Day 12 – Saturday 11th June. St Savin, Lac d’Estaing and en-route to La Bastide de Serou

Moving day again. However, we wanted to cycle down into St Savin before leaving; it’s the next village along from ours (Arcizans Avant) with a lovely little square (or traffic free for all – such as the traffic is…) and a big church (which turns out to be an abbey).

It’s actually quite a drop down into the village; in fact I was a little worried about making it back even with the motor! Calv insisted though, as he wants me to see how much we can actually do with the bikes (things, of course, that neither of us would even attempt on normal bikes…) There’s a viewpoint in the square with lovely views down into the valley.

The village itself is full of medieval houses with lots of interesting features, such as little heads as the shutter holders.

The abbey is beautiful. When we went in there were 2 ladies doing the flower arranging – very clever they were too.

I lit a candle for Emilio, mum and Sapphire (I light them in every church we go in, but it’s not always appropriate to take pictures), and just sat for a minute in peace.

Before we went into the abbey we had passed an old lady opening up her shop. At the time she was chatting to somebody, so we decided to go in the shop after the abbey. It was full of paintings and books (in French of course). It was so lovely as we started talking to each other (in French) and I was able to practise because she had the time and patience for me. In fact she said my French was very good – so I had to explain that I was okay speaking it, but could rarely understand replies because everyone speaks so fast!

Many of you know that I collect plates wherever I can (preferably from potteries). There was no way I was leaving her shop without buying something, and I eventually spotted the slates with local scenes (this is ‘a thing’ that they do), so I stopped looking at the 50Euro paintings and bought one of these slates!

And yes, although I had to work hard myself, I did make it back up the hill to the campsite!

Where it’s so quiet at the moment they were quite happy for us to stay for a couple of extra hours, as we’d decided that we should visit the local lake, Lac d’Estaing (well, we thought it was local – it was actually quite a drive) before moving on.

Again this was some climb and took a good 20 minutes in the car. On the way the scenery was more of babbling brooks than thundering rapids and waterfalls.

When we arrived at the Lac our way was blocked by a herd of cattle crossing the road. We let a local go first, who quite literally just drove through them! We parked at the 1st available opportunity, near another herd of cattle grazing at the edge of the lake, and with horses on the opposite bank of the lake (I’m sure there was a donkey in there too; Calv reckons it was a mule).

We started walking, but again sometimes here distances can be deceptive (in that they’re longer than they look), so after 10 minutes or so we turned back to get the car to finish the journey down to the end of the lac. Where there was a kite festival going on! Only there weren’t that many kites. But I did buy a cow/goat bell (I’d already decided I wanted one of these, and managed to get one with exactly the right tone to it) and a couple of other bits. The lady who served us said that she’d been to a wedding once in Portsmouth of a French lady marrying an Irish man and the theme was Spanish (or the vicar, I can’t quite remember!)

Once back at the site we packed up and got underway.

This time when we got to the first large town, Lourdes, we chose to ignore the SatNav and follow my directions (as she has a habit of taking us right through town and city centres (even though I’ve set her up for fastest rather than shortest routes…). Amazing! By taking my route she immediately shortened our journey time by 15 minutes!

In the end we decided to stick with the toll roads (we were umming and aahing right up to the point we had to make the decision). We thought we’d just take the hit in the end, as we only have 2 nights at the next site. As we approached the toll booth with trepidation I was expecting a charge of about 30 Euros (we’d been on it a long time, and we get charged as a truck. The system knows how high we are and spits the ticket out of the top dispenser, even though I’m hanging out of the window trying to reach the bottom one!) Anyway the pleasant surprise was that it only cost 10.50Euros!

Once onto the smaller road (D117) we passed a few interesting looking towns, such as St Lizier which is another walled city. It was a bit too far back from our site for a visit but is logged for another time (I think it’s almost 100% certain that we will be re-visiting the Pyrenees).

Unfortunately our new site isn’t quite up to the standards of all the others so far (although advertised as 4*). It’s somewhat unkempt, there’s only 1 water tap (with both our hoses, including the retractable one I bought Calv for his birthday last year (he’s very difficult to buy for and it’s what he wanted, alright?)) we just managed to reach it from our pitch (through 2 hedges though…).

We did watch the England game in the little bar in the evening, with, we think, a couple of Frenchmen. Calv suffered the whole thing! Very disappointing end of course. The Frenchmen did seem to be completely impartial, in that they were oohing and aahing in all the right places (with all our near misses), but I was disappointed when they seemed happy with the Russian goal! Very interesting listening to the French commentary too – particularly how they pronounce all the players names!

Oh well, off to bed. Tomorrow’s another day x

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Author: MandoraTheExplorer

I'm a middle aged accounting tutor looking for my own mild adventures with my other half before it's too late..... I've taken the plunge and organised a year long sabbatical (a year with no pay!!), sold the house and my car and am ready to go :)