You can always tell when you have had a good day by the number of photos you have taken. 71 today! It was a great day.
We decided to head off to the small island that I mentioned in my last blog. After a light breakfast with the largest crust on a slice of bread I have ever seen
we jumped into the car and drove the 10k. The road was great and ran along the coast again. We pulled over a couple of times to photograph the views down the coast.
We then found the parking area to visit the island taking a few photos from its elevated position.
Now we are not shy in walking but Angie is still nursing a cold she has had for nearly 6 weeks and whilst it was lovely and warm in the sunshine the shade had us reaching for our jackets. The walk was just under 2k and about 1k of that was straight down the cold windy and shaded mountain side to sea level. We Um’d and Ar’d for a few mins before deciding that the view from the top was the best, and one rocky outcrop is much of a muchness as another. With a journey ahead of us spending a few hours traipsing up and down a hillside was low on our priorities. The Spanish love a saint and especially the Mara-donna . In the early 1960’s they commissioned a 20ft high solid brass statue of the Virgin Mary and having had it made, spent an inordinate amount of effort and planning and then immediately took it out to sea and sunk it under 63ft of sea water anchoring it to the sea bed to never be seen again by the naked eye unless you have an aqualung. – WHY?
Anyway enough of silly saint worship rituals. We had a two hour drive ahead of us and a mountain to cross.
The road out of Bermeo to Bilbao was of superb quality and excepting one fairly tight hairpin bend uneventful. The motorway links around Bilbao were testing and as chaotic as the Spanish drivers. Angie following in the smart car and with no sat nav and being my rear guard must have wondered what was going on when I changed to one lane then back again and then back once more, however after we got on the A8 it was plain sailing and the Spanish Autopistas’ are fantastic to drive on.
We arrived at the “Bigged up” Prettiest town in Spain at about 3pm and having parked in what appeared to be our private car park we walked into town to check it out and what all the raving was about. Well it certainly lied in three ways, Santillanna Del Mar literally means saint (Santi) flat (llama) by the sea (Del Mar). It is non of the above but apart from the three lies it is very very pretty and like stepping back in time. Even the Santander Branch has no red branding on it. Every time we turned a corner another cobbled street oozed character and history. In 1575 the town was one of the first to have a town planning policy strictly governing what was built. What that means is the town is a gorgeous muddle of golden stone dwellings with wooden or wrought iron balconies with flowers flowing off of them and embedded coats of arms in the walls, all set around a myriad of cobbled streets and a 12th century monastery. The town is big enough to be interesting but small enough to walk in its entirety in a few hours.
We sat outside a small taverna and had a couple of tapas. I had a small beer and Angie had an enormous Pink gin who’s glass and colour matched her outfit perfectly, (She was always one for co-ordinating her accessories but this takes it to a whole new level) all for the pricey sum of £9.
We returned to our private car park (The Aire GPS n43.38895 w 004.10721 is right in the centre has no facilities but it’s free) only to find that another motorhome has turned up.
Tomorrow we aim to go to the Altamira museum 1k down the road and see the replica of the Neolithic cave paintings of Bison and other animals that I first learnt about at Junior school some 40+ years ago. The original cave has been closed to the general public for many years now (so this is the best we can get) to save the paintings for future generations who also probably won’t be able to see them either as they will still being saved for their future generations. What’s that all about!!
Finally left Catori at just gone 12 and drove into the centre again. After finding a great parking place on the other side of the town with the view to walk up and over the fortified peak and into town we had to abandon those plans as we did not have enough coins on us for the payment meters. I tried three machines non of them seemed to want to take a debit card no matter how hard we tried or how many buttons we pressed in any order. We ended up back in the same car park as yesterday, retraced our steps through the old town but this time everything was open. We had a coffee in the Plaza de la Constitutiòn and then headed into the main shopping area.
The architecture is magnificent if you look UP with grandiose four, five and six story apartment blocks from different eras each topped with ornate turrets or stone carvings. No one builds like this anymore, it’s all about maximum profit nowadays and no one is willing to pay the cost involved creating these works of art for future generations to enjoy.
We wandered the wide avenues and saw the stunning cathedral.
At about 4.30 the breakfast of two croissants had worn off and the lure of the tapas bars became strong. Six tapas and two drinks later (between us!) our appetite was satisfied.
