(Path around the lake beside the aires at St-Amand-Montrond)
It’s September, the sun is shining, I am sitting in McDonalds drinking coffee and sharing their lovely wifi and their lovely electricity. We’re back in France! We crossed over on Saturday night and it was some cross over! I had got used to the kind of crossing I like – calm, no waves, gentle lulling to sleep when you lie down. We’ve been on lots of ferries in the past five years and they’ve all been like that. (Mind you there was one about five years and two months ago that was rough so I suppose it was time.) Anyways, fifteen hours in it became calm, so all ended well and we docked in Cherbourg to sunshine and blue skies.
(There were quotes inside the door of every toilet at the first campsite… any idea what it says?)
From Cherbourg we drove south over the Loire river and spent our first two nights at a lakeside campsite between Orleans and Bourges. It was a quiet site with a handful of fishermen around a pretty lake. We chose this site in the usual way: pick a general area, look up one of the campsite books and pick one with facilities we want. Electricity and toilets are essential. If there’s a shop nearby that’s a nice bonus. If there’s a neighbourhood restaurant – triumph! This campsite had the basics and was close to a town so we figured the shop and the restaurant were very likely. We usually find this process works.
(Huge cathedral in Bourges)
This time we’re trying something new… we bought a book called Escapades in a Camping-Car. (Camping-Car is what the French call camper vans and motorhomes.) The book consists of 5 to 17 day circuits around nineteen areas in France. It shows interesting places to visit and campsites where you can stay. It also shows free stops, aires. Aires are places you can park overnight, not a campsite and usually there’s no electricity or toilets… but it’s free! The book is great with only one tiny problem – it’s in French. But on the plus side our French reading is improving.
(Pretty house in Bourges)
Yesterday morning we left our lakeside campsite at 8.30am and drove to the town of Bourges, where we parked in an aire. It’s often hard to find parking when we visit a town due to our size and we usually use a supermarket car park but this was better. From there we walked fifteen minutes into the town for a coffee. I also found a wool shop as I am knitting cheerful bunting on this trip and I was in danger of running out! Denis took the opportunity to get some mobile wifi from the Orange shop (we will get free updates if I mention them more than once in each blog… and a free t-shirt for every third mention, so watch for that!) They were very friendly in the Orange shop 😉
(While I was buying what I love – knitting yarn, Denis was buying what he loves – blue cheese!)
Actually, it’s something we are noticing this year…. the French are very friendly. Little things that make us believe the French really do love the Irish – thank you lovely Irish football supporters! We were in the petrol station buying the Camping-Car book when a French man, overhearing us talk as he walked into the shop, asked (in English) if we were Irish, he noticed we had left the petrol cover open on our car and wanted to tell us. Ok we didn’t have a car but still…. wasn’t that nice? And then in Bourges at the tourist office, where I went to locate the wool shop, the lady asked where we were from and beamed from ear to ear saying “ah Irlande!” Ok, not big things but last year in the tourist office in Carcassonne when I said I was from Ireland they said absolutely nothing… nothing. Silence. So I’m taking this as a win.
(Look! Even McDonalds love us!)
After coffee we moved an hour south of Bourges to St-Amand-Montrond… and another free parking spot. It’s beside a pretty lake, there are toilets and it’s a five-minute walk to a hypermarket and a McDonalds. And it’s free… We will be moving to a campsite tomorrow because we need electricity to charge the computer and phone batteries and a hot shower would be nice!
From McDonalds, nowhere near an Orange shop (there’s my free t-shirt…) Mairead.