Another bleary eyed morning as we said goodbye to our Belgian seer and on the road heading for the well named Chateaudun recommended to us by other Campers a nice easy calm journey on the almost empty roads of France once again, the wonders of driving in a country where there is plenty of land and open space so you can travel quite a distance hardly seeing another vehicle except near towns.
Chateaudun lives up to it's name the Chateau part Castle towers above the Aire where we stopped for the night, impressive does not even do justice to the building, after getting set up we headed for the Town which lies on top of a hill spreading out from the Chateau. The walk up the hill from our stopover was relatively breathless or at least we did not have to stop for a rest and there were a lot of old restored houses to look at as we passed.
Having reached the gates of the Chateau we stood there pondering should we or should we not fork over €15-00 to wander around this stately pile, OK I know we Scots have a certain reputation but so do French Chateau's they mainly seem to be empty buildings, ie no furnishings, etc and can be a bit of a let down but we took the plunge handed over the cash having waded through the Tourist 'goodies' in the obligatory shop then being released to wander the grounds and buildings and yes the main building had one room with half a dozen large tapestries, another an Amoire but mainly empty rooms with not a lot of things to see, other than the cells, not even any 'Boy's Toys' you know what I mean things for dicing and slicing or causing loud bangs. Having said that the outside of the main building is fantastic with it's carvings in stone whilst the small Chapel totally empty except for the Medieval stone almost full size carvings of male and female Saints was to my mind worth the visit, simple, plain with some of the original paintwork still on the roof arches, it definitely had a presence of it's own. Next to the Chapel stands a 12th Century round Tower more or less all that is left of the original Castle strongpoint, no entry to that unfortunately. I appreciate that buildings such as these take an enormous amount of cash to keep in repair but to be honest if it had not been for the Chapel I might have said " We wuz robbed "
A short walk from the Chateau and you are in the Town itself, modern pleasant and clean, fortunately for me most of the shops were closed and I really felt so disapointed for Kit, that I splashed out and bought us a Coffee in a nearby Cafe, how thoughtful is that?
Back on the Aire it quickly filled up with more units than there were spaces but nobody got booted off overnight and we spent a really quiet evening and did get to sleep.
The next day saw us enroute for St. Maure de Touraine below Tours but we missed it and it was not even foggy and my 'SatNextTo' had to scrabble around to find another target, so we ended up on the Vivone Aire which is at the top end of a large carpark in Town.Our next door neighbour this time was a French motorhome user who had a starting problem which I thought was probably the starter solenoid but he spent most of his time in and out of various compartments and checking fuses. I did check his battery with the meter and it was fully charged. I suggested a mechanic which brought on a very doleful face and left it at that. Our usual stroll saved us a lot of trouble when we discovered the way out of Town was Route Barre, a quick look on Autoroute followed by a reconoitre solved the problem and next morning up bright and early for the next journey.
Cath and Bill are old friends of ours and we have always been welcome at their home in Chirac so that was our heading, down the N10 before turning across country and onto the narrow roads of the French countryside. On arrival I had my usual struggle with their entry gate so we unhitched the trailer and that went in first with me following in reverse in the Camper. To watch Bill negotiate that gate just makes me plain envious, but then this is a man used to driving big vehicles, Diggers and the like.
Two nights spent with our friends including a trip to the Town of St. Junion for a meal out before once again hitting the road heading west for Pons to visit another couple of friends who run a Campsite there. Total disappointment, Caroline, Pete an Merle had upsticks and moved to the south of France near Bezier where they have 5 Gites and hopefully in the future somewhere for Campervans. If all goes to plan we will be almost passing their door on our way to Austria so plan to call in and say hello. The campsite at Pons was empty other than for one other unit but again heavy rain was forecast so we stopped for two nights to let it clear before heading south for our present location at Castets just north of Bayonne.
We use the free motorway around Bordeaux to pick up the road south, not as busy as we have seen it in the past but we were very lucky not to be involved in a road accident. French, Spanish and Portuguese car drivers in our experience have a habit of staying on the slip road onto the motorway until the last moment sometimes even slowing down which means they either have to stop or cause traffic to brake to allow them entry. Just as we were level with one such slip road a black car drove past on our right then tried the same with a very large freight truck, as the driver ran out of slip road instead of breaking or dropping a gear and accelerating the driver tried to cut across the front of the truck which in turn clipped his nearside and spun him across three lanes of motorwayinto the central barrier where the car shot up in the air and almost dived over onto the other carriageway. needless to say there was a lot of blue smoke from tyres and desperate avoidance from other road users many of whom were too close to the vehicle in front. Hazards on and once I had seen nobody had been injured we left the French to sort the matter out. thankfully the rest of the journey to Castets was uneventful.
Carved medallions as acting as a frieze the length of the house.