Sunday, 25 February 2018

Brittany and Normandy, 25 February

The Swan Whisperer went off for his run this morning, and I got up, washed, dressed and got everything ready for breakfast, and was just about to set off on my walk when he returned. So I went off on my walk - not many walkers, except with dogs, but hordes of joggers and a fair few cyclists - and when I got back, breakfast was almost ready!

After breakfast we decided to drive through Rennes as it was Sunday and we assumed - correctly - that there wouldn't be much traffic. Rather an attractive town, we thought, but driving over cobbled streets is noisy in the van!

Then we came out of town and found somewhere to stop to have coffee - the SW had bought pains au chocolate when he got a baguette for lunch - and then round St-Malo, which we remembered from last time. Then we drive to our halt for today, the town with the glorious name of Villedieu-les-Poêles. The SW had been for a walk but says he wasn't very impressed. I was at a complicated bit of my knitting, so stayed in to do that, but we will have a walk tomorrow morning, and see.

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Brittany and Normandy, 24 February

I bottled out of visiting the submarine this morning, as I was afraid it would be claustrophobic, although the Swan Whisperer, who did go, said it wasn't at all, once you were in there. All the same....

So after that we decided to go down to the nearest beach to have our lunch, stopping at a supermarket en route. We were a bit annoyed as we parked up totally in nobody's way and some officious man - not an official, or anything, but probably a local who gets tired of motor homes all over the place - politely suggested we go and park in the aire round the corner, so we did. It has services, so we emptied the loo and the grey water, but it didn't have any fresh water.

We decided to take the main road across Brittany to Cesson-Sévigné, outside Rennes. We did debate driving through Rennes itself, but I think we had done that last time and hadn't been very impressed. So we ended up here by the lakes, where there is a running/walking course all laid out. I walked round the bottom lake, which takes about 17 minutes at my speed, and feel refreshed for it! 

There are services here, and we think the water is running; it wasn't when we got diesel in the town earlier. The man at the kiosk, who had only just come on duty, said his predecessor knew very well that it wasn't working, and shouldn't have sold us a jeton, and he refunded us!  Only €1.50, but still....  Water here is €2.60, but it looks as though it's working.

Friday, 23 February 2018

Brittany and Normandy, 23 February

This morning was cold and fine again - really lovely, but bitterly cold. We woke up at 6:30, but the SW said the gas had finished in the night and he couldn't change the cylinder until it was daylight, so we went back to sleep again and it wasn't exactly early by the time we'd had breakfast and so on. I went out to Lidl to get one or two things, and then we drove on, first to see the standing stones - field upon field of them, incredibly impressive.

Then we drove to Lorient to see the submarine pens and so on there. We had hoped to drive across country - and we did, indeed, we did drive round the coast for a bit, and stopped at a Super U for another gas cylinder. I was cross as Lidl had had no fresh milk so I'd had to buy incredibly expensive bio stuff from a little shop at the corner of the car park, and if I'd known we'd be stopping at a Super U, I'd not have bothered!

Anyway, half way there we came to road works and found we were too tall for whatever was blocking the route, so we ended up on the main road, after all. Not that we minded, as we really had had a beautiful drive.

Sadly, when we got to Lorient, I found I had completely run out of energy. I do seem to be very much better these holidays, far more energy, but there it wasn't, this afternoon. So I spent most of it lying on my bed, reading and watching seagulls out of the window, while the SW explored. We decided to stay at Lorient for the night in the hope that I'll feel up to exploring the submarine base in the morning.

So as there was one very near, we ate at a creperie this evening (and very good it was, too!) and are now in bed, even though it's only just gone 9. Our books await!

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Brittany and Normandy, 22 February

We had a lazy start to the day, and it was 11:30 before we "composted" our tram tickets to go into the centre of Nantes, which the Swan Whisperer had walked around the previous evening. We saw the Chateau that originally belonged to the Dukes of Brittany, and which now houses the local museum, telling, among other things, the history of the town's involvement with the slave trade.  I should have liked to have seen that, but there wasn't really time.

So we walked on and went into the Cathedral, which has been rebuilt many times over the centuries, and is still  lovely.  And then slowly back to the tram stop, where we needed to buy fresh tickets, as ours had expired, and then we  were soon back at the campsite.

The restaurant there turned us away as they were full, so we went to one next door which did take-aways and got a sandwich (me) and some pasta (him), and ate them in the van.

Then we had to organise ourselves to move on, including using the services and remembering to switch off gas and electricity, etc, and headed on to Carnac. We decided to go slightly all round the houses, as the SW wanted to go over the Pont St-Nazaire, which was well worth the detour, we both felt. There was a lovely bridge over the Loire just outside Nantes, too, but the St Nazaire one has a reduced speed limit so there was plectrum of time to look around. We saw a huge modern cruise ship - I quite thought it was a block of flats at first - which was either still being built or was in for a refit.  Super!

