Where's Frankie?

La Flamengrie to Dun Sur Meuse (95 miles)

Despite Lucy desparately needing the loo she stayed in bed for as long as she could, she didn’t want me wide awake and full of the joys of spring first thing in the morning. I was forced to have a lay in until 8am!

I got up and dressed and went out exploring and found the little site shop selling apple juice, cider and apple jelly. Bought a bottle each of apple juice and apple and blackberry juice for a total cost of €5.50. I’ve put this down in our accounts as site fees since that was the only cost involved. I think it was very reasonable, pretty site with lovely views for €5.50 and they throw in two litres of fresh fruit juice for free.
We were on the road by 9am heading for Charlesville Mezieres and found a lovely aire on the banks of the Meuse and took a leisurely walk into town. The town square is lovely and best bit of all (for me) was that it was a bank holiday so most of the shops were closed. We managed to have a coffee and millionaires shortbread each. The sun was getting very warm and it was lovely just sitting there and chilling.
Eventually we decided to head back, we’ve got a busy schedule you know, and found a note under the windscreen washer. Our neighbour had paid for electric for 24 hours and then gone off and had offered us the rest of their electric. Not needing it I offered it to the French van next door but their English was worse than what mine is and we struggled to work out what I was talking about. Got there in the end but they were about to leave themselves!
We stopped by the roadside for a little picnic and glass or two of apple juice and then headed on for our aire for the night which is in a place called Dun sure Meuse. Diesel light is flashing and all the petrol stations are closed today so we are hoping for a top up in the morning. The view outside our window is of the Meuse and we have thunder and lightning overhead and rain threatening. Can’t complain we’ve had 26ºC in the van today and it’s still 23ºC now.
So far we have been really lucky finding spaces to stop. We have the All the Aires book, a French Passion book and the sat nav shows us when there is an aire nearby. It’s 4pm now and this aire, taking 20 units is full up. There has been a constant stream of motorhomes coming past looking for spaces. There are another 10 vans parked up outside the aire and in total we have 22 French, 6 Belgians and 2 English. I feel heavily outnumbered, I might try and organise a reenactment of Agincourt in the morning.
A short explanation of an aire is required here because there are a few different types and you don’t want to be in the wrong one at the wrong time. The smallest aire is really just a lay-by which are normally found on single carriage roads, slightly more than a lay-by though since they will be off the main road by 10 – 20 metres, probably shielded from the road by trees and there will be picnic benches, possibly a play area and sometimes toilets. You won’t want to sleep in one of these for the night. The next one up from that will be mainly on dual carriageways or motorways and are best described as piss stinking car parks. They are generally bigger and can accommodate lorries and their drivers hygiene standards are not too high. You don’t really want to stop in one of these because they really can whiff. The third type will be listed in various books, we use All the Aires and they will be car parks dedicated to motorhome use. They may be in the middle of a town or in the middle of the country, they will be big enough for 3 or 300 vans, they may have full facilities or none and they may be free or charge you up to €20 per night.
Word for the day is voisin which means neighbour.
Mistake of the day – not filling up with diesel when we had a chance. We really must try and fill up / empty when we have the chance. We did empty the waste tank and the toilet cassette today when we really didn’t need to so maybe we are getting slightly better.

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