An un-forgettable journey

Tuesday 16th August

A lazy day today sitting around the pool and house apart from an interlude when Christine went with Andrew and Elton to an indoor activity complex, “Fun City”.   Apparently this complex had all sorts of activities for small children up-to performance “freaks”.   By the sound of the activities that Christine recounted on her return, I made the right decision; “stay away!”, still they all looked as they enjoyed themselves.  The link is if anybody wants a workout is:-  There are four “Fun City” places on the Rivera and the company certainly looks like they’ve created an excellent business model. 

Christine also spent time rearranging the “booze cupboard” to stop the bottles rattling, well, the ones we haven’t finished yet!!!  after all we have to get our priorities right!!

Whilst this was going on I downloaded a selection of films from Amazon which I can now play on Rosie’s TV; makes a change from playing crib each night!!!

Much of the afternoon was all about fun and frolic in the pool followed by another bbq, prepped and cooked by the two of us for our last supper; who knows when we will see Elton next for tomorrow we head north; oh yes, we also had rain this evening, nothing too hard but it’s a start.

Wednesday 17th August

The “little” rain we had yesterday evening turned overnight into “heavy” rain, but did stop in the wee hours. No rush today as Andrew had a pre-arranged “boxing” training session as “Nana” was here to look after Elton; a bonus for her!

We hit the road eventually at 1030hrs but changed our plan of direction.   Our original plan was to route north to Grasse, then over the top of the “Maritime Alps” at Gap “733 m” much to Christine’s displeasure, too twisty with big drops, not a motorway!!!!   Two reasons for choosing this route:  firstly it’s years since we travelled that road and secondly, the traffic along the “Autoroute de Meditarani” is diabolical, August and full of holidaymakers etc. Anyway a change of plan that we “might” live to regret later.   Our target destination was Beaune, a 6-hour drive🤞🤞

After our goodbyes we headed straight to the “Autoroute de Meditarani” mainly because though not raining as we left, the skies looked full of it and also these big black clouds were so low, we wouldn’t have been able to take in the splendid views from the top.

Hit the autoroute and though busy, it was flowing so started to relax.   There was some congestion at the tool booths but that was due to the volume of traffic, so “acceptable” but as we headed further west the traffic was backing up seriously, it was solid and just creeping now and then.    No fire engines to help us today!!!

Eventually after being in and out of 1st gear hundreds of times we came across the problem, a multi-car pile up but by the time we’d arrived all but one, “stuck in the middle lane”, were at the side of the road.   We’re off again then the rain came down, so that slowed things down as well.   The French don’t like driving in the rain and that manifested itself as we were passing Aix-en-Provence; the traffic was slowing and what appeared to be a 35cwt van in the outside lane indicated to move into the middle lane but as he was carrying out his manoeuvre, the traffic braked again and the van driver hit his anchors a little too hard and slewed into the middle lane with the back staying in the fast lane.  At this point the car following him must have thought with the van out the way I’ll gain an extra car length so in anticipation he accelerated, “BANG” he clipped the rear of the van and the central reservation concrete block.   We were right behind but had enough time to take the necessary avoiding action and once we passed the stricken van and saw the car all stoved in, our first comments were very friendly; “stupid buggers”.   With so much traffic behind we had move on But looking as we passed them, I have to say no one other than their pride was hurt.  

The rain came down in buckets as we turned off the A8 and headed North on the A7, the main autoroute for anybody going to the French Riviera from Northern Europe, always has been a busy motorway but being August, it’s chaos.  

Once on the A7 we made steady but slow progress but soon began to realise out planned destination of Beaune was becoming impossible as time was running out and we had to pass through Lyon, always a disaster.

Eventually we hit the Lyon traffic, bumper to bumper, crawling slowly and now the heavy rain turned to hailstones, we couldn’t believe it.   Several years ago we were on the same bit of motorway, albeit heading south, and it was hailing then, but to make things worse, on that occasion drivers stopped under bridges, blocking lanes, until it stopped; today there was too much traffic for that to happen.

nice quiet spot

When we pulled out of the Lyon area our destination had changed, Christine searched her overnight stop books at vineyards and found a winery in a small village called Bully, in the Beaujolais area so that’s was put into SatNav and we escaped the A7 and the Lyon traffic.

