Europe · 30 Days · 45 Moments · May 2017

Retrotripper's Adventures in France and Spain

26 June 2017

Last day , last blog. Drove up to near Calais to our sit StLouis at Ardes. Went to find the warehouse Where we found some good wine white from last year. Found it eventually and bought a case of white. Final trip to he supermarche and a sunny evening with a Chilli. Early start tomorrow see you on Friday for a curry?

25 June 2017

Not a lot happening today, lots of driving north. Having said that we stopped for coffee in a little town, did the usual cakes in the patisserie, then coffee in the tabac. Started chatting to 4 young lads who were pretty pissed ( remember this was coffee time ) who then insisted on paying for our coffees. And when we went to the bar, sure enough they had! Not much wrong with the youth of today! Drove on to north of Rouen and parked up at a free Aire in St Saire. What a pretty stop. On a network of cycle routes, on an old railway line and tarmaced. Walked around the village and went for drinks at the old railway station. Lovely cider. Bbqed fish wrapped in prosciutto with sweat corn and toms. Reheated some chips too. Delicious! I love the free aires!

24 June 2017

Said cheerio to our friends next door and headed off north. Did a quick supermarche stop en route and arrived at Briare. Four aires to choose from and all busy early afternoon. What a lovely town where the Loire meets the canal and a famous canal bridge passes over the river. Lovely walks and lots of boats, locks, bars! Lots of Sabatiers and Plombiers too. Firefighters. That was because they were planning a celebration and march at 6:30. So we stayed and watched from the bar. Lovely. Back to the van and a Bilash curry awaited with Perelada wine. Perfect! Reminded us of F & J at the Maharani! Mixed tandooriGraham ?

23 June 2017

Heading north through the stunning volcanic landscape, we skirted around Claremont Ferrand and on to Vichy. We found a lovely site at Abrest called Camping La Crouix St Martin. Met a couple who were driving a beautiful Neissman Bischoff Van and they had visited most of the places we had! They have been motorhoming for 30 years so had lots of useful advice! We walked along the bank of the River Allier into town. We found the spa water and filled up and went into the centre. Think Llandrindod but much bigger and smarter. Quite impressive. They were doing up the opera House so we gave that a miss and went to the tea- dance instead! Jan & Don you would have loved it!! Godsey, I'll swear Smarmy was dancing there! Check out white shirt, black trousers. Back to the site for a BBQ. Jude still not eating or drinking much so I'm doing my best to make up for her!

22 June 2017

Judy not so well today. Probably eaten and drunk too much! Packed up and drove north heading for the Auvergne. Stopped a a village for a few bits and a coffee. Arrived at Cambon Sur Lac up in the mountains. An immaculate site on the side of the lake. When it cooled we took a lovely walk around the lake and then I went for a swim at about 7:30. Still so warm. Off to make a risotto now!

21 June 2017

Drove up to Ceret, just over the French border, for coffee. Fab town with mod art museum. Lots of impressionists used to visit/ live there. Lots of lovely shops, bars restaurants. Got to Millau late afternoon and got a plumb pitch on the riverside. Chilled by the river with a beer and read. Went into town about seven. Wow. We didn't expect all of the activity. It is the international day of Music and its celebrated in France with musicians playing for free. The town was so lively with roads closed off to cars and bands set up in the middle of the road. Went back to our fave bar and restaurant, then toured the bands. Must have seen at least 10 and there were many more! Great night!!

20 June 2017

Headed north to Figueres to visit the Dali Museum & Theatre. Spotted the Peralada Winery but it was only a distribution point! Damn. Eventually found Dali' s Museum. Whacky as expected. Lots of stuff we didn't like and plenty we did. Apart from the building my faves were the May West installation and the lichen study. Some of his really large pics were impressive as were his stereophony pieces. Drove off to find a few supermarkets to source our wine then.......Judy spotted a Wine Palace! Bingo. Bought a case of Perelada and a bottle of Aaran Whisky for about £22.50. Call it a Fathers Day pressie!! Drove on to our site on the French boarder Capmany. Walked into the village 1 restaurant (shut) and one shop. And they sold.....our second fave wine from the tapas bar with Frank and Julia. Bought a couple. 2 beers and wine €4. Brilliant!

