I wasn’t expecting That.

As advertised the aire was between two windmills with a third one to the east, on top of an escarpment with fantastic views of both land and sky, very quiet, on the edge of a small town downhill, that couldn’t be seen through the trees.

Clockwise from top left; grindstones Windmill 2, Windmill 2. Windmill 3, Windmill 1

After the first night’s lightening display, last night’s starlight spectacular was also much appreciated, if it hadn’t been a tad chilly I’d’ve got the chair out and sat there for hours. I had the place all to myself both nights.

On taking LWD for her usual forced march yesterday morning,  guess what I discovered …

Castelnau-Montratier

the guide book was correct; there are rather a lot of Bastide towns in this area and this was another of them!

🙂 🙂 🙂

The Bastide(a) Triangle

I had to laugh at myself earlier, I was sort of “head writing” this blog when I realised I was trying to translate it into French. Quoi?  What was phenomenal was that I was quite a way along before I got stuck for words – who said “You stuck for words – how unusual”?

Anyway, I’d discovered in my Eye Witness guide that there are lots of Bastide towns around here with three of them being pretty close to one another. To my delight the aires book informed me that each had a free aire. I took that as an indicator that we should visit les trois.

Monpazier was first up, the aire was fairly busy but I managed to find a spot that had us with a  modicum of personal space and we ended up staying 3 nights. The town was delightful and I imagine that there’s been a fair amount of sensitive restoration. As usual in this sort of place there were quite a few “artisan” shops and had I owned a home I could’ve furnished it very happily without going anywhere else, so I had a haircut instead!

Monpazier

Next up and all of 15km away was Villereal. It didn’t start well – the aire was being used as a builders yard – good job I had no intention of staying the night there. I got chatting to a lady in the town centre and commented on the contrast between the two towns, Villereal being very dilapidated and tatty, in much need of TLC. She explained that each Mayor has his own budget for restoration and that all budgets are not created equal. If it weren’t for the fact that there is a little work being done I’d’ve thought the town’s budget was zero. I had a quick coffee and we left. (They didn’t even sell decent fridge magnets.)

Villereal

Monflanquin, a further 16 km, and completion of the triangle – well I haven’t a clue. There were supposed to be two aires, the only one I found, and I looked hard was tatty and a very long hike from the town. I couldn’t even find a car park that could accommodate us; so we left. And that was when I got the idea for the Bastide(a) Triangle – a bit unlucky and we could’ve disappeared into thin aire!

?

Monflanquin

Unfortunately my alternative aire for the night at Cahors was full and a height barrier has been installed so the advertised overspill parking was not available. So I gave up on viewing the medieval pedestrianised bridge. By this time I was completely fed-up with farting around and looked in the guide for somewhere else close by.

The idea of an aire next door to a windmill amongst a line of windmills caught my imagination, and here we are with splendid views, the aire all to ourselves and a wee thunderstorm for entertainment.

Oh, and the hair cut is great …

🙂 🙂 🙂

Hit and miss

Leaving Parthenay I changed the coordinates in the sat nag three times, couldn’t make up my mind where I wanted to go. Two weeks to fill and I was right out of ideas. Eventually we arrived at Périgueux. I perked up immediately as we drove through the town and I spotted the cathedral and another, definitely medieval looking building. The aire is by the river and the walk alongside it into the historic centre very pleasant.

LWD was subjected to yet another march around but she was bursting with pride when a group of Americans decided to photograph her. She posed to perfection preferring being the subject of the lens rather than just hanging round waiting for me to train my lens elsewhere, I think she may even have forgiven me.

I’ve done some research (looked at the travel guide!) and it’s off to Sarlat tomorrow and more old buildings and then to Cahors. My regular reader may have become aware of my penchant for a bit of a gorge and the upcoming little drive around another gorge or two as recommended by my guide, may not come as a surprise. The Célé and the Lot (again) being the starring rivers.

Périgueux is a definite hit, glad I didn’t miss it …

🙂 🙂 🙂

Failed extortion attempt

With a view like this to wake up to, who wouldn’t stay another night?

 

I frog-marched LWD around the medieval citadel of Parthenay this morning. The weather was warm and bright and with the antibiotics kicking in I’m feeling better and brighter. The old walled citadel sadly has seen much better days; I estimate at least 70% of the businesses were permanently closed, however there was some evidence of restoration and rejuvenation. This place has quite a history and the locals seem keen to preserve it.

 

 

We walked down to the river so I could photograph the rickety bridge from below the ramparts, LWD was on point as we trip-trapped along but failed to alert me to the possibility of an ambush – the photographs below may be used in evidence at the upcoming trials against The Billy Goats Gruff for attempted extortion and against the Troll for conspiracy, aiding and abetting.

 

 

This afternoon whilst pumping Vitamin D to help my immune system and serotonin levels I contemplated whether I travel to blog or blog to travel but came to no particular conclusion. I’m sure it doesn’t matter …

Okay Regular Reader, you got me – I sunbathed.

