Warming up…. 28/6/19

Although a bit grey and threatening to rain we did some food shopping and then headed out along the cycle path – which was actually country lanes – for a little walk to stretch our legs while the shops were shut over lunch.  The countryside is so lush – well, they have had a lot of rain so I guess it should be – and beautiful.  You can’t see the big peaks … although the hills around Munster rise to over 1200m and Munster itself is in a valley sitting at roughly 350m altitude.  The Germanic influence on the architecture is lovely with the peaked roofed houses dotted on the sides of the hills in between the trees.

The town itself is actually quite small with one main shopping street which is made up mostly of touristy shops and eateries but there was a lovely market on Saturday morning where we managed to top up our cheese supply…. some local unpasteurised soft cheese, Munster with Cumin and a lovely strong Tomme.

The journeys are getting shorter and I think it was less than 10km between Munster and our next port of call which was Eguisheim…. another of France’ most beautiful villages. We had found a couple of France Passion vineyards but figured we were a bit too early to arrive at 11am so parked up and went for a walk into town before venturing to our overnight stop at Domaine Stoffel (GPS n 48.04431 e 7.30546).

 

The old town is built on a circle and surrounded by vineyards rising up the side of the hills, a really lovely setting.  We were lucky as it wasn’t too busy despite it being obvious that it was a very touristy location.

 

We moved the motorhome to the Vineyard just after lunch and went for a lovely walk through the vineyards before coming back to do a tasting of the wines with ‘Grandma’…. we do like these family run vineyards!  Domaine Stoffel was her vineyard that she set up with her late husband and now it is run by one of her daughters although as appears to be the way with viticulture, you never let go!

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The wine from Alsace is mostly white with a little bit of Rose and some bubbles of both white and rose thrown in, although this particular place also had a Pinot Noir.  We worked our way through the menu which consisted of Pinot Blanc, Riesling, Gewürtztraminer and several others including a Pinot Noir Rose and the Pinot Noir red finally settling on a couple of bottles of Pinot Blanc as the weather is looking like it is going to be pretty warm over the next week and headed back to the motorhome for some BBQ Baked Beans and a warm but peaceful night.

After a run through the vineyards and a bit of breakfast we travelled another 8km further down the road to Colmar where we parked up at the Port de Plaisance (GPS n 48.080502 e 7.37349 15.44 euros inc Elec.)

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Colmar is a fairly big town in comparison to the others we have visited recently with a beautiful cathedral and in our eyes….. way too many people!  Although it was a Sunday and most of the shops were closed, it was still full of tourists….and storks who in Alsace generally appear to take up residence on Church spires.

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We walked through the centre and then around the perimeter of the old part which had lots of lovely green spaces and some really beautiful colonial buildings, although there was no doubt that the focus of Colmar is definitely the fishmongers district and ‘Little Venice’.

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A little ‘peopled-out’ we wandered back to the motorhome where thankfully we could open everything up as it was 29 degrees and at least there was a bit of a breeze.

Windows wide open all night and the temperature dropped to all of 21 degrees …. outside.  My run and Keith’s exercise routine in the morning were pretty warm to say the least – thankfully both were mostly in the shade.

Although we keep saying we will be in Germany in the next couple of days we also keep changing our mind and seeing somewhere else interesting ….. so leaving Colmar behind us we decided to venture slightly further North in France (rather than Germany) – roughly 20km this time – to a little town called Ribeauville where we we stayed at Camping Pierre de Coubertin (13.50 euro a night).  The campsite was lovely and the pitch was shady which was a blessing considering the temperature….  I think all meals for the next few days will be outside… even thinking of getting a couple of hammocks!

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Just after we arrived, our neighbours even had a visitor for lunch …. I was quite surprised as he went straight up to the table asking for food, then after they gave him some bread – although you are not supposed to feed the Storks – he wandered off round the corner to the next family eating lunch and did the same – ignoring everyone else en route who didn’t have any food….. he was on a mission!

