Myrtle The Motorhome

Copyright Myrtle The Motorhome 2013

Approaching La Roque-Gageac.

Day 18:
Tuesday 16th October
Vezac, Nr. La Roque-Gageac, In The Dordogne
Miles: none

Site: Les Deux Vallees
Cost: €14.00 per night. (Plus Tourism Tax)

The following morning was also decidedly cooler and damper than we’d been used to but this was more than compensated by the delivery of 4 warm Croissants and 2 warm French sticks direct to our door.

Warm croissants and jam followed by warm French stick and jam with a few cups of Nescafe Fine Blend was a great start to the day.

At about 11am we’d got Lizzie and Ada out and were just about to set off to explore La Roque-Gageac when it started to rain so it was back into Myrtle for a fix of British morning TV (10am UK time) courtesy of Max who was by now a very important member of team Myrtle.

The rain eventually stopped, or paused at least by 1.30 pm and we took the opportunity to cycle into La Roque-Gageac. We locked Lizzie and Ada to a bike rack behind a river cruise booking office and had a smooch. It was a lovely place but on a wet Tuesday in October there wasn’t that much happening other than a covered river boat trip down the Dordogne so as seen as it had started raining again we booked onto the next cruise.
 
In total there were 7 of us on the boat, including the 2 crew, and as we’d been the first to book, I’m presuming, the commentary was in English and the 3 other paying passengers were supplied with headsets. At €8.00 each it wasn’t a bad little cruise and by the time we got back to La Roque-Gageac it had stopped raining.

We got back to Myrtle at about 5.30pm as we’d arranged to go into Beynac for a drink at about 6.00pm -ish with Alan and Christine but as they’d been stuck in most of the day due to the rain also, they’d left early and texted to let us know what bar they were in. We joined them a little later for a few pints in a Tabac and then armed with our torches walked back through the Cornfields to the site.

The final job before retiring for the evening was to place our bread order for the morning.
A damp but a good day was had and with good company and we couldn’t decide whether to move on the next day which would give us 3 days to do the remaining 560 mile to Calais or to stay another day and do the final French leg of the trip home in 2 days.

Day 19:
Wednesday 17th October
Vezac, Nr. La Roque-Gageac, In The Dordogne
Miles: none

Site: Les Deux Vallees
Cost: €14.00 per night. (Plus Tourism Tax)

We woke up just as we heard our 4 warm croissants and 2 French sticks being delivered and the day was in total contrast to the day before. Gone had the rain, damp and overcast feeling and the sun was a shining, praise the lord (sorry, got carried away).

Lizzie and Ada were out again and we cycled to picturesque Castelnaud for a look around and on the way we stopped to browse a large family ran farm shop. A lovely French lady who insisted on us having a couple of glasses of free wine and crackers with Foie Gras ran the shop and we had a good laugh with her as she complimented Helen on her French and told me off for mine which I agree isn’t as tres bien as my Italiano.

At Castelnaud we didn’t go up to the castle though it did present a majestic site perched on top of the hill above the small hamlet and over looked the Dordogne and another magnificent multi arched bridge.

We smooched around down by the river and the few shops just over the bridge there and the surrounding area. We then, by a carpark near the shops, came upon our first couple of Walnut trees and they were in full nut which is to be fair the only reason we knew they were actually walnut trees. I’d never seen a walnut tree before and there were walnuts on the floor beneath the trees and more nuts dropping sporadically from the trees all the time as they popped from the green fleshy husk that covered the wrinkled nuts. The fleshy green husk is similar to that which covers a conker but is smooth rather than spiky like the conker husk. Having only ever bought these in red nets before and usually around Christmas time the temptation to start collecting these free nuts was too great. A local woman eventually wondered over towards us and for a brief moment we wondered if you were allowed to collect the nuts but she was friendly and even directed us to better pickings. A short bike ride later we found hundreds of walnut trees but all in neat rows. These were obviously walnut farms so we didn’t pick from these (much) but every so often there was a random tree by the roadside surrounded by walnuts and after a while we’d soon filled both bike handle bar bags with good quality walnuts.

Later we decided to cycle to La Roque-Gageac again for a second look around, this time on a sunny day. It was a little busier than the day before and several coach parties ensured that all the river cruise boats were in operation and fully loaded. Also today, unlike the day before there were a few canoes on the river and we found a canoe hire shop we either hadn’t seen the day before or which hadn’t been open.

Various hire options were available but the one that appealed to us was the one were you paddled down stream for 10km and then were collected by van and driven back to the start. We were allowed 3 hours to do it in or if we wanted to do it quicker they were due to collect another pair in 2 ½ hours.

We were given a Canadian Canoe and a big plastic water proof barrel for our belongings just in case we capsized and we locked Lizzie and Ada to a big tree next to the hire shop and off we went. Our route was to take us under 4 bridges, including the one at Castelnaud, through Beynac and just beyond. Once under the 4th bridge we were to look for a small jetty with a canoe sign next to it the same as the one at the hire shop starting point. It really was a great experience with cracking scenery and canoeing with the flow couldn’t have been easier. We were one of only a half a dozen or so canoes we saw yet the commentary on our cruise boat the day before had said that during the peak season as many as 4 to 5 thousand canoes a day passed under the bridge at Castelnaud.

As we approached bridge number 3 we text Alan and Christine to ask what they were up to and said we were just about to paddle through Beynac and our timing couldn’t have been better and as soon as the text was sent they appeared at the end of one of the many jetties that line the river, just in front of us. We paddled over for a chat and a break from paddling and arranged our final night out together.

