Our accommodation, our new car
Thursday 14 May 2015
The planning for this wonderful holiday probably started while driving through the Loire four years ago. Today it was underway. The journey really started in Alexandra, Central Otago, New Zealand two days ago when we turned everything off, locked the doors and drove to Christchurch for our flight to Paris.
Long haul flights are something to be endured, especially when you live so far from the places you want to visit on the other side of the world. With thirty one hours of travel behind us we landed at Charles de Galle Airport, bleary eyed but full of excitement. Ten out of ten to French Immigration. Our passports were stamped and returned in about thirty seconds. It's that honest Kiwi look, you know. Bags collected, phone call to Eurolease for a pick up, past Customs (a party member thought we should stop and chat), into the meet and greet area only to be greeted by representatives of every shuttle company in France. Ten minutes later we were off to the car depot.
Our brand new Peugeot 2008 was there waiting for us. After a brief lesson on how to use the GPS system, the first fuel stop and return depot had already been loaded, so we were on our way. Arriving at the service station we found it a meeting place for nearly every taxi in Paris. Not to worry, a happy Kiwi smile to all, lots of "Bonjours", "mercis" and "au revoirs", tank filled and off we go to our first stop - Auchy la Montagne.
It was an amazing feeling to suddenly find yourself driving a left hand vehicle so far from home through lush countryside in late spring. Our navigator, Polly, is brilliant. So far she has got us to our destination without a fuss, deviations and closed roads do not faze her. She appears to be quite assertive in a polite kind of way. A far cry from our navigator of four years ago.
We made it to Beauvais without any trouble. Parking in town was a breeze. They don't want our parking money. We wandered the streets and found it very quiet. After a coffee and coissant we explored a little more and found the cathedral and Tourist Office. It was here that we found out that today was a Bank Holiday. What a perfect way to start a driving tour of France. Now we know why the roads were so quiet. With most places closed it was time to head for our accommodation. We still had a few hours before checking into our B & B so we had time to explore the local area.
The GPS was turned off and we meandered from village to village. This area is truly agricultural with arable crops well under way. One village we came to, Conty, was celebrating the public holiday with a fair. This was a great chance to mix and mingle with the locals but just as we got out of the car the rain started, the stalls started to pack up and an opportunity missed. The rain stayed with us for some time. Our brand new shiny car changed its appearance within minutes as we now meandered through very wet country roads. Thoughts went out to the men on the Somme 100 years ago. Time to stop meandering and find our accommodation. What a blessing we have Polly with us. Our meandering had taken us a long way from our destination.
On reaching our accommodation we were greeted by our host in the local language and a very little English. This is what this trip is all about, we will be fluent speakers of French by the time we get home. Our home for the next three nights is delightful and the bed is looking very inviting. After a light meal it was good night from us.
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