Saturday 11th November
We were parked under a tree overnight and were woken up by the sounds of little feet on the roof – think maybe a squirrel. The wind had sprung up again and rain was falling down. We left Aire Municipale La Cucerne, d’Outremer soon after a dance troupe had arrived and cars starting to pile in – the Hall adjacent was beginning to fill up.
One of the worst days for travel and we struggled to keep Ziggy from fogging up. Mostly travelled on highways today so was reasonably easy going except on roundabouts.
As we travel further south, the roads are getting better, towns are getting larger and the housing on new estates is becoming more modern. Still love the old stone and mortar country houses – they have so much character.
It is such a beautiful country and while not much seems to change here, everyday is a new adventure with new places to go and new towns to explore.
Our first stop for lunch is a little quiet. We are deep in the country on a river lock system. There is not enough to hold our interest and it is still raining so we headed off again.
Camp for tonight: Port de Folleux, Beganne
Not far from Rennes, we found this great spot at a marina in Beganne. Room for about 10 motorhomes with the Marina office adjacent which is now closed for winter (October to March).
We arrived after 4 pm and it is now getting dark by just after 5pm. The marina houses at least 100+ yachts and there is a height of activity with boats and people coming and going. The weather has cleared for the moment so time for a short walk before dark. Will explore more tomorrow (weather permitting).
There are two great restaurants here and the menus look great – sadly both are closed – probably for the winter so back to Chateau La Ziggy for a home cooked meal and a first class New Zealand Sav Blanc followed with a great night of music.
Sunday 12th November
A little ray of sunshine today, strange feeling but appreciated a bit of Vitamin D. Since we arrived back in France, we have been lucky to get a few minutes on some days but never lasts long. Today reached the dizzy heights of about 50% of sunshine. We are so spoiled back home with our weather.
This part of France is really beautiful as we head toward the Loire Valley. Bought some new e-books from Lonely Planet today specially for road trips (they were offering a special for a few days at 60% off). The ones we have are not dedicated to road trips and are more for backpackers.
Camp for tonight: Aire Municipale Champalud, Champtoceaux
The Loire valley view from here is spectacular. The Aire was a little hard to find as it is situated right on the top of the hill behind the magnificent old church built in 1793. The Aire is provided compliments of the local Municipale and has everything here. It is free to park and only €4 for power and water if you want it.
Lovely little place including the ruins of a medieval town, perched high on the hill and overlooking the spectacular view of the valley and water below. The medieval city was built early in the 12th century with the Chateau-Caux (meaning elevated castle) its major feature.
The sun had disappeared and was replaced with really cold winds and threat of rain. Again, we went in search of a restaurant/bar to have a drink and dinner but all three were closed (it is Sunday after all and it is off season!). Found a sports bar open packed with locals all watching and betting on the horse harness racing (the ones we saw were in New York of all places. Best they could offer for meals was sandwiches so had a drink at the bar and then back to Chateau La Ziggy for a home cooked meal.
Monday 13th November
Woke up to a chilly day but with perfect blue skies (no wind yet). Have no idea how cold it was overnight.
Opened up our e books and spent quite some time researching the Loire Valley and its attractions to explore over the next week or so.
Scenery along the river is fabulous and we pass many Chateaus some in ruins and others fully restored and probably owned by the rich and famous. Hard to find spots to stop and take photos.
Camp for tonight: Parking, St Clement des Levees
Another great spot with armchair views of the river. The free camp spot was set on the lower level of the levee with the small village and a gigantic church on the upper level. Only a couple of cars to share this great spot.
Again everything was closed – sign said “closed on Mondays” – should have been here yesterday, we joked!! Watched the beautiful sunset and really grateful for a beautiful and rare sunny day.
Tuesday 14th November
Happy birthday Renee hope you had a super day.
Bright blue sky and sunshine – again! The temperature overnight was a cool and crisp 0 degrees though nice and toasty in Ziggy with the heater on low overnight. No ice on the windscreen as the silver screens and heater on inside seemed to do the trick.
Watched the ice being scraped off the windscreen off the car next door – obviously a local using this spot as his personal overnight car space – would probably have to dig it out in a few weeks time!
Travelled through lots of villages today. There seem to be so many in the valley – you leave one and then within a few metres, the next appears.
Obviously very flood prone in the valley. The road running along the river is on a levee set high above the valley floor. Parts of the river are almost dry and look like mud flats and other parts are full of water. Mid morning and still there is frost on the grassy banks and mist rising from the river.
Camp for tonight: Parking Chateau, Langeais
As we pass through this village, we see houses built into the rock face – literally the front door is in line with the rock face. Hard to believe anyone could live in there but they do. Must be very dark but obviously no problems with snow on the roof or at the front door!
Six very narrow spots here are located right behind the Chateau De Langeais and right in the centre of town. The Chateau looms directly above us – such a great sight and we have a small waterway (with ducks) behind us.
This medieval castle is one of the best examples of this type of castle in the Loire Valley, so we are keen to get the walking boots on and explore it.
So worthwhile – a real gem which took a few hours to explore. Not only the chateau itself but the beautiful grounds which included Giant sequoia trees with tree houses and also the remains of a fortress wall. Great little shop at the exit with souvenirs so bought a couple of small items here.
Time was getting on and after leaving the chateau, tried to find a post office to send these and other goodies home for the grandkids so our first stop is to the tourism office and then the post office. It is now 2pm and sadly the tourist office closed at 1pm. Found the post office which had just opened after a 2 hour lunch break and the customers were hanging out the door. Gave this a miss and tried to find a lunch spot. Not having much luck here as the two lunch spots we found – the kitchen closed at 2pm.
Had a quick lunch at our Chateau Ziggy and headed off for a long walk. Went back to look at the houses built in the rock walls mentioned before – truly amazing.
Headed back on dusk, it was getting cold and we were not decked out comfortably to linger longer.
Wednesday 15th November
Three in a row!! Another beautiful sunny day so we were eager to explore another three prime chateaus on the “best of Loire Valley Chateaus Lonely Planet list”.
We drove through and photographed Chateaus in Azay, Amboise, and Blois. Tried to stop at a few of these but not a lot of luck with trying to fit our Ziggy bus in spaces made for small cars.
Our camp for tonight: Domain National de Chambord.
Located just outside the village in a National Park, Chateau de Chambord is listed as the largest and most impressive of all the Chateaus in the Loire Valley (and there spare so many).
It has 440 rooms, 365 fireplaces, 84 staircases and a double Helix staircase designed by Leonardo Da Vinci himself. The outside structure is massive and so many different turrets and spires bobbing up everywhere. Hate to have been managing the household and directing the staff to the various rooms.
24 rooms have been reconstituted over 4 floors. The original stables are there with equestrian events held here regularly. The gardens and waterways around the Chateau can be viewed from the top floor.
Obviously a very well protected historic landmark as while we were there, four military personnel armed with sub machines guns, gendarmerie on horseback with guns, security guards at every corner and helicopters hovering overhead were a reminder of security risks in this country.
Really enjoyed our visit here – though massive and very impressive and well done, not in our opinion the standard of Schonbrunn in Vienna, Austria.
Our campsite overlooks the castle and we are accompanied by 3 other motorhomes for a change.