We eventually paddled on to the pick up point and had done it in 2 ½ hours easily and the pick-up van was waiting for us and a couple of fellow paddlers.

Back in La Roque-Gageac we collected Lizzie and Ada and headed back to site but we’d exceeded their range again, as well as overloading them with walnuts, and once again my mount went flat about 1 ½ miles from the site. Once again I was well a truly knackered when we got back to Myrtle. I’d tried to explain to H that my battery would flatten first due to the slight extra weight my bike carried (a slight 7 stone more to be precise) and that half way through the day we should swap batteries to ensure we both got back but I think she thought I was trying to con her and that she would end up with a flat battery and I’d be okay, oh she of little faith, as if I would.

That evening the four of us, five if you include Maddie, went in to Beynac and had a full on proper posh French meal in a lovely restaurant on the main street. I must admit I thought we would have had to sit outside because we’d got Maddie with us but the French have a totally different approach to allowing pets into restaurants and Maddie along with one or two other well behaved dogs were no problem at all.

We had good food, good wine and great company and we definitely benefited from Alan and Christine much broader experience of France and especially Christine’s excellent language skills, mind you being an ex-French teacher helped.

Back at Myrtle and under the canopy and more booze made for a great last night with Alan and Christine but I’m sure we’ll all meet up again someday.

Day 20:
Thursday 18th October
Vezac, Nr. La Roque-Gageac to Jargeau Nr. Orleans, Loiret
Miles: 291

Site: Campsite L’ Isle aux Moulins
Cost: €14.00 per night. (Plus Tourism Tax)

We had every intention of hitting the road for about 9 to 9.30am, not long after our warm bread delivery but a bit of a ‘wine-graine’ put pay to that. We eventually left Vezac at about 11 o’clock which we knew was far too late as we had 560miles to do in two days to catch the ferry and didn’t want to rush.

The next mistake we made that day was to have put too much faith in Tom Tom and this was compounded by having the wrong sort of road atlas. To explain, before our holiday we’d bought the biggest scale French road atlas we could find but this, we were now of the opinion, was too big to be adequately user friendly enough. The large scale actually made the atlas harder to follow when travelling or planning a route. Where as a UK atlas starts with the south at the beginning and the north at the end and is basically up and down and easy to follow an atlas of France is not so straight forward. To try and explain further and remember this is just our opinion, for a UK route you might start on pages 8 and 9 then go to 10 and 11 and maybe jump to 14 and 15 where as on a large scale French map, you might start on pages 86 and 87, then go to 116 to 117 and then back to 88 and 89 before jumping to 46 to 47 if you get the gist. All the time juggling the A3 sized quite thick atlas, nightmare. We did have another atlas but this was of Europe and the scale for this was too small yet for motorway driving this was probably easier to use than the big French one. For when we go again we’ve already purchased a 4 miles to the inch atlas.

Anyway because of the map thing we left Tom Tom in control and he buggered up totally with the first part of the journey of just getting us from Vezac to the motorway. This should have taken about 40 minutes but in the end took over 2 hours. It wasn’t all Tom Tom’s fault mind as he wasn’t to know that some of the forest tracks he wanted to take us down were closed for repair, we even had one road blocked by a fallen tree.

By the time we reached Souillac where we were to join the motorway we were well and truly fed up so decided to stop for a smooch around another supermarket and have a MacDonalds.
By the time we joined the motorway at about 2.30Pm we’d completed about 25 miles of the 560 we needed to do in two days, bugger!

Our original vague plan had been to get to a point north of Le Mans but as we hit the motorway late we gave ourselves a revised target of Orleans that night, some 245miles away and H looked for a site in the ACSI book.

We were limited to where we could stay because even more of the sites in these less touristy places had shut for the season but eventually we plumped for one at Jargeau about 15 miles west of Orleans.

We made good headway but then as we came off the motorway at Orleans we hit the teatime/early evening rush hour and the last 15 miles to Jargeau took nearly an hour.
We eventually got to the campsite at about 6.45PM but reception was closed and an automatic barrier blocked our way onto the site. After a few minutes of looking for any signs of life or even any signs telling you what to do if reception was closed eventually a large French man wearing his mardy cardie came out of a nearby bungalow moaning and tapping his watch, miserable git!

Anyway we were in but as it was dark and the only thing we’d really noticed on the approach to the site was a gypsy camp we were going nowhere and the evenings entertainment was supplied by our mate Max who was up and running in just a couple of minutes.

As well as watching telly that night, and having lost all faith in Tom Tom we decided to plan a route for the next day using our large scale atlas. To make life easier though we scribbled all over it in black biro, we scribbled the next page number we needed at the point we left one page, we scribbled to mark where we started on a new page and we even ripped some in between pages out to make it easier to follow.
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Days 18 to 20
La Roque-Gageac,
Orleans.

Click On Any Picture Below To View The Photo Gallery

Copyright Myrtle The Motorhome 2012

Copyright Myrtle The Motorhome 2013

The snow capped Pyrenees as we left
Argeles sur Mur

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Our Pitch at Vezac, Dordogne.

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The view from Myrtle looking towards Beynac.

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Lizzie & Ada wait for the rain to stop, Max is hard at work.

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The bike handle bar bag map reader sleeve was a great place to keep Tom Tom on bike rides.

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The bridge at Castelnaud on a wet day.

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The flat bottom replica 18thC Garbare cruise boats.

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The bridge at Castelnaud on a dry day.

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Approaching Beynac by canoe.

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Walnuts in the wild.

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Our morning bread delivery lady.

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A farewell supper with Christine and Alan
(aka Gordie John Bishop).

aaaaaaaaaaaaiii