After the protracted - and prolonged - celebrations of the GF's 70th. Birthday , we hit the road for France with the intention of finding interesting places along the Loire, as we seem to have whizzed through it for many years without stopping and now would be a good time to revisit it and we what's new.
So over to Calais and first night at a campsite only 10 miles away instead of the usual aire on the seafront....and having passed the ' new ' Sangatte immigrant camp ( an enormous sprawling cardboard city) I think we may avoid staying in Calais for a while.
So a lovely campsite at Guines, one of the Castelets chain which have sites in the grounds of chateau which usually have a good restataurant.. And this did not disappoint. We hadn't actually intended dining out but the menu was so reasonable and mouthwatering that we looked at one another, shrugged and walked in. Very ' old rural French' with no mucking about..
In no hurry, we meandered cross country, avoiding dual carriageways and eschewing toll roads. It would have been lovely had the early morning sun not given way to a typhoon of biblical proportions during which we had to pull off the road. This also caused a road blockage with an overturned car that meant a 30km detour to get to our destination of Les
Andelys, a small town on the Seine south of Rouen which we have passed by many times but never stopped at. And a charming place it is too, seemingly home to many artists, judging by the number of galleries. An old castle overlooks the town, built by R-lionheart, nicely illuminated at night and the only contention being an account in the church of how the town was saved during the 100 years war when the English archers "ran away" at the last moment...... I think not ! A bit of gaellic poetic licence I suspect in historical reportage.
Anyway, a pleasant campsite on the banks of the Seine with a very nice walk/cycle path and the possibility of cycling to Giverny to see Monet's garden some 20 km away. We may well stop on the way back and explore if the weather is better.
Pleasant drive to the Loire at Blois and the sun shone as usual when we got to Chateaudun as it has done without fail since the 1960's when old Geoffrey Bowman first told us about this indisputable piece of folklore. We are stopping at Cheverny, about 10 miles south of the river on a site we picked because the C&CC are having a rally here, on the basis that they pick decent sites and this one is said to connect with 800 kms of Loire-Velo cycling tracks which sounds interesting.
Very nice site, Les Saules, about 2 miles outside the village and excellent looking Château and we found a lovely sunny pitch well away from the rally already here 2 days ago but were collared almost immediately with invitations to join any activities which may be amusing. I mustn't be too sniffy because the steward Dave did give us very good info on how to cycle to the nearby Super-U avoiding the suicidal 3mile dead straight road that runs past the site and we would have used without prior instruction.
Site quite full with French down for the weekend.
Cycled to superU for essential wine and patisseries, a pleasant ride through the forest, 12 mile round trip in the sunshine with abundant wildlife .
Invited to join rally in bar for quiz night. Embarrassingly we won both halves quite convincingly ( I can't help knowing the names of Napoleons' and Wellingtons' horses.).....and so paid for the evenings bar bill.
Lovely sunny day. We are surrounded by birds and besieged by chaffinches hopping about for crumbs at breakfast. The site has a nice walk through woods and meadows with notes on birds to be seen and the birsongs are ever present. A very nice environment to stay. Cycled to Cheverny along lovely paths away from traffic just to see the lie of the land.
Boules with rally was a disaster trying to play on grass as no boules court and few people seem to have played before. Will avoid if reoccurs.
Full day cylcle back to Cheverny to visit Château and gardens with picnic. Most enjoyable and well worth a detour as M..Michelin used to say in his guides.
The last time we stopped to visit the Châteaux of the Loire was probably 1968/69, and Blois was an extreme disappointment as there was nothing but bare floors, no furniture and no decoration. Cheverny was a pleasure to visit and the free guide available with the very reasonable €8
entry ticket was very informative......
From the posters around, Blois is also worth a visit so hopefully a bit of restoration has been done in the last 45 years.