Having spent a lovely week in Brugge it was time to begin our journey southwards. We thought it would be nice to visit Luxembourg on our way down and spend a week exploring there.
It was on this leg of the trip I was pleased to prove that my plan for “not booking anything but just turn up and decide then” was a good plan. Having arrived at my carefully chosen camp site discovered that I had no mobile signal at all and so was not a suitable stop. We had met a couple in a supermarket car park just 10km up the road who was telling us about a excellent site which as it happens was just a little further down the road with free wifi and a good mobile signal. So we turned round and headed to this site instead.
Camping Bissen is a lovely site where they have touring pitches right next to a river in a gorge which was absolutely beautiful. We had planned to stay here for a week but on closer inspection of the map, calculating the distance we have gone so far and how much further we had to go I decided at this rate we will be very hard pressed to reach Malaga, or there a bouts, by December.
I worked out where would be a good point to head to and programmed the sat nav, making sure that toll roads had been deselected. WHAT 8 hours!! So I tried again with toll roads, only 4 hours. So thats it then we are just going to have to use toll roads. Something I didn’t want to do as we will miss out on so much but had severely underestimated how much longer it would take us.
We drove out of Luxembourg back into Belgium and then into France where we joined our first toll road. Unfortunately because “The Bus” is a right hand drive Ann, my darling wife, has to deal with the auto tolls. We pull up to the machine and she hangs out the window with my credit card in hand, looking at the instructions and buttons, which are all in French, and shouting back at me that she doesn’t know what to do. Eventually a ticket appears out the machine and the barrier goes up and were off.
The weather was atrocious when we started and by the time we reached the point to turn off to my chosen site it hadn’t improved one bit so we just kept driving south (again my plan is good). Having pulled over to get something to eat at a service station I selected another site 3 hours further on and headed for that deciding that regardless of weather this is where we will stop.
As we approached our exit from the toll road the weather had begun to improve and it seemed that all was going to be good. Then we reached the automatic toll booths …….
Again with Ann hanging out of the window with the ticket and my credit card there ensued some shouting me making it very clear, or so I thought, not to put my credit card in anything until the price was known, my credit card being shoved in any slot it would fit first, a man’s voice coming through a speaker saying something in french and before I can instruct my sweet what to say she almost shouts “Sorry English” in english whist shoving the ticket in a hole and the barrier opening and lots of shouting. This followed with a blazing argument over the fact that my credit card may have been raped without me knowing how much for and this whist I was trying to follow the sat nav, work out which way round to go round roundabouts and not upset or even crash into any local drivers. How the hell I managed it I’ll never know.
Camping Paquier Fane is a lovely site just on the edge of Chagny, Bourgogne which is itself a very pretty and typically French town with a good assortment of shops, bars and restaurants all within 5 minute walk of the site. The site sits between 2 very busy railway lines which I believe run all night and day so may not suite very light sleepers. We didn’t think it was too bad at all.
The young couple that run the site are very friendly and pleasant and I will miss my little chats with the husband (I never did find out his name) we would have first thing in the morning when I picked up our ordered baguette and croissants. They have free wifi there which was plenty fast enough to stream you tube videos etc.
During the week we were there it was very noticeable the drop in temperature in the evenings and nights and I made the decision we needed to get much much further south so I planned our next leg of the journey to end up on the south coast of France, a 6 hour drive by tolls or 12 without, tolls it was then (oh no, more shouting).
We set off Saturday morning with a half made plan that we may stop at an Aire on route to break the journey. Well thats what Ann thought, I was determined to do it in one go.
We had to go along three lots of toll roads and it appears Ann has got it sussed now and we pass without incident or any shouting. It was quite noticeable that it was getting warmer and warmer the further south we drove and the landscape and buildings started to have a very Mediterranean look.
All was going great and we finally turned off along a very narrow road towards Loupian and our site. Just 100 or so meters from the site some woman in a big 4×4 that has clearly no idea of how wide her vehicle is and hanging over our side of the road hits our wing mirror severely cracking the casing and upsetting Ann. Fortunately the glass in the mirror remained undamaged. I was unable to do anything to avoid this as there was a deep ditch just inches from my wheels on the right. She knew damn well she was in the wrong as whilst I stopped she didn’t.
Le Camping Municipal is a large site just outside the village Loupian. Its quite a large site with large shaded pitches. Each pitch is shaded on three sides by its own trees (watch this though as when I tried to pull in to my pitch I got caught up in the overhanging branches as I cut in too close, much to the amusement of our new neighbours).
There is free wifi here which is the fastest we have had on any site anywhere to date. You need to ask for this at reception and they will give you a little slip of paper with log on details which will give you 6 hours internet per day. If you need more than that, which I do, just tell them you got other laptops you want to connect and they will give you another one or maybe more. When you do first log on you MUST watch a short advert before you are able to use it.
The site also has its own restaurant and bar that specialises in fish and also serves a very nice local dark beer.
Loupian itself is a typically lovely little village with a few shops, bars and restaurants and is built up around the part ruined Chapel of Saint-Hippolyte dating back to the twelfth century which makes this a fascinating place to explore with narrow passages winding around the buildings.
I am glad to say that unsurprisingly its much warmer here and there was no need to use the heating.