Wednesday 15 June 2016

France May/June 2016. Day 26 The Second Part of the Journey North

After an excellent meal at a nearby local hotel and a wonderful night's sleep, we woke to pouring rain.  Undeterred we loaded up the car and then sat down to our final breakfast in France for this trip.  Fortified we headed north to the motorway at Troyes.  The Seine was very full, but this time not flooded and we managed to get across.  By the time we reached the motorway  the rain had cleared and the rest of our journey was in the dry.  All went well and we pulled up on the docks at Zeebrugge at 3.30 ready for loading at 4.30.  Just behind us in the queue was a three generation family (Grandfather, son and grandson) in a 1950s short wheel base landrover painted in fire engine red.  It had started out life in the fire service and had been restored to its original colour scheme.  We were soon loaded and enjoyed a relaxing evening and good night's sleep.  We awoke, though, to thick fog and rain; what a welcome home.  Still, we were back in Grimsby by 10.00 and unloaded and washing on by 12.00.  What a great trip yet again.

Where next year?  Spain? Provence?  Spain and Provence; who knows.

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Monday 13 June 2016

France May/June 2016. Day 25 The First Part of the Journey North

We were up early this morning to pack and get off.  Annoyingly after a week without a drop of rain we woke to a brief shower at 5.00.  It only lasted half an hour but was enough to wet the tent.  Undeterred we were still packed and on the road for 8.30 stopping only for bread and croissant in the village for our lunch.  We did make sure we photographed the lizard orchid at the back of the tent first, though.  Our route took us over the Col de Menee where we checked the ladies slipper orchids which were still looking pristine.  Views over to the Alps were stunning as we were above much of the cloud which filled the valley below us.  Once down on the main road we stopped at a hotel for coffee and breakfast before joining the motorway, which took us past Grenoble and Lyon.  We eventually turned off at the wine town of Beaune and drove over the beautiful Burgundian countryside to Chatillon sur Seine where we are established in the excellent Hotel de Cote d’Or.  This is another Logis de France and we have stayed here before so were looking forward to it.  Unfortunately the restaurant is closed on a Monday (the story of our lives!)  so we shall wander into the town to eat at one of the other excellent restaurants here.  Now that we have travelled 300 miles north the weather is wet and cool; more of the same tomorrow on our way to Zeebrugge perhaps, but not was wet as three years ago when we had to make a huge detour to cross the flooded Seine and though we might miss the boat.
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France May/June 2016. Day 24 Relaxing at the Site and a Walk in the Hills.

Our final day in the Vercors turned out to be yet another day of fabulous weather: hot dry and clear.  We enjoyed a lazy morning around the site as we wanted to be well rested for our two days of driving north back to Zeebrugge for Tuesday night’s ferry.  Following a relaxed lunch in the sun we headed out in the car up into the hills to the south for a change rather than the north.  We aimed for the tiny hamlet of Les Galands.  What a superb spot this is with wonderful warm stone buildings and more than its fair share of old wooden carts and farm machinery.  We found one house that was in the process of being restored by a young couple and their children and they were busy building a yurt in the back garden, the fram of which had been beautifully constructed with polished timbers.  I was also impressed by the gardens and vegetable plots an one with some superb raised beds inspired me for our garden at home.  We love exploring tiny villages tucked away in the hills like this, but after our explorations we set off up a delightful footpath through immaculately tended walnut groves and beautiful woodland to the nearby Col de Melin.  Again there were fabulous flower strewn meadows and many butterflies were on the wing: pearl bordered fritillary, heaths, silver studded blue, back-veined white and a one tailed scarce swallowtail.  All too soon it was time to make our way back to the car and the campsite.  After some forays into sorting the car and packing for tomorrow we bought a pizza from the campsite bar and enjoyed it in the sun finishing up all sorts of salad bits and bread to go with it.  Needless to say there was beer and wine that needed finishing off too.
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Silver-studded blue

Common Spotted Orchid

Wall Brown
Silver-studded Blue
Pearl Bordered Fritillary
Pearl Bordered Fritillary
Pearl Bordered Fritillary
Pearl Bordered Fritillary

Saturday 11 June 2016

France May/ June 2016. Day 23 Die Market, Les Claps and the Clairette Vineyards.

Up early this morning to see Peter and Linda off on their journey north for an overnight stop near Troyes and then the shuttle and home tomorrow.  After breakfast it was time for James and Thomas to head off to Bourg d’Oissans in the Ecrins National Park at the foot of the famous Tour de France climb up to Alpe D’Huez.  We opted to visit Die market.  We enjoyed the alternative atmosphere in Die three years ago, but didn’t get to visit the market.  We were not to be disappointed.  It was buzzing and full of interesting stalls and wonderful fresh produce as well a fair smattering of ‘alternative’ people, both young and old hippies.  We found this last time we were here and loved the atmosphere.  Nothing but aging hippies ourselves.  Once we had explored the market, had a drink and done some food shopping we carried on to Luc en Diois, another attractive Vercors village where we enjoyed a simple and relaxed lunch in the Relais des Claps.  The tarte aux fraises was to die for!  Next up was Les Clap, an unusual geological feature, the result of a huge rockfall from the past.  We returned to Chatillons by a very attractive road over a high col and then went to explore the Clairette de Die vineyards and lavender fields for some photography, but not before visiting the local cave for a couple of cases of Clairette to take home, a delicious, sweet and not powerful fizz.
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The mountains from the campsite