Off the main road, driving down this rather narrow lane, we’ll off the beaten track we came across this “Domaine de Roche Cattin” and was greeted by Monsieur Le Proprietaire who showed us where to park.   Our eventual arrival time was 1800hrs; originally it was to be 564 kms taking circa 6-hrs, we actually drove “only” 442 kms and that took us 7.5-hrs; we have been fated all the way, August is a definite “NO NO”; still having parked up; rain still falling please note! We headed into the cave to do some more degustation and of course walk out with a case of rather splendid Beaujolais, and this put the whole torrid day into context and after downing a bottle over dinner, watched a film then slept like logs.

Lovely bottle of wine to chill

Thursday 18th August

We woke up to clear blue skies, the rain had gone, let’s hope the winegrowers are happy now, and hit the road before breakfast.   Our destination today is a little north of Poitiers, about 5-hours drive, “hopefully”!!!!!, but first stop is a supermarket for some basic essentials and fuel.   We are using normal roads today, none of the Motorways for us 🤞🤞🤞🤞🤞 they’re clear.

Supermarket visited, fuelled up and breakfast taken and back on the road, heading to Poitiers by 1030am and on quiet roads too, ok not so fast but the distance is 40kms shorter and no tolls, win win, hopefully🤞🤞🤞🤞

Our route took us along the traditional long, straight, tree-lined roads and through some very “typical” very French villages but unfortunately couldn’t stop as we had a “ferry to catch”; we must stop putting time constraints on our travels, we always seem to do this so made a decision, after this trip we will limit our day to 4-hours driving only.  This will give us the opportunity to stop if we see something or somewhere we fancy.

Typical French roads

During the day we had some rain and a lot of sun but one thing we didn’t have was traffic, we’ll none to moan about!

We by-passed Poitiers and then the “Navigator” set about finding us a vineyard or similar to stay the night.

Lots of Bee hives

Being in this part of the world, finding a vineyard is asking rather a lot, a cider producer would be easier but instead Christine found a honey producing farm; “that’s different”, not our normal overnight stop-over, and besides I’m not a big fan of honey!!!

We arrived at another out of the way place in the middle of nowhere, near the village of Soudan and reported to the first, sorry, only person we came across and was told where to park.   We were also informed that her Father, most probably the farm owner, would come and talk to us about their honey etc.

After settling in and enjoying a pre dinner drink in this idealistic setting, this old chap turned up and started “babbling”, at this point I must say it did sound very French, most probably “Bretton” and after a bit he twigged, he didn’t understand our French and we certainly didn’t understand what he was saying but once we got across that we weren’t, as our number plates suggest, Spanish, but English.   At this point he just walked off, probably in a huff knowing he wouldn’t sell any honey; oh well his loss!!!!

Geoff watching a film with brandy and coffee

We had a wonderful quiet night though it did get quite cold during the wee hours so had  to do something unusual, “wrap up” for the first time in weeks.

Friday 19th August.

Our night in Soudan was like the rest of our overnight stops taken out of Christine’s book, “France Passion”, so far every one’s a winner, we’ll worth investing in.

Tomorrow we catch the afternoon ferry at Roscoff, heading across to Plymouth so tonight we have “imposed” ourselves on our friends, Sandy and Wendy and as they have a big drive we can get Rosie into and we can sleep in her and save them unnecessary work for one night.   Today, as yesterday we headed out before breakfast to get a loaf and again fill up.

Our journey should only take about 3-hours avoiding tolls etc. so no problems.  Firstly we stopped for breakfast then later for mid morning coffee, the things we haven’t been able to do because of time pressure and heavy traffic.   We also stopped for an hour to enjoy a leisurely lunch, unheard of this trip!!!

Arriving at Sandy and Wendy’s

We arrived at Sandy and Wendy’s around 1530hrs and apart from a 20-minute break, for a wash and brush up, didn’t stop talking.   Normally we don’t meet up in the flesh more than once every couple of years, but this is our second visit this year, and still time flies by.

Tonight Wendy made an excellent curry which went down a treat followed by a Pavlova, much enjoyed by one and all though we couldn’t quite finish it off having pigged-out on too much curry.   

Following a lingering meal we headed back to Rosie; though Roscoff is only a couple of hours away, with our luck we’ll probably get held up somewhere so will leave early in the morning to make sure we catch our ferry.

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