Pont de l’Arche
Last “proper” stop of the trip. Pont de l’Arche in Normandy

Well that’s quite a setting above for our next-to-last night in France! But we don’t want to hear about that yet, do we? 

“No!” shouts somebody from the back, “Last we heard you were still in Spain.”

So we were. In the Guara Natural Park. Parked illegally overnight overlooking the twisty turny uppy downy narrow streets of Alqézar. If you only ever visit one town in the area, make it this one. It’s very much on the tourist map for Spain and it’s not hard to see why. Spotless streets, mostly only one car wide – we kept having to get out of the way of Postman Pat’s cousin Pedro and his van. All of the buildings were made from the same light brown stone as the surrounding mountains. It made the place look organic as if it had grown out of the very hillside.

The highlight of the visit for us was a walk through the canyon of the River Vero. The town is perched above a twisting gorge carved by the river over millennia. They promised us cool clear water, rock falls, caves, and single-file climbs and drops. We got them all for our (well worth it) €5 entrance tickets. If my Spanish were better I’d have realised that the Ruta de las Pasarelas de Alquézar translates literally as the route of the catwalks of Alquézar. And I’m not talking about high fashion.

At various points along the route it’s impossible to walk by the river as the canyon narrows and splashing through the river over the huge boulders isn’t an option. Instead, there are one-person wide metal gangways high up on the sides of the gorge which (to me) looked like they were attached by chewing gum & string. You’re walking on steel gratings so you can see between your feet all the way down to the bottom. If you dared to look that is…I didn’t!

Gorge walkways
Just keep looking straight ahead… you’ll be fine

We liked Alquézar so much that we stayed in the area for three nights, with the middle one at a nearby campsite for filling, emptying and showering. Did I say Vince’s shower is out of commission at the moment? Long leaky story but we’ll sort it out when we get home.

Running a close second in Alquézar highlights was our Sunday lunch overlooking the canyon and surrounding countryside. We’d earned it after a long climb up through the streets to the dramatic Colegiata de Santa Maria La Mayor. Formerly an Arab fortress founded in the ninth century, the walls of the church are decorated with frescos from the fourteenth century to the eighteenth. These well-preserved wall paintings depict scenes from the Old and New Testaments. And they’re closed on Sundays, sigh…

Colegiata de Santa Maria La Mayor
Colegiata de Santa Maria La Mayor, Alquézar

So after our fruitless climb in the heat we were well ready for lunch. Great views, great company, local wines and for me, a black rice with calamari starter followed by wild boar stew and keep those fries coming! Bread, water and wines were included in the set menu price. Not the cheapest meal out, but worth every penny.

Still trying to stay within the little window of sunshine over Spain we left Alquézar to drive past a series of waterways in a further canyon, to the town of Ainsa. Here we were able to camp for €8 in a camper-stop at the top of the town beside its castle. We’d filled Vince’s tank up with lpg on the way as we wanted plenty of gas for barbecuing. In vain. The wind was so strong up there that we had no chance of keeping two bbq’s lit. Plan B was an explore of the streets and square surrounding the castle followed by cooking in the vans. Our travelling companions Graeme & Sally then joined us in Vince for a particularly vicious game of Hearts. It may be some time before we’re on speaking terms again.

Creepy crypt
The creepy crypt below the castle in Ainsa

There comes a point on every trip, no matter how far we go, when the wagons have to be turned around and pointed towards home. Sadly we had to say our farewells to Graeme & Sally (we were friends again by then) as they were staying another week in Spain to return on a later sailing than ours.

If you’ve been following this trip you’ll remember that we took a leisurely run down from Calais with plenty of stops on the way. Not so much going home. We wanted to stay south in the sunshine for as long as we could but that meant higher mileages and longer days to get back. Starting with one rather large obstacle, the Pyrenees mountains.