And so on to Carnac. Last time we were here, it was full of road works, and we were so turned around by the various diversions that we didn't realise we were here until we no longer were!  Not so this time. We did have trouble finding the Aire, but now we are here, quite near the town centre and also the fields full of menhirs (Obélix's discards?) That surround the town. The SW, needless to say, has gone out for a walk, and I am about to start supper, which would have been pasta, had the SW not had it for lunch, but will now be mince with potatoes!

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Brittany and Normandy, 21 February

Today we finally reached Brittany, driving from Le Mans to Angers and then on to Nantes.

Or first port of call was an enormous Auchan on the outskirts of Le Mans; I don't believe I've ever seen such a huge hypermarket!  It took several minutes to walk the length of the associated mall before you got there, too!  The SW, meanwhile, got diesel and made himself coffee while I was doing that, and then we set off properly.

We took the motorway to Angers, but asked the Sat-nav to take us to the town centre, just because, which it duly did. Then we drove cross-country to Nantes, with the sun shining and generally lovely. We stopped in a picnic area for lunch - I had bought some rillettes du Mans (well, you have to, don't you!), and some strawberry tartlets as a treat.  And some French lime juice squash, which is incredibly tart by UK standards, but refreshing if you don't make it too strong.

Our first port of call in Nantes was to a mechanical museum where there was a large elephant the SW wanted to see. We might have gone into the museum but there was a massive queue, and to be honest, it's not really the sort of thing I find interesting!  So we walked around until we found the elephant, who was just loading up for his next trip, but he was a bit of a fraud, as he moved on wheels and, although his legs moved, they were not used for locomotion.  He was huge though!

After that, we came away and drove through the city to the camp site, which is very nice, and the SW went for a walk while I knitted and got rather chilled, add then he went out for pizza, which we have just finished, and very good it was, too.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Brittany and Normandy, 20 February

The Swan Whisperer went out for a run this morning, while I got up, and then we had breakfast, but what with one thing and another it was almost 10:00 am before we got away. We had hoped to cross the Seine on a ferry, but the operator said we were too long, so we had to reverse sadly up the ramp. But it was nice, as we had to go to the Pont de Brotonne, and to get back to the motorway meant a lovely drive through rural Normandy. Not at its prettiest this time of year, of course, but there were primroses!

We stopped twice en route to Let Man's - the first a planned stop for coffee and a leg-stretch for the SW, and then again because I noticed that motorhome services were advertised at the Dentelles d'Alençon service area. These turned out to be working, clean and free, so we made good use of them!  I was very glad we had, as when we arrived in Le Mans, we discovered the service area we'd stayed at before was now closed. There is a very nice free car park, though, where we have stopped, but no services.

Lunch was the first order of the day, and then I stupidly went to sleep, which meant is was after 4:00 before we got out. We walked up the hill to the Cathedral, and then down toward the Cité Plantagenet.  We saw the the Queen Berengaria museum, which had been closed last time we were here, was now open, so we went in and oh, the disappointment. Nothing to do wth her, or the crusades, or Richard the Lionheart, but an exhibition of local paintings and pottery from the 18th and 19th centuries, depicting local life then, mostly mediocre. So to be avoided!

Then we called in at a supermarket to get stuff for supper and breakfast, and then a very pleasant walk back between the river and the city walls to our car park.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Brittany and Normandy, 19 February

The weather, which had been so lovely all weekend, broke overnight and we woke up to a wet day.  However, we have macs, so we drove over to Arques, and to the former boat lift at Fontinettes. The visitor centre was closed, as we knew it would be, but we were still able to have a good walk all round, and to see the former line of the canal before the modern lock was installed in the 1970s. (photos here after I get home!)

Sadly, we couldn't see the modern lock, as the footpath came to and end and it said No Admittance, so we had to come away. But it was a most enjoyable walk, despite the rain!

After this, we went to a supermarket so I could stock up on this and that, and a pair of slippers, as the pair I keep in the van have unaccountably disappeared. Then we drove as far as the Aire du Baie de la Somme, where we had lunch, and then on down here, to Jumièges, on the banks of the Seine. The journey was very wet and foggy, and one of our windscreen wipers decided to part company from its moorings - luckily it stuck in the ventilation trough - don't know what else to call it - on the bonnet, and we were just by an emergency pull-off, so we stopped and the Swan Whisperer fixed it.  It behaved itself all the rest of the way!

Now the SW has gone out for a walk, and I am knitting and reading.