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Home Travel StoriesFrance 2013

France Day 4 - We Are Mustard We Are

By Sharon Parker

The bf has gone hunting this morning so while he is away gathering food I have some extra sleep. The bf returns with croissants which he serves up with a lovely coffee for me. Oh happiness. It might still be raining but I feel real cheerful and relaxed this morning. I slept really well the previous night and I am not tired but am alert with no muddy head to bother me.

After my lovely breakfast I decide to go for a shower. The toilet and shower block is enclosed, clean and warm. The shower is hot even a little too hot but it sure has left me feeling clean and refreshed. A plug socket provides me with the means to a straight fringe. At €15 for the night I am happy.

It is still raining after my shower but I have a quick look around the site. There is a volley ball pitch and I dream about hot sunny days and me in a bikini having a little go at being a volley ball star. For the sake of the other campers it is probably just as well it is raining and I am just dressed in clean base layers. Talking of dreams I used to harbor a dream I would one day be a Tour de France rider. I saw an MBK bike shops last night in town and it brought back memories of the MBK bike I purchased when I was 18. God I loved that bike. Grey and yellow it was my dream racing machine. The MBK team had won the Tour de France that year and I was a avid follower. At £250 it was a hefty price in those days. I never did get to ride in any official races but I sure did beat all the lads I rode with on the way to and fro from work.

sharon stood outside the tent wrapped in bike gear to protect from the rain at epernay this morning
I can dream of being a volleyball star or a top cyclist, but today this is my reality.

We decamp and head off into the rain. We travel some of the way along The Champagne Route. Row upon row of grape vines align the road. But surely they should be bathed in sunshine and not drenched in rain. This is nothing like the sunny pictures I saw in all the magazines and travel books.

Our next destination is to be Dijon. Despite the rain we have decided to stick with our original plans to travel on the minor roads and avoid the motorways. We hope to see much more that way, however the rain and mist ensures once again that visibility is limited and my camera has to stay tucked away. I do not have a waterproof cover for the camera so I am not getting any photos at the moment.

The weather is miserable as hell but is does not dampen my spirits today. We stop off en route for a sausage roll at a local Patisserie. We take shelter from the rain under the shops awning and smile at how good the pastry tastes.

On we travel and it still continues to rain. I keep thinking it will stop soon. It has to stop soon but no it does not have to stop and it proves that. The River Seine comes into view from time to time and it is very swollen, almost ready to breach its banks.
I think my pants have also breached and sprung a small leak but I know I should be grateful for how well my clothing is holding up against this deluge.

We pass through Dijon without stopping. A rather modern large town complete with University and its associated students.
We should be sightseeing taking in the towns and villages and the views. But the rain just makes us huddle down and press on.

As we continue on our way we circle yet another impressive roundabout. Yes the French do like to decorate their roundabouts with a variety of displays. From mini windmills to the one we pass now featuring a naked lady bathing. It makes me smile that a fully naked lady is perfectly acceptable on a roundabout in France, where at home I struggle to get art galleries to display some of my own artwork that features bottoms or boobs.

I notice that a lot of the towns we pass through have a yellow sign saying Ville Fleurie and then a rating of pink flowers beneath. I can only presume it is some rating for the flowers blooming in that particular village or town.*

We stop for a coffee and tea and wi-fi for the bf and get some supplies for tonight at a supermarket. Both of us are getting tired and cold now so we need to find a campsite soon.

We find a campsite near Auxonne. www.campingarquebuse.com
It is functional at best. The toilet block is cold, basic and uninviting. No heating, no plugs and no separate washing cubicles. There is only 1 toilet which has no seat and two holes in the grounds or to give them their other name, french squat toilets. And all this could be yours for €15. The same price as last night but half as nice.

basic and darnk cluster of sinks at the camp site in auxonne
Not quite the lap of luxury that I'd hoped for.

Everything is damp now. The tent, the sleeping bags, my notebook. The bf and I have kept smiling through the day but I can not help but think that enough is enough now. We have proved ourselves worthy of our rain badges. We are tough enough. Surely we are now due some sunshine fun.

I phone my daughters and the youngest is very stressed, even to the point of being upset about her forthcoming exams. I hope she does well, she deserves to. She has worked and studied so hard. The guilt pricks me once again for not being there. My daughter needs a great A result in her exam back at home and we need some sun over here.

But I have to conclude that I am still a happy camper today despite the weather and the less than perfect campsite. And my happiness grows while snug and warm in my sleeping bag the bf serves me coffee and cookies. Shush, don't tell anyone because this is a secret ... but the bf can be quite nice sometimes. Either that or I am easily pleased.

*The Ville Fleurie label was originally indeed about the blooms. However the meaning of the ratings is now much wider. It rewards coordinated action by local authorities to develop a favorable quality of life for people and environment and welcoming tourists. More info can be found on there website www.cnvvf.fr

