also a big cherry picker trimming the high parts.

Not really in any rush to get off, we are chilling out and getting into the trip slowly. Popped into the church for a little look around. Nice church, I went down into the crypt. Apparently where Hitler was treated in the first world war.

We went to have a look around Kemmel Berg, the hill has a couple of monuments to the slaughter that was done around there. Popped into a shop for bread, very nice bread too, sliced up for us. We parked up for dinner at the bunker, an ex cold war military site, now a tourist attraction, but only on Tuesdays and Saturdays, it was closed. Went up the cobbled hill to the two monuments to French soldiers. One monument is an ossuary with over 5000 bodies there.

We chatted with a couple on bikes who were touring locally, using a house guest site on the internet. Cuts the cost of travel with free accommodation. We decided to drive into Ypres to survey parking for visiting Menen Gate tonight. I found a lovely quiet street around 100 yards from the Gate. Just the job. Had a brew then popped into the Chemist just up the road and ordered an item for pick up tomorrow. Had a look at the Gate, quite incredible the slaughter that took place around here. Different political times, no real power of people at all, just gun fodder and lambs to the slaughter it seems. Difficult to comprehend it all. Bought two postcards, one for Auntie Jenny, one for Uncle Frank, both are getting on a bit now.

Had a snack tea before walking down to the Menen Gate. Quite a lot of people there for the service. Quite moving hearing the last post played. The ceremony only lasted 10 minutes, but was definitely worth coming for.

Went back to the Aire at Mesen Messine for overnight. Joop and his truck had gone. He must have a travelling workshop in his truck, because we could see a work bench, ladders tools etc. when we passed it this morning. Had a snack, Tricia wrote out the post cards ready for posting tomorrow. Off to bed early.

Day 7 Tuesday 11th June 2013              SOD temp 59 deg F

Messen Messines      Belgium   Location N  50  45.830  E 002  53.883

A peaceful night until the morning traffic started  passing, the bells cracked off a little later this morning. Seems like the street is a popular turning point for local traffic. Popped into the church again before leaving, a coach party of around forty people had just finished their visit, so it was quiet again inside.

Set off for Ypres to pick up item at chemist, 18.5 Euros. Had a ride to Passchendaele. Parked in the street at the side of the church, again we popped into the church. Rather austere I thought. Also didn't notice a mention of any memorials to troops at all. A little fair was being assembled across the road from the church. Back to the van for dinner. I filled up two 5 litre containers with water from the graveyard alongside of where we parked. Quite novel coin operated watering can service, similar to supermarket trolleys. So people can use watering can and then replace it.

We decided to go and have a look along the coast before heading further inland. Westende Baden had an Aire in the book at 5 Euros per night. But when we arrived, the Aire had been closed and the whole area was under renovation. Satellite Simon found us a camp site just up the road. 16 Euros per night, not too bad, so we booked in.

It was lovely sunny and warm when we pulled in, but it clouded over later. Not cold though.

Put chairs out for a while, sitting and having a brew. Just had showers before tea. The site seems quiet and laid back. Boules, childrens playground alongside of us. Reception, toilets, club and swimming pool about 40 yards away. Motor home facilities behind the showers. We can stay until tomorrow afternoon if we like, no rush to get off early we are told. Got settled in and showered. Tricia cooked tea, a bottle of beer, a glass of wine.

Patricia felt unwell later, so no messing I decided to return home in the morning on the first ferry.

Day 8 here    Westende Baden  returned home

Day 9 travel to dover 

 Wednesday July 3rd 2013   miles 20,116  clocked at home I think

Well after a little three week interruption and heading back to the UK, we are now back in Dover waiting for the ferry tomorrow. Patricia is fine. Pauline is coming with us for a month, then flying back from Gerona in Spain.

Decent run down, no problems. Watford Gap for dinner. A Rapido parked alongside us when we parked up. Picked Charlie up, then parked up at Warner near the beach for some food. Had a natter and catch up then dropped her off, to head back to Dover. Esplanade parking, another five vans with the same idea. A lovely evening. Just sorted out in van and now winding down for the night.

Day 10 Thursday July 4th 2013          SOD Temp 63 deg F   miles

Dover Esplanade

Alarm on for 6-30 am, but I was awake at 5-45 am, a gang of young lads chatting and laughing just across the road. I thought they may have been a bunch of dossers and drinkers, but they all looked pretty casual and smart. They were English also, for a change.

First brew of the day, a lovely day too by the look of the weather at the moment.

Ferry at 10-00am. All smooth boarding, usually o.k. with DFDS ! Smooth crossing. Bought the Times and Guardian for a balanced read. Pauline bought a Scrabble game for £1, usually £10. They were off loading them, a superb bargain. We also bought some small soft toys for Lily, £1 each.

Headed straight down to Grande Fort Philippe. Luckily again we had a place waiting for us.

The plan is for a lazy afternoon and then head off tomorrow. We had dinner and then went for a short walk to show Pauline the little town we always use for starting in France.

When we got back to the van we had a chat with Colin and Sandra, a couple from Shaw near Oldham. Colin had built his own van, which looked very professional on external view. They were heading back to the UK after a six week tour.

The chip stall was open again but we mistimed it for tea, we assumed they weren't opening. Actually opened at 7-00 pm. Pauline then introduced us to the joys or problems of Scrabble, depending on your view and if your winning or not. The weather has been warm, but again breezy. Cloudy and bright.

Up late because Pauline was on a winning streak and didn't want to stop while ahead.

Day 11 Friday 5th July 2013   SOD Temp 64 deg F        miles 20,550

Grande Fort Philippe

Up 7-00 am with the alarm, grey and overcast. Breakfast, then got sorted for off. Dumped at Gravelines, then onto A25 heading around Lille. A23 around Valenciennes. D934, to Le Cateau Cambresis, stopped for dinner. The Aire was full, we just squeezed in a corner. Onto Catillon Sur Sambre, on the canal, but full, so our plan to stay there was changed. So we headed on, to, E44, N43, onto Charlesville Meziers. But decided to try a France Passion site at Girondelle.

Well we made a good decision, a lovely small village with the sun blazing, just what we think of when we picture France. Called at the property, the owner guided us around the back where the parking place is for four vans. Set up and got table and chairs out. Spent the rest of the day chilling out and chatting. Had tea outside, salad and potatoes. I had a beer. A French van pulled in as we were having tea. Sheep, chickens, ducks, geese all running around in the garden alongside us.

A small house is being renovated just across from the van position, it looks like it is on hold at the moment. Sorted things, washed up, got beds ready for crashing out. We then sat in the evening sun as the day wound down. A couple came walking past, a quick "bonjour" got a reponse, " hello would be more appropriate", in accented English. When the couple walked back, they stopped, to ask us some questions,  they said. So we ended up chatting for a while. Hans a Dutch guy and Debbie, an Australian, English lady, were staying at the bed and breakfast, which we had visited for the France Passion. We think they had been at the Vino, particularly Debbie. Typically up front Aussie, no airs and graces. One question stuck with us, "how can you afford that" pointing at the van. So we explained. But they were a nice friendly couple. Debbie a swimming instructor, Hans not now working, awaiting a pacemaker being fitted. A nice little interlude and a little fun and banter, to end the night. They are visiting a property left to Debbie from her first marriage, being valued by estate agents. Interesting.

A lovely night enhanced by a lovely couple stopping for a chat, we wished them well.

Day 12 Saturday 6th July 2013   SOD Temp 68 deg F     miles 20,606

Girondelle  N 49  50.678   E 004  23.484

Awake 8-25 am, no alarm. There is not a cloud in the sky, sun shining. Peaceful night, cocks crowing to start the day. Had breakfast outside in the morning sun.  Packed and on our way. Maubert Fontaine on the D8043, where we picked up Diesel at the Intermarche. Stopped at Rimogne to pick up a baguette. Onto the A34 around Charleville Meziers, N1043, then onto the D964. Had dinner at Moulins St Hubert. The heat building up now.

I set the sat nav to find the Aire at Stenay, only around 8 miles down the road, I had planned for an overnight stop. Luckily, when we arrived, I rolled into a space just waiting for us. Facing the canal, boats anchored in front of us, very picturesque.

I spoke to a young Irish girl who was in a Hobby van near us, she confirmed the other side of the water was also parking. We had a walk over the bridge to see if it was a better situation, but decided to stay where we were.

8 Euros for the night, toilet, showers, wi fi in the tourist information building alongside of where we are parked. Not a bad stop at all. Boat owners and van people all drinking, eating and chilling out in the sun, very nice.

I sampled the wi fi to clear mail and pick up the Tour De France news. Chris Froome now taken the yellow jersey in the Pyrenees.

Text from Nicky, asking where to head for when he sets off. He sails for France next Saturday. Had a shower before tea, poured a beer. Had chicken, rice and salad for tea sat in front of the van. Tricia and Pauline showered after tea. I had a look at TDF highlights on internet. Had a chat with Clement and his grandson Oliver from Belgium, they spoke very good English. We then sat out and enjoyed the evening coming down. I had a Bourbon and lemonade. Some big bugs, like Lancaster Bombers flying around.