We needed Gin, Beer and a few other essentials so decided to find the nearest Lidl. Two were in town, neither had parking so we set off to the next nearest 4.5k away. Margret must have been having a Blond moment as no sooner had we set off and the 4.5k became 9k. With nothing much else to do a 9k drive did not seem too unattractive. We found Lidl did the shop and all went well. That was until we realised we needed petrol. I punched in ‘nearest petrol stations’ into Margret and a Repsol one was only 0.5k away. Oh happy days – we set off and as soon as we hit the main road the 0.5k became 8.9k and took us back down the motorway to San Sebastián, turned us round and sent us back up the motorway to nearly where we had just come from but 0.5k away AS THE CROW FLIES from the Lidl. To make me even more annoyed, it turned out to be a motorway service station at 35 cents a litre more expensive than fuel at a normal garage. To top it off the way back was another 4K further up the motorway only to turn us round to send us back down the motorway again. In total just over 20k to get to the “nearest” petrol station. Hay-Ho it’s only time & money! Needless to say we abandoned the idea of getting back into town for our night time San Sebastián experience preferring to drink the Gin we had just brought.
The Aire was quite full. Catori is third from the right on the bottom row.
Wednesday 22nd November
We have been away two weeks today. We left San Sebastián after yet another lazy morning (we really are making the most of it). We opted to take the scenic route after studying the maps and the sat nav and all looked good. To start it was with an absolutely stunning coastal drive along the N364 and wide sweeping bends climbed onto high lofty vistas with panoramic views down and up the coast before descending down to pretty fishing villages each with its own beach and many with an island to boast about too. Throughly enjoying the drive I was glad that I had chosen the route rather than sticking to the main A roads. Sorry there is not many photos but I am driving solo and Angie is following in the smart car so grabbing a shot is a rare activity.
If you ever get the chance to drive the N364 from San Sebastián to Deba, DO IT . Then make sure that you DO NOT TAKE the GI638 to Burmeo. It quickly turned into a test of skill and perseverance over logic. The views dissolved and we set off on a twisty narrow road hardy wide enough to take two cars Side by side let alone a motorhome. Then came the hairpin bends barely wide enough to get round and certainly not on my side of the road, tiny villages to squeeze through and shear drops.
It was a test of nerves and no enjoyment whatsoever excepting the stunning village of Lekeitio with its pretty harbour, sandy beach and teardrop shaped island accessed by a causeway at low tide. We would have loved to stop off if we could but parking was non existent as far as we could see so we pressed on much to both of our disappointment. What seemed an eternity passed and when we finally emerged onto better roads I breathed a sigh of relief. So we made it to Bermeo and quite frankly it is a bit grim. It has a harbour and marinara of sorts but the town is just a muddle of very narrow one-way streets barely big enough to get the smart car round. The Aire is free but a glorified car park next to a play park and cemetery. If you really want the GPS it is n43.42306 w 002.72556
We came here because of the stunning drives around the coast mentioned in the guide books and having done one of them on the way here, and seeing not a lot, for most of the last part of it, it has been a disappointment. Tomorrow however we aim to take Sunny for a 12 min drive to the Ermita de San Juan de Gaztelugatxe church set out on a rocky peninsula and apparently this is the most photogenic and photographed bit of coastline in the whole of the Basque country. We will grab a few shots and then come back before heading off to Santillana del Mar (apparently the prettiest town in all of Spain) just west of Santander.
We WILL be taking the A roads for most of the way!
Sunday 19th November
We weren’t sure what we wanted to do today. The sun was out and it was warm, really warm and it was a Sunday. We had looked at the surfers riding the waves yesterday and I said that I would love to get out onto the water. After taking Molly for a walk and inspecting the surf I returned to the motorhome and asked if we could stay another day so I could do some body boarding. We needed diesel for the motorhome and petrol for the smart car but it was Sunday, and everything is shut on Sundays so we agreed to have another day in Biarritz and leave tomorrow when the petrol stations were more open. Needing no excuse to delay I got into the wetsuit, got out the body board and flip-flops and wandered off to the beach. An hour later I was back…
Sunday 19th November
We weren’t sure what we wanted to do today. The sun was out and it was warm, really warm and it was a Sunday. We had looked at the surfers riding the waves yesterday and I said that I would love to get out onto the water. After taking Molly for a walk and inspecting the surf I returned to the motorhome and asked if we could stay another day so I could do some body boarding. We needed diesel for the motorhome and petrol for the smart car but it was Sunday, and everything is shut on Sundays so we agreed to have another day in Biarritz and leave tomorrow when the petrol stations were more open.
