Day 11 – Friday 10th June 2015. Gavarnie.

We knew to expect worse weather today, so waking to see the mountains shrouded in cloud was no surprise, just a different view again.

Our neighbours had also left at 6.30 that morning (we’re struggling to see 8.30am ourselves!)

There was no rain though, and at times the sun looked suspiciously as though it was trying to make an appearance. After a leisurely breakfast we set off for our chosen destination for the day – Gavarnie. We were promised an amazing spectacle of the highest waterfalls in Europe (after a 2 hour hike up the mountain – only we didn’t know it was up a mountain at that point!) Continue reading “Day 11 – Friday 10th June 2015. Gavarnie.”

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Day 10 – Thursday 9th June. The Pyrenees – wow!

As hot as it was when we arrived last night, it was all set fair this morning to be just as beautiful today. Here, perhaps more than anywhere, a change in the weather changes the scenery quite dramatically. From clear blue skies to mountain tips fully shrouded in cloud, or ringed with cloud with the tips poking out into clear skies. Continue reading “Day 10 – Thursday 9th June. The Pyrenees – wow!”

Day 9, Wednesday 8th June – En-route from Ares to Lourdes

Wednesday and we’re on the move again.  We’ve got just over 130 miles to cover this time.  When we’re on the move we pull the spare duvet down from the bed over the cab, it acts like a curtain to minimise the noise from the van – it works really well!  It just means that if I really need the loo when we can’t stop I have to crawl under it on the way to the loo!

We got a bit further this time before stopping at a little village that we liked the look of, Moustey.  We thought we weren’t going to be able to stop, but just through the village we found a lay-by and walked back.  It was about 12.30 and as we hadn’t managed to have any breakfast we decided to eat in a little auberge we found – Le Haut Landais (this is the 1st time we’ve been this brave!)  They had a set menu and we eventually managed to get across that we only wanted 1 course, which was sautéed veal with taglietelle and seasonal veg (pan-fried broccoli).  It was a lovely setting and a lovely meal (although mine was quite fatty, Calv polished the lot off).  There was also a couple of baby birds in the tree right beside us – we think they were doves.

The village had a street called ‘La Place des deux eglises’ – they were 2 ancient churches right next to each other (1 shown above – my photos haven’t all uploaded yet, they’ll go into the gallery when they eventually do).  They’d started work on renovating them just 2 days before.

Talking of which we see so many derelict buildings, some actually falling down.  It’s such a shame…

Also up to this point we’d seen a huge amount of statuary (religious) by the side of the road.  There’s much less as we go further south, and what we do see appears to be mostly crosses & crucifixes.

We weren’t so late to arrive at our campsite this time.  Going through these little tiny villages I get so stressed as a passenger (I try to keep it to myself…) I would never be able to drive it – Calv is brilliant, he just takes it 1 issue at a time and, so far, we’ve had no problems!  Just the normal – seeing all the French taking a great interest in our get up – pointing, staring etc.!!

This campsite is delightful (although unfortunately the swimming pool doesn’t open until next week).  All the campers, tents & motorhomes (err, actually that will be just us then..) are British, and then there are French and Dutch mainly in the chalets.  Although apparently there was a New Zealander last week (we got chatting to our nearest neighbours – in fact we sat and drank with them for the last 2 nights).  The staff are so friendly as well – and they have Maxibon in the shop!! (It’s an ice-cream in case you’re wondering)

There’s a red kite regularly circles above us and a deer that comes out in the field in front of us in the morning and evening.

It is steaming hot at the moment here and the views are absolutely breath-taking.  We can’t wait to get out to explore tomorrow 🙂

Day 8 – Tuesday 7th June.Bike ride & interaction with the locals

A beautiful day dawned today – lethal, as it was the start of me getting sunburnt shoulders (which are still painful as I write this on day 11 (Thursday)).

As it was so lovely we just chilled by the pool (just the 2 of us, lovely).  I kicked a sunbed resulting a bruise wrapped around my little toe – fairly standard for me.  This is to add to my collection of bruises on my legs, some are biking injuries, others I have no idea where they came from!

We both completely forgot about the ‘no shorts’ rule so you’ll have to wait another day for a glimpse of Calv in his Daniel Craigs!