A lovely easy day, made by the simple appearance of blue skies and sunshine. Hopefully more to follow.

Day 13 Sunday 7th July 2013      SOD Temp 69 deg F

Stenay  France  N 49  29.447   E 005  11.051

Awake 7-30 am, blue skies and sunny again. Brew and diary updating for yesterday.  We decided to stay another night before moving on. Had toast and boiled eggs for breakfast.

I put the chairs out in front of the van, under the shade of a small tree. A good place to sit and watch the comings and goings of the day. We had a walk around the town for a while, very hot, but not so bad in the shade. A couple of boulangeries open, but we didn't buy any bread.

I had a chat to a guy from N Ireland who has a Hobby motor home towing a motorbike. His name was Shane Ferguson, with his lady. He was early retired from being a television technician. He bought his van new in Germany, he saved a lot he reckoned.

Had dinner then Patricia and Pauline spent the afternoon knitting and brewing. while sat in the shade. I wandered around the tourist info place, used wi fi for Tour De France updates. Browsed around the painting exhibition. The two ladies who had done the painting, were sat chatting, one doing some water colour. I wasn't very impressed with what I saw. No particular style to anything, paint everywhere with all colours. A couple of guys were fishing, catching only small fish it seems.

We are surrounded by French vans, Itineo on one side and Rapido on the other, eventually some communication happened. No French spoken by us, no English spoken by them, but we had some banter, an exchange of Wine and Bourbon for a drink. One guy from Belgium, Stephane, had videos on Youtube, which I pulled up on my Samsung phone.

They had been chatting full gas all afternoon and to be truthful it did get a little intrusive and spoil the peace. But they were obviously enjoying themselves. Eventually we got chatting with them. I got a photo of our French friends. Patricia and Pauline popped off for showers. Our French friends all retired at 10 - 00 pm, so we luckily had a peaceful half an hour before getting off to bed. It was very welcome, they had been jabbering at full volume, all day.

Day 14 Monday 8th July 2013    SOD Temp 68 deg F

Stenay  France N 49 29.447  E 005  11.051

Alarm on for 7-00 am. A lovely peaceful night. The sun is shining and the sky is blue again, looks like another glorious day. We are off again today. Had breakfast and then sorted toilet and water. Our neighbours, Stephane in particular, came out to wave us off. Nice touch, he rushed out of his van to shake hands and wish us Bon Voyage.

Set the Sat Nav for the Intermarche, but it had moved, to where we didn't find. Onto the D964 headed for Verdun.

It was only a short run, around 35 miles. We stopped at an Intermarche, but changed our mind and went to the Lidl next door. But there was no bread there, so I had to pop back to the Intermarche for a baguette. We got Salad stuff and fruit also.

We parked up at a cemetery for dinner. Had a quick look at the war part and got some photographs before leaving. Went to Fort Vaux, but detoured off the road along a narrow tree lined route which we saw signed, Fort De Souville, We had got to the road at the other side before we realised we had by passed any sites, so carried on to Fort Vaux.

Patricia is not too happy with tunnels , so she sat out in the sun, while I went around Fort Vaux with Pauline. To be truthful, I found it exactly what is was, some cold, wet, old tunnels. Lot of history of WW1, but I wasn't impressed. Patricia backed a winner on this one.

Had a ride to the Ossuaire De Douaumont. There is a pay part, but it looks like we saw enough of the quite impressive memorial to not bother about that. Really impressive, lots of parking, a well constructed monument, well worth seeing.

From there we headed back to our France Passion site for the night, a toffee factory, Dragees De Braquier. Lots of space to park. A french van turned up just as we arrived. They were looking for a toilet emptying place, none here. I spent some time in trying to help them. They seemed rather shambolic, no sat nav, no map book, no Aires book, no France passion. Just a big old map and a pile of tourist leaflets. I eventually gave up, after directing to two Aires, which I'm sure didn't register with them at all, they seemed in fairy land. A quiet night after tea. I strolled down to the gate with Patricia around 9-30 pm. Pauline was texting Bob. I had a beer sat on the lovely warm steps of the offices, just across from our van door.

Some celebration were going on somewhere, fireworks and loud voices. It was really quiet later. I had trouble dozing off  though.

Day 15 Tuesday 9th July 2013   SOD Temp 69 Deg F

Verdun       Dragees Braquier France Passion Site   They make toffee

A beautiful day again. Just a few workers coming into the factory. Had breakfast, sorted and then on our way to Langres. A walled town with an Aire and supposedly picturesque medieval streets. Onto the D964, stopped at Dieue Sur Meuse to pop into a Boulangerie for a Baguette. On past St Mihiel, Commerc, Sorcy St Martin, Vacouleurs, Montbras, Greux. Around Neufchateau onto the D74.

We stopped at Bezoilles Sur Meuse for dinner. A beautiful little pull in place, right on the beautiful lily pad covered river. I pulled out the chairs and we had an excellent dinner break. Got some nice photographs also.

The Dragon Flies from the river had a liking for Pauline, a couple mating on her shoulder. Four Belgium vans pulled in and formed a wagon train circle, they must be expecting Indians. There was also a caravan, being pulled by a red van. The road bridge crossed the river just near us, so a little traffic noise, but all in all a lovely stopping place, logged for maybe a future over night stop if needed.

D74, all the way to Langres. Passing through lots of typical French, sleepy roadside towns. Not seeing many people at all. Lots of rolling fields, all baking under the afternoon sun. Lots of hay being dried and also rolled ready for storage.

When we arrived at Langres, the Aire was closed, a good parking area closed off with large pieces of rock. All the space empty, services available but no parking. Doesn't seem sensible. So we parked up on the large car park just around the corner.

We had a walk around Langres with high expectations of a nice place. Sadly disappointed, not at all what we expected. We visited the large church. A rock band was doing a sound check outside for the evening session. Walked onto the walls behind the church, where there was a good view over the surrounding country. A funicular railway lifted people up to the high level, from lower down.

Tourist info paints a rather better picture than what we saw. Only consolation was, it was a sunny walk.

Back to the van to find the Aire for tonight. Corgirnon, about 7 miles along the N19. I was amazed to find places available when we arrived. Just two vans, 1 French, 1 English. All full facilities, shower, electric and toilet, 5 Euros. Excellent.

Had steak, potatoes and salad for tea. Had a walk around the miniature railway area just up the road after tea.  All in all, a lovely little area. Got a few photos while out walking.

Day 16 Wednesday 10th July 2013   SOD Temp 69 Deg F

Corgirnon  Aire N 47  48.421  E 005  30.178

Quiet and peaceful night. On a quite lovely little Aire. 5 Euros, for 1 night. Full facilities, electric, shower and toilet. Toilet sorted and topped up the water.  I found a pair of glasses while sorting the toilet. Not the French guys, but they belonged to the English guy. Who was touring the area, he had been looking for them, he said. Obviously needed glasses to find them.

Got onto the N19 to pick up the D460. While travelling along the D460, we encountered a police  mobile radar set up. They had a good look at us, I did think they had come after us, but it was a car. I didn't think I was speeding anyway, but you never know.

At Champlitte we picked up the D67 to head for Gray. Around Gray and onto Besancon. Quite busy around Besancon, then onto the N57.  We started climbing higher around here, coming into the lower mountains heading for Pontarlier. Stopped for dinner around 19 miles from Pontarlier.

A lovely sunny day again, which slowly turned to cloud and quite heavy thunderstorm atmosphere. Just as we were going around Pontarlier, we saw our first lightening flash, luckily it was also our last. We had a little light rain on the D67B heading for Switzerland.

Through La Clouse et Mijoux, Verrieres de Joux where we crossed the border into Switzerland. A first for us all. Just a cursory glance at us and a wave through at the border. The plan was to visit St Sulpice, park up, have a walk around and head back to France. But when we parked, I had a walk down a road to see where we could park for longer. When I returned, there was a lady talking to Patricia and Pauline. She turned out to be a local lady, Claire Lise Bowidenet. She had been passing in the car, seen the van and stopped to suggest a good overnight place for us. It turns out, she has a motor home also, so was sympathetic to our situation.

Although we hadn't planned to stay. The place was so good, we changed our mind and decided to over night there. The place was just across the river, alongside an old bridge, where it looked like the river had been diverted away from. A picnic bench was there also.

Having a walk later we spotted her house, with the motor home parked at the side, as she described in very good English. Not a lot to see, but the scenery and architecture of the houses, we had noticed the changes as we came to Pontarlier and into Switzerland.

With me not having slept well last night, we decided to have an early night and get up early to head for Annecy before weekend. We had been quiet all day, but just as we all got into bed, we had some boy racer screaming along the river bank road near us, then we had a car parking near us, slamming doors and voices talking. Not sure what they were up to, but it soon quietened down and all was peaceful.