Needing no excuse to delay I got into the wetsuit, got out the body board and flip-flops and wandered off to the beach. An hour later I was back saying that I had an really good time and ridden some amazing waves but the swell had become too big for me to get over and wishing I could proper surf like the big boys do.
We had lunch in the sun and then took Molly for her second walk of the day. She loved the sand and the beach and after walking to the end of the promenade we sat and watched the ‘proper’ surfers at it. Some of them were really amazing.
We have now parked the smart car in an adjacent car park after punching in the code and doing a quick reverse away from the barrier once it went up. We think we have now fooled the barriers into believing that we have come back into the Aire with the motorhome. When we leave tomorrow we will find out.
Monday 20th November.
We had a short journey today as it’s only about an hour to San Sebastián. I took advantage of the time on my hands and did 9k run along the beach to the peninsula we walked out on to yesterday. It was a lovely run despite getting wet trainers and not a bad time to. Molly didn’t come as she had a poorly tummy (perhaps it was all the sand she ate yesterday).
Our plan worked the barrier went up and Catori was free to head off to Spain. Angie followed in the smart car and we slipped into Spain like a hot knife through warm butter. No border control no passports to show. If it were not for the different road signs we would have been none the wiser, although the drivers were a little more erratic, the dress sense less fashionable and the shape of the pedestrians slightly more portly than their French neighbours.
The Aire GPS n43.30760 w00201417 is more of a car park than a camping Aire and we are a bit squashed in but at €3.20 a night including water waste and WC that’s not to be sneezed at. We couldn’t find a space for Sunny so headed of into the centre.
This is our first taste of Northern Spain and so far it has not disappointed. San Sebastián is stunning and very cosmopolitan. We parked in a massive underground car park and walked up to the promenade. It hugged the crescent shaped beach with immaculate sand surrounded by elegant buildings overlooking the bay. A small island sits in the bay and it is all picture postcard pretty. We were both hungry and set of to find something to eat. It came in the shape of a fish restaurant on the edge of the quayside who were just about to close but they let us dine as long as we ordered quickly. We shared a whole Monkfish in a garlic sauce. Not cheap but very scrummy!
After paying the bill we wandered up onto the lower ramparts and then into the old town.
The narrow, dead straight streets with high period buildings either side and gothic sculptured churches crammed into them led to pretty squares. The best of which was the Plaza de la constitutión. It used to be used as a bullfight ring and each of the apartments with balconies looking onto the plaza was given a number and used to rent out their balcony for spectators .
As we continued to wander the sun was setting and the whole place started to come alive. Tapas (or Pintxo As they are called in Basque Country) bars were everywhere and were getting ready for the night trade. We have vowed to return tomorrow evening to savour the flavour and atmosphere of San Sebastian at night.
I got lost today – I saw a circular walk yesterday and thought I would run it today. Having got lost and after 7k I decided that it was not a great walk for us as it was through the trees and could have been anywhere.
We drove to Rocher de la Vierge, a rocky outcrop attached to the mainland by a wooden bridge and gorse-way (still can’t believe that Catori made it through some of those roads). Having parked we walked to the outcrop and out on to the furthest point allowing us to look back at the whole of the Basque coast.
Some nutter was swimming around the rocks in the swell and shortly after we noticed a whole bunch of them in nothing but speedos or bikini bottoms splashing their way out to sea. A small bay round the next bend had a load of kids taking surf lessons and a few lads walking the tightrope that was stretched out across the mouth of the bay. They were doing more falling off it than walking it and it was fun to watch them plop into the sea. As we watched, a few of the swimmers returned to the beach and one lady bearing all, and wearing noting but a bikini bottoms dried herself and then stood in a crucifix position against a wall with a sea goddess painted on it right behind her soaking up the sun. Perhaps she had visions of greatness or perhaps it was just to top up the tan.
We wandered back to the car and then on to the playa watching the surfers battle with the white horses. Two grand cafe crem’s were ordered at the cafe on the beach and a leisurely coffee taken watching the surfers at their game.