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Later in the evening he came back round with a friend …. they aren’t stupid and appear to know when dinner time is, I am sure they can read number plates as they went to the Germans, Belgiums and Dutch at around 6pm then came on to the British and French at around 7:30/8pm…. needless to say he didn’t get anything from us although he was eyeing up the Pizza on the BBQ!

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The town of Ribeuville is very pretty, probably the prettiest out of the few we have seen over this last week or so as not only does it have the beautiful buildings and quirky streets, it is also surrounded by hills lined with vineyards and topped by castles.

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We decided to continue our research though and walked through the Vineyards to Bergheim, the town of the Witches just 3km away.  It was also pretty but having seen quite a few of Frances ‘most beautiful villages’ now we are getting a little picky!!

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We jumped on the bikes after lunch and cycled over to Riquewihr which is also on the list… and this time I would say it was pretty much up there with the best!  Once again surrounded by hills lined with vineyards, Riquewihr is another medieval fortified town and although very touristy, it is very well kept and you cannot deny its beauty.

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Not only does it have beautiful gates and towers…. naturally it also has the obligatory multi-coloured houses.

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I think we have had our fill of ‘pretty villages’ for now …. generally too many people for us and not enough ‘real’ places where people actually go on a day to day basis to eat and buy produce!

So we said our goodbyes to the lovely lady who ran the campsite and headed slightly further North to Obernai where had booked ourselves a pitch – the volley ball pitch – at Camping Municipal Vallon de L’Ehn (16.20 euros a night).  I joke not but when I called to book and mentioned the size of Hattie they offered us the volley ball pitch as it was large, flat and hard standing ….. I did say we weren’t ‘that’ big and would prefer a bit of shade if possible but on arrival the volley ball pitch it was!!

The heatwave has set in and the thermometer was registering 42 degrees in the motorhome on Wednesday and although the temperature does go down over night its still very warm, even though we have been able to leave all the windows open

Obernai is a lovely little town with real shops and on Thursday mornings it has a big market which is one of the reasons we decided to venture there for a couple of nights.  The market was well worth the visit, all I can say is don’t leave it until late…. we decided to have crepes for breakfast and do some washing, getting into the market at around 11:30 and many of the stalls were in the process of packing up.  So we had a bit of a mad rush to find what we wanted but dinner on the BBQ was steak with chargrilled vegetables and a local sausage that was made from veal, spinach, cheese and some other lovely ingredients … as we had to try the local produce – it was delicious!  All washed down with the bottle of Cremant (bubbles) that we bought  in Jura a couple of weeks ago …. a nice way to celebrate a birthday!

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I know it has been a long time coming but finally we have crossed over into Germany this morning.  We were a little nervous as the hot weather has pushed all the pollution levels up in the big cities but thankfully our CritAir rating of 3 was accepted (we did have a back up route), enabling us to pass through Strasbourg to get to Kelh (8 euros a night GPS n 48.563801 e 7.81395), our first Stellenplatz in Germany for a couple of nights to go and explore Strasbourg.

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Hattie gets Vertigo……21/6/19

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The parking area in Dole was peaceful overnight despite having the remains of the funfair that we thought had finished but obviously decided to revive itself for a few hours on Tuesday afternoon!

The town itself was pretty with lots of nice delicatessens, butchers and bakers as well as ‘Les Halles’ which we made a visit to on Thursday morning before we left.  Dole is situated on a river and a canal and it has cycle paths going in all directions which was lovely.

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I managed to get out for two runs, barely having to cross a road although evidently confused Keith with my description of how to get onto the cycle path as he ended up in the campsite and a slightly more bitty run…. apparently still enjoyable though!  We also ventured in the opposite direction for a walk up the canal which although slightly more built up, was also pretty.

Hattie had a visit from a German relative …. its always nice to see the excitement on other Concorde owners’ faces is the same as ours when we meet a similar motorhome…. daft I know but it is like one big family!

Leaving Dole we headed all of 20km up the road to Arc et Senans (GPS n 47.0331 e 5.78079) where there is an Aire both for services as well as parking overnight.  As we arrived fairly early we set off for a lovely little 14km stroll into the forest to see a bit more of the area.

