After a relatively quiet week last week in Switzerland, this has been a positively whirlwind run through France this week. We departed Les Rousses and headed south towards Lyon.
and after a few hours stopped at a small vineyard, it was in Park4Night, but there was no one home when we arrived so we sort of just parked up on a pitch. It turns out it was a France Passion site and as we are not members of this group, we had to pay €7 for our night. But it had everything you could require. Electricity, water and waste disposal, a place to wash your dishes and a free wine tasting!
We bought a few bottles and had a relaxing night. We had decided to visit the Millau Viaduct for David and Roquefort for Karen, but the distance was too much for a single days drive, so we agreed that we would go Le Puy-en-Velay. This kept a food theme going, as this is the home of two famous local products, the lentils and Verveine Velay, a green liqueur that’s very minty.
The place was a revelation, so we stopped there for three nights as there was a lot going for the town.
Firstly they run a light show every year where they project all sorts of stories onto the major buildings in the town for all to see free, and they also commission a light show. This years being a journey to the centre of the earth, and an exhibition of the impressionist artists which cost €9 each and was worth every penny.
Then the town has some amazing buildings, a church build on top of the remains of a volcano and a massive steel statue of ‘Notre Dame’ which is also on top of the remains of another volcano, plus you can then climb up the 22 metre high statue and have some amazing views of the area around.
It’s on the Camino de Santiago, as we arrived my phone pinged with an email from the Confraternity of St James in the UK saying my membership is about to expire. I notice all around me the symbols of the Camino quite odd. I really hope to do this next year.
Lastly there are lots of great cycle runs around the area, we decided to use the Voies Verts (old railways turned into cycle tracks) near us and had a great 40 km round trip and on top of that our first ever free food with a drink in France.
Being our last night we had booked what seemed to be an exceedingly popular restaurant with the locals and Lonely Planet. Well, that did not work out too well as we were not locals, we ended up with a lovely starter, but then waited over an hour for the main while all were served around us, it was disappointing, followed by for Karen with two massive lumps of cheese that ‘Harvester’ would be disappointed with! Being France the budget was bust on the bill and we headed home bickering!
The next day was again lovely and we set off to Millau needing to get there early enough to see the bridge as the weather was due to change the next day. Karen’s turn to drive and it was very beautiful the man who looks after the maps, had a green pen marked most of the route and he was on the money, very pretty indeed.
We made great progress and arrived at around 3.00pm and this gave us time to find the access to the viewing point and exhibition without having to cross the bridge and paying the toll. The exhibition is very good and shows the history of the bridge’s building from inception to final opening. I took the tour that allows to get up close to the structure and where they show you how they moved the roadway into place, plus some great views. I also brought my drone along just in case and as long as you don’t fly over the bridge it is ok to get some drone pictures. Happy days I was in my element.
We had picked out a campsite in the town of Millau again worth a visit lots to see and do here. For the first time since we left the UK (excluding Turkish lockdown) we met up two British couples. One in a motorhome and the other French based in a Consett made caravan like our ‘Buster’. It was lovely to spend time with both Linda and Paul and John and Eileen.
As forecast the weather the next day changed dramatically and we got a different angle on the bridge and headed off to Roquefort.
for such a popular cheese it is a remarkably small town. We took the tour with the largest producer and it was fun, but the guide came across as bored with the whole thing and even though fluent in English, would not take any questions in English at all. Anyway, at the very end we had a tasting of their three types of Roquefort and the lady explained in detail how we should eat it and in what order.
It was lovely and we enjoyed the experience, after our big spend the night before it was an eat in night and had a real homely dinner in our van of lamb chops, leeks, peas and potatoes, with Bisto gravy!
We moved on to an aire near the lovely old village of Sainte Eulalie de Cernon, with super facilities, you can see all the places we have stayed with reviews here.
The next day the weather was bit better, sometimes I don’t get the French, as every bar and restaurant was closed for August. You would think one would stick around to make some money. But we headed out for a walk and visited a Velo Rail, where you sit on this bicycle powered railway machine and trundle along an old railway line, I liked it but Karen was underwhelmed. I don’t think the fact we had to have jackets on for the first time in months helped.
So we moved on again to visit a part of France I visited in 1989 starting with the medieval fortress town of Aigues-Mortes, with the summer season now over in France we can use our ACSI card for some campsites, for example the one a Millau only charged €12 for a full serviced plot. But again, we chose our site badly, not there is anything that bad, but it is tired and dull, and the one a mile up the road looks lovely for the same money!
But what about Aigues-Mortes? Did it live up to the memories of my previous visit. I think so it is extremely touristy, I can’t think how busy it might have been if Covid was not around, mask wearing in the town is now obligatory all the time, but it was lovely and we enjoyed walking on the ramparts which go all around the town. Doing some research, we found the 18th out 83 restaurants in the town was an Indian, so off we went, friendly service fair price and great food a fantastic way to end our busy week.