France 2011 II

IMG_2296No sightseeing today as we need to get to St Riquer just outside of Abbeville and the weather is not nearly as good as it has been, mild showers of rain and cooler temperatures. Linings are back in the suits.

The countryside is very agricultural here abouts and not very attractive as the fields are simply huge, as far as the horizon for the most part. Our usual strategy of going via the peage through northern france is pretty much the correct one.

Les Andelys is still a very attractive town and worth the stop however. Add a comment

Read more: Tuesday 5th October 2011

IMG_2278The Bellevue is not too bad but suffers from early morning street cleaning and other extraneous noises. You also want to be at the rear of the hotel, away from the road and the afternoon sun, it's cheaper too.

The forecast today is much cooler which will be welcome although the suggested showers may not be.

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Read more: Tuesday 4th October 2011

IMG_2273A very moving morning at Oradour-sur-Glane where the villagers were massacred by the SS at the end of WWII. See http://www.oradour.info/ for details of this appalling act. They have kept the remains fo the village as a memorial to the dead and it's quite chilling.

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Read more: Monday 3rd October 2011

IMG_2263We packed up from Four au Pain with considerable regret, it is a great spot and our hosts very welcoming. We'll plan to return.

The drive through the deserted (it's sunday) country roads through Castlemoron, Bergerac, Riberac and Nontron to St Junien is just superb. The road is variable with a great surface in part and just horrible in others but overall it's a great run.

There was an absolutely huge lunch at Au Bon Accueil a road side cafe at St Vincent between Bergerac and Riberac, luckily we had only opted for one course. Amazing value.

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Read more: Sunday 2nd October 2011

IMG_2254I've stopped mentioning the weather but just for clarity every day for the past two weeks has been clear and sunny reaching the high twenties, early thirties buy late afternoon.

Today I take my last opportunity for a flight in at the local microlight base at St Exupery. I am taken for 30 minutes in a tandem open cockpit gyrocopter which it must be said has just wonderful views of the surrounding territory.

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Read more: Saturday 1st October 2011

IMG_2239Another bike free day and we took a walk (a very long one) for lunch at Montpezat (pictured). Although we can see it across the valley, walking there is an hour an a half, more coming back. Joan (possibly wisely) goes for a bike run to the market in Ste Livrade.

Lunch at the local pizzeria is pretty good it has to be said. Relaxing by/in the pool in the afternoon is just a delight.

Dinner with Bernard in Prayssas is also very very good.

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IMG_2230Another outing and early start (10am). This time to the basilica at Penne-d'Agenais, better viewed from a distance. Then a late lunch (le menu) on the shores of the Lot at el Palombiere in the village Anglers Juillac. This was an excellent experience, madame makes everything and serves it all herself. Five courses including wine for €12

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Read more: Thursday 29th September 2011

IMG_2222Bernard has offered to take us for a run today and we head off much earlier (10am so not early at all).

The itinerary included Pujols, Montflanquin (a Bastide town), Chateaux Biron and finally Montpazier (another Bastide town).

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Read more: Wednesday 28th September 2011

IMG_2187Another quiet day with a bit of a trip out to Agen and Auvillar. Not exactly an early start at 11am.

The highlight of Agen to my mind was the haircut (much needed albeit a bit short). Otherwise an interesting town but not one making the trip worth while.

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Read more: Tuesday 27th September 2011

IMG_2169Quiet day in the country marred only by being difficulties in finding an open supermarket. Eventually we found a huge LeClerk in nearby Tonneins and bought provisions returning for a very late lunch at 3pm!

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IMG_2164Cleaners start at 8am at the Hotel Terminus on a Sunday which was a surprise but it got us up and out of bed. We decided they'd had enough of our money so we skipped breakfast and had a pain aux raisin and a coffee in Cahors.

Following the Lot river valley some more it all widens out and and is a terrifically scenic run. This is a very easy day as the distance is not great but it does warm up quite a bit in the afternoon. Luckily we found a lovely shady village for lunch, everyone is out on Sunday doing the same thing!

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Read more: Sunday 25th September 2011

IMG_2136The day starts with a quick look at Rodez cathedral and then a swift trot to the bar opposite to watch the All Blacks trounce France in the rugby. There was little interest in the latter parts of the game in the bar. Surprising.

This rather brought us to lunchtime having only travelled a couple of kilometers so after a very nice sandwich we et off by back road to Villefranche-de-Rouergue, a charming stone town on the banks of the river Lot.

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Read more: Saturday 24th September 2011

IMG_2117An earlyish start and packing to transit to Rodez via the scenic route, not any great distance but we want to avoid the afternoon heat.

