Is that the Eifel Tower hiding in the mist ?
We awoke at 6.15 with our bodyclocks struggling to get used to the hours difference. It seemed too early to be up but we needed to get on the road again. With only a month off work sometimes the destination becomes the most important thing. Once there, wherever there is we can tarry awhile and wind down.
Fully feasted over breakfast we ever so quietly unplugged Suzy from our electrics and moved off the campsite and onto the open road. The open road being the operative word as the rest of this part of Auvergne seemed to be fast asleep .
One thing has remained constant over the last few days and that has been the heady smell of the hawthorn and the lilac blossom alongside the road. The smell permeates even Suzy with its sickly slightly cloying scent. The hedgerows look pretty with the pale mauve and the white blossom. It had been a fairly cold night . We are not far enough south to notice that much of a difference in the weather.
We set the Sat Nav for our next destination and told Sally Sat Nav to miss Paris . With great determination we had
looked at the maps, set the sat nav and found a road around the outskirts which would take us just north of the city avoiding the peripheriques. Having done them many times before this choice of road which skirted from the north to the western side and out again at or near to Versailles seemed a good alternative . It all looked good on paper. Normally we would take a route south via Rouen or Dreux and Evreux however this time we thought to do something different. It seemed a good idea at the time.
The first hour of the journey passed away quite quickly as Suzy gobbled up the tarmac and we seemed to be getting ever closer to that great metropolis of Paris. Thoughts that she was taking us in too close crossed our minds but we trusted in her ability to miss the centre and the inner and outer Peripheriques. Our trust in her was shattered as we seemed to be going closer and even got a glimpse in the misty morning light of the Eifel Tower albeit miles away. Then we crossed the Seine - oh dear was heard to cross our lips.
tunnels under the Seine and the city caused her an enormous problem as she lost contact with the satellites. Without her guidance, stuck in traffic and without her reassuring drawl we headed for La Defense which should have taken us out of the traffic. But instead we came out right slap bang in the middle of the morning rushhour on the Champs Elysee. The Arc de Triumph in our sights. We could hardly believe our luck or lack of it. With no choice but to continue we headed up the cobbles getting ever closer to the Arc at the top of the road. We thought how much quicker the Tour de France bike riders traverse the Champs Elysees. . We were going nowhere fast. Cars to our right, cars to our left, cars joining and leaving the roads, motor bikes winding their way between the parked and slow moving cars. There were cars as far as the eye could see as the four lanes were filled chock full with commuters trying unsuccessfully to get to work . It was a bit of a blessing to only be travelling at a few miles an hour. Although it seemed to go on
for ever you felt safer moving at just a few miles per hour. . The Arc de Triumph getting closer until finally Sally chirped up take a right and we found ourselves back on the Peripherique but this time heading out of Paris. Admittedly it took a long time going back and to under the Seine but eventually place names started to seem familiar - Suresnes where we had visited many years ago and Versailles with its palace. What a sense of relief as we found ourselves out of the capital and into open countryside again. I wanted to go to Paris but not quite this way but at least Suzy got out unscathed. Nest time the train will take the strain.
Our respite after that experience was to park up on the Aire de Bartroux for a welcome cuppa and a biscuit- perhaps a glass of wine or a brandy or two would have been more appreciated but it was still only 10.30 in the morning. The french do aires well with a mixture of two types along the motorways. One aire is a quieter type with just a grassy area with seats and picnic tables, plenty of
parking and a toilet block . Trees provide shade and most of times you are treated to a wonderful view of the surrounding countryside. The second type are busier and much larger and have the seats and tables, the toilets plus a boutique and a petrol station. We generally prefer the quieter type for our morning stops.
We drove on arriving at the Meridian Verte (the green line or centre of France) equal distances from the north, south, east and west of the country. The centre of this huge expanse of land.
Our next stop was to call in to a petrol station to fill Suzy up with petrol before arriving at our overnight stop near to the tiny village of Ebreuil. Camping de la Filature was just outside the village - a typical French village with narrow streets, a boulangerie and charcuterie, a small river running through and a large church. A church which looks too big and grand to serve the current population. On the way to the 4* camping site we passed the municipal one which was sadly closed. Perhaps it was too early in the season and it would open later in the year.
We passed the motorhome dump and the aire at the side of the tennis courts. One lonely motorhome was parked up at the aire and another motorhome cheekily parked for the night on the roadside.
Cicadas chirruped in the grass and birds sang in the trees. The camping site looked like an old farm which had been turned over to camping a much more lucrative existence. The sign on the door said that we should pick a lovely spot and park up. The owners would be around at 5pm to collect the night fees which turned out to be 16 euros 40 with the ACSI card. The owners were English and had lived in the farm for the last 25 years. They sold wine and had a bar area which sadly did not open until the summer months when more campers were about. We sat about just enjoying the sun and a few glasses of wine. We needed it after our Paris experience which now seemed a dim and distant memory and one we could laugh about.
The showers were old and rather dilapadated and in much need of some tender loving care.
Our neighbours for the night were a couple from Jersey and two lovely campers from Poole in Dorset who had only recently bought their motorhome and this was their first trip abroad. We shared stories about our holiday. They travelled by boat from Poole to Cherbourg - how lucky is that being so close to a port. We listened with interest to where they had toured which mainly seemed to be the Tarn gorges from where they had hired a car. A sensible idea in an area of winding higgledy piggledy roads and endless low tunnels . They had just come via Millau and that is where we are heading tomorrow. We plan to stop to have a look at that bit of British ingenuity in the heart of french landscape.
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