AA Best Drives in France
This book was a great xmas gift from one of our daughters, it gives you 25 tours in France in "Off the Beaten Track" locations. Our trip this year in 2013, covered most of "Tour 4" in the Dordogne & half of "Tour 11" down in the Pyrenees (see top image), we did see part of the Canal du Midi between the two tours.
We love France and have been there many times, but this year (2013) will be only the second time in our Myrtle (motorhome). The French make it very easy for the motorhome, they provide "Aires" in many of their towns where one can park overnight. These are often free, but are never more then a few euros. Aires are often located close to the town so you have easy access to the shops and restaurants.
France Passion is a collection of "FREE" stopovers, (after you buy the book) on Farms, Winegrowers, Craftshops or Motorhome owners. Click here for more info . The image above was taken on a France Passion site at Baden in Brittany, it was a field by a large lake and the setting was superb, and virtually free
Our next stop was Sarlat, a lovely medieval town with narrow streets and courtyards, it's now very touristy, I would love to have been it 50 years ago.
Gouffre de Padirac
At Gouffre de Padirac there is a subterranean cave system, and when we arrived and looked down a huge hole in the ground I said, "There's no way I'm going down there". When we came back up the sun was shining and I was so glad I forced myself into it. It was so worth it. We took three lifts down and then had to go further down lots of steps before we levelled off, I started counting punts (boats) as we walked beside a river 103 metres below ground, and when we reached a lake I had counted 50, each punt seated 8 people. At the other end of the lake we got out and were shown further cave systems before returning.
Banged my head
Woke the next morning to mist, we were staying on a France Passion site near Domme. I was standing on the rear step when I fell backwards onto the hard ground landing on my backside, and banging my head . My right shin was badly grazed as it was stuck between the motorhome and the folding step. My shin was a mess, but I was lucky I didn't break my leg.
We drove up to Dover and took the ferry across to Dunkirk and spent two days in the Ypres area before heading into Normandy to meet up with Richard and Anne in their Auto-Sleeper motorhome. Our first night with them was on a boggy campsite near Abbeyville and we had to be towed off in the morning. That was a first and I hope it will be the last. The Crozon peninsula was where we had the best of the weather and both Richard and Stevie swam in the sea when we stayed at "Camping Les Pres Verts", west of Concarneau. It had its own sandy beach which was just a few minutes walk. We returned in the May of 2013 and were greeted like long lost friends by the owners.
This was going to be a 6 week trip so I had a refillable gas tank installed as you can't get the UK gas bottles in France We crossed from Plymouth to Roscoff and met up with some friends from Sidmouth in Audierne. We had coffee then went on to have lunch at a restaurant on the headland. The Aire we stayed on was right on the estuary with lovely views across the river. Also staying on the Aire was an elderly English lady (83) who was on her own, she drove over in her little Romahome motorhome from the Helford River in Cornwall, she had turned off her mobile phone because her children kept phoning her to ask if she was ok. A remarkable lady, I'd love to meet her again one day.
The following day we set off for a little place called Baden, we had stayed there the previous year with Richard and Anne. (see two motorhomes image) We heard Cuckoos, Toads and Owls and we saw a red squirrel
The next day we headed towards La Rochelle and stayed on a France Passion at Rosnay, it was a small vineyard and we bought a few bottles to keep us going.
We moved further south the following day looking for an Aire to dump our waste water and fill up with fresh. We spent all morning driving around only to find we were unable to use them for various reasons, The first Aire was closed, the second was being used as a parking place by council workers and we just couldn't find the third one. We then headed for Bergerac 4 hours away, we noticed that it was getting warmer but the skies were grey. We stayed on a France Passion site that night in Mareil sur Cruix.
Our objective the following day was to start our "Tour 11", but first we needed a supermarket and to top up with water on an Aire. That done we found our tour route and stopped at our first point of interest which was the Grotto du Gran Roc, just north of Les Ezyies. This link to Les Ezyies is well worth a look, you will see why we went there. We stayed at Les Ezyies for two nights as it was such a nice place. We met a lovely english couple staying on the same Aire and they invited us to go and stay with them near Peterborough.
Our next stop was a very pretty village called St Leon-sur-Vizeres, where we enjoyed a lovely walk followed by lunch by the river, well someone has to do it.
I could write a page about Rocamadour , but I don't have the space so you will have to go visit yourself ok. Built on the side on a cliff, you take lifts to go up and down. Whilst walking along the street (image above left) we looked up and saw a "Booted Eagle" soaring overhead, a huge bird, it was just circling the building at the top. We spent the night on a France Passion site, it was a hilltop farm and we bought fresh milk and eggs, never had fresh milk before.