Thursday, 28 July 2016

Bonjour La France

Apologies to my regular 'reader' as its been a while since last posting due to us crossing the French border and of course suffering from the inevitable complete lack of free WiFi here
When I did get a signal on my MiFi device the signal was so poor I couldn't do anything anyway (apart from paying the daily connection fee!)


So ages ago remember there was this football tournament on…Euro 2016
We spent a few days travelling up from Benidorm staying on some new found aires tucked away in towns or wineries (what a surprise)
The night of the winery stay saw internal van temps of 40 degs in the evening so off we Fozzed in to El Masroig where we were the only guys in the bar to watch the Germans lose their semi final, but many thanks go to the guys who turned up later and gave us a free bottle of wine from their particular winery which they own


Our 'host' winery where we spent too much money really


Another night another semi final, viewed in another bar in Vilafranca del Penedies and how I wanted to go and ask this shop owner if he did Ham, on the way to the 'match'

We had a few nights at two of our favourite Spanish stops, namely Morella & Restaurant Can Janot at Navata where we had the buffet lunch yet again and even joined the evening's village's musical get together on the terrace
The music was laid on by the local hired DJ who played Caro Emerald songs for around 4 hours continuously with no change of artist or genre till way late, odd that!


After having inputted the wrong co-ords and making it half way to Andorra (and the hills) we finally divert in to La France, do the washing again at Leucate Laverie, and settle down in late 30's heat in Bedarieux
This is where the culture shock hit us midships and hard!
Dead village, almost nowhere open for an evening's hard earned glass of wine or beer, and certainly no shops to browse around with the rest of the local populous 
Thats the difference Im afraid between the two countries, France & Spain, the Spanish just get going around 5pm and everyone turns out to be sociable and stroll the strolls talking, eating, drinking and well, living a life!
France is just 40 years behind all the time. What do they do behind those closed shutters?
The kids must be bored rigid!
While I'm ranting I might as well say it here, we loved Spain and its grown on us. OK they have a long siesta but make up for it by utilising all the remaining time to get out and socialise and enjoy life
Even at lunch the cafes are open serving sensibly priced beverages of all forms and offering a wide selection of tapas. I miss it already!


I've rambled on so the pictures have lost continuity. The river shots are of Lunas, next aire down the river, and a total contrast to Bedarieux. Three cafe/restaurants open (in summer) and a river to throw yourself in to cool down (which I did)


Too hot for this pooch



Ever northwards and those rain clouds appear. Bizarrely we are pleased at the relieving coolness which soon wore off after just one day's grey skies...


We spend four nights on a lovely aire at St Christophe en Brionnais with free Lekky too!


Visits on Fozz to nearby La Clayette, Marcigny & Anzy le Duc are the order of the day amidst much better weather and bluer skies



The roman tower at Anzy le Duc



The house that Pete & Nina wanted but alas had gone before my retirement came
How strange now what our plans were back then and what we finally did...


That aire and the ringside Boules spectator seating


Happy bunny




Charming Charolles, a regular haunt of ours from years ago






On to Marcigny and the bar where the patron makes a fuss and genuinely remembers us



They are tied up in respect for the massacre in Nice just a few days previously




We finally move on to a lovely aire next to the voie verte at St Genoux le National
Its very hot here with no wind and we suffer a bit I'm afraid




The morning next day sees us break out the bikes and tootle on down the track to Cluny
(I have to report here that I'd fallen off the bike again the week before in a classic 'Big Off' style and my confidence is quite shaken and was left cursing the wretched thing)
I remember laying on the ground a full five minutes swearing, still attached by the cleats to the bike and holding my previously busted elbow in panic thinking it had fractured again
A bloody knee and sore arm was all so decided not to chuck it in the hedge bottom





The ride back from Cluny was made more pleasant by finding this fine establishment
As if the 'Gods' were taking pity on us they present a nice German guy and his open, yes that's Open, trackside beer emporium stocking a wide selection of proper beers that he drives each month to Germany to collect
My initial reaction was 'Pat. you'd love it here!' and was amazed in a later Whatsapp liaison with him that he'd actually seen it and done it a while ago, the very same tiny 'Holy Grail'
Small world innit?


We relocate to an aire further north in Burgundy at Cissy (yes that's for real) where the guy leaves you alone with free lekky but just asks that you pay for what you drink from his fully stocked outdoor wine fridge…Heaven


Two nights here and this guy passes by our fields


and buzzes the friendly horse


Thunderstorms are coming and the farmers are working till the early hours to get the hay in



A shot of us on Fozz
Quite poignant really as its here that we murderously plot his demise…
A lovely super-practical bike that does more than it really should. Trouble is we've reconnected over the past year with 'two wheel fun' and quite fancy some more low down grunt…
We envisage longer trips away from the van and safer riding in strong winds so the call is made to the garage and the deal is done
As I post this we are back in Blighty and still have Fozz for a few days before his bigger brother arrives so will update then...


Anyhow, the storms arrive and we fall just short of running naked in the rain to cool off ( a blessed relief no doubt for all concerned!)


A trip in Mersault one fine day and we discover the village has had a big makeover and looks just fine


This I guess is what France is all about, beautiful quaint architecture and fine wines


Timeless chateaux abound in secret villages and if its peace and tranquility you yearn for then France is surely top of the destination list