19 June 2017

The guy who owns this lovely site made a point of saying goodbye. What a friendly site. We ate chilli and drank red wine we bought in Palamos. Frank and Julia texted to say they were having a good time (hic!). We will remember this site it is worth a second visit!
A busy day today. Up early and we cycled to Palamos on the trail. Lovely journey and ride along the promenade. Had breakfast with freshly squeezed orange on the seafront. Began riding back and parked up the bikes and went into the old town shopping. Bought cake and a few bottles of the wine we had at the restaurant with Frank and Julia from a boutique wine shop. Stopped for coffee and calamares. Rode back to the site. There are lots of beautiful cycle routes around here. After lunch we decided to walk to the beach but as the sun was hidden. Y cloud only 28 degrees, we walked on to la Fosca and S'Agur. This was a beautiful collection of simple homes on the beach side. They looked like they were Greek! We circled round to Plajta de Castell and back to the site. What a beautiful walk! We met up with Bruce and his wife ( who we met last night ). They had friends in Church Stretton and Bishops Castle - what a coincidence!

18 June 2017

Said our farewells to Frank and Julia, sad to be moving on as they were very good hosts and great company. Bought a few bits for the BBQ at the supermarket then motored on to Benelux Campsite. Lovely spot in a pine forest and within walking distance of the beach and cycling to Palamos. Pitched up, had a nap and headed off to the beach. What a lovely little bay. Unspoilt, very sandy and two little bars. Perfect. Had a swim then lemon Fanta - Franks fav tipple - cheers! On our way back to stoke up the barbie. Asparagus starters - 0.5€ for 5 - harrissa chicken with skewered peppers. As Kath and now Julia says - YUM!

17 June 2017

Sooo hot again today. We were up early to visit Pinole. The home of Dali's partner, Gala. Lots of interesting artefacts and pictures. Dali ended his life here. We went for coffee then drove back for an afternoon by the pool. We had a fab lunch and read and had a nap. We had G & T at a bar in the Fraternity of Men at Parafrugel. Frank had booked a meal at Par Ei Raim ( bread and raisins). What a five star meal! As well as starters and amazing puds we had sirloin of veal and lots of free tasters. Wine was excellent too. A great way to end our stay with our very generous hosts, Frank and Julia.

16 June 2017

Very relaxing day. Swimming, lunch on the beach, back to the pool. Frank and I went on a mini- supermarket shopping mission in the heat. It must be well over 30 degrees here. We managed to keep to the shopping list and cooled off at a beach bar. Julia and Jude had prepared a lovely meal and we sat out on the balcony to enjoy it. Face timed Bill & Andrew - busy at Wicks buying plaster - the construction industry is in good hands. We popped into the town for homemade ice cream and Soberano! End to a lovely day
Frank and Julia took us up to Pals, a Medieval village close by. Had coffee (of course). Drove on to Palafrugel for lunch in the square. Excellent food and marvellous deli / wine shop. Even had 4 types of Aaran Whisky! After a swim in the pool we sorted out a meal for guests Bruce and Sandra - Frank and Julia's friends. Great evening which concluded at midnightt! Time went so quickly great food and wine and excellent company! Bed. Zzzz

15 June 2017

Another hot day! Walked down to the beach after breakfast. Lovely swim and drinks at the waters edge. G&T was especially good. Pool, beds, reading chatting. Following in the steps of Bill and San - drove out to Begur. Lovely town and the place F & J almost bought a property some years ago had drinks and headed back for and awesome tapas. A new restaurant with a very. Lever system of serving tapas. Very reasonable and good value drinks. Had to finish with Soberano. Well looked after by Oriel! Good food! Bruce and Sandra popped in to say bye. Midnight again! Making a habit of this!!

13 June 2017

We moved on today further down the Spanish coast line. At Christmas we had mentioned to Frank & Julia (friends of Bill & San) that we were headed this way. They said they were too and we should look them up. We did and here we are! Spending a couple of days at Llafranc! How very kind of them. G&T, swim, dinner later - great end to the day.

12 June 2017

Set off for Roses. Stopped had coffee in the town and decided to stay on a campsite at the opposite end of the bay along many windy roads. Fantastic location. Guess what. It was full! Found another some miles away and pitched up. May try to get on again later in the week. Walked into the village for a beer before setting up the barbie. €7 for 4 drink with olives! Ha much better than France. And Spainish people speak to you in English, French just don't. Great BBQ.
Up very early to go to the market as we have to change our pitch before 12 noon. Very sweaty 2 mile walk even at 8am. Market was brill, bought lots of Saucisson and had a fab breakfast - all you can eat at a hotel on the street. Loved the old town charm. Bought a cd from the buskers saw a perfect dog for Kate and Matt! Walked back even hotter now only to discover that our pitch was free and they didn't know what the fuss was about. I was annoyed. Bloody French! Read, swam snorkelled and walked back into town over the hill to enjoy the evening vibe. Had a great meal of mussels and mullet. Walked back, cooled off, and slept well!

