France Part 8 - Here comes the sun (again)

Much better weather greeted us on Thursday morning, so we had a run over to the village of Saint Estephe - or more accurately, the large lake beside it, just about four miles from the site. There’s a man made beach on one portion of it and this was already getting busy. We'd toyed with bringing my inflatable kayak/canoe thingy down but as we’d been advised by our knowledgeable neighbours you could hire a plastic one out for free. Free? I couldn’t believe it either but it was true. You have to sign a disclaimer of some sort and wear a life jacket but other than that, away you go. We declined in the end though and set off on a walk around the lakeside.

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Just over two miles in total, some of it on boardwalks and it was very pleasant. At the far end there is a chain - well rope - ferry that’s hand operated. No power needed, what a good idea. To the far side is a campsite with some pitches right near the waters edge. There are some wooden chalets for non-campers and it looked a great place to stop for a few nights out of season. A glance at the  tariff later indicated that two could camp with electric for just seventeen Euros and fifty cents a night. A great site for families and we'd certainly consider it out of season, but are really happy where we are - and not just because it’s adults only.

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A lakeside restaurant and snack bar completed the walk and we both agreed what a lovely place it was. Right, so lets recap. That’s parking - free. Canoe hire - free. Sunbeds - free. Sound like anywhere back in the UK? Let me know because I can’t think of anywhere!

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Back at the site the recliners came out and we enjoyed the rest of the day listening to the cricket, which after the disaster at Lords, was going rather well.

 With a cooler cloudy day promised on Friday (and subsequently delivered) we decided to head south again, past Brantome and have a look at the town of Perigueux which, in administrative terms, is roughly the Dordogne's county town I guess. Anyway, expectations weren't high and certainly the road in which we arrived did little to dispel that. Anybody who knows Brighton, think of Viaduct road and you’ll get an idea. Yeah, that good. Unperturbed we headed straight for the centre and found a small car park  in the middle of the main thoroughfare. Expecting from experience that it wouldn’t be expensive I didn’t even look at the tariff.

DSC_0034Early impressions did little to dispel that feeling that we shouldn’t have bothered - not that there was anything particularly dislikeable but nothing stood out. Then we discovered the ‘old town’ Perigueux’s medieval - and Renaissance - core. Narrow alleys, cobbled streets with little squares in amongst, made for a very pleasant experience with both locals and tourists - judging by the accents, mingling amongst the shops and eateries. There was even an ‘English Style’ pub - The DSC_0047Star Inn, offering ex-pats a taste of home with all those well known English beers like, er, Guinness, Stella and Carlsberg. Quite. And before you ask, it was too early, even for us.

 

In the middle of all this is the Cathedral St-Front. It’s been rebuilt a number of times over the years, the pineapple capped belfry looking rather out of place. Apparently the layout - a Greek Cross - is unusual in France, but it’s worth going in to to see the massive walnut wood carving in the east bay. If it looks a little gloomy, there’s a box by the side to stick a coin in, and the lights come on.

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Coffee was procured from a bakery - an whole two Euros and forty cents for two Cafe Long’s - basically double espressos - then we returned to the car, but not before stopping to take in some street artists on stilts doing summersaults and stuff. A local copper on his bike was stopping traffic on his bike on route as they made their way around the central thoroughfare. Good fun though I can’t imagine the French motorists, who normally seem so impatient, enjoying it much.

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We’d been parked well over two hours and for that privilege I was relieved of just eighty cents. Once again the two hour lunchtime period was free. In a town centre. It seems Capitalism hasn't got it’s claws into France yet.

On the way back was the village of Bourdeilles, noted again in both the Rough Guide and our information sheet from the site. Okay, it has a chateau and a river so it’s hardly unique but it was a very pretty place. We stopped for a late lunch in a lovely little restaurant nestled in a square to the side of the Chateau. A discrete use of Google Translate ensured we avoided the horse meat. What WAS on the menu - and something you see nearly everywhere in this region both in restaurants and over the counter - is foie gras. Duck is very popular too.

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We paused briefly in Nontron to post some blogs off to their no doubt eager recipients then headed back to the site.

The weather forecasters were promising some cracking weather to come so, we were planning to do little more than lazing around on this lovely site. Sadly, there was to be no cricket to listen too over the weekend as England had already won. Tee hee!

It was mighty cold through the night - inside the ‘van dropped to below ten degrees - and the sun arrived later than originally expected on Saturday. So in the morning we headed to Nontron to have a mooch around a couple of shops before calling at the supermarket.DSC_0121

The rest of the day was very lazy - and very pleasant. In the evening we joined our neighbours Peter & Robert for a drink. Or two. We had a thoroughly enjoyable evening - stayed up too late, drank far too much and probably made too much noise too.

Again, another chilly start Sunday but the mercury soon rose with the appearance of the sun and we did very little other than lounge, laze, snooze and chat. The temperatures peaked at twenty-nine degrees later afternoon, and was still a lovely twenty-four at around eight pm.

So, almost there. It’s been another cracking day here. We stocked up with provisions this morning and had a nice lazy day, packing a few things away in preparation for moving on tomorrow. It’s a relatively short run of about 110 miles and we can’t get on site until two pm, so there is no rush in the morning. The site owners - Georges & Margaret have kindly invited us around for a pre-dinner drink and we’ll be heading off there shortly.

Right, look out for the next blog, as we start back north tomorrow. I can’t believe we’ve been out here a month. Were has the time gone?

As always - a video:

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