Sunday, 21 August 2011

France Diary Day 6. Langres to Chatelas en Bois Mk2

This time the caravan lights worked. Woohoo! And we needed them. An early start and we had thunder and crackling fork-lightening and skies that were black black black. We hit the rain as soon as we joined the autoroute and it stayed with us for 100 miles. Temperature stayed down in the mid teens. There was no scenery. Everything obscured by a curtain of water. To my eyes the sky was grey all the way to Provence.

But then there was a gap; a patch of white cloud on black. The rain eased, then stopped. We went through/under Lyon and at last I had my temperature gradient. We were driving into a new climate. Soon we were pushing 30 degrees.

This was a short leg, only 260 miles, but it seemed long, somehow. Long and hot. Just south of Valence we left the autoroute and began heading cross country, into the Alps. Fabulous scenery! Through the painfully beautiful villages of Saou and Bourdeaux, and at last to our site, Chatelas en Bois, an idyllic setting half way up a mountain.

But there were bad things. I don’t want to think about them. Things like having to park on a blind hairpin bend on the road because someone felt okay about abandoning his/her car across the site entrance. Things like being charged three nights’ fees for our single night because we hadn’t phoned in time for the jobsworth campsite owners to be humane enough to wave their stinging rules. (We had phoned, but the restauranteur who answered played on his lack of English and my lack of French to their advantage.) I should had told them to stick it and stayed, instead, at the municipal in Bourdeaux, but I was tired and willing to shrug it off and throw money at my problems. And I don’t have the words to argue properly in French. It’s a pity, because it was a nice site and I now feel duty-bound never to return. And I was upset because this was such a stunning location, worthy of serious exploration, and we had only a few hours instead of three days. Ah well.

We walked over the hill to the village, walked back before it went dark, had macaroni cheese out of cans, for tea, instead of eating in the restaurant, because of, you know, the resauranteur (and because we glimpsed the state of the chef smoking behind the kitchen). We went to bed, got up, and left.

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