Forming a Plan The formulation of a cunning a devious plan to take on Europe is formed in the tiny mind of our intrepid explorer...
The GF Question Do I take the gf with me to France? Can she come? Will she like it? These are all very difficult questions...
France...I wanna go but can I...?? Can Sharon make it to Europe? Will the kids survive? Will the bf behave? Is there any space for makeup? All these questions and more...
The Load Getting everything we NEED and a few items we WANT onto a motorcycle can be a problem. Now I have to work out how to get 3 WEEKS worth of gear onto the poor donkey(aka bike)
Camping In Cambridge The start of our Epic Adventure...or bike holiday around France. Cambridge is surprisingly nice really.
France - Day 1 Sharon's first day from her point of view. Cushy Cambridge and dry weather...what more could a girl want?
The Chunnel The Chunnel, I'm excited but also stressing because the bike's already broken before we leave the UK. I worry too much...
France - Day 2 - Bikes, Trains and Tents Sharon leads us through sunshine, hair issues, the Channel Tunnel and into France. But France is eerily quiet...
Here Comes The Rain Bike fixed...bike broken. Rain, endless dull roads, miserable towns and more rain. Oh the joy of travel! At least Epernay welcomed us with a huge smile :-)
France Day 3 - Crying Through The Rain The rain plays tricks with Sharon's spirit but a stiff upper lip and giving herself a good talking to see her through.
Rain Into Dijon Rain, rain and more rain. Just how long can it last? Would we be better off with a Jet Ski? Can we continue to keep our Great British Stiff Upper Lips?
France Day 4 - We Are Mustard We Are Dijon is the destination and we're surviving the rain...that makes us well mustard! We're happy in spite of the rain but how long can we keep smiling?
The Joy Of Being Lost As we head south the rain lightens but will it ever stop? I get lost which is no surprise, but lost turns out to be the best part of travelling. Are things finally taking a turn for the better? I do hope so...
France Day 5 - Biker's Paradise Sharon's day 5 in France starts out rough but improves considerably. What delights can put such a joyous grin on her face?
The Stunning Alps We are both facing a very strange situation...that of sunshine, warmth, beauty and pleasure.
France Day 6 - Magnificent Mountains Sharon shares the delights of the Alps. Sometimes life is good!
Highs And Lows From the stunning Alps to our ultimate destination...MONACO! Is it all I expected? Will it be as I imagined?
France Day 7 - Scooter Mayhem Sharon describes the best and the worst France has to offer. Ride on the back with her from the beauty of the countryside to the mayhem of Monaco
Resting And Deciding Today we stop to take a breather and recuperate. It's also time to make a decision about the rest of our journey. I used to be indecisive, I'm not so sure now.
France Day 8 - Chilling In The Pool A day off from the journey sees Sharon and Ren doing something very silly, breaking things and achieving very little. What a splendid way to spend a day!
Going West Day 9 sees us heading west from the coast. It's finally dry, but it's still windy so not too hot. The gf's not well and Ren is relentlessly lost. Overall not a bad day then!
France Day 9 - Poppies, Vines and a Wet Lettuce Feeling poorly rather spoils Sharon's day today. Still on she must go on and survive what might have otherwise been a good day.
Biggest Bridge In The World In glorious sunshine and fine health we make our way from Nimes to Millau complete with it's Viaduct. Sometimes life is good, occasionally it's great!
France Day 10 - Deflated to Elated Today is a good day for Sharon. Today the sun shines, the scenery is beautiful and the people are pleasant. Join her as France puts a smile on her face.
The Wettest Bridge In The World The Millau Viaduct ought to be impressive. It is, but nowhere near as impressive as the amount of rain falling from the skies.
France Day 11 - Grim Not every day can be filled with sunshine and smiles, even on holiday. This one certainly was not for Sharon!
False Hope Part One Ren would like to invite you to a joyous report about the delightful weather in the South of France! He'd like to. Instead it just rained and rained and rained and rained...
France Day 12 - It's Gloomy Inside And Out Sharon freezes her butt off during the night then is treated to a cold and wet ride. The Ren sure knows how to spoil a girl.
False Hope Part Two Is this the end? Has Armageddon arrived? Is this the Apocalypse? It sure as hell feels like it.
France Day 13 - Quietude For A While Sharon's report on another day of mixed weather. There's peace and beauty then there's mud and cold. Adventure...no-one said it would be easy!
Sunshine After Rain A night of rain soaked delirium. Will the day be any better? Will our travellers ever dry out?
France Day 14 - A Bit of 5 Star Luxury Sharon has a much better day on the road and a luxurious 5 star campsite. It's amazing what difference a little dry weather can make.
Back Into The Flatlands A quiet, simple and easy days ride through France for Ren. Pleasant enough but the flatlands are getting a little boring now.
France Day 15 - A Bit Of 2 Star Delight Sharon has an ordinary day and a frustrating battle with the weather.
Not Far To Chinon It's a short, easy and peaceful ride this day in France. Ren gets all philosophical too.
France Day 16 - A Historical Walk Around Chinon Sharon enjoys a hint of sunshine and the history of Chinon, France.
Shopping To Mamers Ren's airbed's leaking now. No problem, find a shop and buy a new one...easy? I don't think so...
France Day 17 - The Gift Of TIme Even though the weather is cool Sharon's heart is warmed by the people she meets in France today
Don't Go To Ault Ren has a grim, long, dull and uninspiring day in France. The accommodation doesn't help.
France Day 18 - Is This Misery Or Joy? Sharon finds sunshine, ancient caravans and ponders about hapiness.
Looking For Luxury With time on their side Ren looks for the perfect campsite for the next to night. Not finding it makes him a very grumpy boy.
France Day 19 - Campsite Conundrums Although the wind blows the sun is shining while Sharon looks for the perfect pitch.
Resting In Ambleteuse Ren philosophises too much on the final day of his trip around France.
France Day 20 Sharon's in a reflective mood on the last day of our French trip.
Back Into England Ren recalls the final day of the French Adventure. It's all over far too soon.
What Did We Learn? Ren sums up his thoughts about France and the French trip.
France On Reflection Sharon sums up her her experience of the French Trip. Damn those Alps.
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