We walked back to the car and then drove on to the lighthouse which was started in 1830 built to the half point in 1831 and topped out in 1832
We love Biarritz. The houses look like something out of the Munsters each with a turret and a castle keep, each trying to out do the one down the street and the spirit of one up man ship is alive. The narrow one way streets, the amazing waves crashing against the shore and over the rocks. There is a “lets be alive” spirit of the semi naked surf swimmers, white horse riding surfers and trapeze aritist all braving the sea in late November.
It inspired me to come back to the van and don the wet suit, get out the body board and go surfing – well for a moment at least. After a walk to the sea the waves had turned to rollers and the surf was done for the day. At least I tried on the wet suit and it still fits although the shape hugging properties of latex rubber do have me looking like I am just about to give birth. Well Perhaps tomorrow I will surf before we leave Biarritz.
Tomorrow we head into Spain – well at least if we can get out of the Aire. A double exit barrier is creating a conundrum. The gap between the two exit barriers is just about long enough to fit Catori between them. The second dosnt go up till the first has come down. We can get Catori in between them but not with the car attached or even following closely. This presents a problem, how do we get two vehicles out of the Aire with a ticket for only one. Watch this space – we don’t quite know the plan we have hatched will work but we have to find some way to extract Catori and Sunny from Biarritz!
We have been away a week now and today was just really a day to travel. Having already been to a few of the places of interest between Cognac and Bordeaux on our trip last year, we decided to just get some miles behind us. It was an easy drive (now I have learnt to plan my own route on better, but still no toll roads rather than let Margret the sat nav take me on a mystery tour to the destination as quick as possible and bugger the rattling and consequences on the way) We arrived at the chosen Aire in Mimizan which was right on the beach GPS n44.20517 w 001.29675 only to find it closed and being dug up! It looks as though they are either making it better for next summer or getting rid of it. Knowing the French love for Aires I would guess the first. A quick look in the Camperstop book and the second Aire in the town was the only alternative and 1.5k away but it had no electricity hook up which we really could do with. We quickly unhooked Sunny abandoned Catori on a safe side road and went to have a quick look. The Aire had been redeveloped and was very large and smart with EHU everywhere, decision made. Back to Catori and Angie had her first experience of driving in France behind me back to the second Aire GPS n44.21375 w 001.28239 its about 1.5k from the beach but has super walks in the woods right behind us and looks nothing like to picture in the book now. There are two things Molly loves more than anything else (excluding us we hope) and that’s woods and the sandy beaches she should be in her element! As for us out came the chairs for the first time for Beer O’clock al fresco.
Thursday 16th November
A 5k run down to along and back from the beach brought me back to the van at about 12pm (yes it was another morning in bed ) and we sat outside again with a coffee in the sunshine. Although it is only 12 degrees the fact there is full sun and no clouds makes it really warm. After a very British snack of Heinz baked beans on cheese on toast we wandered down to the beach again and watched the surfers riding the amazing rollercoasters. I would desperately love to be able to surf like that but a body board will have to do for someone like me with a dodgy knee. For a moment I did think of coming back down with the board and wet suit to give it a go but thought better of it. Instead a beer and a further sit in the sun was the order of the evening watching the wagtails run around the site.
Tomorrow we head off to our last stop in France Biarritz, from there Angie will have to drive Sunny behind me due to the uncertainty of Spanish laws on towing a car behind a motorhome.
