Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Our Very Own Tour de France - Day 61 - 64

Lac des Settons to Lac de Der

Saturday 21st October 2017

This morning we left our muddy patch by Lac des Settons quite early and travelled a short 20 miles to the town of  Autun which lies on the southern edge of the Morvan National Park.  Our plan was to get parked up in their Aire which is right beside Plan d'Eau du Vallon (a small lake), and to go out and explore the town that basks in Romanesque buildings before the predicted rains came in the early afternoon.

An Outdoor Gym

I suggested to John we should stop and play here for a while but he wasn't interested!

First we visited the ruins of a Roman Amphitheatre which in it's time held 20,000 spectators, and even today it is still often put to good use when summer spectaculars are performed there.

Porte Saint-Andre
Then next came two of four ancient gates that were part of the fortified walls that surrounded the town - first we strolled past Porte Saint-Andre  which is to the east and was built in the 4th century, and to the north we found Porte d'Arroux which dates back to the 1st century.  And here, even though it's upper masonry looked quite precarious, the main road still passes though 2 or it's arches!

Porte d'Arroux

After that we trekked a short distance to The Temple of Janus, which at nearly 80 feet high and with crumbling facades looked as if it could be toppled by a strong wind - so we didn't stand to close!  But having said that, it looks as if it was built to last, and as it provides a home for a great number of birds it's to be hoped it doesn't!  I also found the building very atmospheric and if a ancient Roman had popped his head over the upper constellations  I wouldn't have been surprised!

And by the time all that exploring had been done the rain was starting to pitter patter - so we turned tail and nipped into McDonald's to practice our French - and of course, while we were there it would have been rude not to indulge in a little late lunch!

Sunday 22nd October 2017

Another day with not much to say!  However, we did start it in a healthy way by taking a quick  mile and a half march around Plan d'Eau du Vallon in watery sunshine - we knew that rain was probably going to stop play later in the day!  Then after that we moved a bit further north and revisited an Aire in the town of Mirebeau-sur-Beze where we'd stayed on our journey South way back in August.

And as predicted the rains came, but only intermittently, so in the afternoon, and after taking some advise from an engineer in England, John did a bit more investigating into why our boiler and heating have gone on strike when we attempt to use diesel to fuel them.

He did reappear in time for his dinner!
The engineer had advised that it's actually unlikely that it's the diesel pump that's causing the problem, and he said that if we looked at the boiler itself while it was in fail mode it would demonstrate a code in a series of long and short flashes that might shed some light as to what the problem is.  So, although John didn't manage to achieve anything else in his forage he did get the code which we will forward to the engineer tomorrow - and with a bit of luck we should then know exactly what the problem is!

Oh, and seeing as I haven't waffled on today I might tell you about the one thing I HATE about France - and it's all John's fault - and I've even tried to solve the problem by tying a big knot in it!  He loves soft smelly cheese so when we're in France a big chunk of it is usually residing in our fridge - and even though I double bag it - every time we open the fridge door the pong invades the whole atmosphere of T4rdis2!  I can't wait to get back to England so that all we have to endure is the much more wholesome whiff of Cheddar and Stilton!

Monday 23rd and Tuesday 24th September 2017

On Monday the day dawned a bit dank and dreary so we didn't waste much time before we were on the road with the sat nav set for the town of Langres were we planned to do a bit of restocking of both our food cupboards and wine cellar at their Lidl - and smelly cheese was definitely NOT on my list!

Wrong pic 😂
Then once that mission was accomplished we set off to see the cranes at Lac de Der.  This was a place we'd visited very early in our present tour, and while we were there we got chatting to another English couple who told us that the birds are here in late October.  Therefore, it had always been in our plan to stop off and see them on our way home - and we weren't disappointed .

We didn't arrive at the Lake until about 4.30 but we knew the cranes spend the day in the nearby lagoons feeding, and then fly back over Lac de Der around dusk to rest in their night time roost which is an area by the lake that is off limits to humans.  So we timed our evening walk to coincide with their return, and although I only managed to catch a few in the pic there were many hundreds in flight in both small and large groups.

Later I read about them on the RSPB website and they describe them as huge graceful mainly grey birds with long legs, a long neck, drooping curved tail feathers and with a wing span of about 2 metres.  As well as the ones in the sky we did manage to spot some on the lake edge, but at quite some distance away so it was quite difficult to see them in any great detail, and impossible to get a clear image - so once again I had to cheat a bit and borrow a pic!

Apparently, the Crane is  is the largest wild bird in France and also the emblem of Lac de Der - and we later learnt that that between 60,000 and 140,000 of these birds stop here between mid October and mid March so our choice of a place to come and see them had obviously been a good one.

Great White Egrets 
However, our luck didn't really hold for Monday which was another grey and mizzly day.  We set off on what turned out to be an 11 mile hike, and although we saw plenty of other birds that included grey herons, great white egrets, millions of ducks and quite a few terns swooping and screaming as they went, we didn't see many more cranes other than a few in flight!  But our walk did provide lovely but misty views over the lake, and allowed us to admire the work of several local artists who presented their offerings in an outdoor gallery right on the water's edge.  And it also provided some much needed exercise, along with a damp but rewarding spot for our picnic - the birds were in an arena like setting on the lake but just below where we were sitting and their antics almost seemed as if they were performing in circus fashion just for our entertainment.

A pic of one of the Artist's impressions of Lac de Der
By the time we got home we were quite damp around the edges and also a bit weary, so when half past five came (the time of the crane's return), along with a very heavy down pour we opted to stay snug inside T4rdis2 rather than go out to do more twitching!

So once more, that's the end of this episode, so till next time - take care 😗

Click here to see our French camping spots