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Arc et Senans is famous for its Salt …. or at least it was.  The Royal Saline was commissioned by Luis XV between 1775 and 1779 consisting of 11 buildings that form a circular arc.  In the 18th century, salt was an essential and valuable commodity  as it was used for preserving foods such as meat or fish as well as in daily seasoning of foods.  The ubiquity of salt usage caused the French government to impose the ‘Gabelle’ – a tax on salt consumption where everyone (including children) had to pay.

The building itself is now protected by UNESCO and is open to visitors and is also a hotel and restuarant but not used for the production of salt any longer.

How the weather can change so quickly I will never know… 30 degrees and sunshine on Thursday afternoon turned into 15 degrees and rain on Friday morning.  We bit the bullet and decided to venture out on another walk anyway at least we got to stretch our legs see the poppies, lots of vineyards and the beautiful rolling green hills….

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After lunch and a quick empty and refill at the service area we moved further into Jura and Yellow Wine country.  We had chosen another place out of the France Passion book which did a wide selection of wines from the region and we couldn’t have asked for me.  Domain Desire Petit (GPS n 46.88038 e 5.575643) was up the side of a hill in a tiny little village with a population of roughly 200 people and ten wine producers …… perfect proportions if you ask me!

The car park was big and flat and the views would have been fantastic if the cloud hadn’t been quite so low so after a cup of tea (it was herbal) – how British – we headed inside to find out more about the wines. They are a family vineyard with 27 hectares of vine and the gentleman who was walking us through the wines couldn’t appear to give us enough… he was the uncle of the couple who now run it but used to run it with his brother.  They produce small-ish quantities of lots of different things … Sparkling white, Sparkling Rose, Reds (of different grapes – Ploussard, Trousseau, Pinot Noir), Whites (of different grapes Savagnin (yes, that is Savignin not Savaugnon as I had thought) and Chardonnay), Vin Jaune, Macvin, and spirits…… I think we tried over 15 different varieties and each glass was a good tasting.  The Vin Jaune which is a ‘speciality’ wasn’t to Keith or my like as it had a bitter aftertaste…. almost like some of the sherry’s that we tried in Jerez.  The Macvin however was like a sweeter port/sherry which was delicious so with the need to get back and actually cook dinner, we bought a bottle of that along with some bubbles and a bottle of red… we do like France Passion!!

Although we had expected to wake to rain it was actually just a bit grey although we had taken a rest day based on the forecast… just meant we were on our way a little earlier than normal.  Whilst looking at different places to visit Keith had found a place called Epinal which was due to have a street festival over the weekend which we thought would be interesting, so we wiggled our way to Camping le Chateau (17 euro per night + 4.50 for electricity). We had asked for a spot without electricity and paid upfront for two nights but when we got to the handful of spots where the guy said we could park they were fit for a VW campervan…. not a Hattie, so we just bit the bullet and paid for the electricity which meant we could move to the largest spot on site which was enormous!

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With the weather looking a bit stormy on Saturday afternoon / evening we decided to leave the washing until Sunday and take a wander into town to have a look at what was going on, getting back to the motorhome just before the skies opened and the rain fell.

We only had a couple of hours of heavy rain thankfully, however whilst watching the news on Sunday evening we learnt that not far from where we were, the rain was replaced by large hail stones which destroyed the Apricot crop which was just at the point of being picked.  Very sad, but if like us you like your apricots I suggest you get buying now as the price will probably go up soon due to lack of supply.


Back to the street festival, there were roughly 150 ‘shows’ comprising of acrobatics, theatre, dance and music over the weekend dotted around the town in a variety of locations …. street corners, car parks, museums, etc.  We managed to see the whole of four different shows and bits of others, mostly on the Sunday afternoon/evening as they all got crowded so quickly and we learnt that we needed to get to there 20 – 30 minutes before each show started if we wanted to see anything in addition to the back of peoples heads!


We had selected mostly to see acrobatics and we were not disappointed, the strength and flexibility that the performers had was truly incredible.