Friday 17th November
Mimizan had very little to offer the tourist out of season. In the summer we are sure it would be an amazing beach holiday destination however in Mid November it is just an amazing sandy beach with huge waves pounding which we could hear from our motorhome during the night 1.5k away. So we decided to move on and Biarritz was the destination. 2.5 hours drive and it looked an easy route. It was until we reached Bayonne and Margret decided to take us through the town centre and over the L’Adour river. They had closed the river bridge however and we had to follow a diversion. Just as I thought we had done the worst of it the roads got narrower as we entered Biarritz itself and the route ended up being through a crowded town centre with shops, roadside cafes full of diners and moped ranks all of which were about a foot or two from the side of the van as we squeezed past. We crawled through the twisting maze following Margret’s every order and a queue of cars grew behind us and patiently followed. A taxi stoped in front of us to collect a very elderly lady from a shop who unfortunately could not walk far or fast. Unable to pass the taxi we just had to wait. The elderly lady was helped very slowly to the car by her equally elderly and equally slow husband and two younger members of the family who themselves must have been in their 60’s. The elderly gent finally helped his ancient wife into the car and she slowly sat, bottom first and then he helped her get her legs round and into the foot well which was not an easy task. After doing this it was his turn to repeat the same manoeuvre but on the opposite side of the car and once he finally managed to get there it took him even longer to insert himself into the car. The aged children then decided to fold down the seat on wheels that the elderly lady relied on and the taxi driver got back out to put it in the boot. Well you can imagine that by this time the cars behind us were starting to loose their patience probably believing that it was us stupid Brits trying to get a 30ft motorhome towing a smart car through the narrow streets that was causing the issue. A blast of a horn came from behind us. Lucky the taxi was now ready and shot off at speed leaving us with half of the drivers of the Basque Country behind us. Eventually after more steep narrow and twisting one way roads we made it to the Aire. GPS n 43.46536 w -001. 57162 Phew!! (Forgot to plan the last bit of the route didn’t I)
What a fantastic location though one road back from the beach with stunning walks along the cliff and beach. I am sure there is an easier way in!
On arriving in Cognac the entrance to the only 4 space Aire GPS n45,69847 w001,33265 was through a small square (typically France with trees and cars parked either side) We squeezed around the first 90 degree corner with cars on either side but at the bottom a German Motorhome had bumped up on the kerb totally negating any chance of making it around the right hand bend for any motorhome let alone Catori . It’s German owner came rushing out saying that the Aire was full and not working and we should go and find another. I went to investigate myself only to find that there was a fantastic space right on the front overlooking the Hennessy building. Never to be told what to do by anyone, I became determined to get into the space. We un-hitched the car and I attempted to get round the corner going forward but it was no good. No matter how many too and fro’s I did it was not going to make it. Option 2 reverse it in. Without the car on the back this was now possible and a left turn took me away from the inconsiderately parked German. As I squeezed through the gap and reversed past her, back down the road into the spot I glanced into her motorhome and she did not look very pleased. I then wondered if she had been left behind to guard the entrance in case a space came available in the Aire whilst her husband had gone of somewhere, the distillery tour perhaps. The space had become available whilst he was away and it was her duty to keep it free until Her husband returned. We will never know but I like the idea of that
The morning had started late again and my proposed second run was put on the back burner. With only two hours of the morning left by the time we roused ourselves from our bed there just wasn’t enough time to squeeze a run in. I took Molly for a walk while Angie prepared herself and the van for travel. By 1pm we were ready for the off suitably emptied of waste and filled up with fresh water. It was only 1hour 15 mins to Cognac and 15 mins of it was bone shaking. Margret has a knack of taking us down small B roads to save a few miles or mins and there is no way of changing her settings to keep to main roads and whilst we like to see rural France we don’t need to see every farmyard and hamlet in the course of getting to where we want to go. I think I will have to do some map planning and split the journey to fool her in the future.
We had a wander around the town which apart from the waterside and the Hennessy complex had little to offer over many other French towns. We were sort of expecting more from such a famous location. We had intended to do the distillery tour but at €20 each we decided that one distillery tour is the same as another and we would rather spend the €40 on a bottle than a lot of waffle. What’s more the Hennessy flag reminded me of the Soviet Union flag flying over the cremlin.
Tomorrow we have a 4hour drive to the heart of the Vendee and enjoy some long walks on amazing sandy beaches.
Sunday 12th November
We decided to leave Nantes early but actually didn’t wake till 10am. Another leisurely morning it was then. Just before 1pm we left the Aire and headed for Rochefort. We arrived at 5 pm after a three hour drive and an hour lunch stop. The Aire in Rochefort Gps n45.92735 w000.95467 costs a princely sum of €4.10 per night and has all facilities except electric hook up and is with walking distance of the town.