Day 17 Thursday 11th July 2013   SOD Temp 64 Deg F

St Sulpice   Switzerland   N 46  54.466  E  006  34.042

Alarm on for 6 - 00 am. A little cooler this morning, due to being around 2,800 feet high. A quiet and peaceful night. We actually had condensation on the windows this morning. Had breakfast and sorted then off, up the hill out of St Sulpice, which is down in a valley surrounded by the mountains. Late sunrise and early sunset.

D67B out of Switzerland. Onto the N57. Stopped at the Intermarche, at Les Hopitaux Vieux, which was nice and convenient, for diesel and a few groceries. Further down the N57 we crossed the border into Switzerland again to Vallorbe on the N79, Le Pont on Lac De Joux, which looked like a lovely little place.

Alongside Lac De Joux, Vers Che Aron, Bas De Bioux, Le Brassus Le Chenit, Bois D'Amont, La Cure.

Onto the D984Cto St Genis Pouilly, where we picked up a short run of motorway taking us to Valleiry, D23, Vers Then N201 down into Annecy.

The Aire at Annecy, as usual was full, so we parked up and waited. Patricia and Pauline went for a walk, while I sat and waited for a space. Surely enough, late afternoon, someone moved, so I got the van in a parking space.

It was really hot when we arrived, so hot the step on the van was like a frying pan. So nothing to do but sit in the shade, chill out and watch the vans come and go that were not able to get a placein. A shame really, just people looking for somewhere for the night.

I chatted with a guy from Edinburgh who rolled in, I couldn't understand most of what he said. His name was Alan.

Had tea, then had a stroll along the lake. People swimming 9-00 pm at night. A beautiful setting on the lake. I sat chatting with Paul and Debbie from New Zealand, based at the moment in the UK. Good chat, they are well travelled. Patricia and Pauline chatting near van. Off to bed 11 - 00 pm.

Day 18  Friday 12th July 2013    SOD Temp  72 Deg F

Annecy Aire  France  N 45  53.437  E  006  08.341

Quiet night, just sound of passing traffic at early morning. Some early morning moaners going on at our Dutch friend, rather ignorant they were too .Lots of shouting, not the best way to ask someone to do something.

We are going nowhere today, except into Annecy, so no rush doing anything. Had breakfast and sorted a snack to take with us. Walked 100 metres down the hill from the Aire to the bus stop. 3.9 Euros for the three of us. We picked the wrong stop though, Hotel De Ville would have been fine, but we went to the next stop. No problem, just walked back beside the lake and crossed The Pont Des Amours bridge, where we got some photos. Also a nice photo of The Palais de I'sle, the old prison building, quite picturesque. Probably not so for the prisoners.

Annecy is a quite busy place, especially in season. Today was no different. People everywhere, cyclists dashing around. A few groups of children on the grass, possibly from school. It had been market day, so the narrow streets where filled with vans, all now loading their wares ready for leaving. The street cleaners were also in washing down the streets. All quite busy.

Patricia bought a pair of trainer socks, her toes were rubbing slightly on her shoes. 4 Euros cost. We also got two bottles of water 1.30 Euros each. It seems that the main pass time is sitting in cafes and restaurants, paying inflated prices for food and drink. We just had a walk around and observed the scene. Not sensible to be spending 40 - 50 Euros on a single meal, when your travelling for weeks and weeks. But if that is what people want, then no problem. Pauline had a chat with a little old lady, who I nearly knocked over, I wasn't able to see her just behind me.

We popped into the Italian church, which was nice and cool. We then found seats near the restaurant and trip  boats. Sitting watching the world go by, while having a snack.

Strolling back along the lake, dodging around all the semi naked people lied on the grass and soaking up the sun. Some were swimming in the lake, which seems to be a popular pass time.

Arriving back at the Aire, the temperature had been creeping up slowly, so nothing to do but sit in the shade and chillout.

Had pasta, olives, peppers, in a herb and tomato garlic sauce for tea, excellent. Diane, our New Zealand friend, was playing hopscotch with two little French girls in front of the van.

A double rear wheel motor home, caused some entertainment for everyone, trying to move around near the Aire entrance. It seems they were two Australians, shouting instructions, obscenities and curses at each other. Quite amusing, especially to Paul and Diane, who obviously have a lot of experience of Australians. The rest of the night was spent reading, chatting and people watching. The temperature cooled off nicely for sitting out.

Day 19 Saturday 13th July 2013    SOD Temp 70 Deg F

Annecy Aire  France  N 45  53.437  E  006  08.341

A peaceful night. Just having a brew and chatting about ancestors, when Diane our New Zealand friend knocked to say their leaving. A quick chat and photographs before leaving. They are heading for a Bugati museum.

Our Dutch friends, whom we had chatted with and lent support to, after their French abuse session, drove off without any goodbye or indication they were leaving. Ah well, it takes all sorts I suppose.

Had breakfast and tidied up, then set off to walk to the Intermarche. Sat nav said, 0.9 miles, but I think it lied. We had a quite long walk. At one point running out of footpath, where we came off the road, through an underpass, but ran into a lady who directed us around some buildings and there it was.

Pauline had stayed back with the van, a long walk not beneficial for her. Got some basics which we needed, not too much while carrying. Set off back, passing the stream of traffic going into Annecy, nose to tail all the way. Not pleasant, all the fumes being pumped out, that's all we could taste. The temperature had climbed again during our little expedition, so we were ready for a nice cuppa when we got back.

Had an excellent pasta dinner, made last night and chilled in the fridge. I then carried two chairs down to the lake side, for Patricia and Pauline, knitting and reading, sat in the shade. I returned to the van, to wash my feet, they were black underneath from the dust on our walk.

Just after dinner, I had walked to put some rubbish in the bins, when a UK van came rolling in. I had a chat with them and advised parking for a while to see if a place becomes available. This they did and sure enough, someone left and they were in. The couple turned out to be Jim and Irene from Newcastle in their Auto trail Scout. The nearside mirror had been bashed off in an accident, luckily no other damage was done. Jim had Gaffa Taped a small mirror on as a temporary measure. We had a few chats through the day with them. Jim had worked on Oil rigs in India and the States. Lived in Spain for a while. A bit of a revolutionary politically, I nicknamed him Red Jim the Revolutionary. They were UKIP supporters, fed up with Labour, Tory and Lib Dem, anti EU and open immigration. A lovely couple.

It's unusual for a small Aire, but we have seen more aggro here than anywhere we have ever been. One issue with the Dutch man, one issue with the guy I call Napoleon, a little arrogant annoying twit in an Estorel van, one a guy who couldn't get on the Aire, so proceeded to make a big exhibition of taking photos of all of the vans, then one guy came screaming in last night, parked in the service area, then stormed off with grey water spraying all over the floor in his wake. He was annoyed before he arrived it seemed, with the manner of his entrance, much too fast for safety. There are children on the Aire. Maybe it's the heat getting to them all. It must be stressful for some people, enjoying travelling in a motor home. If so, all I can say is, don't do it. More space for us to enjoy.

Then again we have two lovely young French children, who have spent lots of time chatting, especially with Pauline in front of the van. The children Diane the NZ lady was playing hopscotch with. Elisa and Romana Thomas from Epinal near Remiremont Paris They had a tin of chalk and did pictures on the ground, I got a photo of the drawings.

Our Nicky has  now crossed the channel and is on the way to Dijon. Our Marc returned my text with the message " We're with SJ and Mike in Bretherton, weather lovely, Lily loving it, motor home here we come. " , which seemed to indicate all was well and he likes motor homing, so one is on the agenda. Good stuff.

We had been told of a firework display in Annecy, but it turned out to be across the lake. Music and fireworks.  We watched it from the lake edge, a nice end to the evening.

Day 20 Sunday 14th July 2013    SOD Temp 70 deg F

Annecy Aire  France  N 45  53.437  E  006  08.341

A lovely quiet, peaceful night. Awake 8 - 00 am. Just had breakfast. Cleared the van garage for bikes access. Text from Nicky, in motel in Dijon, bound for Annecy today. Had breakfast sorted out and then got Patricias bike out. This has the pannier rack on. The plan is Patricia and Pauline will get the bus to Annecy, I will go in on the bike and bring back fruit etc in the panniers. I headed into Annecy, waited at the Hotel De Ville bus stop for ages. Eventually I went looking for them. I found them chatting to Jim and Irene, on the bridge just down the road. They had taken their time and walked in, no buses today. Ah well, you live and learn.

We shopped around the market, which was quite busy. Oranges, Cherries, Strawberries, Nectarines, Apricots and Radish. Also a Baguette, small loaf and a cake. All packed into the panniers.

It was good fun trying to extract the bike from the market, all the market vans had now blocked the streets for loading up. A little patience, weaving in and around vans eventually extracted us from the chaos.