10 June 2017

On our drive we resisted the urge to divert to Sete (very happy holiday memories with the Bigs & kids). Arrived on the French Spain boarder and managed to get a pitch on the site we wanted at Collioure Les Criques des Porteils. It was bloody hot. On the cliff top, no wind and over 30 degrees. Managed a trip to the beaches (thought we saw Bill having FUN sun-bathing) and the bar and enjoyed a BILASH curry. Yummy! At last after dark it cooled a little. Slept with all doors and windows open with no quilt!
Up early and in search of a good photo of the bridge. It really is awesome. Very simple and very elegant. We then had to drive on it! Our journey was interesting 800m altitude for miles on the motorway before finally coming down to the coastal plain near Sete. Fond memories! Found a little town selling metal furniture, loads of yards and shops, all antique. Could have bought a lorry load. We did a little bit of toll road around Narbonne, Beziere and Perps. Arrived at Collioure at a busy beautiful cliff top site. They just managed to fit us on. Spotted Bill on the beach - look alike! Hope we can stay a second night. Tonight is .............curry night I know, it's Saturday it should be chilli! But hey we're on holiday and anything goes!!
Started our drive to Spain today - had to pop into Cajarc to see my fav wine merchant first - and coffee! Drove to Rodez ( not Rodders!) but it was too busy to stop. Head on for Milleau - worlds tallest bridge. Bridge looks stunning in the sunlight. Found a good site by the river and had a cuppa. We are deep in the gorge with enormous limestone escarpments all around. Bit like Llandudno but bigger Jude says. Got to laugh at the sandwicherie and the beer tap on the table! Walked into town. What a surprise! A great buzz with lots of bars, cafes and restaurants. Lovey back alleys and squares. Spent the evening there and had a great meal. Bit posh for us but it was worth it!! Especially the oysters!

8 June 2017

Site is brilliant and today is so hot so we will enjoy reading, eating and watching the sun go down. And there is the small matter of the red wine to consider...........
Change of plan- Le soliel brille - so we tucked into our almond croissants and got the bikes down yet again! We cycled along a very quiet road on the banks of the Lot. Beautiful countryside and so peaceful. We made out 10 mile journey and locked the bikes up to take the mile long path up to St Cirq Lapopie. Another Medieval town! Lots of lovey artisan shops, bars and restaurants. Bought a few pressies and had a cheep panini and ice cream - well we have got three types of sausages, mixed rice and dauphinois potatoes to eat tonight! Oh and yes, last nights wine was excellent and we will be buying a case - we have two half bottles to finish off so no alcohol for lunch - we are so disciplined! Dick would love the bike rides here - quiet roads and beautiful scenery - flat too alongside the river, just Judy's cup of tea - which is exactly what we had when we got back! We did spot a large otter crossing the road too!

7 June 2017

Rocked up at our site, very pretty by a stream, friendly British owners. They set us off on an awesome walk. Woods, hills, history and stunning cliff top views. Made the cuppa and shower at the end all the better. Just about to get the barbie fired up for brochettes from the butchers with - that red this space! Just having a glass of champers while I write this.........
Set off at 8am before breakfast and set off down the banks of the Lot before stopping for breakfast - even met the school bus!(we don't have to go anymore!) we stopped for breakfast and drove onto Cajarc. What a friendly town. Everybody said bonjour in the shops and street. Bought wafer thin pastry coated in almond sugar to heave with our coffee. Bought stuff in the veg shop, both butchers and an artisan wine shop where after chatting to the proprietor was persuaded to buy to local wines to try. Both to be opened 2 hrs before drinking and the lighter to be drunk first. We are going to try it tonight - let you know! The town had a railway station as there appeared to be a disused line running the length of the river alongside the road we drove on. At the station 4 guys were playing trains, shunting around a retro engine. Believe me if the line was running it would be better than the Severn Valley! Paul would have loved it!

6 June 2017

We visited Martel - yet another beautiful town - before heading off to Figeac. I can remember visiting this town when Laura was just one year old on our way to the South of France coast. Found a park for free for Camping Cars and set off to explore and have dinner. Found a few good bars and decided on a simple pizza and lasagne. Had enough French food, me duck! Good grub, enough pizza left for lunch, great. Ian check out the nougat!

5 June 2017

What a busy day. Went canoeing down the Dordogne this morning and got the bikes off this afternoon. Went to Versay and Cerenac. Lots of driving on tiny lanes to get across the river. A full day then left over Bilash curry (and it's not even Friday) and bbq'ed chicken and peppers with champers, beer and Italian red wine. Need a kip now!

