France 43 - Besancon and onwards to Italy

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September 4th 2012
Published: September 4th 2012
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Snooper told us this morning that we would only travel a few hundred yards from the campsite before turning left and heading out of town. However it had not factored in the deviations. Besancon was getting a tram system and most of the roads were being dug up. This meant the five minutes we expected to travel before leaving the town environs ended up nearer half an hour as we rode down one street and up another without getting anywhere. Eventually the citadel came into sight and we escaped. What a relief!

I thought I had broken the back of my virus as I had stopped coughing at night but this morning- hack hack - it was back. Will I ever get rid of it?

The day started grey and threatened rain but even so the temperature was around 25 degrees and fairly muggy. The roads were poor between Besancon and Lake Geneva. The houses began to look more Swiss than French showing how close we were to the Swiss border. The last of the summer geraniums could be seen on the balconies. It took some while before we reached the border and we were waved through by a Swiss policewoman/guard after she quickly inspected our number plates and our current vignette. The French driver in front of us was stopped. We guessed that he possibly did not have a vignette and they would not let him into Switzerland until he bought one.

Our route took us around Lake Geneva, a road we used some years ago when we travelled to Zermatt. My photographs turned out a disaster due to the dusty reflective windscreen and the trees which blocked the view of the lake below. Why does a tree jump in front of you just as you take the picture?

We stopped in a rest area just above Lake Geneva and were disappointed that the mountains and lake were obscured by trees but even if we had been able to see them the day was very misty. We were approached by a young German girl and her boyfriend who were trying to thumb a lift back to Germany. Shame we were going the wrong way and we had only two passenger seats in the van. It would have been interesting to talk to them and listen to their experiences. I wonder how long it took to get a lift as they moved from car to car,from motorhome to motorhome, from van to van and from lorry to lorry asking for a lift without much success .

Our next highpoint was travelling through Sion. Our little sheep Sion who travels with us got very excited at seeing a place named after him. He wanted a photo taken by the sign but unfortunately my photography let him down again. He was in the picture but the signs for Sion out of focus. David Bailey I am not!!!!

The journey continued via the town of Visp. The small town beat the French hands down on the one of their roundabouts – two camels made of stone sitting in the middle of the roundabout. Then on to Brig which seemed to be full of roundabouts. We got fed up going round them and were glad to get out on the open road climbing up the Simplon Pass. The pass was fairly busy and neither of us had used it before. Suzy’s diesel consumption grew as she climbed up the steep hill. The views to the valley below stunning despite the misty conditions. We stopped at a lay bye overlooking Brig and ate dinner after which we climbed ever higher. There were a large number of roadworks along the way. Men working on the road seemed to be digging up parts of the tunnels and galleries and we found ourselves being stopped by red lights on numerous occaisions. As we descended the Simplon Pass the heavy rain started and Italy looked grey. We both unanimously decided this was not a route into Italy we would use again.

We arrived at Baveno in pouring rain and trying to find Camping Parisi was difficult. We missed the first small turning and Snooper took us up a private drive just 100 yards away from the campsite. It was not signed that well and we had to negotiate our way out. Good job Suzy is not that big.

The campsite has just 55 plots and sits right on the shore of Lake Maggiore. It has extensive views across the water to Verbania on the opposite shore. . Reception was manned by a lovely lady who showed us a couple of pitches we could pitch up at. We chose a large one with views of the lake alongside a hedge which separated the play area. Behind us was a residential area , the houses typical Italian style warm cream coloured and with gardens full of palm trees. Most of the campers were from Holland, France and Germany but again very few Brits. What was the first thing we did when we settled in – do what Brits do best – make a cup of tea.

The toilet blocks were clean and tidy and quite spacious. Hot water galore which was welcome after not having a shower last night. There were ample washing machines if you felt like wash day. Kathrein worked which was a bonus. There was free WiFi but we could not get this working in the motorhome despite using our Wifi antennae.. It was lovely to get here – the holiday feels as if it has really begun as we watch the boats on the lovely lake. New neighbours have arrived – a couple of French vans parked up right behind us. There does not seem to be any pattern of parking here and vans seem all over the place

Walked into Baveno at night – it seems quite small with a few large hotels dotted along the promenade. There seemed very few shops in the town and we failed to find the local supermarket which is much needed as the fridge is now rather bare. We did however find the church which had an interesting bell tower and arcade with frescoes of the stations of the cross. The church was open but too dark to see inside. We eyed up a restaurant for tomorrow Restaurant Poste which we had seen on Trip Adviser. It was heaving and we planned a visit tomorrow night for a meal. A quiet night watching the twinkling lights from across Lake Maggiore.


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