I’ve no idea what the temp was but LWD wilted and it felt hot to me …

🙂 🙂 🙂

Undeserved reputation

I’m a bit shocked at the fuel prices in France, with the pound at virtual parity, €1.36 is a lot to pay for a litre of diesel (unleaded is over €1.45) though by shopping around so far I’ve done ok finding diesel at €1.22 at some supermarkets. At one of which I decided to check my tyre pressures. Unfortunately I don’t have 8 ft long arms. It was almost a stretch too far putting air in on the side closest to the machine; as for the other side … There was an engineer working on one of the petrol pumps. After politely asking (in French) for his help, he pressed the air button whilst I held the delivery end on the valve. Effusive thanks to the helpful engineer and sorted.

LWD enjoyed an early morning runaround in the lovely park at Cloyes-sur-Loir, the overnight stop for our 3rd night in France.

During a brief stop for lunch and to look around at the outside of the Chateau in Blois, I was delighted when a shop owner on seeing me looking through the window opened up for me even knowing I only wanted a fridge magnet. It was a fun visit, we nattered away for quite a while, she practiced her English and I my French! She accused me of being fluent … maybe one day.

Turquant was the day’s main destination and overnight stop. A pretty village with troglodyte dwellings most still lived in, and quite a few as businesses, restaurant, disco, art gallery and my personal favourite the winery!

I woke this morning to the certain knowledge that I had to find a doctor and/or a pharmacy. In part due to the recent procedures in the nether regions of my body, the wee infection I had 10 days ago has returned. I found a pharmacy and explained my problem (proud of my French language skills these days) the pharmacist was unable to supply me without prescription BUT he then went above and beyond. He phoned the doctor and made me an appointment and told me that afterwards although he would be shut I was to come back and knock on the door and he would fill the script. Doc examined me thoroughly took the history (in French) and agreed with both me and the pharmacist that the prescription I’d been given at home was neither the correct amount nor for long enough and I started the antibiotics 30 mins later.

I honestly don’t know why the French have such a bad reputation – I’ve always found them, as today and yesterday very helpful and kind.

Tonight finds me at Parthenay, parked up safely with a river view and on the edge of a beautiful park with excellent LWD facilities. We’ll probably stay for a couple of nights.

🙂 🙂 🙂

Monet’s Gaff and Garden

My regular reader will be totally unsurprised that there has already been a change of plan.  This CoP took place halfway across the somewhat choppy channel and was in addition to the CoP that occurred before main engine start, so I’ll deal with them in order.

I’m not headed for Spain straight away and the Picos will be left for spring as I’m already a month behind schedule and am now delaying my arrival in Spain by a further week. Along with thousands of others K & L had their holiday plans snafued when Monarch went into receivership last week. They will get all their money back (eventually) but both were so disappointed not to be going on holiday in a couple of weeks. I felt for them especially as I was about to swan off again. So I threw a suggestion at them – and return flight only for two was booked within minutes! The only flights that were left at a halfway decent price, well it will be half term that week of course as both are teachers, were flights to Nice or Toulouse. I nixed Nice as it’s too far out of my way so I’m picking them up at Toulouse and they will have a few days in the van with me. Depending on temperatures we can either Atlantic or Mediterranean coast it and see some sights along the way.

Main engine start had me with a vague plan to go to Bilbao for a few days before heading back over the Pyrenees to pick up the girls. That was before I met Jo. I spotted her whilst we were queuing to go through passport control and clocked her as a fellow lone traveller. Then we met in the cafe on the ferry and decided to sit together for a while; well actually the whole journey, so busy nattering we hardly noticed the Rough. As you do, we exchanged views of the world (similar), frustration at people who think we’re “sooo brave”  and others who think we must be lacking something as we don’t have men – you get the picture. Amongst other topics covered were overnight stops and Jo told me that there is a motorhome stopover at Giverny. I pass by the sign for Giverny every time I come over and return but’ve never got round to stopping. Jo was right to reassure me that the gardens are still very colourful at this time of year, but only a couple of Monet’s waterlilies to be considered. (I really have watched far too much Python!)

So first night in France since June, in the car park at Monet’s Gaff and Garden …

 

Off to a great start.

🙂 🙂 🙂

Jour de Fête

Ste Sévère sur Indre is another delightful French village, welcoming to motorhomers with dedicated overnight free parking including water and disposal facilities and one unmetered electric point (not that I need it as my inverter is sufficient for my electrical needs).

The village’s claim to fame is that the famous French director Jaques Tati used it as the location for his 1947 film Jour de Fête. It seems to support the tourist trade here very well with a small museum about Tati and the making of the film and weekly open air showings of the film. Many of the local shops have names which evoke the film – “Jour de Fleur” for the small flower shop for example.

As far as I’m concerned the village also has a claim to infamy. The church clock bell bongs the appropriate number of bongs for each hour and then, in case you lost count, it bongs the appropriate number of bongs a second time. Kind of sweet during the day time – not so much after 10 pm when you’re trying to get to sleep …

🙂 🙂 🙂