Sunday 15th November
On the way out of Rochefort we had to cross over the Charentes River to get to Royan and this is the view from the bridge.
We couldn’t quite make out whether it was a partly built bridge, an old bridge or just someone having a laugh. Our guide books are as usual, clueless.
Royan, another town circled on our map of places to visit and it looked really nice, there was a large beach and lots and lots of no motorhome signs, we know when we aren’t wanted so moved on and found Montagne sur Gironde. This was off the beaten track with lots of hairpins to get to the town but it was really nice. The aire is overlooking the small harbour, the sun was out and the next door neighbours had their chairs out and electric was included in the €8 a night fee. It would have been rude to leave our chairs locked up so we sat in the afternoon sun and chilled.
Next day we are off on our way to Blaye, never heard of it before but the guide books said that the fort was rather impressive. The aire was next door to the fort, another one of Vaubans designs meant to keep the English away from Bordeaux. Commissioned by Louis XIV in 1685 it actually consists of three forts, this one, one in the middle of the river and one on the far bank. In this way it was possible to control the whole width of the river since at the time it was impossible to fire a canon across the full width, and thereby control the river from one side.
The fort is enormous covering 25 hectares, the central fort is the island in the river to the right.
In the centre of the fort is an old castle, now partially destroyed to make it easier to fire the newer guns but some of it dates back to the 12th century.
Everywhere you looked you could see the fortifications from different eras in the forts life.
Over 600 soldiers lived here in times of peace, that number doubling whenever the English got close, we were here again in 1812 upsetting Napolean.
We came back from our tour of the fort, it was free, and met up with Jenny and Oscar, a couple of fellow motorhomers who have been travelling for many, many years. I was saying that I had real difficulties trying to get a photo to show the size of the fort in one photo, you can’t stand far enough away to get it all in, even with the panoramic software that I have. Oscar said, no problems, I’ll get my drone out after lunch.
Here it is and I NEED ONE. Please email, text and hassle Lucy and tell her that you really want to see high level shots of everywhere we are going – pretty please.
This is one of Oscars photos, took less than a minute to take, I’ve stitched it together from 6 photos but it is possible to get the drone to do it all for you, Oscar was just waiting to get the latest firmware release. We spent a lovely evening with Oscar, Jenny was too ill to spend the evening with us (or she had been warned about us). I might have drunk too much red wine but Saturdays plan would solve that issue.
Blaye has a Saturday market and we needed urgent supplies like mini potatoes and passion fruit. It also has a launderette open 7 days a week except for Monday (?) and a ferry across the Gironde which would allow us to miss Bordeaux, we couldn’t see any aires near Bordeaux and weren’t too bothered about visiting.
We’ve now been out of England for exactly four weeks. We have just finished the first 1,000 miles and spent our first €1,000. We will need some food and diesel soon but we’re pretty pleased with the way things are going, no major problems (touch wood) and I still have some Old Speckled Hen for Xmas and New Year!
And here we are approaching the fortified island in the middle of the Gironde. I know the roof is dirty, it will stay dirty until we get home. It was a bit nerve-wracking getting on the ferry, there is a big ramp and you turn into the side to get on. When we dock I will have to turn to the right to get off.
The ramp on the far side. One wrong move and you’re in the drink which is probably why all passengers have to get out leaving only the driver to drive onto the ferry.
We stopped at an Aire in St Laurent Medoc which was rather uninspiring, there were tracks on the floor where motorbikes had been doing burnouts but the evening and night were uneventful and next morning we made our way to Cap Foret. We found a lovely car park, next to the beach where we sunbathed until lunchtime.
The view was great, in front of us is the Dune de Pylat, one of the largest (the largest?) sand dune in Europe which we were going to visit, we’ve seen it and I may regret it later but we’ve decided not to visit now. We’re stopped now in an aire in Taussat which is in the Bassin d’Arcachon, 50m from a good sunbathing beach, we’ve already tested it out. Tomorrow might be more sunbathing or it could be our last glimpse of the sea for a couple of weeks – it all depends on wether the sun is shining tomorrow.