Travel StoriesFrance 2013
France Day 18 - Is This Misery Or Joy?
By Sharon Parker
The morning brings sunshine which is always welcome, but it still remains chilly with a cold breeze. We are heading to the coast today on the recommendation of a couple of British bikers who we met last night on the campsite.
By 10:30am we are packed up and wave a very fond farewell to our Liverpudlian friends. As usual we stop off at a supermarket to get supplies. I would have preferred to support local business and small shops but one thing about France is it is not cheap. So with our goal of trying to see just how cheap we could do this holiday the cheapest option is always the supermarkets. However this particular one, Carrefour, proved to be the most expensive one so far. In the car park I am passed by a couple transporting a huge 60inch television, so it appears that some of the French are not needing to save pennies.
As we journey on we pass some very smart and pretty villages. Evidence once again that there is still plenty of money about in some areas of France. We spot a sign for Miserey, which causes much amusement to the boyfriend and I and of course requires a photo stop. Miserey was not actually that bad a place but a little further on we discover the Fontaine of Jouy. After just leaving Miserey this amused us both even more. So more giggles ensue and more photos. As one would expect with a name like that Juoy was a delight.
You have to go through Miserey to find Jouy
Jouy is such a lovely place to be
The giggles are in short supply later on in the day as confusing road signs and mindless dangerous traffic begins to frustrate Ren. On narrow, twisty roads huge trucks take up almost both lanes and we narrowly miss being hit on a few occasions. We scrape by only because we are on a bike. If we had been in a car or a motorhome I reckon it would have been game over. No wonder the French ban the bloody trucks off the roads at weekends. My shoulder also starts really hurting so we decide to stop for a stretch and see if we can find our smiles again.
We stop by a huge old abandoned mill and cider factory. The crumpling property is up for sale or rent but it is clear it has had no takers for quite some time. We sit for a while and discuss what an earth can be done with places like this? We do not succeed in coming up with any answers so climb back onto to the bike. We are ready for a stop and look forward to the nice campsite described by the Brit campers awaiting us by the coast at Ault.
As we roll into Ault I begin to feel a little apprehensive. This is not the quaint pretty little seaside town I had in mind. Many of the houses are dilapidated, left to rot and ruin. It has a sad neglected air. Like a withered bloom this towns heyday appears to have come and gone. I doubt that could have happened in the course of a couple of days though so I begin to suspect that the Brit bikers were either having a laugh at our expense or beauty really must be in the eye of the beholder. My eyes do not see anything remotely pleasing. No campsite comes into view either. We do spot a tourist information which informs us there are 3 campsites located in the town. Maybe one of these will prove an oasis of loveliness in an otherwise landscape of decay.
The first campsite on the list no longer appears to exist in its supposed location. The second one is as appealing as the town itself which meant a no to that. The third we could see but could not find a road to navigate down to it. From what we could see it was windswept and dreary anyhow. Good god enough is enough, this place is as depressing as hell and we both agree we need to get the hell out of this town. We could head back inland and hopefully find something much better. Surely it could be no worse than this?
We are both tired and rather grumpy now and my shoulder is still hurting. So by the time we end up at the far from lovely Camping Municipal De Friaucourt - Au chant des Oiseaux (Bird Song) we simply do not really care anymore. We just need to stop. We pay the €7.60 and after first refusing to camp where the owner first indicates, a patch of overgrown weeds, we find an small area of shortish grass and pitch for the night. We are starving hungry so as soon as the tent is up we head for the nearest shop to buy something for tea. With food in out bellies we are feeling a little less grumpy so decide to go for an inspection tour of the campsite.
The stroll is an eye-opener to say the least. I had always disagreed with the rules of most caravan sites back in the UK that usually state that caravans older than 10 years can not remain on site. But maybe just maybe what we now behold is the reasoning behind such rules. Some of the caravans have clearly been here for a very long time and some are in a very dirty and dilapidated state. I even suspect that some have the owners bones in residence inside. I also suspect that this site is a full time home to some of the residents. Maybe they are old and infirm and can longer handle the up keep of their caravans. Either way it is a sad state of affairs. It seems we are destined no matter what to spend a night in a place with a neglected air.
A typical caravan with typical pristine garden
Home extension at it's finest or worse? You decide
However appearances can be deceptive and the other campers or possibly full time residents are friendly enough and give us a wave and a nod as they pass by. They all seem quite jolly as they laugh and joke with one another as they play their evening game of boules. It all makes me ponder how we discern wealth with happiness. Could the company of friends bring contentment and joy which is far greater than owning a nice villa on the sea front? Am I wrong that a dirty run down caravan equates sadness and misery to its inhabitants? Maybe they are not too ill to keep it clean, maybe they are out having too much fun and enjoying life to the max to have time to bother themselves with such trivial things a keeping the grass mowed. Could what I see as misery be joy to someone else? Of course it could after all we already saw today that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
I do not sleep very well this night. Not only does my shoulder hurt but the lump in my ribs starts to throb. Bloody hell it is just one of them days. I feel as decrepit as the caravans on this site.
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.
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Travel StoriesFrance 2013