Travel StoriesFrance 2013
France Day 14 - A Bit of 5 Star Luxury
By Sharon Parker
I awake in the morning to a final break in the rain. Not knowing how long this lull may last we decamp as soon as possible. It is a welcome pleasure to be able to do so in the relative dry. Dry that is in that it is not raining. But the ground is a quagmire and the sodden soil has ensured that lot of slugs and other many legged and slimy creatures have attached themselves to the bottom of the tent. The bf looks at these with horrified disgust so I do the womanly thing and remove the little squatters myself. Just as well one of us is not bothered by creepy crawlies.
The muddy ground also means that once laid on the ground the tent is totally covered in mud. Oh well, there is nothing we can do to prevent this so we pack the dirty tent and everything else, which also hosts its own liberal spattering of mud.
We leave the campsite with friendly waves from the other campers to see us on our way. In many ways the campsite was pretty poor. Bad drainage, little if any grass, more a spattering of weeds. The shower block was freezing and I even had cold water to bathe in. But I have to admit despite this I actually liked the site. Why? Because it has such a friendly warm atmosphere about it. So much so that I may even consider staying at it again one day, but only if its hot,hot,hot, that or I am in a campervan.
The sky is heavy and grey. I feel really cold today. I am aware that the actual temperature is warmer than on other days when I did not feel as chilled as I do now. How we feel is not always determined by the actual temperature itself. Maybe I feel so cold because having been so cold and damp over the last couple of days, with no chance to warm up at all, that it is now having a cumulative effect.
A fine example of French muscle.
We travel along some nice twisty roads boarded by woodland. We have to ride carefully however due to the wet conditions. The road in places is scattered with mud and therefore slippery and hazardous. We pass through Monflanquin and Villareal. I visited this area some years ago and I am glad to see the old historic market hall is still standing. The area is just as I remembered it. Pretty old villages set within undulating landscapes. I was blown away by how beautiful this region was on my first visit and pretty as it still remains there is no doubt I have been spoiled by the Alps. Nothing quite makes me catch my breath now like the Alps can.
We stop for a stretch in a carpark opposite Roc de Cazelle near Le Eyziers. Roc de Cazelle contains within it over hanging rock formation a pre-historic village with recreations of life in that age. From outside we can hear various sound effects but with a fully laden bike we are not tempted to risk leaving it while having a look see.
Roc de Cazelle
Our next rest point is Montignac. This is a most charming and pretty village situated on the River Vézère. The village is clean with an array of older houses all in good upkeep. One of the houses proudly displays two shiny motorbikes behind its windows. Odd but it sure makes me smile. Old houses with attractive balconies border the river. The river however is very swollen today and has just about breached its banks by spilling onto the pathway that runs along side the river. Apparently over a months rain has fallen during the previous 24 hours. I am amazed there has not been more extensive flooding. Fields we have passed have been waterlogged but not submerged. We have only seen the occasional slight over spill of rivers onto surrounding ground.
A home made for 2 ...motorbikes that is
The swollen River Vezere
We start thinking of finding a campsite for the night when we reach Limoges. Limoges is a big town with rail less trams providing another hazard to avoid. The campsite is just on the outskirts of the town. Although we like the convenience of being close to town we decide this one is just too busy and large for our tastes and decide to see if we can find another campsite. Nor far from town we find ourselves back into countryside and we come across the 5* luxury of Château de Leychoisier. Now this looks well posh and of all the days we happen to roll up to a 5* campsite it had to be on a day that we and everything we own is covered in mud. To say we look out of place is to put it mildly. However we decide to at least enquire how much it costs. If it is not to expensive maybe we deserve little luxury after are rain soaked couple of days. I doubt we will be able to afford it but the bf returns with the news that it is €21 for the night. Oh go on then lets pitch.
The impressive Château de Leychoisier
Situated within the grands of the Château our surroundings are impressive. Well maintained grass pitches are situated beneath ancient pines and other trees. To the side of our chosen pitch is a large fenced area housing Red Deer and their young fawns. On site is a swimming pool and a rather luxurious looking restaurant. At €15 for a 3 course meal of the day the prices are no too bad at all. The shower and toilets block is enclosed and super clean, resplendent with actual toilet seats and toilet paper and a socket for my straighteners, as one would expect from a 5* facilities. There are also some wooden cottages on site to hire which look very pretty but at a starting price of €380 for the week they come with a pretty price tag as well.
Our pitch under a huge ancient pine
Lovely Cottage if you can afford it
I can only presume we must look somewhat forlorn and bedraggled as we began to pitch our tent because a lovely couple in a caravan beside our pitch take immediate pity on us. They had come out of their caravan to go for a little stroll but on spying us the lady seems overcome by pity and immediately insists on going back into her caravan to make us a brew. I try to politely decline not wanting to disturb their plans but I get a glare from the bf and I admit I probably need to shut up because I brew would be marvellous right now. Not only do we get a great cuppa we get biscuits as well. What a generous welcome we have got from our delightful Derbyshire neighbours.
