Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Off again!

I suppose we are quite sane, heading off to France again this time of year?  But the thaw has come, and it is much warmer than it has been.  And we are hoping that maybe, in the South of France, we will have the sun on our backs for a day or so.

This post, as always, is to goose Network Blogs into checking daily for new posts - will update from my phone, and add photos when I get home again - Wednesday 5 April, unless things go desperately pear-shaped between now and then.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Brittany and Normandy, 27 February

I woke up in the night and ominously discovered there was no water in the loo. Put the heating on for a quick blast, which sorted that one out (although didn't do very much for my sleep!), but in the morning we found the outlet pipes were frozen, and when they thawed, water from the bathroom basin was leaking all over the rear tyre. So we sadly decided to call it a holiday. We needed diesel, so asked the satnav to take us to a nearby Super-U, which not only had petrol but had a decent mobile signal, so I was able to change the booking to today - incredibly easy, and there seem to be few restrictions on changes for Frequent Traveller accounts. I did have to pay an extra £20 as we were going to be crossing in peak time (although given how few vehicles were on our crossing, I'm not sure they ought to have charged me!), but again, that was easily sorted out. We would probably have spent the day driving up to Calais on non-motorway routes, but because we only had a couple of hours, we went on the motorway and stopped at the Baie de Somme for lunch. Then we headed on and arrived in Calais in time to fill up with diesel - although it was the same price as here, if not slightly dearer - and got a crossing half an hour earlier than scheduled, which was good. And a very easy journey home - we seem to have brought the clear skies with us, even though it is very cold here. But still, it won't be draughty in bed! I'm now going to go through and add photographs to past posts in this series.

Monday, 26 February 2018

Brittany and Normandy, 26 February

Well, I don't know why the Swan Whisperer was unimpressed by Villedieu-les-Poêles; it is a lovely little town!  True, the bell foundry and the other museum were closed - as, indeed, were most of the shops, it being Monday - but we still had a lovely walk round, and visited the church which, judging from the extra seats set out, is doing a roaring trade this Lent!  We were amused by an old-fashioned confessional box with two comfortable-looking armchairs placed tête-à-tête in front of it, presumably so one could discuss one's sins with the priest. 

Even the public loos - which were closed, but whether for good or just for the winter wasn't clear - were built in what was obviously an old water-mill.
Anyway, once we had had a walk, we drove up to Grandcamp-Maisy, where we parked in front of the harbour and had lunch, and then the SW said he wanted to go to some of the Normandy beaches.  I have been brought up to be totally uninterested in them - my father, although proud of his Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur, hates talking about his experiences and we have learnt not to ask!  So I am never really interested, and had a nap while he walked round Point du Hoc, and then dozed while he drove to other places and pottered round. 

By the time he had finished doing that, and I was properly awake again, it was 16:00, and still a 2-hour drive to our overnight stopping place. Rather a dull drive, and probably rather expensive, although I always like the Pont de Normandie. And it was dark by the time we arrived here - somewhere in the middle of nowhere that I chose mostly because it was half way between Villedieu-les-Poêles and Calais!

The weather, which has been absolutely glorious almost since we arrived (although bitterly cold), has taken a turn for the worse, and we are hoping the snow they tell us has hit London will not reach us until we are safely home. Meanwhile we are pretty snug in the van, although it can be draughty!

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Brittany and Normandy, 25 February

The Swan Whisperer went off for his run this morning, and I got up, washed, dressed and got everything ready for breakfast, and was just about to set off on my walk when he returned. So I went off on my walk - not many walkers, except with dogs, but hordes of joggers and a fair few cyclists - and when I got back, breakfast was almost ready!

After breakfast we decided to drive through Rennes as it was Sunday and we assumed - correctly - that there wouldn't be much traffic. Rather an attractive town, we thought, but driving over cobbled streets is noisy in the van!

Then we came out of town and found somewhere to stop to have coffee - the SW had bought pains au chocolate when he got a baguette for lunch - and then round St-Malo, which we remembered from last time. Then we drive to our halt for today, the town with the glorious name of Villedieu-les-Poêles. The SW had been for a walk but says he wasn't very impressed. I was at a complicated bit of my knitting, so stayed in to do that, but we will have a walk tomorrow morning, and see.

