Sunday, August 28, 2011

French Odyssey....part 2

After eating and drinking to our fill at our friends , it was time to hit the road heading southwest to the Loire Valley near Tours on the next leg of our journey. First we stopped for provisions at the largest Carrefour hypermarket in France (big mistake)..In a place the size of a small village they had car parking spaces for thousands of cars, but only four spaces for anything over 2.5m (thats us at 2.6m)..I must have driven round dozens of times whilst Laura went through the slowest checkout in Europe. Anyhow after our false start we were soon on our way on a mixture of main roads and toll motorways. Now toll booths are fun as most are automated and the calculate the cost based on the size of your vehicle (loads of sensors).. and they have two payment slots one at car level and one at truck level. You can guess which one it wanted us to use, this involved Laura leaning out of the window and contorting herself just to reach the payment slot (not good for your back). Despite these niggles we had a steady journey of about 180 miles to " Chateau Nitray" in the Loire valley.

The Chateau was part of the "France Passion" scheme, where each year you buy a book with thousands of farms/ vineyards ect listed, which allow campervans to stay overnight FREE. This Chateau had its own vineyard (where we camped) and of course sold their own label wine. Before long Laura was rustling up dinner whilst me and Joel checked out the "shop"....Some wine tasting ensued and I staggerd back to the van with a few bottles of their finest produce. A very mellow evening ensued as the sun set over the vineyard with some rather comical attempts of climbing into the hightop for some much needed zzz's. Part 3 .... the final Leg will follow.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

French Odyssey....Part 1

After many months planning and a mixture of excitement and trepidation the Campervan was loaded with all manner of paraphernalia to keep the four of us fed and entertained for the next three weeks as we began our French odyssey. Our destination was the island of I'll D' Olleron, just off the south west coast of France some 800 miles away.

So as not to make the journey to arduous for Erin and Joel (and us) we planed to take three or four days getting there, two weeks on the Island and three days getting back. The first leg of the journey was down to the Channel tunnel some 248 miles from home, which ain't a quick trip at 55mph. Why so slow I hear you ask?..Self preservation. A few weeks previous routine checks on the van showed that the gearbox was on its way out, but there was not enough time to book a rebuild in. So a steady 55mph didn't put to much strain on it since we were hauling 2.5 tons .

We did cheat the first night staying in a travel lodge (less hassle). But bright and early the next morning we boarded the Channel Tunnel train bound for Calais. If you've never been on the Chunnel , it's quite an experience whizzing at 120 mph whilst sitting in your van and in 30 mins we were in France.

Our destination for our second night was Chambourcy ,southwest of Paris where some family friends lived and where we had been invited to stop over. We opted to take the motorways ( which are mainly Toll) as it would get us there with minimum hassle. Now French motorways are great as compared to Britain they are so quiet even it dose cost about 1.5 euros per 10 miles to travel on them....Oh and a Sat Nav is a great asset, especially when going through towns, if you've not got one ...get one you won't regret it and it saves many arguments with your nearest and dearest.

Part 2 to follow................