Not often you get red deer as your neighbours
As we finish putting up our tent the bf sees a recent arrival struggling with positioning their caravan and goes over to assist. This earns us another brew and a welcome sit down on their deck chairs. The couple are from Wales and we have a pleasant time chatting with them. What a contrast from yesterday when we were holed up in our tent and fearing being swept away. The couple tell us about the ACSI camping card that you can purchase that gives you a discount on camping fees. It seems well worth buying and is something we will look into on future travels. http://webshop.acsi.eu/en/
We are so giddy we contemplate blowing our budget and our endeavour to see how cheap this trip can be done and splash out on a meal at the restaurant. However we manage to reign in our fleeting thoughts and stick to our original plans, find the local shops and buy supplies for another camping stove meal. I make a risotto and it is very tasty indeed.
A restaurant so lovely we almost go in
We go for a stroll around the grounds and find that we are actually locked in the campsite. We discover a sign on the gates that says they will be locked at 9pm but it is not yet 8pm and the gates are firmly locked and there is no way to enter or leave the premises even on foot. Being so completely locked in makes me feel uncomfortable.
The bf meets an ancient relative, the resemblance is remarkable
When it is time for bed I snuggle down onto my new super comfy lilo. I feel cosy and relaxed. It has been a good day. No rain has brought big smiles back to both mine and the bf's faces. I sleep very well.
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...
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, 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!
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.
Melissa said :-
Lovely entry Sharon! I give you lots of credit for resisting the creature comforts! Keep the pictures and stories coming.I know how it can be tough to fit writing in around your life, but it's such a great experience to share. Thanks for taking us along with you on this adventure :-)
Ren - The Ed said :-
Oh EVERYBODY loves SHARON's entries. I sweat and slave over mine for hours and hours and I also work on SHARON's by correcting her spelling and grammar and past/present tense mistakes.
And SHARON gets all the credit! Bah humbug.
Sharon said :-
:-) Thanks Melissa I am glad you are enjoying the ride.
STEVE S said :-
Well I enjoy reading your articles Ren and your bike tests. Sat for hours reading your blogs.Makes me want another Motorbike.
Hope you keep up the good work.Noticed your website by chance.
Ren - The Ed said :-
HA! Cheers Steve S. It is true to say that SHARON'S posts are more popular though. I think it's because she pretends to be all cute and vulnerable and girly. In fact she's mean and cruel and evil.
Seriously though, good to hear from you and is there any reason you can't get another bike?
Steve S. said :-
Never mind Ren,I like your articles because of the way you describe everything.And your tendency not to be impressed by much.
Very similar to me.I guess we're just grumpy hey. I have owned lot's of bikes in the past, the last one being a CG 125 Wow!!
Not had one in quite a while now.I can't deal with the big bikes anymore because of nerve damage to my arm in an accident,
on a pushbike of all things.Was thinking about buying the new Honda CB125F or even the model you have done 40,000 miles on,
probably more now. See I do take notice! My partner is against the idea though. Just wondered how you damaged your leg.
You mentioned in one of your bike tests that one leg was shorter than the other. Sorry this is going on a bit.
Anyway Ren i hope you keep writing your very entertaining articles.
Ren - The Ed said :-
Hi Steve S.
You're right, there's not a lot that impresses me greatly! I'm not grumpy though, I prefer the term "measured". It does irk me when people describe places as the most wonderful, most delightful and most impressive ever and when I arrive I think "Yeah, I guess it's OK but it's not all that..."
I had a motorcycle accident July 2002. I was hit head on by another motorcyclist who, according to the police report cut a corner onto my side of the road. In that accident amongst many other bones my left femur was shattered into quite a few pieces. The surgeon at Preston hospital did consider removing the leg around the mid thigh. Luckily he didn't but they didn't have a rod long enough so made use of what they had, hence the shorter leg.
People have said I could sue the hospital - sod that! That man, whoever he may be, left me with one short leg by 40mm BUT he saved my leg and for that I am eternally thankful. There was talk of stretching it with an Ilizarov frame but by then I was walking, driving and close to riding again. I told em "No thanks!" and now I just have odd shoes/boots. It's an minor inconvenience but hardly a daily disaster. Most people barely notice, I don't these days either.
I also had a "Brachial Plexus" nerve injury that was phenomenally painful. However I have made a 99% recovery with no ongoing pain and just a tiny weeny bit of weakness in the left arm. I suspect you have suffered the same injury?
I keep on wondering if I should write up my experiences then correspondingly I have no desire to dwell on the past as that is very much where it is, in the past.
Steve S. said :-
You have certainly been through it.At least you have a positive attitude to your accidents.My nerve damage happened in 1997,
Had to sell the Kawasaki GPz 550 because I had trouble lifting and moving it around.Stretched the nerves in my right arm and
couldn't move my fingers for quite a while.Yes you're right it was very painful at the time.
Sounds like we had a similar injury.And I agree about people saying how wonderful places are and then being disappointed
that it's ordinary at best.Not grumpy, just slightly disillusioned.
Anyway I could go on all night.
Yes best not dwell on the past it won't help.
Thanks for replying so quickly and honestly.
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Travel StoriesFrance 2013