Things have gone a little bit quiet since our day at the Machines de l’Île; the weather has dulled down and become a little cooler as we moved south into the Vendée – an area of France which is very flat and marshy, so no fabulous scenery unfortunately.
As we left Nantes, Mr Garmin tried to take us the quickest way out of the city but the road was blocked by French workers striking about something (I know! How unusual! Probably wanted longer lunch hours or more farm subsidies). We therefore had to wing it for fifteen minutes or so ignoring Garmin’s pleas to “make a U-turn when possible” and “take the next turn on the right, the wrong way down a narrow one-way street with a height restriction. Go on, you can do it!” I must confess the old blood pressure was rising as I waved apologetically to yet another French driver on his way to work for taking up the whole road and squeezing him up the pavement.
We were heading for Saint-Hilaire de Riez on the west coast, near to a campsite where we stayed with our children many years ago. I don’t know why really because although we had a great holiday with the kids, all the action was on the campsite with little to do in the surrounding area. It might be because the aire we were looking for had a good write-up – sea views, very quiet etc. (and free!) but when we got there we had a sandwich for lunch and then thought ‘Right. Well then. What’ll we do now?’ To be frank, once you’ve seen one sand dune, another one holds little interest so we said stuff it and moved on. We didn’t even take any photos, sorry!
An hour later we found ourselves in Talmont St-Hilaire, a pretty little village with an aire by a lake and in sight of a ruined château. As it was getting late we had a quick evening wander in the rain and something to eat before heading off to bed. Even more shame – as we’d paid for 24hrs I didn’t even get out of bed until 10.30am, the longest lie-in of the trip so far. The church bells sounding every hour through the night might have had something to do with that.
When we finally got back on the road, our destination was the Île de Ré – a place we’ve been saving up to go to as it’s a very popular holiday destination for the rich French. Many Parisians have holiday homes there and prices are exorbitant as a result. It’s a long thin island linked to the mainland by a graceful bridge (with an €8 toll each way unfortunately – rising to €16 in the summer eek!) Our first night here is on an aire by the beach at Le Bois-Plage-en-Ré. Searchforsites.com said it was free but there’s a bloomin’ barrier there now which won’t open until you’ve fed it with another €8 dammit! We plan to explore the end of the island tomorrow then move down to the biggest town, St Martin for a couple of days on a campsite with electricity and showers. That’s if we can afford it… And we’re hoping the sun will make an appearance as we’ve been missing it the last few days.
I’m just sipping a late night rum & coke after a really tasty meal at the campsite next door. Tuna steak & tagliatelle for me while Gill had the special – cassolette du pêcheur – a seafood cornucopia of mussels, hake and tuna with rice. Gill got it right, I got it wrong; hers was delicious!
Just for your benefit I had to pop out earlier and take some pics as I haven’t taken many in the last couple of days – I hope you appreciate the sacrifices I make on your behalf!
Chat soon, and keep the comments and questions coming! 🙂