I was back at the van in around three minutes on the bike. Patricia and Pauline again walking back. I washed and sterilised all the fruit and vegetables when I got back. Jim spotted me and mentioned about Spain, where a lot of fields are sprayed with manure etc. Exactly the reason I take the trouble to sterilise all fruit and vegetables, before they even get put into the fridge.

Our little French girls that Pauline had spent a lot of time chatting to, had left some lovely welcoming drawings on the van door. A nice little surprise. A well earned dinner for the ladies, then I carried the chairs down to the lake side, for them to chill, read and knit. I pottered around, chatting and riding down to the island on the way into Annecy, to see if I could spot Nicky on the way in.

No Nicky all day. We had tea and waited for the firework display later. Lots of cars parking anywhere that they could. All to get a view across the lake. It turned out to be a quite spectacular show, quite impressive. Myself and Jim walked back to keep an eye on the vans, because everywhere was deserted on the Aire and car parks around us. A thiefs golden opportunity, while everyone was distracted. But all was quiet, we pulled out the chairs, chatted and enjoyed the finale of the show over the tree tops.

We finished the day chatting with Jim and Irene until late. We also helped a young Spanish couple squeeze their van in, they went for a walk after, leaving their children in the van, not recommended we think.

The day had gone and no Nicky and Katherine. Just as we got in the van around midnight, a text came in from Three, the telephone company, saying services would be down from 6pm 13th July to 8am 15th July. What a useless time to let people know that. A full day of no services and then they let you know. This now explained why Nicky hadn't arrived. He had not received our text with our location gps in it. So having waited two days to meet up with him, Three blew it out of the water. The traffic all day was chaotic, so I expect they had a slow journey in.

Day 21  Monday 15th July 2013   SOD Temp 69 Deg F

Annecy Aire  France  N 45  53.437  E  006  08.341

Awake 7 - 15 am. Popped out for a bottle of water from the tap, for a brew. We had boiled a kettle last night to cool down for mixing some milk this morning. We have run out of carton milk, so we mix powdered milk when needed. We need to contact Nicky this morning.

The Aire is a hive of activity this morning. It seems everyone is sorting vans for leaving. Some seem to be really new to motor homing. Anyway, got the van sorted. Exchanged e mail  addresses with Jim and Irene. Had our last brief chat and then we were off. We went into Annecy along the D1508, around to the East side of the lake onto the D909, to look for Nicky and Katherine. We had no communication from them at all since they were in Dijon. All we know is they booked a camp on the east side of the lake. So we called in at every camp along the east side. No luck at all, not in any of them. One camp looked a little ramshackle. One camp was really tight getting in and out at Menthon St Bernard. It got so late doing this that we stopped for some dinner on the Southern end of the lake. A beautiful little pull in, turquoise lake and mountains all around.  So off we went again, D1508 to Ugine, Albertville. We spotted a Carrefour supermarket, so pulled in to get some supplies. We didn't expect any being open because of Bastille day yesterday. Public holiday today ?

D1090, D1006 past Aiguebelle, Epierre to St Jean de Maurienne, where we decided to stay for the night. I had decided not to cross the Col du Glandon so late in the day. We will leave it until morning.

St Jean du Maurienne, is a not too inviting town I always feel. It's in a lovely setting, with mountains all around, but it always seems rather grey, dilapidated and uninviting. Quite a few ski lifts on the mountains, so it must get winter tourist trade. But probaby not a lot in summer.

A few vans parked near the service point. We always park in the big car park a little further up the hill. A couple of vans also with us across the car park.

It had been hot all day, when we arrived at St Jean, there was also a strong wind blowing, quite welcome it was too. I had a ramble around to see if any Frites anywhere, not a thing, a few closed restaurants.

The little walkway up to the supermarket across the road, is now blocked off. A development of flats is being built. The building on the other side of the car park, is now finished, clad in wood, I'm not sure what it is.

We had tea and decided to get off to bed early, to get up early in the morning. Still nothing from Nicky and Katherine.

Day 22  Tuesday 16th July 2013   SOD Temp 70 Deg F

St Jean de Maurienne   N 45 16.756  E 006 20.815

Alarm on for 6 - 00 am. A peaceful quiet night after the local lads had retired for the night, football, car radio, dog barking, motorbike buzzing. I awoke around 11 - 30 pm last night, thinking I heard a bump. So I got up to look at the wing mirrors and see along the side of the van. All quiet. I must have been dreaming.

Had breakfast then sorted the toilet and made an early start to cross the Col Du Glandon. Stopped at the Intermarche at Ste Marie de Cuines for a couple of things. D927, to top of the Col at 1,925 metres, beautiful drive. Lots of cyclists on the road, of all shapes and sizes.

It was a little bit of a tight shuffle at the top to get the van in, but we parked up and had a walk around, got some pictures and as usual, we were asked to photograph some of the cyclists at the name sign.

Here we met two great lads, Duncan from Cardiff and Simon from Pembrokeshire, who heroically, were doing the Cols on their bikes. Both Rugby Union lads, heading for Annecy eventually.

We dropped of the Col on the D926, the alternative route crossed the Col de la Croix de Fer. Again lots of bikers coming up from this side, in fact lots more, hundreds and hundreds. D526, past the reservoirs and dams at Allemond, to hit the main road at Rochetaillee. D1091 towards Le Bourg d'Oisans, where we started hitting the Tour De France craziness. A small motor home camp was set up at the first island. We thought we would try going up Alpe D'Huez to assess if we could get parked anywhere on the mountain. Up and up around every switchback, vans were parked, some in absolutely crazy positions and inclines. Loud music ( sounded like noise to us ) was blasting at some encampments. Just glad we were not near them. Eventually we arrived at the village where a Dutch couple advised us there was parking near the Aeroport. As we got near there, the police had things organised. They had set up temporary parking in a big field over the back of the village. Excellent, this is to be our home for a few days.

I had brought the portable satellite dish with me, specifically to set up for the Tour. I played around all day with it, but no signal at all. I ended up getting French terrestrial TV, with a bit of news on it.

It's fun watching all the different set ups and things that motor homers do. We had finally got in touch with Nicky and Katherine, their telephones had been out for a few days. O2 and Three, not very good at providing overseas service. We have saved them a place to camp and park.

Pauline twisted her ankle, so sat for a while with two frozen sausages strapped to her ankle. Which seemed to help in reducing any swelling. Had tea and washed up, I wiped tonight, Pauline being invalided out. Had a short stroll with Patricia before getting down for the night.

Day 23   Wednesday  17th July 2013      SOD Temp 60 Deg F

Alpe D'Huez   N 45 05.280  E 006 05.353  temporary TDF parking in a field.

Awake 7 - 45 am. Peaceful night, but a pitter patter of rain in middle of the night woke me up. I was hoping it didn't turn into a deluge, which wouldn't be helpful with all these motor homes parked in a field.

Someone had moved the table and chairs we had put out for saving a space for Nicky and Katherine, so I moved them back. Sun is blazing again. I got out the bikes and had a sort out in the garage. Went for a ride into the village, which was quite manic with bikers, cars, vans, people. It's quite chaotic when the tour is in town.

On the way back the motor on the bike certainly helped on the hills. I sailed past one young guy, who was all kitted out like a pro. He looked at me in surprise. I pointed at the battery and said, " motor ". He laughed.

Got back and had some dinner. The weather was very changeable, cloudy, showers of light rain and the sun breaking through.

After dinner I walked down to look out for Nicky and Katherine coming up the Alpe. They called to say they had come in on a closed road, so had to drive back in and loop through Le Bourg D'Oisans.

It became a little chilly when the showers of rain came in, so I sheltered under the eaves of a lodge just before the hill coming up into the village.

Here I chatted with three Belgian guys and their father in law, all had very good English. They were looking for turn one, of the 21 on the Alpe.

While waiting around here, I watched all shapes and sizes of cyclists coming up the hill. Some looking good, some looking really bad, some walking, some cheering, some shouting, one with a music box blazing away. Recumbents, bike scooters, all kinds in fact. What a glorious celebration of achievements for them all.

Nicky eventually made it into the village, but they had been diverted away from the main climb where all the cyclists were coming up.

We made contact just in front of the Tourism Office, on the guarded island created for the tour. I think they were glad to have got here after all the diversions. I was supposedly guiding them in, but things had changed on the road as we went to the van. I lost the route, we eventually made it and got them parked up and a brew on.

A nice pick and mix tea of all sorts we had in, Nicky brought their cool box in and emptied bits and pieces. Spent the night chatting. It was raining outside, which delayed putting up the tent. I went out with Nicky in the light rain to put it up. Got back in and had a small glass of Nickies Belgian beer, very nice.

Finished off around 12 - 00 midnight, to get off to bed.

Day 24  Thursday 18th July 2013    SOD Temp 61 Deg F

Alpe D'Huez   N 45 05.280  E 006 05.353  temporary TDF parking in a field.