 


Having had our culture fill over the weekend, with blue skies and sunshine we set off on Monday morning heading into the mountains to find some walking.  We had decided to stop at a town called Gerardmer which sits on a lake at 660m Altitude and is surrounded by hills and forests which in the winter turn into a ski resort.  We parked up at Camping les Sapins (14.40 euro per night)  which was about 1.5km out of the town half way down one side of the lake.  It’s a lovely campsite and thankfully it had one large pitch left which worked out perfectly for us!

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As we needed to do some food shopping we walked into town around the edge of the lake, found a Super U and on the way back found an amazing butchers.  As we walked in through the door we were hit by the smell of the smoked meats luring us away from the reason we actually went in there in the first place.  The smoked meats were a mixture of Pork and Beef, some were cured and could be eaten as they were, others needed to be cooked…. they all looked incredible. After much deliberation we ended up buying minced beef for some burgers, a filet mignon for a bit of a rub on the BBQ and a small amount of cured smoked pork, a type of chorizo and a type of salami … all made in house and all were delicious.

In the morning, with the sun just about poking through the clouds we walked up into the forest on the southern side of the lake which was dense forest so no views, although still beautiful then once we had dropped down again we ended up also doing a circuit round the lake, a nice walk just under 16km and 700m ascent.

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The following morning – as we decided to stay three nights in the end – we did some washing …. well, you know the story – then walked round to the opposite side of the lake and up into the forest before coming back round along the side of a stream on a circular walk.  I think we managed to get two glimpses of the lake this time but the forest was still fairly dense …. not an area for walking if you like your views but still fantastic and lots of wildlife.

Before heading off on Thursday we did a quick visit to the market in town and were very pleasantly surprised – it was really big with lots of local produce, everything from fruit and veg to smoked meats and the cheese coming out of its ears….  needless to say we held back on purchasing any more cheese as we knew we were heading into the mountains to an Auberge that sold local cheese and then onto Munster … but we did stock up on lots of lovely French apricots!

We left Gerardmer just before midday and took a windy road into the mountains, climbing up to 1100m before descending again to La Bresse which is roughly the same altitude as Gerardmer… 660m.

As we didn’t want to arrive at our final destination until mid-afternoon we stopped and had a walk round and with a rain stop in an awning, made it back to Hattie without getting wet to eat lunch!  It’s a pretty little town in a valley but nothing really in comparison to Gerardmer from what we saw anyway.

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We had decided to go to a France Passion Auberge in the mountains for dinner and despite being a little nervous about the roads and access we left La Bresse and wiggled our way upwards again.  I was driving and as we took a turning off of the ‘main’ road…. I say that in the lightest possible terms… I started to feel the sweat form…. we were still a good 20 minutes away!!  The road was actually a good paved road, it was just that it was only wide enough for 1.5 Hattie’s … so each time we came across another car it was a squeeze, thankfully we didn’t encounter anyone on a hairpin…. or anything bigger than a car!  Needless to say the road was only about 5 miles long and we soon joined another ‘main’ road which dropped off to the right …. probably all 1200m of it.  I glanced over and the views out to the lake were stunning but as Vertigo started to kick in I decided I was best to leave the sight seeing to Keith and focus on the road!

Unfortunately there weren’t any suitable spots to stop and take a photo but we continued to twist and turn until we got to our stop for the night which sits at 1150m altitude – Ferme Auberge UFF Rain (GPS n 47.96858 e 7.03216) where we had booked in for a bit of Alsatian food…. just to be clear that is food from Alsace, not dog food!

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Although the cloud was low and rain was looming we headed out for a little walk up to the peak of the mountain we were on which sat at 1314m, through the forest and back down to Hattie with enough time to sort ourselves before we went for dinner.

It is fair to say that the food was fantastic, although having not been to Alsace before, we get the impression that like Northern Spain, everywhere you go you will eat well.

The menu was fairly simple with three different set menus and then some of the dishes were available to order separately.  As neither Keith nor I had a clue what we were ordering we opted for two different ‘Menus’, both 20 euros a head and we were not disappointed.

