Tag: France Passion

And so it ends (day 18)

27th September (Day 18)
Spoonbills and Avocets

This will be our final full day in France for 2018 – I’m sure we will be back next year (I feel Brittany calling – out of season).
Janette has identified a nature reserve on the North Coast – Le Parc du Marquentierre – from what we could gather the land belonged to a tulip grower who turned it into a nature reserve in the 70’s and 80’s. We have brought along a spotting scope I recently purchased second hand, so we are hoping to see some decent ‘oisans’ close up (25x maginification).
We turn up before midday and learn the long route (6kms) with 13 hides will take about 2hrs (I usually add half on again) so we decide to take some supplies with us. The first section was a little uninspiring but later on we were treated to some pretty good birdwatching. Spoonbills galore – throughout the day we counted about 120 in 2 different flocks (a first for Janette) – I had some pretty decent binoculars that I’ve had a couple of years but the scope is just fantastic – 3 times the magnification of the binoculars and with a large front lens not much loss of light. We then went on to see Avocets (another first for Janette) and later on some Moufflon and wild horses grazing near the scrapes. We were told by one of the wardens of a rare vagrant bird which had arrived from N.America – a Pectoral Sandpiper – just the one (and we managed to spot it!). To top it all as we were leaving a wild boar mother and 5 piglets crossed Hilma’s path. Not quite a black cat but we thought it was lucky 😊 A great way to spend our last full day – now we are off to top Hilma up with some wine to take back.
All good things must come to an end (or do they) – well maybe temporarily, “we’ll be back”.

Highlights and lowlights
There are so many memories of this holiday we will both take away with us. Passion France was an eye opener for us – you still have to be a bit choosy in terms of where you would like to stay, vineyards, market gardens, working farms or Chateaus. My favourite was meeting the old boy at Chateau Sury – I’ll never forget helping him fix his curtain and his wonderful smile when we said goodbye.
Aubusson was the next highlight for me with it’s inspiring art and tapestries – somewhere I’m sure we will go back to (hopefully to see the rest of the JRR Tolkein tapestries).
Noirlac Abbey was a peaceful interlude where the ‘light’ will forever stick in my memory. In between we have passed through many villages and towns which we have noted we would like to visit some other time – France is so large we will never see it all.
Cycling to Troo and seeing the Troglodyte caves was another little adventure which was fun – such an unusual place situated on the Loir.
Then the most amazing ‘visual indigestion’ trip to Giverny to see Monet’s house and gardens, what can I say? It was beautiful day and a beautiful place.
The ‘pièce de resistance’ was our last full day in France at Le Parc du Marquentierre mentioned above – 200 hectares set aside for nature and nature lovers.
Some obvious lowlights if you have been reading the blog was the failure of the water pump and the loss of the lockable Gazole cover – but you know what – that’s all part of motor-homing, it goes with the territory and with a little luck, asking for some help and a little ingenuity you can always get by and motor on.
This was the first holiday where we had planned with a ‘broad brush stroke’ identifying regions we wanted to visit and then ‘homing’ in on places we wanted to see using a French guide book. The only thing is we didn’t want to see every cathedral or church it had to offer so we sought out alternatives – even missing a few we might come back too.
Total accommodation cost for 18 days: £127. If we include the France Passion purchases for our hosts products that rises to a whopping £208 (£11.55 a day) not bad.
A fantastic treat – we are so privileged to be able to do this. Stop work for 3 weeks and really enjoy ourselves. We wouldn’t have done anything different, each day was an adventure, something to embrace and build upon for the future.
Bye for now – until next time.
Ian and Janette xx

The dodgy duo signing off until our next trip

France 2018 – to the Auvergne (maybe) – days 6 & 7

15th September (Day 6)
A day by the River Yonne – Gurgy

Such a beautiful spot we had decided to put our feet down for another day at Gurgy. Awaking early(ish) the mist was hanging on the river and looking out of Hilma’s windscreen we were treated to a wonderful display by a local Kingfisher – not 20ft from us, we were able to view it. diving into the Yonne for his it’s breakfast.

The Gurgy aire – morning on the River Yonne

It is hard to believe that such a vibrant colour of iridescent blue can exist in nature. Talking of nature, we decide to go on the local rondonée marked on a board in the village. This would take us along the river and back through some what appeared to be man-made ponds. Off we trot and I take my (new to me) bird spotting scope hoping to see some close ups of interesting oiseau. We were not disappointed, along the river we were treated to another Kingfisher display, moving away from the river and walking along the canal we came across some birds flitting around some scrub. On closer inspection we saw what I have now identified as a Subalpine Warbler and then a young male Black Redstart was very obliging in the scope for a good 5 mins or more (which for a bird is a long time).
The second section of the walk was less enjoyable – all the ponds were fenced off and surrounded by trees so nothing could be discerned. The only open small lake had those very rare plastic ducks again!