Monday 13th. November
I went for my first run in just under three months – at my pace of 1 kilometre every 7 mins it is perhaps more honest to call it a fast walk than a run. I ran/fast walked to the centre, the arsenal and the marina, returning just before completing 6k. I must admit that it felt good to run again and I will definitely be repeating it more than once every three months. Whilst stretching my weary limbs so that I would be able to walk the next day I noticed a British van on the other side of the Aire and went to have a chat in our native tongue. Well sort of- the heavily accented New Zealand reply was definitely English but not as I was expecting. I really enjoyed having a 10 minute chat to Sarah & Jason. It turns out that they emigrated from New Zealand to Wales three years ago then decided to rent their home out and take at least a year off to tour Europe. They are lucky enough to be able to spend the whole year touring in their Hymer motorhome instead of just doing the winter as we do, so they will be able to see the French Swiss and Italian alps and lakes if they wish to but so far they have only been on the road 11 days. They we’re really interested in what we had done and what we were doing but actually they seem to know a lot more about this touring thing than we do. Sarah said she had spent a lot of time planning and researching and it showed. We never like to impose on folks so left it that we may catch up at some point down the road and I really hope that we do. I am sure they will have some interesting stories to tell and I am desperate to know more about New Zealand a country that I have always wanted to visit. We had both followed Jason and Julie’s Blog “Our Tour” and both took inspiration from it giving us the confidence to do something similar. I mentioned that I too had a much more infant blog of sorts and within a few minutes from saying “cherrio” they had started following my blog too and sent us a message. So “Kia ora” (hello) Sarah & Jason- the wonders of modern connectivity.
We took a walk into Rochefort and whilst it was sunny the wind was cold and when the sun went in it was bitter. I transformed from T’ shirt wearing ‘look at me enjoying the sun’ type macho bloke to a fleece wearing ‘its a tad nippy’ normal guy, to fleece and puffer jacket wearing ‘blimey its frikin’ cold’ wimp. We still ate al fresco though (as the sun came out again) just a sandwich, cake and un cafe crem (they really know how to make coffee) and wandered the typically French streets.
Rochefort was an important ship building and armaments town in its day and tried to rival its nearest neighbour La Rochelle, I’m not sue it ever did though so as it’s neighbour is so much more impressive in every way. Rochefort however is interesting in own way but probably more famous for its cheese than its ships nowadays.
When we got back to the motorhome we decided take Sunny out for a spin and to do some washing at the outside al fresco laundry at the Inter Marchè spending the 1hour 15mins it needed for a wash and tumble dry, therapeutically shopping.
Tomorrow we aim to head to Cognac (about an hour south east) and hope to do a tour of one of the famous cognac houses.
A two hour drive from Fougerés brings us to Nantes. The roads were typically “French quiet” and we didn’t leave until after 11.30 watching the French remembrance service on French telly. Although the tv and the satellite both work independently from a 12v socket the telly doesn’t want to share the socket with the satellite box (the selfish thing) and immediately powers itself down. A quality 12v extension lead or powerful splitter is needed me thinks.
No low bridges or tight roads to contend with today and we arrived at the Aire relaxed and ready to do some sightseeing. It is a nice Aire with level pitches amongst grass and trees GPS n 47.24252 w 001.55680 but at €14.50 a night it’s is not the cheapest however it has free wi-fi, water, waste, w.c and battery charge if you need it. As it is the first night we have paid for in 4 nights, the cost is not too difficult to swallow and it’s why I’m using as much free wi-if as possible. It is right in the centre of the city with a tram line bang outside however as we have dragged him behind us all this way we jumped into Sammy the smart car and shortly found the chateau and cathedral. On a couple of photos we saw on the net earlier it showed the massive mechanic elephant thing and it looked so good that we decided to go see for ourselves. Signs to it were everywhere so we were expecting good things. After a twenty minute walk to get there against the wind we found it but it was more of an indoor attraction and the queue to get in was massive. As we had Molly with us that was a non starter. Was it all as it was made up to be? well we will never know but at least the twenty minute walk back had the wind behind. It was getting dark on our return to the Chateau so we did a quick skirt around the Chateau. Now I have seen many bouncy castles in my day but unusually this is the first chateau we have seen with a full height top to bottom stainless steel slide on its external wall. If only I was a child once more but as I am not we headed for Home after taking a quick wiz around some of the other sights by car – (mainly stately avenues lined with trees and renascence grandiose buildings and a few statues thrown in for good measure) and a pit stop at Lidle for tonic for the gin and a couple of bottles of our favourite Bordeaux at €2.45 a bottle – smooth!
So Tomorrow we have a three hour drive to Rochefort. We are heading steadily south to try and grab a bit of better weather. I didn’t let Angie bring her big warm winter coat with us saying that we won’t need it and she is not letting me forget it! For the sake of both of us we could do with some warmer weather.
