Following our trip to the Cote D’Azur, we escaped towards the south west of France.
Narbonnes / Gruissan
From the little we saw of it -
Weird. A retreat for the retired. Nuff said.
Dordogne – Sarlat
Simply stunning. Like a picturesque Cotswold stone village, plonked comfortably on French soil, a welcoming retreat in the dordogne. Allegedly the oldest town in the region, there was stunning architecture, magnificent restaurants and lots of street entertainment.
We meandered around the town, doing the usual – buying tins of babymilk powder, a tablecloth for Bertie, and the obligatory postcard. We also indulged in local produce for our lunch – foie gras, duck confit and cake (3 separate courses, in case you wandered). Nicely washed down with a cold beer.
As Barney had his afternoon nap in the pushchair, we wondered through the cobbled streets, aghast at the 50 foot high full length doors on the indoor market, admiring work of local artists and watched a spray painter producing canvasses whilst drowning the street with hip hop. Very French youth.
As the temperature soared to 35 (C) we decided to head back to the campsite for a dip. The local bus service did us proud – a comedy little bus – that was prompt, empty and had some air conditioning. At least it meant that we got to see some of the local area on the short journey back to Bertie.
St George – drove through and missed it. Didn’t appear to be much to it.
Cyclists – but on the narrow roads not cycle paths.
A large island so everything is spread out – really need a car.
Nearest village to the campsite was a 5 km cycle ride. The ride was relatively flat, but there was nothing to it. Our destination, the harbour of La Collinge, was a disappointment. It was rather ‘chav’ with shops simply selling tat. We have obviously been affected by the Cote D’Azur.
D’Oleron is allegedly the poor cousin of Re, just along the coast. We will find out and let you know.
Ile de Re
Wow. Don’t come here without a bike, or without hiring one. The cycle tracks are incredible. My regret is not having a basket with picnic rug, French cheeses and a bottle of wine and stopping en route to Ars. It was idyllic.
Ars is a lovely seaside town. Very French architecture. They’ve tried to retain their own style, which says ‘beachside holiday homes’. Think Padstow in Cornwall, and you’ll have a feel for the place. lots of shuttered windows.
Lovely restaurants on the harbour edge, an outdoor and indoor market selling local produce. Art galleries and shops selling homewares. Very nice indeed.
The flat and smooth cycle routes took us through oyster, muscle and salt fields. The outlook was fantastic, even better for not having cars around you keeping you on edge. It feels very safe.
La Courade close to our campsite was another little gem. Stunning (though very expensive) homes with a peaceful high street occupied by local bijou shops. It felt far away from chav. We were further enchanted when we discovered the amazing sandy beach on the edge of the village. Wow. We will be visiting here again.
Finally, St Martin, the island’s capital. Wow. Re beats D’Oleron on every front – the towns, beaches and cycle routes.
We were dropped off by the park and relay bus straight into the city centre, next to the harbour. Picked a map up from the tourist information and commenced a mapped tour of the city. Incredible.
Old town – boutiques, shutters and artisan cholateries. Monumental towers either side of the harbour entrance. Stopped for a beer. Lovely.
French food – moules frites and the profiteroles de maison. The profiteroles contained a gorgeous vanilla ice cream rather than cream. Amazing.
Caen (Oustriham Ferry Port)
Caen looked like a huge city as we skirted the edge of it. I hadn’t realised that we would be staying in a small town nearly 10 miles away to catch the ferry to Portsmouth.
It was a beach destination of it’s own though, allowing us one final glimpse of the sea before we leave.