Sculptures at Gurgy over a stream entering the River Yonne

In the evening we decided to treat ourselves to a meal in the local restaurant – a bottle of Burgundy Aligoté and all was well in the world of Hilma and her occupants. A quick word about Hilma – she has been performing admirably. At the start of this trip I mentioned trying to stay off-grid as much as possible – well at Gurgy we were under some trees so I decided to use hook up (which was included in the €7) – a strange thing though, after a couple of days although the batteries are showing a healthy voltage the water pumps seem to slow down. Who knows?

16th September (Day 7)
One of life’s little moments

Sometimes in life there are moments that you will never forget. It doesn’t need to be a life changing event or an expensive gift or holiday – it can be something very simple and moving. That’s what happened to me today – something simple and moving, but more of that later.
Today we have decided to try another France Passion but first we are off on a cycle ride in the opposite direction along the Yonne. Similar to Holland – the cycling was easy – I’m not so sure the French drivers have quite as much respect regarding cyclists as the Dutch – one or two interesting moments but nothing dangerous – they just seem to think they own the road. We arrived in Monetau the next town along, had a quick shufty around, found a beautiful bridge adorned with flowers and continued on our way. Coming to a barrage we turned and headed back – a lovely cycle along a beautiful French river – mon dieu c’set magnifique – that’s all your getting of my schoolboy French for the time being!
Onward we travel heading for a ‘fromagerie’ using our France Passion book. When we arrived we found the places where would be parking were amongst old broken down machinery and vans along with a dung heap. Not our cup tea so we turned around and headed for our 2nd option – Chateau Sury.

Winding through some beautiful countryside on our way to Chateau Sury

Winding through some beautiful countryside we eventually arrive in Sury and find the chateau. Driving through the gates into the farmyard section and park up we see an elderly gentleman shuffling through the yard. I walk over with the France Passion book in hand, he immediately smiles and shakes my hand and pulls me into the shade to talk. He is doing all the talking and I am not understanding – he hands me a piece of twine and starts talking about ‘escabeau’ – me, not a clue. Escabeau, escabeau – I drag the shallows of my French diction and give a galic shrug – “je ne comprends pas monsieur”. M. Hubert de Fallerges hooked his arm through mine, gave me the piece of twine and walking stick in hand he shuffles towards a rear door. He unlocks, beckons me in – I mange to understand this was his brother’s part of the house but he was away. Finally, I find out what Escabeau are – ‘step ladders’! He wants me to carry them somewhere – so now I have the twine and some step ladders, by this time Janette my ‘femme jollie’ – christened by M.Fallerges had caught u with us and was looking every bit as bemused as I was. M.Fallerges however knew exactly what he wanted of me and so continued to take me to another part of the chateau. Unlocking 2 doors we entered his ground floor living quarters, into his bedroom and he pointed at his curtain – one of the curtain rings was missing and he wanted me to tie the twine onto the hook and over the curtain rail – aaahhhh – “je comprends” – so off I popped up the Escabeau and fixed said curtain.

Lunch – before arriving at Chateau sury

Next on M.Fallerges’ agenda was coffee – at this point we were introduced to Kinox (I think that’s how it’s spelt) his lovely curly dog which was just a bundle of fun. Drinking our coffee, we explained with drawings of the UK where we were from and what day had we arrived in France. He was obsessed with asking us if we were going to the Mer – we said, no we were staying ‘dans le centre’ – he seemed bemused as if that was not normal. We then somehow managed to communicate to our host that we wanted to park somewhere so he put Kinox on the lead, chose a different walking stick and off we went again on another journey. He was very interested in Hilma and Ecinox decidde he liked it and jumped in getting in a right tangle with his lead. After the tour of Hilma he showed us the old garden where we were to park and with that shuffled off back to his rooms.

Chateau Sury

M.Fallerge did not speak a word of English – he was about 80 yrs old I reckon but the very fact that we had managed to do all of that with him seemed like a very humanitarian thing. He needed some help, we needed a place to stay and so life goes on. He seems to be a gentle man in the very sense of the word – he did not get frustrated with me for not understanding his language but simply accepted the situation.
The next morning I went to say “au revoir” and “merci” to M.Fallerge for his hospitality, his home help was with him, his face lit up and he invited me in and shook my hand, I said au revour to Kinox and was just about to leave when he grabbed my arm and said “Vous connaissez, vous connaissez” – “You know, you know”. I’m not sure what he meant but it touched me deeply – I can’t really describe why but it brought a tear to my eye thinking that this old boy’s life is in the twilight and although he may not remember our encounter it will stay with me as a very fond memory for a very long time.
The simple things in life.

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