In fact, its two Pont de view’s- Pont de Gard and Pont d’Avignon and both are equally stunning in their own way, with us loving and enjoying both places.
The campsite at Pont de Gard- La Sousta was a 4* star site and it was worthy of that star. However, whilst in the Camargue we stayed on another 4* site and it wasn’t entirely, in our opinions worthy of that rating. Of course, we are at the end of the season, so things, people etc have taken their toll on the sites, but you could definitely tell the difference between the two. La Sousta, although having the oddest actual pitch layout, had the much better facilities. The toilets, showers, washup areas were just better laid out, less tired and just more cared for, although there seems to be a lack of toilet seats in France in general. The restaurant and bar were more hospitable and the range of food in La Sousta way better. In fact, we had the rotisserie chicken as a takeaway from there (with chips of course) and it was stunning-hot, succulent and cooked in lovely onion juices. Plus, we’ve got two meals out of our €12 spend and are having the remaining chicken cous-cous style tonight (Sunday).
The location of each site is good, but again for La Sousta it’s just amazing, as the camp is the nearest accommodation to the Roman aqueduct, and has a river standing as well. The swimming pools in each are equally as lovely, but we both think that for the Camargue one, that’s probably it’s winning 4 * award, but it’s all a Pont de View isn’t it. You pay your money and you take your choice.
For us the best chance or choice, was the vineyard parking we arrived at on the Monday, bearing in mind that none of these places we are in at the moment are huge distances apart, but we had a lovely drive through the Camargue and it’s wet lands, on mainly single track road to get to the vineyard, and as it was me driving, the French motorists were using up all their patience as I carefully took the bends and turns whilst making sure I took in the full extend of the scenery, it was after all a bank holiday and you expect slow moving traffic don’t you! Domaine Du Mont Calm is a Vin de Sable vineyard (soil composed only of sands of marine & wind origin) and in amongst its vines it offers us motorhomers a place to park- free.
There are no facilities for the van, i.e. water, waste etc. No wash facilities or swimming pool, but it does have a marvellous location tucked on the Camargue, with just lovely views of the ripening grapes and a sunset to wish for.
You can of course, and we are The Greygappers taste and purchase some of their wines, and we did. Oddly enough, in terms of wine we only brought three bottles of their dry rose, but we more than made up for it with other superficial items that the little boutique had more than enough of, just to add to our increasing load in our Elddis Encore 250, named Buster. We hope it don’t buster anytime soon out of its seams with all our ever increasing belongings!.
Monday the 31st, was a day of sad reflection and celebration as David and I in France, celebrated my eldest brothers 70th birthday with him, our family and friends in the UK. Covid, having put a stop to our combined champagne trip, but with the aid of Zoom, photos and a bottle of fizz we made the most of the celebrations apart from them.
Unfortunately, as stunning as the vineyard was, we needed to do some washing as the sheets and towels were beyond nice and were about to desert Buster and us and make their own way to a launderette. So, on the Tuesday we headed on to La Sousta, and the famous Pont du Gard. David thought that I was underwhelmed by the bridge, when after parking up and making ourselves at home again we walked the short distance to the bridge. It wasn’t that I was underwhelmed, but sometimes when you have seen so many pictures of famous sites, landmarks etc I guess there is a bit of a non- wow factor to them. What I did love was the river aspect of the bridge, the lovely shallow cool waters flowing beneath it, with people of all ages either canoeing, swimming, sunbathing doing whatever, but just enjoying themselves beneath this lovely ancient monument- a real window of time. I paddled, David flew his drone and so we got some lovely shots of it all, but the real memory for me will be just us both lying on the water’s edge in the evening sun, with our Provence straw hats over our faces relaxing.
The area around there had so much to offer, and it was always our plan not to move too much around this area, but take our time and try and get to know the area of Provence that is so famed. The next day we took to our trusty steeds and cycled the 17k or so to another famed Provence town -Uzes.
The cycle proved interesting, mainly because as ever we lost the path somewhere along the lines getting there. We ended up doing a few repeat circles and main roads which we might not have wanted to. Having said that, it did also give us our first siting in France of a wild animal- a horse. Well, that was David’s, David Attenborough identification of it. After a bit of “where, what, there and where’s a horse” (me) the wild boar thankfully run off through the fields, none the wiser of it’s mis-identification and for me it provided a source of amusement for the rest of the cycle to Uzes.
The next day, we thought we would just have an easy cycle and just take the green cycle path the other way, but not too far. However, we managed to clock up 42k, mainly because we got on the path straight away and it was just a lovely scenic cycle. We did end up at another river side Provence town – Beaucaire, but for whatever reason and it had lots of reasons to be as quaint as Uzes, it hadn’t made to the tourist ladder, but we enjoyed our stop over there before heading back to Buster and for me an hour by the pool.
We have, as you might have realised been staying on camp sites a bit more over the last few weeks. It’s not that the Aires in this region aren’t good and for the best part in very town or city, but it’s fact our ACSI card has now become valid, or rather the campsites are now on ACSI time i.e. not peak and so quite often it has only been a few euros more to stay on a campsite rather than on an aire, and the campsites do have just a few more facilities, and as the weather (sorry UK) is still thankfully quite good the swimming pools are an added attraction, plus the location of these campsites has also aided our choice.
This was the case with Avignon (for those of you who know the song-sing now!!) as the again 4* site was just across the river, with a free ferry service across that river, at the same time giving lovely photo opportunities of the bridge.
Again, the 4* differed, a lovely swimming pool, next to the restaurant which had an interesting menu as well. The pitches were big, but we were forewarned about the Friday night karaoke, so we parked away from the restaurant. However, it turned out not to be far enough away, as the French that evening all turned into budding Micheal Buble’s. David and I did consider a rendition of “Sous le pont d’avignon” but gave it up for a Vietnamese meal that evening just over the bridge. The French were in luck, missing our singsong and we struck lucky with the restaurant as the food was delicious.
Avignon itself is truly lovely and an absolute gem- touristy Yes, but still with its own sense of charm and the locals in the market where we enjoyed an early lunch time tipple were fun.
We didn’t need too much from the market, having stocked up before but did purchase a few bit and bobs. If Avignon is lovely then so is its neighbour across the river- Villeneuve d’Avignon, having a castle in the old quarter and lovely views across to its big brother.
It was here, David did his good turn for the day, helping a young couple, moving home, try and get their bed up into their first floor window. The poor girl on ground level was only 5 foot or nothing, and no amount of shoving from her was getting the bed frame up into her boyfriend arms. So, David to the rescue and his 6 foot 4 inch frame came into its own as like Popeye, he just gently pushed the bed up and into the arms above- phew, we got out of there before the settee arrived!!
That Saturday, must have been wedding day, because we saw six in total, the most fun one being in the morning, whilst having a very expensive coffee. The bride, groom, family and entourage all travelled by in a convoy of American cars, army Jeep’s and Vespa’s with everyone dressed in 50’s gear. It was so intoxicating and fun that everyone on the square was just cheering and clapping them as they went by.
We had walked about 18k’s that day, with just wandering and sightseeing and were glad to eventually get back to Buster and rest our weary bones, cooking a stir fry in house once again to save the pennies.
We are as we close for the week on a small but very lovely 3* campsite just by another Ville Fleurie town -St Remy de Province. Having walked in lunchtime, it is indeed a Ville Fleurie with all the very trendy shops, buzzing restaurants, but none of that for us, just a quick drink and then back to the comforts of home and a dip in the sun-drenched swimming pool and that left-over chicken.
It’s all a Pont de View- isn’t it!!