Good nights sleep. Awake around 7 - 45 am. Still overcast. Patricia and Pauline did bacon, egg and beans for breakfast, everyone approved. The weather was still overcast, with showers occasionally.

Nicky and Katherine set off around 11 - 00 am to walk into the village to have a look around, we would meet up later.

We walked down around 1 - 00 am. Lots of people walking in for the Tour. We got down just too late for the Tour Caravan coming through, with all the advertising and freebies. They were all just finishing off for the day and parking up. We met up with Nicky and Katherine. Patricia and Pauline stayed on the route to Col De Saren. Myself, Nicky and Katherine walked down to get a spot at the top of the climb. We got near a bar with the Tour on television, so could get some feedback on events.

After the first climb, we moved around to the final run in straight, around 600 metres from the finish. We had a French commentator on the PA system, who was at fever pitch all the time. How he maintained it, I don't know.

After the finish, where Chris Froome increased his lead on the yellow jersey, we walked back. I was ready for a cuppa too, when I got back.

Chicken, rice and salad for tea. All a bit shattered. There are one or two vans leaving already.

Day 25  Friday 19th July 2013   SOD Temp 68 Deg F

Alpe D'Huez   N 45 05.280  E 006 05.353  temporary TDF parking in a field.

Awake 7 - 45 am, sun shining and blue sky peeping through the clouds. Just woken Nicky and Katherine with a brew. All just having a natter before getting sorted. All had breakfast together.

Nicky and Katherine packed up the tent. Put some cool blocks in the freezer. All sorted and on our way for around 10 - 30 am. They were going on their way, a different direction than our plans. Got some group pictures with lovely clear mountains behind.

Well, we finally left the lunacy of the Tour, but not after taking two and a half hours to get off the Alpe. The traffic was jammed all the way to the island at the bottom, leading on to the main road through.

The traffic was backed up all along this road also.  We headed about eight miles down the road and then pulled up for dinner, it was after 1 - 00 pm.

Just before Livet on the D1091 heading to Vizille. At Vizille we the turned South on the D113 towards La Mure, skirting past some beautiful lakes. The road is quite up and down along here, climbing and then descending. We had a coffee stop around 4 - 00 pm just outside of Ouet en Beaumont, not too long, because the day had been delayed. We had scheduled staying at Mirabel aux Baronies for tonight, but that was changed.

Nicly had been delayed also, we got a call they were around twenty miles off Gap, they had stopped at an Intermarche.

From La Mure onto the N85, Route Napoleon. Some beautiful scenery, but driving is concentrating on corners, climbing, descending etc. Passed through Laye and into Gap, where we stopped to do the toilet at the small Aire, just before the Intermarche down the road. Here we decided to call it a day and get settled for the night. A France Passion site was just down the road at La Roche des Arnauds, so off we went.

Our Satellite Simon delivered us to the wrong farm, two little boys and their dog were looking at us in amazement, wondering what we were doing there. Their mum pointed us up the road. Turning around in their courtyard we headed out.

We found the FP just in time, several vans turned up just after us, two actually stayed, it supposedly only accommodates two, but the French don't bother with rules we have ascertained.

Patricia and Pauline popped in to the farm house, the lady their had a baby, her grandson with her.

No produce at all just Cherries at the farm, so parking up, we had tea, steak, rice, potatoes, peas and sweet corn, all very welcome after a long and frustrating day. The farmer stopped around for a chat in very good English he had acquired while working in England years ago.

We decided for an early night and an early start. I started reading Tyler Hamiltons book disclosing cheating in cycling.

Day 26  Saturday 20th July 2013   SOD Temp 64 Deg F

La Roche Des Arnauds   ( just outside of Gap )  N 44 33.297  E 005 59.165

Alarm on for 6 - 30 am. Looks like it's a sunny day, sky clear, occasional whispy cloud.

Had breakfast, got sorted. Popped in to see the farmer, Bernard Coppel. We bought some jam 4 Euros and eggs 2 Euros. We were introduced to Didier, who worked on the farm. A lovely guy, who seemed to have a small mental problem, also a little ritual with his hands.

We also met a lovely German girl on a learning and work scheme, Bernard called her a " Woofer ". They were going out to work in the fields.

Onto the D994 to Veynes, where we stopped to top up with diesel 81 Euros, called at the Bank, 150 Euros, Pauline 100 Euros. A Baguette from the Boulangerie. The Garmin Sat Nav gave us two duff locations for the bank, Patricia spotted the actual bank behind some trees.

On to Serres where we stayed on the D994,  L'Epine, Ribeyret, Rosans. Where eagle eyed Patricia spotted a service point outside the municipal camp site, right on the roadside, this was an excellent facility not showing in the Aires book. Toilet done and water topped up off again. One van called in while we were there, but was too impatient to wait while I finished off. Stressed out motor homer again I suppose. The temperature was climbing now, so it was really hot in the sun.

We then weaved through the gorges following the river past St May. Here we pulled over for dinner. The Crickets were deafening as we sat at a picnic table. We discussed if it was some power lines close by, but no, it was Crickets.

Sahune, Les Granges, La Bonte, Les Piles, Aubres, the villages rolled by. Into Nyons, where we called at the Intermarche. Temperature running at 34 Deg C  on the chemist shop sign, warming up nicely.

D538, Mirabel, D 938, Vaison, Malaucene, around Carpentras, Pernes Les Fontaines, L'Isle Sur La Sorque, to Fontaine de Vaucluse, where we looked at the Aire, it seemed a nice village, but the Aire was too convoluted for me, just like the Camping and Caravan Club, so we headed to Gordes2 Aire. Excellent, no hassle just park up and relax. Chairs out and table.

Washed up all fruit.  Had tea outside as the sun set, what a beautiful evening. I had a Bourbon and water, watching one van doing the satellite shuffle for an hour. The moon was peeping through some whispy cloud, I got some photographs of the van silhouhetted. A lovely hot and steamy day in Provence.

Day 27 Sunday 21st July 2013   SOD temp 74 Deg F

Gordes - Provence   N 43 54.047  E 005 11.708

Awake 7 - 30 am, sun shining a foot thick, as Patricias dad used to say. Had breakfast outside of the van, a lovely morning, a little cooler before the temperature lifted.

Today we visited Gordes, quite a busy little place. We got the van parked with a little luck, another van was moving so we slipped in a parking place at the side of a road leading uphill from the main square. 3 Euros to park, not bad really.

We spent a few hours wandering around a beautiful little village, which is built up the side of a hill, so lots of steep streets and cobbled steps. The village has now been taken over by the usual tourist shops, but ignore that and you have a stunningly beautiful place. Apparently the moneyed people have moved in, you can really understand why.

There are several artists in residence, with a variation of styles. Without looking too close, they seem to work in Acrylics. One artist was working on a sitting as  I walked in, the image of the young lady posing was quite realistic.

Speaking of posing, a young Chinese girl, very attractive, asked me to take her photograph with the big Provence background behind her. So, no problem, she then proceeded to strike the magazine poses you see from models. We saw similar posing from Russian tourists in Turkey last year, posing and lying themselves across the ancient stones. Maybe they are too influenced by the tat western magazines they buy. She was a beautiful, polite young lady though.

We walked down one street to a stunning viewing point over the countryside. A young couple came down with two buggies with children in, they sheltered under the door nearby and then proceeded to walk back up with the buggies bumping up and down behind them. A little girl in one of the buggies waved to us as she was going up, bumping up and down with a smile on her face, lovely.

In summary, Gordes, a stunning, not to be missed place to visit. But possibly better in a quieter season.

Driving out of Gordes on the way to Roussillon, we parked under a tree at the side of the road to have some dinner. I had to move a log which was lying across the hardcore standing alongside the road. Nice and cool place, in the shade. A small garage and shop across the road. Butterflies all over the meadow across the road. Crickets bashing away as usual.

Roussillon was different altogether. Supposedly a must see place, but I found it did not have a lot of appeal. Maybe Gordes had floored us. The church was nice and simple, which does appeal to me. Small, atmospheric.

Here again, a young Chinese lady asked me to take her photograph in the church. She had spotted a shaft of sunlight and was lit up perfectly inside the church. Unusual, but quite good. So I got photos of Patricia and Pauline in the same place.

We passed a couple with cameras that must have weighed several pounds, enormous lenses on them. Wandering around taking an eternity to take a shot, then closely examining the image before wandering on oblivious to anyone else who wanted to take a photograph. My impression was, we have two posers here.

On our way walking back to the van I spotted our young Chinese lady again and we started chatting, very good English. Some more photos taken, her name was Sherry. Again a lovely polite young lady.

Another motor home blocking me in when we got to the van, but no problem, the driver was in and moved out for me. The temperature at this point was 100 Deg F in the van, quite warm.

Back to our overnight place near Gordes. Put the barbecue on, pork steaks, Couscous and Salad. A beer and a Bourbon to round the day off. Patricia reading and Pauline knitting as the sun set. The full moon over the other side of the van, a quite beautiful evening, after a quite memorable day.