4 June 2017

Today we went la Roque Gageac. Had a quick look around another little town built into the cliffs. Enjoyed coffee then drove across to Creysse, my fav campsite so far. Very laid back, pool bar, wifi, very rural, large pitches, right on the river bank. The village is lovely and authentic. I could live here! Parked up, had a glass of champers and went for a look round before a few beers in the bar writing this. BBQ tonight I think!
Pic from La Roque Gageac.

3 June 2017

Somme took a bit of finding. It was on a. Luff top overlooking the river. An ancient walled town which you had to park outside and walk in. We messed up on the parking ticket ( we were staying for the night) as the money went in but no ticket came out! We went to the tourist info and they phoned the mayor who was standing next to our van about to issue a ticket! It was then all sorted!! (He even popped to see us the next morning at breakfast!). The town was a delight - cliff top drinks, walk round the ramparts in the evening sun. Topped off with a lovely meal at a small auberge. Then back in time to catch the second half of the Euro cup final on French by. Who needs satellite!
We left our site to visit Sarlet. The busiest town we've seen on our trip. Beautiful town and a fab market. Loads of squares, bars and restaurants - then the heavens opened! Very, very heavy rain. It was a torrent down the street as we tried to shelter next to a cheese van. We made a dash for it and dried off, had lunch and decided to find a small town with a nice Aire. And we did - Domme.

2 June 2017

Got back in time for a swim the pool at the site. It was so warm! Showered then started cooking risotto with lovely earthy mushrooms from the market. Topped off with fresh rainbow trout and a bottle of muscadet. Better than a restaurant! Night night!
We drove off to Roccamador. It's an ancient town built on three levels on the face of a cliff. It looked like it was a collapsed limestone gorge - bit like Chedar. The building at the top is a Chateau, mid level is churches and chapels, the third the town. Although it was very touristy it was still amazing. Godsy. Didn't know you were into duck!! Earlier in the day we had lunch overlooking the gorge. I bought some mushroom saucisson earlier and thought I might bring some back for Bill but it's so good I've nearly eaten it all! Did a few windy roads and found a splendid campsite for tomorrow. Had some sparkling wine by the river. Yum!
A new day - more sun - and we found a market, in our town! Loads of tastings, wine, peaches and awesome saucisson. Bought stuff for tonight's dinner and more stuff cos we liked it. The local Cahors wine was, well let's just say not a Shiraz or a Rioja!

1 June 2017

Found a good campsite in Souillac by the River Dordogne. Showered and into town for trad French meal - Duck. Have to say I don't really like French cuisine! Duck was good and the wine! We had a brief rain shower during a very hot afternoon. This has left an eerie mist over the river. Met a couple from Holywell N. Wales. Gave us some good recommendations for sites on the Spanish border.

31 May 2017

Enjoyed dinner and Sammir brut. Watched the sun go down over the lake. Noisey ducks, me duck!
Arrived at a beautiful Aire on a lake in the small town of Meuzac. This was not the plan but we spent too long in the supermarche sorting out a sim for the spare phone and drinking coffe - oh and getting some local wine of course! Oh and we went into Bonneval for coffee, coissant and wifi before we set off. On our way we spotted the town of BILLY! That bouy gets everywhere! Been for a walk round le lac and found a very trad tabac. No chance of wifi then! Spicy bean cassoulet tonight and some of that local vin.

30 May 2017

Found a lovely free Aire in Bonnevile down by the river. Just having a drink now! May eat out tonight! Woooo. Daring!
Long drive today gets us to Bonneval. We have now driven 500 miles from Shropshire, through Rouen, Dreux and Chartres. We parked up at an Aire next to the river in a pretty town, so a bit of exploring to do this evening.
Just driven onto the Eurotunnel. Always impressed with their efficiency. Long drive ahead - hope the navigators up to it!

29 May 2017

Just arrived at the Drum Inn, our overnight accommodation. Set off at nine and had a clear drive. Popped down to Hythe for a walk on the prom and an ice cream. Lovely little town. Parked the van up and dinner in the pub at 7 with a couple of scoops! Couldn't be better.

28 May 2017

Our journey began at Bethan and Piran's Wedding. What a couple of days spent with good friends celebrating the marriage of such a well suited and talented couple. Thanks for inviting us to share your special day! And now to our this space.
Sunday, the day after the wedding, was beautifully sunny. This showed off the All Stretton venue at its best. After a hearty breakfast and clear - up, we all went off to the Ragleth for lunch.