Vince is currently parked up for a second day at Camping Municipale de la Vée in Bagnole de l’Orne, Normandy. Before we left Arromanches we had a look at our Rough Guide which said that this quaint spa town attracts ‘many, mainly elderly visitors wanting to indulge themselves in the various spas’ so we wanted to go somewhere where we would feel like relative youngsters!
Our journey here was pretty straightforward apart from one (rare, and thankfully getting rarer) wrong-side-of-the-road scare. They tend to occur when your mind is elsewhere – in this case we’d taken a wrong turn and had just done a 93-point turn to go back. (With the bikes on the rack Vince is nearly 8m long eek!) Turning right at a T-junction we merrily set off on the left until we saw a very puzzled French lady hurtling towards us! Some of my biker friends will recall a similar wrong-way-round-a-roundabout scenario last year when I was leading six motorcycles through Bagnères-de-Luchon and got lost.
We stopped half way to empty the waste water tank as Arromanches aire didn’t have a service point. One of the nice things about France is that motorhome service points can be found at a lot of garages and supermarkets, we took the opportunity to fill up with fresh water while we were there. This garage was right beside a huge Cora hypermarket where Gill stocked up on provisions as I serviced the van and enjoyed some traditional French Customer Service.
We never learn – arriving at the campsite, reception was yet again closed for lunch, but being old hands we just sat in Vince with a sandwich and a cuppa and waited until 2pm to find a pitch. Most of the day had been windy and wet but when a brief window of sunshine appeared we walked down into the town for an explore. The receptionist advised us that there was a system of pathways to follow through the woods to town, and these would take us past the famous spa houses where sick and convalescent people have been coming for treatment since the 19th Century. I’m afraid I just got the giggles – no idea why – at the name of the nearest which is the B’O Spa Thermal right next to the B’O Thermes. I guess if you suffer from BO it’s worth a shot! And don’t get me started on the Spa du Béryl…
Bagnoles is a very pretty, and well looked after town with a lake in the centre surrounded by buildings from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. I’m no architect but even I could recognise flourishes of art-deco and styling from La Belle Époque (it says here…). Gill had to hold me firmly by the collar to keep me out of the artisan chocolate shops. One had a gigantic chocolate mouse beside a giant chocolate mousetrap baited with ‘cheese’ made from white chocolate. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven!
We had mixed fortunes in the evening; while Gill made us something to eat I played with the satellite tuning but couldn’t get any signal (hope we’re ok for Holby next Tuesday). I managed to tune in some French TV on the aerial but have you ever tried French TV…? In the end I used pretty much the whole campsite’s free wifi bandwidth by firing up Netflix.
This morning we decided to stay here for another day as the rain has stopped and there’s a little sun trying to get through. We’ve been on a brisk walk through the Forêt des Andaines and plan to enjoy a lazy afternoon looking at maps and guide books to decide where we’ll go tomorrow as we continue towards the south coast of Brittany. It seems to take at least 36 hours on hook-up to get Vince’s leisure battery up to full charge so when we’ve been off grid for a couple of nights we’ll need two more nights with electricity but that’s fine – it doesn’t always have to be a campsite like today as some aires have electricity too.
Well the sun’s over the yardarm so it’s time for a pastis and a practice at my Gallic shrug. Until the next time… «bof»