We shared everything but Keith’s starters was a plate of charcuterie and mine can only be described as a sausage meat pie – both came accompanied by the obligatory sauerkraut and grated carrot, main course for Keith was cured ham with Gratin Potatoes….. oh my, they were good – although we will be having cheesy dreams for weeks to come. Mine was smoked pork with cheesy mash…. which sounds a bit daft when you think of how much cheese was in the gratin…. as to be fair mine was barely cheesy at all in comparison…. although very nice!  I then had a cheese course to make up for my cheese deficiency and we both squeezed a bit of dessert in … Keith had blueberry tart and I could only manage vanilla ice cream with blueberry coulis…. all however, was home made and lovely.

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Needless to say that despite all the rich food and cheese we slept well, waking to the sound of the cows coming in to milk, bells a clanging ….

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And today we have arrived at Munster at a nice little Aire (GPS n 48.037601 e 7.13309) 8 euros a night.

 

 

 

Pigs, goats and a donkey…11/6/19

Leaving Lourmarin we decided that as we were fairly close and neither of had ever been – although we had heard many good things about it – we would head to Aix-en-Provence.  As it is a fairly big city and there wasn’t a huge amount of choice we opted for another campsite, this time Camping Arc en Ciel which was 22 euros a night without electricity.

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The campsite was like a little garden of paradise underneath a motorway, its difficult to paint the picture without it sounding awful but it was actually a really lovely place  with lots of trees and flowers, a river running through it where you can fish as well as a swimming pool.  We had chosen a spot closer to the entrance which meant the road noise was more evident but further into the site it was much quieter and it was only 2km from the centre of Aix-en-Provence…. it worked for us anyway, we both even had a swim in the outdoor pool which was refreshing at the end of the day, although my run was hilly and complicated to say the least… that’s cities for you!

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Aix-en-Provence itself was lovely, with lots of restaurants, cafes and bars as well as boutique shops.  Every time we turned a corner there were more interesting streets with more cafes and boutiques…. all of which appeared to be one offs which made it even more interesting.  It has obviously had a large amount of money invested in it to maintain the buildings and make the centre look attractive.

After a couple of nights in Aix-en-Provence we headed on and although we loved Avignon when we visited a few years ago, we decided to give it a miss this time but instead stopped off for lunch in a little town called Orange. Although the town itself was a bit rough around the edges, when we stopped and walked around and saw some of the key sights….. all I can say is wow, what history and amazing buildings – although the photos doesn’t do it justice.

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Orange of 2000 years ago was a miniature Rome with all the public buildings but on a scaled down level.  The building at the back of the photo above is the Ampitheatre and obviously with restoration, is still being used today for theatrical and musical events. If you have a look at the following link you can see what it looks like from the inside … pretty incredible.

Although they have left the theatre with a slightly more rustic feel, they have completely restored the Arc Triumphal which did look spectacular…. thankfully Aldi let us park in their car park as parking for a ‘Hattie’ was complicated to say the least…. we did do some shopping so didn’t feel too bad about taking advantage!!

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Feeling cultured up we worked our way towards our stop for the night which was a Pig Farm….. yep, all things pig and to be fair they had a few mischievous goats too!

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The France Passion for the night was Domain Distaise in Grane (GPS n 44.75562 e 4.86749) and we had chosen it as we fancied somewhere to eat and they provided an Auberge a la ferme which in this case meant a small group of people eating a set meal together which mainly consisted of products produced on the farm and if they weren’t from the farm, they were from local producers.

We parked up amongst the cherry trees with about 15 other motorhomes who were a mixture of France Passion and Park for night (who paid 5 euros a night to stay) and  headed out to have a look in their boutique.  One pork loin, two beautifully large sausages (one with spinach and one natural), some goats cheese and some saucisson later we headed back to the motorhome already salivating about our dinner that night!  The farm owners own all the land down to the Drone so we headed out to have a look at the ‘Porks’…. as they call them and it is fair to say that they were happy…. fat and happy….. just how we like them!

