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Home Travel StoriesFrance 2013

France Day 6 - Magnificent Mountains

By Sharon Parker

Despite being super happy I did not sleep too well. My shoulder and rib was hurting. This getting old business is a pain, literally. My shoulder has been much better since changing my back protector but it sure does not like the damp and cold and it has been getting lots of that lately.

sharon in her thermal undies pointing to the steep mountins sides in le bourg d'oisans in the Alps
What a view to wake up to!

But emerging from the tent into sunshine and picture postcard views soon makes me forget my discomfort and niggles.

Looking upon the mountain slopes of the Alps this morning I am in awe. A town tarmacked locked dweller such as myself thirsts for this beauty and connection, like a Eskimo in the desert thirsts for the sea. I drink it all in through my eyes, through my pores and through my mind.
As I stand here gazing at all that surrounds me my breath slows and a peace and calm descends upon me. I feel as light as the mists that swirl around the mountain tops. 
There are rare moments in our lives when we get the chance to just pause and be still. To drink in slowly and with exquisite pleasure our surroundings. To be gifted a moment of such sheer beauty that our minds become quiet and we are allowed to be completely in the present moment. No irksome thoughts to trouble our mind. Just peace and a connection to mother nature that stirs out soul and gladdens our hearts. This is such a moment. A moment of such pure peace and contentment that I am forced to remember that I am not separate from but share a deep connection to all life and mother nature.

radical swirls and deformations in the rock strata and layers on a mountain side in the french alps
Mother nature at her amazing best

We take a stroll to the local supermarket. Walking is an absolute pleasure in the morning sunshine surround by stunning views.

romanche river and valley floor, mountains to the side, lush green trees and alpine houses at le bourg d'oisans
River walk to the shops

At the supermarket I find some yummy looking chocolate granola for breakfast and get this along with some other supplies.

the bf holding boxes and bags with breakfast foods by the trees and roads into le bourg d'oisans
Breakfast in hand.

We sit outside of the tent eating breakfast and I can feel the sun warm upon my back. It is so warm in fact the bf takes off his shirt ... whit woo. I like the granola so much I eat rather a lot of it and then figure I have just eaten about 1000 calories. Oh well it tastes lovely so never mind. 

We decide to have a shower together which is great.  Just to be together and feeling warm and clean is such a good feeling. It it all so easy to forget that there is a gorgeous body I really fancy under all the the layers of thermals and bike gear the bf has been encased in the last few days. It is all too easy to forget you yourself have a body too. Hee hee.

I am clean and fresh and so, so very happy. While the clothes that were washed this morning are drying in the sun I get an urge to go play in the on-site park. I climb aboard a little spring horse and laugh like a 5 year old. The bf comes over to see what I am up to and can not resist joining in. He chooses a duck and we giggle together until we here the poor ducks spring beginning to complain under the bf's over enthusiastic riding. I then jump onto a swing and glide up and down and acknowledge that this must be one of the most dramatic views available to one on a humble wooden swing.

sharon on the spring mounted wooden horse smiling and beaming at la piscine campsite bourg d'oisans

ren the bf riding a wooden duck on a spring, smiling in the alpine sunshine at la piscine campsite
We release the inner child!

I phone my daughter and sing Happy Birthday to her. I never have been away for a birthday before so of course those little stabs of guilt still cut. However she sounded chirpy enough so all is well. 

I am somewhat reluctant to leave this place and carry on. But it is a lovely day and it would also be a shame to miss an opportunity to ride the mountains while the sun is shining. So the bf finds what looks like a promising route to Briancon.

And WHAT a route is is. A totally awesome road with all the thrills of twists and turns and dramatic gut clenching sheer drops to the sides. We pass as cute as can be Alpine Villages bathed in sunshine but with snow capped mountains as their backdrop. It is all totally breathtaking and I am suddenly glad that it has been cold enough to give us the snow upon the mountains.  Blue skies, sun shining on brilliant white snow topped jagged mountains. This is worth all that rain and endless grey mist. I click away on my camera happily from the back of the bike and I also shoot a short video confident that I will capture some great photos of it all. * As we descend the rocky snow lined road eventually gives way to more greenery. Now lush trees of vivid hues and colours defy gravity and cling to the rocky slopes. 

snow topped mountains with rocky outcrops on the road to briancon in the french alps region
Snow Topped Mountains

an alpine road snaking through snow capped mountains and tree lined hillsides
Twists and turns

To the bf's short lived delight we come across a Yamaha bike shop in Braincon but they have no brake pads. Dag nam it.

On we ride passing through narrow dark mountain tunnels and admiring more heart uplifting beautiful scenes. As we travel now towards Gap the steep mountain sides become more gentle and we pass fields filled with flowers and super shiny healthy looking horses.

We enter Embrum and I am amazed at the beautiful vivid blue of the lake.  It does not look real, more like a child painting than reality, or a highly photo-shopped image. But no, it is real, it is right before my eyes and it is a blue as blue can be.  I notice some kite boarders gliding upon the lake. Embrum is a sporting person's delight. I see signs for skiing, cycling, kayaking, canoeing and white water rafting, this is an extreme sports play area. 

blue skies and turquoise blue waters with a mountain between on the road to embrun france
The lake really is this blue at Embrum

We continue further along the route and stop for petrol. With the aid of the bf's rather good French he enquirers at the petrol station about the possibility of anywhere to purchase brake pads for the bike. As luck would have it the guy there knows of such as place back in Enbrum. So a short journey back into Embrum makes the bf a very happy chappy indeed. He finally has his hands on a shiny new pair of brake pads for the bike. Phew, one less thing for him to worry about. However the price of €32 hurts.
We deicide to have a drink while we are here and the bf realises his sunglasses are missing. He concludes they must have fallen out of his pocket after the stop at the petrol station because he felt something hit his boot. On out return trip past the petrol station I spy the bf's sunglasses at the side of the road. I point them out excitedly to the bf and we stop to retrieve them. Only oh deary me they are all broken. I feel so bad for them. I was so pleased to have found them and now they must be left behind. How sad for them, how sad for me that I can actually feel sorrow for a inert pair of sunglasses but there you go I am strange.

snowy mountains in the distance, a winding road, trees and the bfs helmet in front of shot.
Mountain Range

We pass around Gap and the view is now of abundant fruit fields. An elderly couple are sowing seeds in their vegetable garden. They look as if they are from a by-gone era, with her headscarf and long dress and it makes me smile.

church and houses at sisteron
Mountain side village

It is getting late and it is time to stop and make camp for the night. A campsite is found at Dignes-Les-Baines. www.campingleseauxchaudes.com/en/
The young lad a reception speaks near perfect English so booking in and paying our requested fee of €15.80 for one nights stay is easy. Mountains can still be seen through the plentiful trees on this pleasant site. We pitch up under the trees and have a little explore. The toilets and shower blocks are fine, clean and warm with available plug sockets. There is a food van on site and a bar and seating area.  
As darkness descends so does the temperature. But feeling rather lively and maybe due to getting to see one another naked this morning we decide to try putting our sleeping bags zipped together and having a little cuddle and play. The play keeps us nice and warm for a time and it is good to be together but the cold eventually causes us to forced apart and we seal ourselves back up into separate bags like bugs in rugs. 

* Unfortunately my memory card failed and despite trying a recovery tool I lost most of the photos and the video.

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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