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Brittany and Normandy, 24 February

I bottled out of visiting the submarine this morning, as I was afraid it would be claustrophobic, although the Swan Whisperer, who did go, said it wasn't at all, once you were in there. All the same....
So after that we decided to go down to the nearest beach to have our lunch, stopping at a supermarket en route. We were a bit annoyed as we parked up totally in nobody's way and some officious man - not an official, or anything, but probably a local who gets tired of motor homes all over the place - politely suggested we go and park in the aire round the corner, so we did. It has services, so we emptied the loo and the grey water, but it didn't have any fresh water. 

We decided to take the main road across Brittany to Cesson-Sévigné, outside Rennes. We did debate driving through Rennes itself, but I think we had done that last time and hadn't been very impressed. So we ended up here by the lakes, where there is a running/walking course all laid out. I walked round the bottom lake, which takes about 17 minutes at my speed, and feel refreshed for it!  

There are services here, and we think the water is running; it wasn't when we got diesel in the town earlier. The man at the kiosk, who had only just come on duty, said his predecessor knew very well that it wasn't working, and shouldn't have sold us a jeton, and he refunded us!  Only €1.50, but still....  Water here is €2.60, but it looks as though it's working.

Friday, 23 February 2018

Brittany and Normandy, 23 February

This morning was cold and fine again - really lovely, but bitterly cold. We woke up at 6:30, but the SW said the gas had finished in the night and he couldn't change the cylinder until it was daylight, so we went back to sleep again and it wasn't exactly early by the time we'd had breakfast and so on. I went out to Lidl to get one or two things, and then we drove on, first to see the standing stones - field upon field of them, incredibly impressive. 

Then we drove to Lorient to see the submarine pens and so on there. We had hoped to drive across country - and we did, indeed, we did drive round the coast for a bit, and stopped at a Super U for another gas cylinder. I was cross as Lidl had had no fresh milk so I'd had to buy incredibly expensive bio stuff from a little shop at the corner of the car park, and if I'd known we'd be stopping at a Super U, I'd not have bothered!

Anyway, half way there we came to road works and found we were too tall for whatever was blocking the route, so we ended up on the main road, after all. Not that we minded, as we really had had a beautiful drive.

Sadly, when we got to Lorient, I found I had completely run out of energy. I do seem to be very much better these holidays, far more energy, but there it wasn't, this afternoon. So I spent most of it lying on my bed, reading and watching seagulls out of the window, while the SW explored. We decided to stay at Lorient for the night in the hope that I'll feel up to exploring the submarine base in the morning.
So as there was one very near, we ate at a creperie this evening (and very good it was, too!) and are now in bed, even though it's only just gone 9. Our books await!

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Brittany and Normandy, 22 February

We had a lazy start to the day, and it was 11:30 before we "composted" our tram tickets to go into the centre of Nantes, which the Swan Whisperer had walked around the previous evening. We saw the Chateau that originally belonged to the Dukes of Brittany, and which now houses the local museum, telling, among other things, the history of the town's involvement with the slave trade.  I should have liked to have seen that, but there wasn't really time. 

So we walked on and went into the Cathedral, which has been rebuilt many times over the centuries, and is still  lovely.  And then slowly back to the tram stop, where we needed to buy fresh tickets, as ours had expired, and then we  were soon back at the campsite. 

The restaurant there turned us away as they were full, so we went to one next door which did take-aways and got a sandwich (me) and some pasta (him), and ate them in the van. 

Then we had to organise ourselves to move on, including using the services and remembering to switch off gas and electricity, etc, and headed on to Carnac. We decided to go slightly all round the houses, as the SW wanted to go over the Pont St-Nazaire, which was well worth the detour, we both felt. There was a lovely bridge over the Loire just outside Nantes, too, but the St Nazaire one has a reduced speed limit so there was plectrum of time to look around. We saw a huge modern cruise ship - I quite thought it was a block of flats at first - which was either still being built or was in for a refit.  Super!

And so on to Carnac. Last time we were here, it was full of road works, and we were so turned around by the various diversions that we didn't realise we were here until we no longer were!  Not so this time. We did have trouble finding the Aire, but now we are here, quite near the town centre and also the fields full of menhirs (Obélix's discards?) That surround the town. The SW, needless to say, has gone out for a walk, and I am about to start supper, which would have been pasta, had the SW not had it for lunch, but will now be mince with potatoes!