Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Dover to Villandry in France Day 3 - 6

Sunday 3rd December 2017

๐Ÿ›ณWell, today went very much as planned!  We  were up bright and early and had left the Canterbury Aire at 8am to ensure we were in good time for our 9.25 ferry from Dover over to Calais.  Happily the sea was like a mill pond so just a short 90 mins later we were rolling off onto French soil -again!

However, there was one fly in the ointment - we had lots of stowaways on board and we would quite happily have handed them over to the Port Security if they'd checked or asked. Our freeloaders came  in the form of lots of British snotty cold germs and they were gleefully making John feel proper poorly - but so far I've managed to dodge their marauding invasion!

So of course, we needed to buy him some medicine to make him feel better quick sharp - only snag was the only kind we could find on the ferry was rather old and from Scotland๐Ÿฅƒ๐Ÿฅƒ cheers!

The poorliness resulted in our onward journey being a bit of a task for our chief chauffeur, but needs must, so once we were on terrafirma he dutifully turned our ship towards our first destination which was an Aire on the sea front at Le Crotoy - a place we've visited several times before.  The drive took a couple of hours so by the time we got there all we really had time for before it went dark was a quick late lunch and then a short walk out along the seafront where views of the scalloped shaped beach stretch off into the far distance.  But today our attention was more taken up by the opening of a massive sluice gate that allowed millions of gallons of sea water to flow from the usually enclosed saline basin into the ocean.  The waters that are contained within the basin are usually very calm and tranquil, but once the gates were open it thundered through with ferocious power, and if the hovering sea birds were anything to go by, lots of underwater creatures were dragged through with it.

Monday 4th December 2017

The Aiguille standing at 77 metres high
Poor John is still no better, but touch wood, I'm still germ free ๐Ÿ˜Š!  Today our destination was another Aire, this time in Etretat - a French coastal town that lies on the English Channel and is just about opposite to Brighton!  To get there we travelled 120 miles, so once again, by the time we'd arrived, settled in and eaten another late lunch our exploring was destined to be just in the late afternoon - and  that resulted in us not really having time to do the area justice because there was lots to see!  However, the cliffs really did steel the show - erosion has created extraordinary arches in the chalk on either side of the resort and there is also a dramatic needle like structure known in French as an Aiguille!

One end of the beach 

And the Other!
I'm sure there's someone
hiding in there!
As we reached the end of the promenade the path continued on up a very steep gradient that allowed us to clamber to the cliff tops and from there, we could have continued on  for a magnificent coastal walk, but as the evening was closing in we turned back, with a plan to save that pleasure for another day - possibly in the spring when we make our return journey home.  On the way down we explored the crags and caves a bit more, but even after we'd descended all the way back down into the town there was still plenty that held our interest. 

Information boards depicted some of Monet's 19th century artwork and informed us that we were stood in the very spot that he would have been when he painted fishing boats as they left the shore for their arduous tasks.

And the fishermen weren't the only ones who worked very hard!  All along the sea front there were pictures that provided small insights into how life may have been in times gone by -in the late 1800s  the children entered full time employment (50 - 60 hours) from the age of 12, and the shot on the right shows how the women would take the washing to the beach!  The caption read - at low tide washers dig holes in the pebbles to wash private persons and hotel linen in the spring - therefore, in those days  it may have been prudent to take an early holiday!

Along the way we also found a replica Caloge - a boat worn out by sailing but parked on the beach and turned into a shelter for fishing equipment

And besides all that we also spied the old Chapelle Notre Dame de la Garde which stands high on the cliff top overlooking the town along with a very prominent white arrow like monument - Nungesser et Coli.  This was dedicated to two French pilots who attempted the first non-stop flight from Paris to New York in 1927.  Their plane L'Oiseau Blanc (White Bird) was last seen leaving France over Etretat and is presumed to have crashed somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean.

Finally, it was time to stroll back through the old town where we found  loads of ancient  (and sometimes ugly) half timbered buildings, many of which were continuing there existence as hotels and restaurants - so as we went we made ourselves another promise - when we return we'll treat ourselves to a meal in one of them!

Tuesday 5th and Wednesday 6th December 2017

I've not really got much to report for either of these two days!  We've spent most of our time driving southwards through rural France with a stop at a free Aire at La Madeleine Bouvet on Tuesday and another at a posh park night Aire at Villandry on Wednesday.

The former was a very pretty in a  quaint French Village and the Aire sat right on the edge of a lovely little lake and beside their church!  However, what we hadn't realised when we parked was that the Aire doubled as a bus terminus for school busses, and that as well as chiming every hour, the church bells rang out frequently for long periods!  Therefore, our peaceful night only lasted from 11pm to 7am and then the loud clanging just about blasted us out of bed!๐Ÿ””๐Ÿ””๐Ÿ””

Villandry was another 120 miles further on but there we found a purpose built Aire that provided electric and Wifi, so as the weather prediction is for it to get much colder this is likely to be very welcome.  Our plan is to stay here for a couple of nights so that John can have a rest from driving, and also so that we can visit the magnificent Chateau here - it's said to be one of the best in the Loire Valley so our hopes for it are high!

Anyway, once again, that's all for now so take care ๐Ÿ˜—

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