Brigueuil,the 11th century fortified village


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Europe » France » Poitou-Charentes
September 4th 2013
Published: September 10th 2013
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After yesterdays very warm temperatures the night didn’t cool down too much so all we had to contend with was the hard bed. We have our fingers crossed for something softer tonight at the apartment in Briguieul that we are heading for.

It is another cloudless day and it promises to be warm again and after going through the check by the camp office staff that we hadn’t mistakenly packed any of the mobile home bits and pieces in our car we were on our way.

First we drove down to the beach of the town we have been staying in. The camp was about 4km from the beach so it hadn’t been practical to walk down there and back just to see what it was like.

The town itself is very spread out for a French location and it appears to be an area that has been developed more recently in contrast to the medieval or older towns and villages that we have been through. The beach had some nice looking sand but not much else going for it as we would expect of a NZ beach but then again the French don’t seem to be all that keen on a beachside holiday.

The sea views were very nice and it was interesting to weigh up the quality of the homes and apartment blocks along the waterfront compared to Mt Maunganui.Actually there wasn’t any comparison worth talking about, the Mount was an outright winner. Perhaps the coastline here is not all that inviting to visit during times other than the summer.

We followed the coast as best we could for another 20km or so and passed through the much more likable town of St-Gillies-Croix-de-Vie.This town was abuzz with locals and holidaymakers and was much more colourful with flower baskets everywhere than St Hilaire had been.

As the seaside city of La Rochelle was sort of in the general direction of Briguieul we thought we could make it there for lunch and spend an hour or so down at the port which came with recommendations in a tour guide we had read.

The D949 took us back inland again and then onto the D137 but with just a single lane in each direction and a fairly busy traffic flow with a number of caravans and trucks our progress was slowed and we could see that our intended hour for some sightseeing was shrinking.

We stopped at a village to buy a baguette we would have for lunch and also to let some of the slow traffic get ahead of us and perhaps pull off in another direction to where we were going.

At the boulangerie Gretchen indicated to the woman serving the baguette we wanted along with a sweet treat for lunch. The woman couldn’t speak a word of English and we don’t think she understood a word of it either. We had gone into the shop with the idea of getting rid of a lot of very small change (they still have 1c, 2c and 5c pieces and you end up with heaps) but as we couldn’t understand the cost of what we had purchased we counted out the pieces of coin one at a time with the woman nodding her head for more coins to be put on the counter until eventually we made it to €2.40 and everyone was happy.

The road went through another marais of channels and drains which was a feature of our drive up to Saint Nazaire yesterday although we didn’t notice the salt production going on here as we did yesterday.

The last 11km into La Rochelle was on a two lane highway and we sped up to try and make up some lost time. We had thought about abandoning the idea of going down to the port because we had got there later than intended but we pushed on.

However, the port area is a maze of basically one way streets and every possible parking space had been taken up. Even trying to get into the only car park we could pick up on the GPS was impossible as we had to turn across traffic that was stopped for a set of traffic lights controlling crossroads.

After 15 minutes of hardly going anywhere we gave the idea of visiting the port area away and headed back out of town stopping at the supermarket to pick up supplies. The diversion to La Rochelle had probably cost another 100km to the overall journey and had come to nothing as far as sightseeing was concerned but we will just have to note it down for another time.

Our final destination for the day was due west and so we headed the car in that direction and 30 minutes out of La Rochelle pulled off the road to have lunch. It was too hot to have a boot lunch with the temperature up over 30C again and not a breath of wind. So we looked for a table with a tree for shade and had lunch the old fashioned way, sitting at a table.

The land rose ever so steadily as we drove west and it was different having some views to look out over after spending the last few days on dead flat land.

The area we were heading into was quite sparsely populated.

After passing through Confolens, a pretty little medieval town on a quiet river the road narrowed considerably and we felt like we were really in the backblocks with virtually no other traffic on the road for 10km at least. That is until ahead we noticed a group of caravans in a field close to the road and we believed they were a group of gypsies because just a short distance along the road there was a man and a young girl in fairly scruffy clothes with milk can waiting for someone or something. The host of our apartment in Briguieul confirmed they probably were gypsies who did casual work in the area and moved about as they pleased.

Brigueuil is a fortified village settled in the 11th century and our apartment was in a building on the main road through the town.

With no room to park outside the apartment we unloaded the car and then drove it up to the town square just behind the apartment and parked Cindy there.

The apartment has everything we are likely to need including many English TV channels and will suit us very well for the next three nights. It is owned by an English woman who has lived there with her husband a couple of years ago. With a sigh of relief, after testing the bed for softness, we can confirm that it should rank right up there with the best we have had to date.

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