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The meal was delicious.  There were 14 of us, although a Swiss couple turned up at the end of the evening and they served them a plate of charcuterie as well.  We started off with a plate of all the different types of charcuterie that they make on the farm – Saucisson, Pate, Caillette (which is a mix of onions, spinach and pork) and a cured ham accompanied by a home made onion marmalade and salads.  To follow we had Pork Shoulder cooked with potatoes and carrot in a bread oven for 6 hours which was absolutely delicious, Cheese which were two different types of goat and then finally dessert for which Keith chose the local speciality which was sheep’s yoghurt with Sweet Chestnut purée and I opted for an apple crumble with ice cream. …. contented but not too stuffed!

It was well worth the visit, we ate well on the night, slept incredibly well as it was so quiet and have been contentedly eating the produce ever since…although last nights cassoulet and todays sandwiches finished off the fresh meat!

A short hop up the road and we arrived at Camping les Luc’s in Tain de l’hermitage …. one of our favourite little spots since we did the apricot and cherry picking here three years ago.  It’s a great little campsite right on the Rhone and we got one of the best pitches… despite not fitting on it in any other way than parking diagonally!

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Tain de l’hermitage is all about chocolate, wine, apricots and cherries to us…. and it delivered on all accounts!  Michel and Teresa turned up on Friday afternoon with a bag full of cherries and two apricots …. disappointed as it was the apricots we were hoping for but the cherries were delicious and it was lovely to see them!  We headed to the market on Saturday morning and stocked up with some delicious cheese amongst other staples and on Sunday went over to the farm where we worked for lunch with Michel and Teresa.  They were nestled amongst the Apricot trees with their motorhome and although they weren’t ripe, we came away with a rather large bag of apricots …. which are currently in the process of being cooked up and smell delicious!

We managed to squeeze in a visit to the Cave du Tain to try out the different wines again on Saturday afternoon and on the way back a quick visit to the Valrhona chocolate shop which didn’t disappoint either. This year they had introduced some new chocolate for patisserie which were a burst of either Strawberry, Raspberry, Passion fruit or Yuzu…. absolutely amazing!

The rain has unfortunately caught up with us though and although Sunday was a mixed bag, yesterday and today have been fairly wet.  The frogs – which appear to be out in their abundance – are definitely enjoying it, as are the farmers as it has been pretty dry recently.

We left Tain de l’hermitage yesterday morning and drove through the rain to get to Ferme des Couderies (GPS n 46.26874 e 5.21840) a France Passion farm where they had goats and vegetables….. and not to forget the donkey!  The farmer was really busy and although he had had 40mm of rain in 24 hours he found us somewhere to park and this morning, having been woken at 5:30am by the donkey, we got freshly picked new potatoes, strawberries (which were more like wild strawberries as the flavour is immense), onions and you guessed it … more goats cheese!  I think we are going to hang back on buying any more until at least the weekend as we simply can’t consume at the same rate as we are buying it…. despite trying!

The rain was slightly lighter today so we took a bit of a detour to find one of the beautiful villages that Michel recommended called Baume-les-messieurs.

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Despite the grey clouds and rain the village was beautiful, nestled in between the huge limestone rock faces.  We found a little parking spot and walked up through the village to the waterfall and the caves which are supposed to the one of the best in Europe but we had just missed a tour so can’t comment unfortunately.

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Although the road was a little narrow at points there were ample places to park ….. at the moment – I dread to think what it would be like in the summer – and a lovely campsite right in the middle of the village next to the river!

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We didn’t stay however, we decided to head slightly further north to Dole, where we found a place to park up just by the stadium (GPS n 47.089401 e 5.500006) and plan to stay a couple of nights with the hope that the rain may ease in the morning as the town looks pretty and there appears to be lots of cycle routes/ walking tracks to explore.

We have covered a bit more mileage this week and Germany is definitely within sight now….. you never know we may actually be there by next week!

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France with a passion…. 3/6/19

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Leaving Calatayud we crossed over into Catalunya where yellow ribbons appeared all over the place and signs of independence were everywhere you looked.