Day 28  Monday 22nd July 2013   SOD Temp 72 Deg F

Gordes -  Provence  N 43 54.047   E 005 11.708

Awake 7 - 30 am, sunny again, let's see what temperature it reaches today. A van has appeared, practically parked close enough to get under our awning. Amazing, you can park buses here with space to spare. Some van owners seem to have a sheep instinct, herding together. Seems like we have one here.

A late start today, the heat is slowing everything down. 10 - 30 am when we left for Menerbes. This is the village that Peter Mayle brought to the world with his book, A Year in Provence. We found the parking easy and free. A walk up the hill and we were in the village where most people stroll. We made the effort and climbed some more hills. On one hill in the village, we met an American couple who were staying in the village. It looked like they had just been in a swimming pool and were walking to their accommodation nearby. We had a chat for a while, they were heading eventually for London. I told them, there were no English in London anymore. The couple came from near Cape Cod. I joked with them asking if they were friends of the Kennedys.

The church was being renovated. It seems to have been run down and not maintained at all. There was work going on here and there in the village. I would think it has been changed a lot since Peter Mayle originally found it.

The heat in the sun was quite oppressive, so seeking shade was imperative.  Driving out of Menerbes, I stopped under the first shade I could find. We parked and had dinner, just at a road junction. At least some shade. A little old lady was putting her rubbish in the big bin there, as I was dumping ours.

There was a big commercial property, just a few yards up the road, chained up and bought by a new company,

Had a drive through La Coste, Marquis De Sade country, didn't stop. An idiot car driver, with the door open, while he takes all day to climb in his car, started mouthing at Patricia when she asked could he close it, so we could drive past. One of my favourite sayings is that some people don't have the brains they were born with, no consideration.

On to Bonnieux, again not stopping. The parking not being condusive to staying. All good, because we decided to look at Saignon, easy parking, what a little gem of a village. A photographers little dream. The church was open, but again seemingly a little dilapidated. A lovely fountain in the centre and the original community wash room across the road. A hotel in this square had closed, looks like it isn't getting hammered by tourists, unfortunately for them. But for us, the place quiet, not many people around, a lovely little village.

We now headed back to Gordes for the night. We stopped at a few petrol stations for water, but none was available. I eventually picked some up at a beautiful mill complex, where the owner filled us up and had a chat. A lovely guy, who had bought it and developed the business.

Arriving at the Aire, I set up the external shower and we all had showers. A lot of fun and lovely and refreshing. Standing on the plastic net carpet we use for covering the stones and sand.

A quick tea sorted out and a lovely cool evening, the clouds had rolled over, looking like rain, but it held off.

Day 29  Tuesday 23rd July 2013   SOD Temp 74 Deg F

Gordes - Provence  N 43 54.057  E 005 11.708

Awake 6 - 30 am with the alarm, we are heading for Arles today. Not too many vans staying here last night. A young Polish couple arrived late in a car and proceeded to empty the car for them sleeping in it, it must have been bursting at the seams.

Got all sorted and on the way. The old sun is smiling again. Heading for Cavaillon, then St Remy de Provence along the D99. Past Tarascon on the N570 to Arles. We had been here before, but for some reason I took a wrong turn in the town and got in a tight little corner. With a little shimmying of the van, we got out and found the Aire, which was full, so we parked in the bus lanes, as the French vans had done. We had done the same last time we were here.

It was so hot that we decided to sit out the afternoon and have a walk into Arles later in the evening. So the afternoon was spent reading in the shade of the awning. An English guy stopped to chat, he was parked a little further along, in a boxy looking Winnebago.

Had an early tea. A French couple pulled in alongside of us in a new van, they had been hit by another van and had some taped up damage on the rear.

We walked into Arles, where a band playing repetitive Conga driven riffs was playing in the little square surrounded by cafes. Patricia wasn't feeling too good, she felt a little sick, so we didn't walk too far. Up and around the Roman Arena. It was cooler with being evening, but it was still warm and really heavy, so we headed back to the van. A lovely breeze was blowing off the river. River cruise people were waiting for their guide to go into town.

The rest of the evening, we just sat out and watched the world go by. The road is reasonably quiet at night.

Day 30  Wednesday 24th July 2013   SOD Temp 79 Deg F

Arles   On the River Rhone   N 43 41.015  E 004 37.816

Awake 7 - 20 am. Up and having a brew. The road past us seems to be a lot busier than we remember. Maybe some road planning has changed things, quite noisy this morning. I counted 21 vans parked along the river last night. Quite a popular place. The school behind us is closed, so all the bus lanes, which are, I think, laid out for the school mainly, with some for the incoming tourist coaches, can be used by motor homes.  Again the French hog a whole lane which would easily fit two motor homes.

Had breakfast and set off, sorted toilet. As I was doing this some young arrogant, ignorant French lads and girls proceeded to park their car to block me in, even after I had asked them to take a minute and let me get out. Just lovely, one of my pet hates, total inconsideration for other people. Always sets me wondering how their brain functions. ( if they have a brain ) Luckily the car behind me moved so I could get out. Easily forgotten idiots, like boils on the backside of mankind.

Onto the D570, then D58, heading for Aigues-Morte. Busy, busy when we got there. The car park we had used last time now has height bars on it, signs  all over no motor homes. It looks like the French have killed this one off. So off we went. Along the coastal route, which I remember from our last journey through here, is not one of our favourite drives, in fact in my opinion awful.

D62 past La Grande Motte, Palavas les Flots. Heading to Palavas, we stoppedfor dinner at the same spot we had dinner exactly two years ago. A little pull in and nature sanctuary viewing point. Flamingoes in the lake in front of us. Lots of small silverfish also.

D185 onto the D612 past Frontingan, Sete, onto the coastal barrier road down to Agde. Here you drive past thousands of cars parked in car parks all along the road. All their occupants over the hill on the beach toasting in the sun. Heading for Portiragne, where the Aire has no services and no charge. So I decided to have a look. Amazingly for an Aire near the sea, there was space for a few vans, not hogged by chocks and satellite shuffle vans. There was a beast of a motor home parked, a full sized truck converted. I really can't see the pleasure in driving around in something so big, like an articulated truck. Belgian registration.

Slipping into a corner, we settled down for a brew, read and knit. Had Pizza and chips for tea. Sorted beds out so we just need to roll in and get down. We went for a walk on the beach after tea. A pleasant little stroll, dipped our toes in the Med. A beach bar on our left, supplied us with redundant sun beds ( not in demand at night ) for a sit down and survey the scene session. Two children sand swimming in front of us. An enjoyable end to the evening. Got a few piccies also. Reading Tyler Hamilton, “The Secret Race”, a cycling house of horrors. Hopefully those days in cycling are gone.

Day 31  Thursday July 25th 2013   SOD Temp 74 Deg F

Portiragne   near Bezier  South East France   N43 16.527  E 003 21.105

Awake 7 - 00 am, a quiet night, just a little late night music in the distance. Had breakfast sat outside the van, nice and cool. A Circus entourage started arriving, to set up in the car park adjacent to the Aire. The police also paid a visit, reminding the French family near us, that the maximum stay was two nights and they shouldn't have awning, tables and chairs out. Which is the rule for Aires, but no one seems to adhere to it.

The family had four children, twins, a boy and girl, also two other boys, all quiet and well behaved. The smallest boy did the washing up, with some help.

On the road to Carcassone today. D612 to Bezier. Called at a McDonalds, which was nice and cool, to get wi fi and download Paulines flight docs. Just had a coffee each, four Euros. Cleared all my rubbish spam mail also.

Stopped at a shop for bread, I also popped into Lidl for 12 litres of water for drinking. D609 to Narbonne, then D6113 to Carcassonne. We stopped for dinner at the same stop we had used two years ago. A little folly on the hill brought my attention to it, rolling in under a tree for some welcome shade.

Here we came across something I had read about, girls plying their trade on the side of the road. A young girl, seemed to be parading about so as to be spotted from the road. No business while we were there.

Arriving at Carcassone, we got straight onto the Aire. Parked in the far corner near the banking, expecting no one to attempt to park on our right hand, drivers side. Hopefully enabling us a little sit out area in the shade of the van. I was wrong, see later.  We sat out the heat of the afternoon, had an early tea and then walked into Carcassonne. The same tourist honey pot we had seen two years ago, teeming with people. All in restaurants, sat drinking, eating and watching. See and be seen. Pauline hadn't been before, so we had a good look around. The church again for me was the nicest part, away from the teaming hordes, peaceful and quiet.

I was trying to find somewhere to print off Paulines flight docs, but no success. A nice stroll around and back to the van, a lovely warm breeze blowing.

Back at the van, we had just arrived, when a van came looking to squeeze into the ridiculously tight space we had left on our right. No, no, park elsewhere. As usual, you could park a fleet of buses in the middle of the Aire. Some van owners have this sheep, herding mentality. They park in line like everyone else, don't think for yourself and minimise any hassle for yourself and anyone else.

