France and Spain - driving from UK to Spain

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September 21st 2017
Published: September 21st 2017
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Sat 9thSept 2017

Drove, uneventfully, from Newport to Newhaven – a distance of 202 miles. Caught the ferry and arrived in Dieppe at 10.00pm and bunked down in Quai de la Marine - turn left out of Port and its literally 500 metres on the left and well worth the 12 Euros for its convenience and facilities!! (202 mile

Sun 10th Sep

A cloudy / sunny day on the Sunday and basically a belt down the normal route, Rouen, Evereux, Dreux, Chartres, Chateaudun – a well tried and tested route – but fairly fast! At Vendome we branched off to Montoire-sur-le -Loir where we had a lovely walk around the quaint old town, including a visit to an old historic train Station where Philippe Petain met Adolf Hitler in 1940. Not sure why!! (194 miles. Montoire sur Loire Municiple Camping)

Mon 11th Sep

The next morning we drove into Lavardin , a very pretty little village with a river and lavoir (wash house), church, Roman bridge and chateau (shut on Mondays) Had a wander around, peered into the 11thC church with its wall frescoes before driving onto our next campsite and overnight stop at Cognac-la-Foret(ACSI) We tried to rejoin ACSI but they had ran out of books!! (181 miles)

Tues 12th Sep

We left the campsite, and after looking at the Lanterne des Morts (lanterns of the dead – small stone towers lit at night to show the location of cemeteries) we drove towards Perigueux, past loads of fields of dead sunflowers! Didn’t stop until we came across a little place called Cadouin, that had a huge Abbey with cloisters. The monks had made a clearing in the woods, in the 11thC so that they could devote their lives to Christ and live in peace and quiet! Not sure what they would think of it now but it’s a nice little tourist stop!! Walked up to the Panoramic view for a view of the village and abbey.

Long straight roads, a few heavy showers and we arrived at Monflanquin – an interesting, old medieval Bastide town on a hill, well worth a good walk around! Got to our campsite about 4.30ish and after parking up , walked into town and had a look at the village on the other side of the River Lot – Penne d’Agenais (132 miles Camping Le Sablon, St Sylvestre-sur-Lot)

Wed 13th Sept

On the road by 10.30am again and a lovely drive across the Lot valley, to Agen, then Auch and Lannemezam before starting the slow climb up to St Lary, reaching St Lary about 3.00pm. A wander around the ski village and then a beautiful walk along one side of the river to the next village Vielle Aure and then a walk back along the other side of the river. Decided to go out for a meal in the evening but after looking at the prices (and the whole village was dead!!) we decided to buy a pizza and eat in the van! (St Lary Aire). (137 miles).

Thurs 14th Sept

Up fairly early and the drive from the Aire up to the Tunnel de Bielsa. The weather was cloudy and the cloud hung very low but the climb started off fairly gentle and visability was ok. There was a few hair pin bends and then along up to the mile long Tunnel so not too bad really! Lovely surprise when we came out of the Tunnel – blue skies and sunshine! Welcome to sunny Spain!!

Drove down the gorge to Ainsa, and then drove along the lakeside – the extremely blue lakes were very low so Spain must have had a very dry summer. Stopped for lunch in a layby and was greeted by a cat – Chris fed it cheese and cat biscuits, but it seemed to really enjoy the water!! It was well fed and watered anyhow, so hoping it lived in the houses just up the hill!! Stopped at the Municiple Campsite in Mequinanza but as no-one was there we decided to push on to Lake Caspe where we had stopped before (152 miles)

Friday 15th Sept

Cloudy when we woke up and as we started driving so it started raining!! Went via Alcaniz to Montalban then took the N420 up over the Puerto de San Just at 1408 metres. The landscape was quite barren but there were a few old villages tucked away in the hillside and terraced farming. Not sure what crop it was – it just looked like hay!! Onto Teruel – a huge bloody battle was fought here during the Spanish Civil War ( 1938) with the City changing hands several times between the Republicans and the Nationalists, who eventually claimed victory. The two sides suffered over 140,000 casualties in those two months but it was a turning point in the war.

Between Teruel and Mas de Jacinto the road is particularly green, with loads of deciduous trees, including weeping willows (I have never seen these is Spain before) Also some weird looking rocks and some desolate villages but it was quite interesting. Also saw flocks of sheep in the fields which is something else I haven’t seen in Spain!! Went past Moya – we think we have visited it before (will have to check!!) before we arrived at Utiel.

Onto the campsite at Villagordo del Cabriel where we passed lots of grapevines – with about 10 bunches of grapes to each vine - its no wonder there is a lot of red wine in Spain!! (222 miles)

Sat 16th Sept.

A lovely sunny day but cold! (We must still be quite high?) and we had a very short walk to the viewpoint of the very low reservoir and back.

On the road about 10.30am, past acres and acres of vineyards. It must have been the harvesting time because there were truck loads of grapes going to the local co-operative wine makers. It must be a very fertile area as I had never seen this many vineyards before – as the soil deteriorated the crops went to onions (Fields of boxes!! – onions drying out?) and then sweetcorn and eventually the good old olive trees. The N322 isn’t the most exciting of roads and we passed through loads of half dead villages, villages on hilltops and lots of scrubland. Far distant views of olive trees and mountains nearer Ubeda so it got better. Decided to stop at Beas de Granada so that we could visit some friends tomorrow (295 miles)

Sun 17th Sept

Beautiful hot sunny day and we belted down towards Mortril to meet up with some friends who we spent a wonderful day with! Its just so lovely to meet up with people again. Had lunch on Salobrena beach in a Chiringuito (!!) before fond farewells, a promise to meet up again in November and a 2hr drive to the house. All fine – well apart from a wasps nest that has appeared on the roof terrace!! Said hello to all the neighbours and had a wander around the town ( no change except for a few new restaurants) a few drinks and back into the Spanish routine! Field Club tomorrow at The Hogar.

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21st September 2017

Glad arrived safely
And uneventful drive but definitely better weather than here! Stay safe x

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