This will be our last day at Saumur, indeed, it is effectively the last day of this trip, since from tomorrow we will be heading, slowly, toward Calais, to be there for Saturday evening, then catch our ferry, early Sunday.
But, let us not jump ahead.
Another beautiful day, with clear blue sky and sunshine, spent cycling along the south bank of the Loire.
We go from the campsite on Ile d'Offard, to Dampierre-sur-Loire, and return of course, just short of 10 miles.
At Dampierre-sur-Loire, we discover a new Aire, which does not appear to be in the Aires book.
It is in an area laid out as a picnic area, just off the D947, between the edge of the village and the River Loire. All rather pretty, with the usual "borne" to dispense water, dispose of waste, a toilet, but, no electric hookup. 5 Euro per night. (N47.241044' E-0.022341)
Refreshments, sitting in the sun, in Place de St Piere, in Saumur, courtesy of my generous wife.
The rest of the day is spent in a mixture of packing and chatting to newly arrived neighbours, David and Barbara, fellow Armitage Trailer owners and scooterists.
Wednesday, time to be moving on again.
A hundred and twenty miles, more or less, due North, and we park at an Aire, in a small town / village, called Rugles, (N48 49.370' E0 42.619'), in Haut Normandy.
It is a pity it is not Sunday, we have this old church, about 25 metres away!
It is no longer functioning as a church, the main church is in the village, with, it would appear some very enthusiastic, campanoligists.
The Aire is just a few minutes walk from the main street of the village.
It has space for about seven vans. Six free electric hook ups, and a free service point for water, waste etc.
The space is in two areas, three vans and two EHU's in one area, and four vans and fours EHU's in the other.
There are no signs to indicate there is a charge, and, so far, no one has appeared to collect any payment.
It is on the edge of a very attractive public park, with an old water mill.
You can stroll through the park to the High Street, where we contributed to the local economy by purchasing apple tarts, and a couple of beers.
It all seems very pleasant, the customers in the bar even shook hands with us, when we went in for a beer!
This is the town hall.
Now, remember, this a town / village with a population of only about 2,500.
How can they possibly support / fund such a grand town hall?, not to mention the rather grand public park, shown in the photographs above?
It makes no sense to me, but, it appears to work.
Thursday, on to Neufchatel-en-Bray, our old favourite, Camping St Claire. Still as well kept as ever, this ACSI site is only two hours south of Calais. Not that it concerns us, since we are "pet free", but, I told there is a good English speaking Vet in the Town, who can do all of the Pet formalities far cheaper than the Calais based Vets.
Apart from the fact the campsite is very well run, and inexpensive at 14Euro, we use this stopover to fill with cheap diesel (at Le Clerc), and stock up with cheap booze at Le Clerc and Lidl.
Weather is not too kind, warm and bright for most of the day, with just the odd shower, but, right at this moment, as I type this (20:00), it is pouring with rain!
Friday, our friends, (Bryan and Joan, Crick) arrive.
We have a wonderfully sunny day, which we spend in a very decadent way, ie sitting in the sun, chatting about our adventures and drinking beer.
We vary the theme in the evening, by drinking Red Wine, White Wine and Manderine, not all at once!.
Saturday, is another bright and sunny day, Joan and Bryan have an extra day compared to ourselves, so, they head off for an Aire on the coast.
Kathleen has a hair washing session, whilst I go shopping, then we head slowly for the Aire at Gravelines, our usual last overnight stop, when we have an early morning ferry / tunnel crossing.
Gravelines has a few advantages (in our opinion) over the Aire at Calais, ie,
- it is near a Church with a Mass on Saturday evening,
- it is far enough away from Calais to avoid any "asylum seeker problems" (not that we have seen any asylum seeker problems either , on previous occasions).
- There are enough places to walk, cycle to fill the time
- there are a number of bars and restaurants
- it is almost, scenic
Sunday morning, we are up at 6:00 to make our way to the 07:45 ferry, only to find, the travel arrangements administrator (Kathleen) has got the time wrong, it is the 08:15 ferry!
We could have had another half hour in bed!
Home by 16:30.