Anyway, I then moved the van even further over, to stop anyone else trying. I had a beer and chat to end the evening

Day 32  Friday  July 26th 2013  SOD Temp 78 Deg F

Carcassone   N 43 12.324  E 002 22.362

Slept well, although really warm and sticky, no clothes and no covers on the bed last night. Quite breezy outside last night, but still this morning. As usual, the French vans disappeared before the witching hour of 8 - 00 am, when charges are incurred.

Here I go on a rant. I am losing my respect for French motor homers, mainly I admit because of a minority of them do not seem to have any brain at all. I have seen lots of totally stupid things being done. Typically any kind of hygiene regime seems to be none existent. Impatience on service points, e.g. yesterday at Carcassone, too lazy to lift the metal grille on the toilet dump, so emptying in the toilets near by, just because it was busy. I became paranoid at service points after watching them faffing around, water spraying everywhere, paddling in grey water, over splashing of toilet water. Sorry to any who don't fit this description.

I was just sorting a few things out and walking around the van, when I bumped into the awning which I had put out, but not put the legs up, solely to put some shade on the fridge area. Result, a cut across the bridge of my nose and a cut down the side. Pauline having great delight in applying a plaster and taking a photograph. Lesson learned, always ensure the awning is above head height.

Had breakfast, toileted in the chaos mentioned above, paid 7 Euros fee, which is not a bad fee for so iconic of a tourist place. French don't obviously agree with this.

Had a look in the city for somewhere to print off Paulines flight documents. No go, so we left. D119, stopped in Montreal, where we got print service at a Tabac, 2 Euros for two copies, job done and on our way. Looked at some fruit and vegetables at the roadside but we didn't bother, too dear.

Stopped for dinner at a picnic site just as we entered the Ariege region, a big sign and information displayed. I put the chairs out under the trees in the shade, quite nice and cool.

Stopped at Mirepoix, parked on the large Aire. Walked in to have a look at the Bastide area of town. A lovely covered medieval type square, well worth a stop. Pauline bought some little presents for Rebecca and Stephen.

Filled with Diesel at Laroque d'Olmes, checking out gas cylinders also. Also checked out gas at Lavelanet before heading for Montferrier Aire. Only one van on when we arrived.

Washed my face with cold water to cool down. We started the day with myself and Patricia with dodgy tummies, this for me creates a low energy situation, so today has been hard work. In the heat and humidity, very hard work. Had a corned beef omelette for tea and slowly started feeling a little better, even reading for quite a while in bed. We had an early night, all feeling tired with the heat etc. Late van arrivals just as I was dosing off, what do they do until so late at night ?

Day 33  Saturday July 27th 2013   SOD Temp 70 Deg F

Montferrier   N 42 53.554  E 001 47.522

Awake around 8 - 00 am. Sunny again. The night was lovely and cool, strange after the really hot and humid day yesterday. We have lots of flies here, the most anywhere so far. My kill rate doesn't deter them. Had breakfast and a slow lazy start. Again the heat slowly building. Sorted toilet and water. The Aire here is a nice little place, and the service point is excellent, stainless steel fittings etc. Good solid concrete standing for grey water drainage.

We needed some shopping today, so Aldi was the first job. Luckily there was a tall Poplar tree in the car park, so I got under that for some shade. Aldi lovely and cool inside. By now it was 2 - 00 pm, so dinner was on the agenda, looking for some shade, we found a parking place near the football ground.

Putting some rubbish in the big bins nearby, I found a shopping basket, so I carried it back as a joke, but it was broken at the bottom so back it went.

Super U after dinner for gas and yoghurts, which we can't get at Aldi. The heat was now intense. I got a cylinder of gas 33 Euros, which I later found out was Butane and not Propane, a mix up I hadn't noticed at the time. I had asked for Propane and taken my gas connector along with me. Hopefully get it changed tomorrow.

From Super U we went straight up to Col de Montsegur, where it was decidedly cooler at the top, around 3,500 feet up. Parking near the spot we had stayed two years ago. Only one van there, which left later.

I set up the barbie and slowly grilled some lamb chops for tea. By this time it was around 8 - 30 pm, another two vans had pulled in and turned out to be a rather noisy crowd.

After tea, laying the chairs away, the sky was being lit up by distant flashes of lightening. The clouds which had rolled over making it really cool, created an atmospheric scene around the mountains. Montsegur chateau being shrouded in mist, distant thunder and the sheet lightening in the clouds creating a memorable scene. I stood outside the van for a while and let the whispers on the wind talk to my imagination. There is always something to appeal to the imagination when you visit iconic places. This place with its history, is certainly iconic. The rain if it fell must have been far away, we didn't have any.

Day 34  Sunday July 28th 2013   SOD Temp 70 Deg F

Col de Montsegur    N 42 52.440  E 001 49.472

Alarm on for 6 - 30 am. Sky overcast and cool at the moment. A really peaceful night. We had an early breakfast, packed some food and drink, then set off to walk up to the Chateau. We had been here two years ago, but had decided not to walk up due to the slippery path, which a couple had mentioned. It had rained at the time before we had got there.

This time it was dry. Different times people give for walking up, are always interesting. I personally take absolutely no notice of them. Strolling and enjoying the path, scenery and stopping for a chat etc. we slowly ascended.

There is a pay booth on the path leading up, the lady who worked on it, had just passed us on the way up, so she had only just arrived. 5 Euros each, for the Chateau and museum, the museum is in the village.

I am always amazed at all the people who visit these places and just want to rush around. Gasping and panting, lathered in sweat, puffing and blowing, what an unusual way of enjoying an experience.

Having been passed by lots of steaming people, we eventually topped out and walked up the wooden stairs and entered the perimeter walls of the Chateau. First impression is that it is quite small inside the walls. I got several photographs, walked through the entry on the opposite side, where the remains of buildings are cascaded down the mountainside. A quite spectacular place to live. It must have been a really hard life for anyone living up there. Again we had the Galloping Gerties, as I have christened them, rushing around.

It did a few spots of rain as we were wandering around, which was a little bit of a concern for us for descending, but it held off. So we slowly made our way back down. For anyone wanting to break our record of going up and down we made it last for three hours. See if you can take longer, easy.

After a brew and dinner, we moved down to the village, parked in the lower car park. Walked up into the village to the Museum. A nice little village for a stroll around. There were posters around the village showing photographs of long ago scenes and people. I got piccies of them. What a hard life they lived, but there was looks of happiness on their faces.

A small interesting museum, well worth a visit, displaying lots of artefacts discovered in excavations on the Chateau site and surroundings.

From here we went to Super U, which was closed, but there is an outdoor laundry on site. Parked up and got some laundry done, 7 Euros to wash and dry the load, not bad.

Back to Montferrier Aire for the night, a few vans already there when we arrived. Got tucked in a corner, with Gammon, sauteed potatoes and salad for tea.

One little note, there is difficulty getting a telephone signal from the Aire itself, a little walk up the hill cures it though. I did this for Pauline to send a text to Bob before we got down for the night.

Day 35  Monday July 29th 2013   SOD Temp 66Deg F

Montferrier   N 42 53.554  E 001 47.522

Awake 7 - 20 am. We had been awake earlier with a heavy rain shower. It eventually blew over and we managed to doze off again. It looks like a blue sky day today, probably baking hot later, now the rain has cleared the clouds which kept yesterday cooler. Had breakfast, sorted toilet and water. First job was Super U to exchange the Butane gas cylinder that I had picked up, I should have got Propane. My foolish mistake. We had a little pantomime trying to explain what we wanted to do. First to the lady at the Petrol and gas kiosk, who spoke and understood little English, less than my French. She referred us to Patricia a manager inside, who seemed to speak and understand even less English. We were doing exchange demonstrations with tins of coke and pop. Pretending one was Butane, one was Propane, then switching them over. She seemed to think we had a problem with it blowing up. Eventually after much mixed up French and English, she finally got the message and with laughs all around, we got it sorted.

So off we went with our green Propane cylinder.

Leaving Lavelanet on the D117 we spotted a lovely picnic site just off the road before Nebias. Pulling in we set out dinner on a picnic table and had a lovely relaxing dinner. Just a nice warm breeze blowing, sun shining and a beautiful pastoral scene across the fields. Excellent.

On through Quilan, we picked up the D118 heading up to Limoux, then leaving this on the D58 for Rennes Le Chateaux. Parking up just outside the village, we decided to have a ride on the Petite Train up into the village, 1.80 Euros each, an excellent little decision. Pulling in at the top of the village with energy saved. This little excursion was to see the church, which has created quite a myth and mystery. First thing we did was knock three almonds off a tree, near the " Sacrificial Stone ", a large block of sandstone placed in the little square, near a stone tower. There are a few shops which seem to focus on the Cathar, Holy Grail, myth and mystery market.