We've decided that the one thing missing about the Convent des Ursulines is the hospitality factor. Sometimes that's a good thing but since the owners live on the premises you'd have thought a hello, everything ok? Goodbye, nice to meet you, etc., would have been in order. We'd mark it down as 4 rather than 5 stars for this reason alone but this should not deter anyone from going.

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Read more: Friday 23rd September 2011

IMG_2097Another day trip, this time to the country, firstly to Clermont l'Herault an unmemorable little town with a large cathedral. This latter turned out to be in use, something of a rarty with a full congregation of adults and children. Quite remarkable and pleasing to see.

This was followed by a trip to the "prettiest village in France", St Guilhen el Desert, a very very scenically located village in the Herald river gorge. Unfortunately this is a place over run by coach tours and paid car parks (not for motorbikes however) but the ambience and attractiveness are well spoilt.

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Read more: Thursday 22th September 2011

IMG_2082Convinced by the words in the Convent des Ursulines info book and a chance encounter with an Aussie and his Dad we hit the road for Montpellier after and eventful night of interruptions by dustbin men (we assume) and the marauding dogs in the secure car park (just like Colditz) opposite.

The drive is uneventful except for the interesting lack of signs around the city. Doreen took us down several blind alleys before finding a car park. A quick change and we were off the the market.

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Read more: Wednesday 21th September 2011

IMG_2068The weather seems to have settled back into sunny and dry and perhaps a bit windy. Mornings have been coolish but it gets warm (high 20s) in the afternoons.

We figure you can't go to the south of france without going to the beach. Trusting the Lying Planet once more we head for Sete, a large fishing port apparently. This turns out to be strictly speaking true but unless you like mad drivers and hoards of tourists then it's probably not a sensible destination. We didn't care for it anyway.

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Read more: Tuesday 20th September 2011

IMG_2057Again lots of noise in the night.

Nice day walking around the town of Pezenas, with a bit of supermarket shooping and sightseeing all on foot.

Overall impression is of an interesting town with narrow winding streets with lots of artisans and artists to make it well worth a visit. There's a walking tour you can get the map at the information centre but it's not hugely interesting as nobody from the town seems to have done anything especially memorable.

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Read more: Monday 19th September 2011

IMG_2043Rain is very bad when you are on a motorbike. This morning there was quite a lot of it outside so a delay in departure was very advisable.

Mary reports that the centre of Millau is no different to most other cities, noisy at night. People shouting, dustbins being emptied, generally noisy.

By about 11 the rain had eased enough for us to venture out to the bridge information centre and get a proper view of the Millau Bridge. It has to be one of the wonders of the modern world. Going over it is something of a disappointment as you really can't see it tho'.

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Read more: Sunday 18th September 2011

IMG_2023Market day in Issoire is not huge but rather fun none the less. The pain aux raisin was very poor but the coffee good so we were off to a latish start. The Hotel du Tourism was very serviceable and reasonably priced, no problems with the train service luckily.

We've decided on the scenic route via Le Puy en Velay and through the Gorges du Tarn. Le Puy en Velay has a medieval dress day which is interesting but we stop at a fascinating village just out of town as the city is far too busy.

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Read more: Saturday 17th September 2011

IMG_2020An early start followed by a series of stops atound Saran, breakfast (excellent sandwich), petrol, pharmacy then the wrong direction on the peage, cost a 30km round trip and three euros. The first couple of hours was marred by rain and motorway spray but this cleared up by Bourges.

Bourges is well worth a stop for the historic town centre and the amazing cathedral. There was a service on so the tower was closed. Pity.

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Read more: 16th September 2011

IMG_1992Mostly driving after breakfast at Jean de Bruges. Our priority is to avoid Paris and we have instructed our recalcitrant GPS to go via Rouen. This meant we almost totally avoided the toll roads and stayed on the national routes - with the trucks.

An excellent lunch at the Bar De L'Aviation at Everux. There was a very interesting plane at the nearby airfield in what appeared to be BOAC colours, twin tail,double decker but I could not identify it, nor get to the airfield for a closer look despite several attempts. You can see it all clearly from the motorway but of course you can't stop for a photo.

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Read more: 15th September 2011

IMG_1988A beautiful sunny day in the UK turned into an overcast and rather rainy day in France. Rather the reverse of our last trip. The spray on the peage is horrible and taken with the wind that's sprung up a bit nasty.

Luckily the whole trip was uneventful, the way we like it and we arrived in St Riquire to find a fun fair, complete with dodgems and a merry go round, just outside the Abbay at the Hotel Jean de Bruges, the place "we always stay" when in Abbeville. It is noisy but we are assured it will shut down by ten!

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Read more: 14th September 2011