The route from Ailsa was directly north, over the mountains and through the Bielsa tunnel into France. What a ride! Twisting turning climbs in the Spanish sunshine, but getting cooler and cooler the higher we went. It was dry at the Spanish end of the tunnel but when we emerged blinking into daylight after 3km under the mountain… snow! The roads were clear but it was so surreal to be surrounded by snow after so much sun. That’s a lot of S’s, glad I put my teeth in.

If you’re worried about our long winding descent through dozens of hairpin bends in the snow in three and a half tons of Vince, don’t be. The snow soon turned to fog then torrential rain so that was fun. At least we couldn’t see the huge drops at the side of the road.

Snowy mountains
A little way down the mountain. There was no way I was stopping for pics on the snowy roads!

Three more quick stops have placed us in Pont de l’Arche in Normandy which is where we came in at the top of the page. We’ve previously visited Marciac and the beautiful Dordogne village of La Roque Gageac so a click on the links will tell you all about our earlier adventures there. Our third stop was in La Ferté-Saint-Aubin in a sandy car park by a lake. We were really on a mission to get back to Calais so a quick walk to see the chateau was all we managed before an early night and an early start the next day, via the boulangerie for fresh bread for lunchtime sandwiches.

By rights we should be somewhere on the coast south of Calais today, but instead I can hear the bells tolling for the six pm Mass at the Church of Notre-Dame-des-Arts here in Pont de l’Arche. We put the brakes on the sprint home when we found this picturesque, and very well-priced camping spot. We’re right on the banks of the River Eure where it has a link to the Seine. From Vince’s front window we’ve been able to see barges and river cruise ships heading to and from Paris. The long bridge which takes you into the town crosses both rivers and has a handy stairway in the middle which allows you to descend to river-level to explore two islands. They’re unspoiled by any development and a pleasure to wander and watch the water fowl doing their thing.

Tomorrow we head for Watten where we’ve stayed a few times before as it’s the perfect distance to Calais for the channel crossing. Not close enough to have to worry about migrant malarkey, but close enough not to have to get up too early for the ferry.

So that’s it. Another trip done. All being well, we’ll do a few UK weekends away this summer – you’re all invited – then maybe we’ll look for some winter sunshine at the end of the year. We haven’t finalised anything yet but you’ll be the first to know when we get going again. Thanks so much for your comments and messages over the last few weeks, we really appreciate them, well… most of them 😉

Until next time


Haunted house
Spooky house for sale in Pont de l’Arche!
Church of Norte Dame des Arts, Pont de l’Arche
Very fancy Church of Notre-Dame-des-Arts, Pont de l’Arche
La Roque Gageac
La Roque Gageac with houses built into the cliffs
Walnut season in full swing at La Roque Gageac
Alquézar streets

Alquézar streets
Alquézar streets
The fabulous Sunday lunch menu in Alquézar. Tap or click to enlarge. Yum!
Wine label
…with accompanying local wine…
Cave view
View from inside one of the caves on the Ruta de las Pasarelas
Coffee with a view
This coffee morning view is a lot better than at my local Greggs!
Walking on air on a platform above the canyon
There’s nothing under Gill’s feet except a looooong drop

About Ken Tomlinson 219 Articles
Semi-retired biker, blogger and world’s best grandad. Doesn’t take life too seriously. Discovered motorhoming in 2015, sold up and downsized to fund more travels. Now with added Yorkshire.

4 Comments on Alquézar

  1. Loved following your travels as always! Alquezar looks beautiful – one to add to my ever growing list of places to visit.

  2. Hi Ken,
    Hope you remember me, though I don’t blame you if you can’t – you taught a lot of Salopians which side of the line to keep the car and we probably all looked the same after a while.

    Found your blog recently and have thoroughly enjoyed reading through your adventures; obviously great fun had by you, and great fun to travel vicariously with you too. My wife (I know, and me so young) and I are now proud, and tentative, owners of a caravan, so I’ve been making notes of some of your destinations for future trips to come.

    Hope this finds you well. If you’re ever back in Shrewsbury – come and say hello.

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