After a lazy morning still recovering from the long and tiring day we decided to go to Bayeaux to see the famous tapestry. After parking the smart car and wandering through the ancient town centre we arrived at the museum just in time for their lunch hour 12.30 – 2pm oh bum we forgot the French love for lunch! We decided to visit the cathedral which had been recommend to us as a ‘must see’ and spent a pleasant 45 minuets looking at the stained glass windows and the amazing architecture. We lit a candle for the soldiers who gave so much to free this town and we left with a real feeling of well being and calm plus very very cold hands. It was freezing in there.
I snapped a few shots of the windows and gargoyles and after we left we went to pick up a few essentials at the nearest L’ Eclerc before going back to the Museum.
€9.50 each to get in but the tapestry was amazing to view made really interesting by the lighting and audio tour explaining each part of the story. I came here with my Mum and Dad when I was a pre adolescent youngster and at the time it had no audio tour and the whole tapestry was stretched out around three walls. You just went had a look and I didn’t really get it I was mainly trying to find the arrow in the eye bit and found it boarding ( perhaps that was my age). This time the journey was much slower and I took in so much. The quality of the tapestry bearing in mind it is nearly 1000 years old is astonishing. A quick cinema show after cleared up the outstanding questions and I for the first time realised that Harold was actually the ‘baddy’ in the story.
A quick drive took us to Arromanches where the allied troops built a huge temporary harbour by floating concrete sections over and binding them together. (How on earth do you float concrete?)
We walked along the promenade but the wind and cold had the better of us and a hasty retreat back to Catori followed. Wine uncorked cheese getting to room temperature and fresh French bread finished the evening.
Friday 10th November
The quiet was deafening. I lay in bed with a pre dawn blue haze from the sky seeping through the front skylight and all was silent. That was just before I dozed off again only to be rudely awoken a little later by a “Cocker-doodle-doo”. Mr cockerel quickly woke all the chickens ducks and geese and it was suddenly a chaos of noise.
We had decided to move on today as we felt that we had seen as much of Bayeaux as we wanted to and miles needed to be knocked off of the journey. We had circled Fougerés as an interesting town to visit and it was about a two hour drive. We left the lovely Aire feeling guilty as the owner had not come back the previous evening as she said she would to collect her €24 for two night stay and there was nowhere to leave it. Just after 11.30 we slowly pulled away. It was a great Aire and fully worth the €12 a night including electric, water, w.c & grey water dump. The €24 will be spent somewhere else I am sure.
Margret the sat nav took Catori the motorhome into town and tried to send her down a small road under a 2.4m bridge. Lucky I noticed the height restriction on the roundabout and made another circuit of it before going back the way we came. Later we were sent off down a very narrow road with a 3.8m restriction on it. Whilst we are only 3.4m high it is still a bit daunting. Feeling that something was amis I pulled over to check her settings only to find that she was set to Sunny the Smart cars profile. We changed her profile to Catori’s measurements we had no further issues and at 2pm arrived at the Free Aire in the Fougerés Chateaux car park. GPS n48.35524 w.00121130
After a bite to eat (soup and toast, we know how to live it up) we walked to the castle and circumnavigated its lofty walls popping through a small entrance to see four waterwheels in a line working at full throttle. Further round we noticed that there were two goats on a patch of scrub land between the castle walls and the moat. With no means of escape (unless goats swim) they seemed to be the castles captive resident lawn mowers.
The sunshine disappeared and rain started to fall so we hastily made a retreat to the van before heading off to the L.eClerc to try to find a small television bracket and satellite cable. I actually impressed myself by asking an assistant in French “do you have a bracket for a small television”. I was even more surprised when he seemed to understand and took me straight to the display. Bracket purchased we returned home to install it. The tv now sits on the wall on a movable bracket so doesn’t need to be packed away every time we move plus we can now use it when we don’t have Electric hook up as it is near a 12v socket and it frees up the small table to be able to eat from – Result – we just hope it stays on the wall!
Molly needed an evening walk and it gave me an excuse to go back out with the camera to photo the castle at night. The goats were still there, snuggled into each other getting some sleep before another day of weed munching. The Aire was full on our return and it just goes to show what a valuable resource motorhomes bring to the towns and villages that have Aires as all of them will be spending their money in shops restaurants and bars.