In the afternoon we set off for a bike road going the other way on the cycle path.  The cycle paths over here are fantastic (there seems to be a real understanding as well on the roads – for the most part)  Some of the cycle paths even have their own ‘road’ number!  We visited the village of Lege Cap Ferret, just a mile or so away, which was totally charming, but everything was shut!  This included the café we tried to use, which was shutting at quarter to 3..

So back onto the cycle route.  The path was completely straight with forest on either side.  We came across the abandoned petrol pumps and there were no barriers to going to look at them so I insisted (Calv didn’t want to).  We went and had a look, and as I was riding back down the lane this bloke came hairing up in his pick-up.  As he went past me Calv’s hat flew off my head, so I had to stop to retrieve it.  All the way this guy has now parked up and is watching us closely – I don’t know what he thought we were going to do – we don’t exactly look like master criminals do we?!

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After 5 miles we realised that we still had 5 miles to the next town/village and it was literally baking.  With only 1/2 bottle of drink left we decided we’d better head back.  We got straight back in the pool, but we had to share it this time – very refreshing though 🙂

Later in the day Calv got the idea that the Air Con needed re-gassing (well, he already had that idea, but he decided we should do something about it), so we visited 1 garage where we managed to ascertain they couldn’t do anything until next Tuesday, so we tried the Renault garage over the road from the campsite.  Again I managed to make myself understood, again they had bookings and couldn’t do it quickly.  But then the lady wanted to be helpful so she said she could fit us in at 8.15 tomorrow morning (we were leaving at about 10am) – this was all in French you understand!  Her co-worked (we assume her husband) was very clearly not happy with her…  So she’s gone out of her way to help us out.  We get back to the van and Calv says “I’ll just check it’s not a fuse”.  Well, guess what?  It was!  So all that effort and hard work for nothing.

By now it was about 8pm so we thought, rather than just not turn up, we’d write her a note (with the help of a translation from Google!), and pop it through the door.  Only when we got over there her horrible husband was still working.  He was sat in a recovery lorry.  “We’re closed”, he barked (literally – and in French).  I said we wanted to see the lady in reception.  “Pour Quoi?”  (Again barked – horrible man).  Calv gave him the note.  All very well, except I’d finished it with a sentence saying that I hoped we hadn’t upset her colleague too much!

On the move again tomorrow – heading down to the Pyrenees (look out for Day 10- hopefully I’ll be able to upload plenty of the pictures we’ve taken 🙂 )

 

 

 

Day 7 – Monday 6th June. Bike ride to Andernos. Drive to Cap Ferret

The sun came out today!

Well rested after yesterday’s journey we set out on our bikes along the cycle path, heading towards Ares centre.  We actually ended up in Andernos, a little way along the coast, which was quite charming.

We stopped in a bar for a café au lait (the young barman didn’t understand, it appears I should have asked for café crème..) and a chocolate.  They came in very small cups – which was just as well as my chocolate was sooo strong I’m not sure I could have drank much more.

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When leaving we headed off in a different direction, trying to go along the coast but blocked by a marina (isn’t it always the way?)  Instead we found another aire, a lovely little church and a nature reserve to pedal through.

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Beautiful inside & out.

 

We went off one way but soon had to push our bikes through sand. Continue reading “Day 7 – Monday 6th June. Bike ride to Andernos. Drive to Cap Ferret”

Day 6 (Sunday 5th June)- En-route to Cap Ferret (Ares)

We didn’t set off until after midday yesterday, which turned out to be a mistake as the next journey always takes longer than you think it will….

So anyway we went off on a little bike ride before leaving.  Back to a spot that we found on the 1st evening where the steps down to the shore have worn away, and you have to climb down with the aid of a rope (yes, there are pictures and I will add them as soon as I get a strong enough wifi signal to allow me to upload enough pictures).  The coast here reminds me very much of parts of North Cornwall in that it’s very rocky.  We watched men scouring the rocks for cockles and checked out the rockpools, but didn’t find anything this time.  We scrambled up a different way (with Calv telling me to go back the other way ‘cos ‘it wasn’t for girls’.  So it was a bit muddy & marshy & very high grassy – but I had to go that way then didn’t I?

