France Part 14 – What a whopper!

Just  a week to go, then it will all be over. No more blogs for you to to endure then until at least the end of October when we’re away next. In the meantime, our jaunt around France continues:

Sunday saw us on the road again – not with Patsy – we’re still at Forest View – with a rough idea to see some of  the north western wedge of the Perche Regional Park. The roads were quiet – as they have been in most places - making the notion of a ‘Sunday drive’ much more pleasurable. The addition of attractive landscapes and delightful tree lined roads helps too. This is certainly a pretty little region of France.

First up was Longny-au-Perche – based around a centre square that was actually a car park - it was a very attractive place – and get this – there were actually people about! Ok, mostly in the bars and cafes but at least there was life and it didn’t feel like a ghost town. Mind you it was before lunchtime so may be that helped. Flower boxes adorned the Hotel de Ville and railings and kerbsides and this is something we’ve seen a lot of in this area. Very pretty and on a bright sunny day they looked fantastic here.

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A gentle trundle west brought us to Mortagne-au-Perche, one of the larger towns in the region. There was no centre square but several smaller ones and in one, by the cinema, was a display of metal men seemingly in the process of making a film.

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There were a few buildings around worthy of a snap or two including the ever present Hotel de Ville. In our naivety we wondered whether at one time they were actually a hotel – some ancient requirement for all settlements to have a stopping place. But the correct translation is City Hall - they have always housed the local council offices and the ‘Mairie’ – effectively the town or villages’ Mayor. In looking this up I came across a story about a woman who got locked up in one for the night after wandering in thinking it was a hotel. Some people. Oh, hang on…

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A pleasant enough place but it was very quiet, with a only a few bars and restaurants ticking over. The idea of going out for Sunday lunch doesn't seem as popular here, maybe because it seems like they go out for lunch every other day!

With a sunny afternoon in prospect we decided to head back and press the recliners in to service, but as we were travelling back we spotted this in the distance:

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Definitely worthy of a closer look of course, so we did.

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It’s official title is the Basillque Notre-Dame de Montligeon, built in 1911 and (checks pamphlet) a place of pilgrimage and a sanctuary devoted to Prayer for the Dead. Very laudable. To heathens like us it was a stunning piece of architecture made even more impressive by it’s location.

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The village nestled beside it and was pretty enough too.

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And that was Sunday’s sightseeing excursion completed. The BBQ was once again fired up for another cremation and we adjourned to the bar later for some er, office work. Oh and research. The WiFi is only available there you see….

Monday was a little cloudy and certainly cooler as we headed north and east, first to La Ferte-Vidame. The arrival is quite impressive – avenues of trees to your left and the ruins of a large chateau on the right:

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The main street – there wasn’t much else – was attractive enough – but pretty much everything was shut and there were very few people about. Whether that was due to Monday closing or some extra day in lieu because of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary falling on a weekend I don’t know. Whatever, I’m beginning to think the French have got it right.

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Senoches was next (and last) on the list. We’d meant to call here on Saturday after La Loupe but took a wrong turn. To be honest, we didn’t miss too much – another rural town just getting on with it – although not on a Monday of course.

Tuesday saw us head west stopping first at the Manoir de Courboyer. Not the most impressive of Chateaux you’ll find in France but in a lovely location nonetheless.

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There was another metal man posing as an artist in the grounds and in the field were a trio of extremely powerful looking horses. Their breed – Percheron – originated right here and are noted for their strength. These ones appeared to be spending their retirement giving rides to tourists.

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The village of Noce appeared next and another pretty little place worthy of a few photos. Again, they’d really gone to town with the flower boxes, particularly on the Hotel de Ville. I wish I’d started snapping these earlier in the trip – I’d have quite a collection now.

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Belleme, out to the west was furthest on the list, and there was actually a real life traffic jam when we arrived and the town was in full swing – well the shops were open and there were people bustling about. Within minutes of parking up though things quietened down and one by one shutters came down and doors were locked. No, not because they’d heard we were coming. It was lunchtime. The sudden change in atmosphere was quite stark, but mildly amusing.

With a couple of decent days promised we planned to go nowhere but soak up some rays and catch up on some reading. The fishermen amongst the campers got their rods set and settled back in their chairs, probably expecting another un-productive day. Having had our fix in the morning (bread) we settled down in the recliners and eyelids were soon drooping.

I’d probably had my eyes shut for about five minutes – I wasn’t asleep, honest – when I became aware of an alarm going off in the distance. There was some activity just along from us by the lake and it transpired that a rod alarm had gone off. Someone actually had a fish on the line! Grandson was duly despatched to fetch Martin from his morning ablutions in the shower block and a short while later it was reeled in, netted and weighed. A big ‘un it was too. 28lb allowing for the net. I’d tried to get a picture of the fish on the scales but, quite rightly, it was returned to the water as quickly as possible.

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Within an hour, the same thing happened again – this time Martin was away emptying the loo! He rushed back but this time the fish was smarter and snapped the line.

And that was really the days excitement – not that the rest wasn’t enjoyable. Plenty of reading and the odd snooze or two meant that the day went really quickly and it was soon time for another cremation on the barbie.

This morning as I finish this up it’s rather damp and drizzly after rain over night. We’re on the move tomorrow and it’s becoming something of a habit that our last days are wet and miserable. The skies should be clearing later though and we’ll get everything packed up before dinner over in the restaurant.

We hope to be away tomorrow morning, as soon as the bread has been delivered – it’s only just over 100 miles to our next site – just to the west of Rouen, but there appears to be no arrival restrictions so hopefully we can get pitched and set up nice and early.

And now the end really is near. This time next week we’ll be at the ferry ready for the crossing home. That’s still time for another couple of blogs though……

But, before you go, some slideshows:

And a couple of videos:

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