The church was rather busy, but we waited until the crowd had gone. I asked one lady who spoke good English, to explain a little ritual they were all performing. Apparently in a certain position the cross on the alter obscures certain parts of the sunlit window behind it, this creates a special energy position on the floor of the church, standing there with bare feet, you are exposed to this energy.

So people of different heights were doing this, which obviously changed the position, it must move around a little. Patricia and Pauline had a go and said they experienced something peaceful. So maybe there is something in it. Nothing you could explain with Physics though !

On the Petite Train back down to the van. Quite warm now. Had a look at the Aire at Quilan, but headed on to Lapradelle Puilaurens, through the Gorges de la Pierre Lys, a quite spectacular gorge where the D117 passes through.

We had stayed here previously two years ago when we had visited the chateau. Onto the Aire, first van in for the night. Curry, rice, bahjees, pakoras and samosas for tea, excellent.

Washed up and then had a late stroll around the village, Pauline feeling that it was spooky. The church windows lit up quite nicely. The chateau on the hill lit up nicely, we didn't remember this from our last visit. A nice little stroll to end the quite excellent day.

Day 36 Tuesday 30th July 2013   SOD Temp 72 Deg F

Lapradelle Puilaurens   N 42 48.616  E 002 18.554

Awake 7 - 30 am. A quiet and peaceful night. Sky a little cloudy this morning. Had breakfast and then had a daylight stroll around the village. Pauline feeling that it wasn't now spooky. A house which she saw last night reminded her of Norman Bates house in Psycho. This morning we saw it was for sale. A quite magnificent house, which seems to have been empty for a while, the garden overgrown.

Just behind the post office a camp has been set up, with cooking facilities and toilets. It looks like it could be a scout camp. It is certainly organised, but no one around.

The D117 runs along all the Fenoulledes, with villages at intervals along it. Caudies de Fenouilledes, where we stopped at a Boulangery for a brown baguette and a cheese pasty. St Paul de Fenouillet, to Maury, where we turned onto the D19 for Cucugnan. Climbing along a beautiful road up the mountain, we came to a junction where the road leads off to go to the Chateau de Queribus. A nice big space invited us to park up for dinner. Quite a few cycle tourists around, very hilly country, but beautiful scenery if your fit enough to climb the long winding mountain roads. One young lady needed to dismount and walk.

After dinner, a short 4 miles to Duilhac sous Peyrepertuse, where we were quite surprised to see only two vans on the Aire. Last time we visited, it was packed. This was obviously due to us arriving early, 2 - 00 pm, it did fill up later.

Awning out, chairs and tables out, we had a walk into the village. We looked for Alans house, whom we had met two years ago. We asked two little girls to confirm which it was and Alan overheard us, so came out to see who was asking for him. Over his noisy dog barking away, he invited us in after he had refreshed his memory.  After all it was a fleeting couple of meetings two years ago. We had a chat and got his address written down this time.

Back at the van, we had an outdoor shower, which is an excellent facility. Putting the rubber mat down, pull the garage door open as a screen, we had a little corner where the water soaked away, excellent. All nice and clean, we had tea and a read. Well I tried to read, but an Italian crowd across the Aire, wanted everyone to hear what they were talking about. Why do Italians have to talk so loud ? I think they must all have hearing defects. Not a sound from anyone else but this lot. I need to remember my earplugs when we ever visit Italy.

A young French lady bathed her baby in a plastic tub at our side, she asked about baby lullabies in English. Pauline wrote some out for her. We had a chat also and looked at her map on where they had been. They were from near to Paris.  Her husband / partner never spoke a word or acknowledged us at all. Strange ! A lovely evening. I strolled to the road before shutting up for the night, got a couple of pictures of the Aire with lights on and the mountain sillhouettes.

Day 37  Wednesday 31st July 2013    SOD Temp 77 Deg F

Duilhac sous Peyrepertuse    N 42 51.714  E 002 33.903

Awake 7 - 00 am but all were asleep, so I rolled over for an hour. A lovely peaceful night.  Quite warm this morning. Well even though this is one of the nicest Aires we have stayed on, we have to move on to get Pauline to Girona for her flight back home. She is also a little reluctant to move.

Had breakfast, said goodbye to our French neighbours, well the lady and little girl. Sorted toilet, after waiting ages for a Spanish van which seemed to be making an epic of their servicing.

D14 to Cucugnan, then D123, where there is an amazing view laid out before you, of all the hills and mountains, as you turn around a corner. Quite a spectacular scene, which I remembered from last time.

Down to Maury, where we picked up the D117 to Estagel. D612 to Millas, where we stopped at an Intermarche, but it was closed for a two and a half hour dinner. Aye, aye, we have hit the siesta zone. We need to now keep that in mind.

The D612 heads on to Thuir, where we spotted a Lidl, it was open, no siesta, ohlay. Shopped and had dinner here. The heat now building up, seeing a chemist sign which displayed 42 Deg C, which translates to a warm 114 Deg F, the accuracy can't be guaranteed, but it was a little warm.

Again the D612 to Mas Sabole, where we picked up the main D900 north, south road. The D612 on this stretch running through hundreds of Plane trees, which restrict how wide the road is, but a quite pleasant drive.

D900 taking us to Le Boulou for the Aire, which we had chosen for convenience before going into Spain. It turned out to be rather busy. We got a decent spot with arriving early. Set up the barbie and did the chicken fillets we had bought at Lidl. Quite a lot of flies again, so we ate inside.

Washed up and beds ready, we had a stroll into town. Nothing of any great interest really, just a gentle evening stroll.

On the way back we spotted an English van heading for the Aire from the Spain direction. When we got back they were just getting in place. Apparently they had travelled from the Chunnel today, i.e Calais to Le Boulou, I estimated around 700 miles. One motor home and one car, they had lost direction, hence coming from the Spain direction. The driving distance is not really leisure driving. It's taken us a month to get here, compared to their one day.

Had a beer and a Bourbon while chatting and hoping the night cooled a little, it didn't much. 86 Deg F in the van. Vans still arriving at 11 - 00 pm as we were off to bed. Pauline said she heard one around 2 - 00 am. Late travellers !

Day 38  Thursday 1st August 2013   SOD Temp 76 Deg F

Le Boulou - Near Spanish border   N 42 31.633  E 002 50.247

Awake 7 - 00 am, a quiet and peaceful night. The aire seems popular as a stopping place, convenience and just off the main road into Spain, I suppose. Otherwise, nothing else in Loo Beloo, as we have named it. I think it was a Spa town in it's heyday.

Had breakfast, then moved the van over to the cemetery gates, to top up some water. There is a tap behind the wall for cemetery watering. I spotted it yesterday on a stroll around.

Getting on our way we passed through Le Boulou on the D900. Heading to the Spanish border. Here we ran into crawling traffic which was caused by the border town of Le Perthus. which was teaming with people and cars. There must be some attraction here. A tax benefit town maybe ? We didn't stop to find out.

Spanish border crossed, we travelled what was now the E11. A quite boring, hot strip of a road. Welcome to Spain. We stopped at a small village just off the road, Medinya N 42 02.937  E 002 52.170. Parking under some trees we had a walk to find some bread. A little shop up the road did the job. One Pain, 1.40 Euros, lovely soft bread. Had dinner for an hour and then rolled onto the hot strip again.

First job was to check out Girona Airport, for dropping Pauline off tomorrow. Setting Satellite Simon, we found the entry and exit quite ok, so decided to check out our Aire for tonight.

The nearest Aires were over on the coast. Around twenty miles drive brought us to St Feliu de Guixols. A small packed Aire, with Chock and Satellite vans, seemingly set up for weeks, tables, chairs, awnings out taking parking places up. Overall it looked quite a little baking hell hole. A little Dutch guy tried to point out I could get the van in, but, no thanks, we'll look elsewhere.

Onto Platja D'Aro, a few miles down the road. Now for some quite inexplicable reason, the Aire parking has been blocked off and new signs have been put up along an entrance road, to point out motor home parking. Nothing on the Aire at all, just loads of empty hard standing, doing nothing but baking in the sun.

Anyway we got parked up on the road, quite a wide strip at the side of the road. Apart from continual passing traffic, not too bad I suppose.

Hot, hot, hot, so we just brewed, chatted, read and watched the world go by. Also got Paulines bags packed, weighed and ready to go for tomorrow.

Passing traffic kept driving over a grid in the gutter opposite where we were parked. Clang, clang. It needed a solution to quieten it down. An old red plastic chair did the trick, I just placed it on the grid, result, no clang clang.

The evening cooled down a little. We sat watching the world, Grouse birds running around in the park adjacent to us. A couple of live bands in the distant night, obvious by the snap of their snare drums which cut through the night. A fairground humming across the fields in front of us. None of this intrusive though.

The stars peeping out, just noticeable through the street lighting. Got down for a read and bed around 11 - 00 pm.

Continued at: In Spain on the Road to Morocco 2013