Finally we were en-route (yes we went the wrong way again..), but it wasn’t long before we spotted an interesting feature in a little town, as well as another lovely church.  It was an old open market hall, but nothing being made of it.  In fact, the area around it was being used as a carpark!  Next stop was past La Rochelle (which I popped a few photos onto Facebook from yesterday).  I wished I’d spotted that snake a bit quicker though!

And then we had to find our way to the ferry at Royan (twinned with Gosport!)  The SatNav came up trumps here as there is no way we would have found it without her!  (Once again I have to say the signage over here is severely lacking..)

We’d just missed 1 ferry, but were in plenty of time for the next.  Until the queue starting moving, but the German van in front of us remained resolutely stationery – no-one in it!  It wasn’t easy to go round as we had to reverse, which you can’t do with the car attached behind.  By the time we’d decided we had no choice but to unhook the rest of the queue had decided to go past.  However a kindly Italian coach driver left enough space in front of him to allow us to re-hitch (I think it was unintentional!)  It seems the German didn’t return to his van in time and missed the ferry – shame (for all the chaos he caused).

We also met a couple of Irish lads who were cycling from St Malo to Santander.  Turns out they actually live in Southampton and had met a couple from Fareham earlier that day – small world and all that.

Once we’d paid our extortionate fee (not explained on the tariff board) of 95 euros – because we were a double axle (no longer than the car/caravan combos, but 3 times the price) we sat waiting with everyone else.  The French aren’t shy in nosing about the van towing the car (they’re not allowed to do it – tow a car that is) and with nothing else to do we had many of them coming to have a look – this is quite normal now!

It’s only a 20 minute crossing (see previous comment about the fee…) but once on the Girond we were surprised at just how long it took to get to the campsite – we finally arrived at nearly 8pm

It’s a nice little site.  Mixed toilets again (the last site wasn’t!)  This time though, instead of 1 cubicle for the hole in the floor we simply have no toilet seats!

There’s a cycle path immediately behind the site which we shall make use of tomorrow.  For now it’s an omelette for me and left0ver curry for Calv.

I’ve had to start putting days and dates on these blogs as I’m beginning to forget what day it is.  When the owner here asked where we’d stayed last night it took me ages to remember!

Days 4 & 5 – It’s brightening up over there…. (errr, no it’s not :( )

So I lost a lot of what I wrote yesterday (twice – I’ve only just realised I lost the re-write).

Let’s continue with yesterday (we did a lot more than today for a start).  We went back to the castle in Talmont St Hilaire boys (I wonder if you recognise it?)

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We didn’t go in though as we arrived at 12.30.  Just as it closed for a couple of hours.  Most places close for a couple of hours for lunch – except hairdressers and bakeries we’ve noticed.  That’s going to take a bit of getting used to!

We then decided to visit Les Sables d’Olonne (somewhere else I’ve been before with the boys).  I was a bit disappointed as it was a bit of a dump and it took an age to find the seafront (French signage doesn’t seem to be designed to help you find where you’re wanting to go…)

Here I had a crepe.  After ordering I told Calv that I believed I might have just ordered a pancake with cream.  I was right – I don’t know why I did it; I knew that Chantilly means whipped cream!  It was okay, but I won’t make the same mistake a 2nd time 🙂

We drove back to the van on the coast road (why didn’t we just go that way in the 1st place?!

Once back we decided to get a wash done, so off we set to the laundry, set the wash going and decided to head to the bar for 20 minutes until it was done.  3 1/2 hours, 3 wines/beers and an impromptu dinner in the restaurant later we were just about to head out for a bike ride (trust me it sobered me up!) when I remembered the washing!  Lucky I did or it would probably still be in the machine now!

The bike ride in the evening took us halfway back to Les Sables d’olonne to Chateau d’Olonne (the 1st sandy beach following an amazing rocky coastline) – 9 miles there and back (and no, I didn’t use the motor for most of the time – Debbie & Paul…)

Today (Day 5 – I think it’s Saturday..) has been a lazy day apart from a visit to Lidl (won’t be going back..)

I’ve finished my book (Jamaica Inn) and started a new one (Make Me – Lee Child).  Calv has given 1 side of the van a polish and I’ve done the ironing.  Rock & roll!!

Tomorrow we’re off again, this time to Lege Cap Ferret near Bordeaux and we have high hopes of finally seeing some sun!

I hope everyone’s well and am fairly sure your weather is currently better than ours 🙂