Our last overnight stop in Spain was in a town called Tarrega (GPS n 41.642792 e 1.137911) where we parked up at an Aire on the edge of a park next to the police station…. very peaceful!

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Tarrega is another ‘normal’ town with a pretty old part with little streets and houses leaning in against each other, although none appeared to be in the same state as in Calatayud – they do say Catalunya is the wealthy part of Spain!

Waking to a lovely temperature … 14 degrees is just about right for exercise and a slow trial run and all was good, although the route was based not too far from the motorhome just in case… thankfully things were getting back to normal again!

After a quick fill and empty – I am now talking about Hattie – we set off on our way again, making the most of cheaper diesel in Spain before we finally crossed over into France just after lunch.

It was lovely to see the change in the colour and texture of the countryside around us as the day the went on comprising of a variety of trees and coverage on the hillside.

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As if by chance our first stop in France was at a Vinyard – Le Chateau du Lac, provided by France Passion (GPS n 43.05765 e 2.96508) which is near Sigean.

Hattie found her spot for the night which was right outside the door to the Cave…. its just a shame that the original Chateau du Lac (behind us) was falling down around it!  The vineyard has been in their family for 5 generations and they are a small bio producer of a mixture of white, red, rose, dessert wine and a late red which is also slightly sweeter and ideal for drinking with foie gras (apparently) or dessert.

We happened to hit on a busy night as it was a national holiday in France and coupled with the beautiful weather everyone was making the most of a long weekend but we tried the rose, red, white and the late red…. purchasing a bottle of the rose (light and fresh) and the late red (slightly sweet but not overly).

Walking through the vineyard takes you to the lake where you can fish, relax or watch the birds …. although we only saw one odd looking bird with long red legs (bird names are not my strength – can you tell?). The views however were beautiful….

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The Vinyard is located 500m from an African reserve so we woke to the calls of what sounded like peacocks, but they could have equally been something more exotic… it was a fairly tranquil night none the less!

Leaving the the Chateau du Lac behind we continued onwards, winding our way along roads lined with Vineyards to Camping Mediterranean (14.44 euros per night) at Frontignan Plage.

It would be difficult to say that it was the prettiest location we have ever stayed at but in a weird kind of way it wasn’t bad and more importantly, we had wanted to visit Sete (having seen it on Candice a French detective series) and it was an easy cycle ride from here.

Frontignan has an old town, a new town and the beach …. we were at the beach, although it is actually only a thin stretch of land between the sea and the lake…. and within that piece of land there are also other lakes, so it is in fact mostly water… if you are following me, that is what makes it unusually pretty.  There is unfortunately a large Port between Sete and Frontignan and a gas works as well which kind of reduces the beauty of the place!

In addition to catching up on washing, we had a lovely walk on Friday, wandered into Frontignan old town on Saturday to the market where we were pleased to see all the local, seasonal produce and buzz that is oddly specific to France

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Before being enticed by the butchers to buy up some delicious sausages and pork loin for the BBQ.  Then on Sunday we took the bikes out for a spin into Sete to explore.

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Having walked most of the streets of Sete as well as ‘Les Halles’ (which were pretty fantastic, even on a Sunday) we can’t work out where they filmed Candice but I guess that is fairly normal.

Sete is a very busy, touristy town.  It is pretty but we are glad that we cycled over as the traffic was horrific!  We walked all the way up to the panoramic points to try and see out over the coast and town, unfortunately about 30 minutes before we climbed up the hill the sea mist started to encroach and despite waiting around at the top it just wasn’t our day to get the views so we headed back down and back to the motorhome to quench our thirst!

With all the washing done and local sights seen we headed eastwards again to find Lourmarin (Car Park only GPS n 43.764099 e 5.36663), one of France’s ‘prettiest villages’.

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It is a lovely little village but unfortunately with the award and popularity comes a certain amount of change as it now has lots of very expensive boutiques, cafes, restaurants and bars and doesn’t feel very French…. ah well, nice to look at and tomorrow we move on!

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