Getting out and about in France

After a few days of visting some wonderful castles and towns in France we changed the pace a little and spent a few days seeing more of the countryside.

The campsite we had stayed in after Collonges-la-Rouge was a simple Aire for campervans with no facilities so after my training I had my first warm bush shower. And it was very warm! James´ clever design to route the pipework for the deisel heater through the cupboard holding the water containers was a work of genius! I had spent an hour training in 3 degrees and was frozen, I had been very warey about stripping off and getting under the water in our outside en-suite but as the shower started and steam came off it I remembered why I love him quite as much as I do!!

Warm shower successfully done we headed off to the Massif Central and the highest peak of Puy Mary. The drive round the mountains and valleys was beauitful and the view when we arrived at Puy Mary´s ´basecamp´ was lovely.

And yes, we walked up it – all 1,050 steep, wobbly steps! It was magnificent from the top, well worth the effort.

Even the wildlife halfway up the mountain was friendly!

We did try and take some drone shots but we had another message telling us drones weren´t allowed in the area – no fighter jets were dispatched this time but no photos either 😦

That night the cold mornings and evenings we had been battling with took a whole new turn. We woke up to frozen ground and bitter winds. It was even too cold for the gas in our Jetboil to burn. Luckily I wasn´t training and we were very glad to jump straight into the front seats and get going with the heat turned up!

We were heading for Grenoble and the start of the Route du Napoleon – Grenoble was north of us so even colder weather threatened but from then on it was south all the way. We had a dull, tedious day driving, driving, driving. Nothing scenic or beautiful, my camera never even came out of its bag.

There was some excitement as we pulled into a layby just south of Grenoble towards Laffrey for a quick bush wee only to find diesel spewing out of one of the tanks. However even that turned out to be a damp squib! After a washdown at the jetwash and a thorough investigation it seems the altitude, steep climbs and enthusiastic over filling had simply caused the side tank to slosh around a bit and overflow through the cap – so all in all a pretty dull day!

But!! We awoke the next day to a beautiful site which cheered us up immensley.

Just as we were leaving the campsite to head down the Route du Napoleon things got even better when we discovered we were actually in the Alps! Well, the Haute Alps to be precise, but neverthless we were treated to absolutely magnificent views all through a glorious day.

The ends certainly justified the means, however dull the previous day had been, it was definitely worth it.

We travelled the Route du Napoleon through these stunning mountains until mid afternoon when the landscape softened and became more civilised. We then detoured west towards Nimes.

The following day was our wedding anniversary and we hoped to spend it in Nimes and find a restaurant for the evening. Trouble is, Henry – as we know – is challenging to get into larger towns and cities due to parking and security. We couldn´t find any surface car parks or local campsites so spent a frustrating morning driving round hopelessly failing to make headway.

But eventually we found an Ibis hotel 5 miles out of Nimes with a large surface car park and a friendly receptionist who advised we could get a taxi into town for just €15. Sold! We were checked in, unpacked and in Nimes an hour later eating pizza slices for a late lunch by the fountain! Things were looking up…..

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