God, it’s hot!!!! 111 degs C recorded as we set up camp here in sunny Aix-en-Provence. It’s a much nicer campsite in a lovely location near to the town.
Our departure from Wijnstok :shout: went fairly smoothly, with me, as usual, running ahead up the narrow entrance to stop any possible oncoming traffic to allow dad a continuous drive out of the site, but luckily I only had to manoeuvre two rather large Italian ladies away to the side who were oblivious a our 5 tonne wag coming up behind them! Another interesting drive along the motorway through more tunnels, climbing and descending with the occasional peek at a coastal town and last views of the Ligurian Sea.
Our aim was an overnight Aire stop in a supermarket carpark! But the closer we got dad was getting concerned about access and security and I was thinking ‘I’m going to die of overheating’ as the temperatures were now well over 100 degrees and with no awning shade or being able to put out chairs we would have been forced inside the wag.! Can you imagine, two shrivelled, dehydrated bodies being found in the morning – not a pretty sight. So for different reasons we re-scheduled Doc and set on for Aix-en-Provence.:thumb:
We are finding that in France the motorway tolls are more frequent and pretty pricey, as we have been warned, and our trip from Imperia to Aix was €40. Something to keep in mind for the future touring.
We had no problem finding Camping Chantecler, which is just on the outskirts of the town. It’s quite a large terraced site so we chose our pitch carefully but nevertheless still have a slight lean to the left which means we kind of fall out of the doorway even with ‘levellers’ under the wheels! The peace is pure heaven and best of all there are NO MOZZIES. Nevertheless we have found this to be a ‘transit’ site and a general crossing point with Italians going home one way and the Spanish the other, with a smattering of Germans and Dutch and us so there is a constant movement of vans with new neighbours every day. The facilities are good – toilets a bit dodgy - with restaurant and a swimming pool, which is great in these high temperatures. I’m sure you don’t want to know, as I hear it’s raining with you, but our temperature gauges have been going crazy these past few days showing up to 115 degrees at one time. Even in the evenings it’s still in the upper 80s but the amazing thing is that overnight it drops to 63 degrees and I’m pulling the sheet across me. What’s that I hear you say ‘Poor me!’
We’ve now been into Aix a couple of times, once strolling in for an initial explore, and yesterday evening we bussed it. I know you will feel jealous Clo, but we took a ‘noddy’ train tour within the old town around the sites including a place that ‘used to be there’ and where Cézannes mother ‘used to live’ and he occasionally stayed there, but unfortunately there’s nothing to see now, but we did glimpse the famous view of Mont St Vittoire which he painted many times. The town has a great feel with wide leafy boulevards and fountains to the tiny back streets and decorative squares. In the evening the squares are full to the brim with busy restaurants, bars and lots of live entertainment – solo guitarists, classical recitals and singers. To top it all yesterday was also the start of another budget week and so my choice of a meal, so it was moules and frites – fantastic!
A bit overcast on Friday so we set forth to find the nearest Carrefour supermarket and had a stroll around to restock on food for the next few days. We bought all kinds of goodies and dad was particularly excited about a pack of potato pasties – not good for the waistline. On our return we prepared lunch, cooked chicken, pate, salad and these pies, only the discover on his first bite that in actual fact they were sweet pommes and not pomme de terre! Welcome to France.
We have used the swimming pool quite regularly just to cool down and laze in the sun late afternoon, so all in all this stopover has been a pleasure. What has really made it is to find that we are back in some kind of civilisation where you can sit outside the wag in the evening and enjoy the quiet and coolness without the worry of children screaming around and without spraying with anti-mozzie protection and closing the screens to stop the bugs. It has been a very enjoyable few days.
Well, Clo enjoy your Bank Holiday weekend and we’ll start the countdown – only 10 days until we see you!
After a short trip along the road we are now in a campsite called Camping Bienheureuse about 8 km from the town of Arles in the Camargue area. On first impressions it’s a very leafy and quiet site with a few permanents bungalows, some tenters and us. There is a small swimming pool and the restaurant is shut due to being so quiet. So what more could one ask for……. And then the wind started……. So the awning came in, then weights went on the corners of our outside matting to keep it from rolling up, windows were shut and now there is a constant carpet of dried leaves around the table and chairs and every surface is covered with dust, but worst of all dad is now wearing one of my hair bands to keep his hair from wiping around his face!!!!!. But apart from all that the sun is still shining although the temperature is now only 19 degrees on our first morning, but it is looking promising.
Yesterday we drove into Arles for an initial exploration, and surprees, surprees! We found another ‘noddy’ train, and I could tell dad was overwhelmed by this, so we took a 30 mins tour. It’s a very compact town with tiny, tiny alleyways and in Roman times it was an important port and has the relics of an amphitheatre, theatre and thermal baths. Its other claim to fame is its’ association with Vincent Van Gogh and it is whilst he was living in Arles that he cut part of his left ear off! (I think it was in my pasta!!)
We climbed up to the top tier of the amphitheatre, about 80 ft, which on reflection wasn’t the most sensible thing to do in a very strong wind. Dad was hanging on to his hat and we were both holding onto the railings just to stay upright.
On our second day we took Smartie 40kms down to the bottom tip of the Camargue region to Saintes Maries de la Mer. I was pleasantly surprised as I expected a fairly quiet coastal town but it turned out to be quite a hot spot. Not too touristy, but very popular with the French for a Sunday afternoon outing. The Camargue is a large area of water channels and wetlands and is most renowned for it famous wild white horses, bull rearing for bullfights, wine making and rice growing. I was obviously on a roll at this stopover as we took yet another excursion, by boat this time, along the Petite Rhone to view the wildfowl along the banks of the Camargue. We were also entertained by an engineered scene of the ‘not so’ wild horses and bulls being corralled by a Gardian (a mounted horseman). It’s a shame really as I had this picture in my mind of herds of wild horses galloping across the plains kicking up dust free to roam wherever they wanted. Sometimes reality is a bit of a disappointment!:Blush:
We returned to the campsite to see we have new German neighbours with the dreaded sliding door to the side of their van, and on a general check there were a number of newcomers. By all accounts our neighbours returned late and made the usual noises of making up beds and sliding their bloody door backwards and forwards as they went in and out of their van, but this is only what I heard from dad as I had obviously slept through it.
Another windy day but the sun is shining but we are only registering 21 degrees, a little on the chilly side! I can easily understand if this wind were to continue for 100 hours and in the winter time how easily it could drive people mad as is reported in my travel book. Ze damned Mistral! This is going to be an ‘admin’ day. There’s still no sign of an internet café so we have been starved of communication for four days so far.
Well, all for now, off to Spain next Saturday & will e-mail when we get settled.
M & D
You need to be logged in to comment