Thursday 16th November – France
Wanted an early start to head south now towards Spain and Portugal. The fog was so thick, it delayed our start until 10.30 am.
A long day travelling today with fog most of the way, so very little could be seen of the countryside.
Camp for tonight: Aire Municipale, Bessines sur Gartempe
A great little Aire in the centre of a small village just off the highway. Very little here with just a few small shops. Spent a few dollars in the local bar and then had a very quiet and restful evening. The church bells began to chime at 7am and not long afterwards it became really busy with traffic in and out of the parking area. Mothers and dads dropping off small children to local shuttle buses ready to take them to the nearest school – not sure where.
The Municipale provides complimentary water and electricity, however the locals park in the spots so you can’t get to them. Several motorhomes here overnight and we learned that the locals are unhappy about the Municipale providing these spots and try to sabotage the motorhome facilities and even park in front of the motorhomes to stop them exiting and then walking away for hours. Not many good things being said about the French from motorhomers here many different countries. The Gendamerie pulled into the car park in the morning at peak hour and sat and watched and did nothing about the locals parking illegally.
We had no issues at all and found the spot to be great for an overnight stay.
Friday 17th November
Blue skies and a perfect day for travelling. We are now heading towards the north end of the wine region.
Camp for tonight: Chateau du Haut Pezaud, Monbaziliac
Vineyards are now appearing everywhere and Lonely Planet tells us that we should visit lots of vineyards and sample wines and local produce – no argument for the driver or navigator so we pulled into just that kind of place for the night.
A great little winery just south of Bergerac with camp spots for 10 motorhomes. Again when we pulled in around 2pm, we were the only ones here. Wine tasting starts at 6pm so after a quick and late lunch we headed off for a walk through the vineyards to the small town a couple of kms away. Apart from the hairdresser, little else was open so we continued on to the beautiful Chateau on the hill overlooking the town. Just magnificent views over the valleys and the big town of Bergerac below.
Arrived back just in time for happy hour but found we were the only ones here for the wine tasting – just the wine maker and us – bummer and double bummer. We didn’t stay long but bought two great bottles of white wine and headed back to Ziggy.
We have found the whites here to be on the sweet side – even the driest white was a little too sweet for us. – did not like the reds at all but then again this area specialises in whites.
Thoroughly enjoyed the walk and the temperature today was heaps warmer than it has been over the last week or so.
Saturday 18th November
Another warm sunny day. Travelled across country today so not a huge amount to see. Countryside was not very interesting with little farming and agriculture. Mostly bushland with scrub. Towns were only very small which became a problem as we were needing fuel and no sign of fuel stations for a long way.
There are normally heaps of stations, however the remote ones have no attendants and use only credit card 24/24. We have found many that do not accept foreign cards which annoys my driver no end. A number of the large supermarket chains have fuel and LPG but the lanes are very narrow and then channel into a cashiers booth for payment. In a lot of cases impossible for Ziggy to manipulate the bends to get to the cashier – again annoying my driver no end.
Camp for tonight: Villeneuve de Marsan
Another small spot for around 7 motorhomes but beside a reasonable size village. We have tennis courts beside the Aire which provided a little entertainment from the novice players.
We noticed on the way in, that the town centre was packed with cars so took the opportunity to pay a visit into a village that seemed to be alive with activity for a change. We stumbled across a massive flea market taking up every nook and cranny on every street. You could buy anything from an old stove top iron (the kind great grand mother had) to an old Olivetti typewriter. Mostly old clothes and shoes but most popular were stalls with kids used toys and clothes. Did not need any of those so could not contribute to the local economy today.
Found some really interesting trees in the town square. Very hard to describe but here goes – giant tree stumps with very short stubby limbs with what looked like warts on the end of them. No leaves or branches, but maybe did have leaves in the summer season. The photo may show how very strange they were.
Sunday 19th November
Very peaceful quiet night but again chilly. Didn’t put the heater on last night but woke up to a chilly 7 degrees (inside Ziggy) at 8 am with fog outside.
No rush to get out in this weather so had a leisurely breakfast. As soon as we ventured outside, our neighbour who came in late last night grabbed us and started talking to us in French. Totally caught us unaware as this was a first for us for a Frenchman to actually approach us to talk. Grabbed our trusty Google translator and discovered he had a flat battery and was looking for starter leads. Couldn’t help him but Rob went to other motorhomers and found an Italian who could speak French but no English 😀. The Italian and the French gentlemen got on like a house on fire while my driver looked on in amusement.
Help for him was on its way so we packed down and took off at 11am – again in heavy fog.
More interesting countryside as we get closer to the Atlantic Coast with forests and avenues of stately trees lining the streets as we enter the towns. Houses are taking on a new look with the hacienda style now appearing as we get closer to Spain. Even saw restaurants with signs out for Paella.
Our camp for tonight: Aire de Camping-Car des Consaires, Anglet
The town itself was very large and busy and we had trouble negotiating around it but finally we came to the ocean side and our camp for tonight.
Normally a cost involved to stay here but no cost from end September to 1st April. This huge camp spot was taken over by massive motorhomes all towing huge trailers and or cars. Most taking at least three normal spaces. Felt like a convention of maxi motorhomes was in town and they were all here.
Great spot adjacent to Anglet Beach. Here there was a magnificent blue ocean with real waves and board riders and a great beach though not as white as ours.
We took off along the beachfront and walked along the boardwalk where there were restaurants and beachside bars for kms. Such a beautiful day and brought back memories of our beautiful beaches back home.
Left the oceanfront boardwalk and headed up the hill (quite steep and difficult) towards Biarritz. The view from the top was breathtaking and from there we ventured down to the town itself. Magic place with another beach where the locals gathered at all the oceanfront restaurants and enjoyed a really wonderful sunny Sunday. A really trendy seaside town obvious by the hundreds walking and eating on the beachfront here.
Time to head back as we had already been walking for about two wonderful hours – not tired I said – but my driver reminded me we had at least two hours back. He was right because with about half an hour to go, the bones were really struggling and the light was fading. We were really happy to see the last hill to climb to the waiting doors of our Ziggy.
Leftovers and a bottle of good wine was all we needed before entering into a well deserved slumber for the night.
Our last night in France was a good one and we looked forward to entering Spain tomorrow.