1604: Quiet in Quinson
Monday 27th July 2020
A run with CO2 in the park and then off to Lidl to stock up for the next few days whilst we had use of Sarah’s car. Then James returned the car … lunch on site with a late check out. Really helpful site, Les Treilles, the owner ran the hose for a good while so we would have fresh water in our tank. Although with these temperatures, it doesn’t stay fresh long!
2.00 pm saw us at Feu Vert … a chain of tyre stores … front tyre looking a little soft. Lovely young lady assisted us with the machine, as it defeated us. And so up into the hills to Quinson … a lovely free parking recommended by Lin and Bo, with a toilet block. On a lake with a pretty small town. I did walk along to the prehistoric site, but it was a unremarkable two hut recreation. We did manage an ice cream in the town, of course!
Maddy, my daughter, was reading about risks of the UK government re-imposing quarantine with France and was really worried bout her flight being cancelled on 2nd August. This was to be her only trip this summer … so we bought another flight for her from Stansted to Toulouse … well Carcassonne really, with Ryan Air. For tomorrow! And guess who paid?!? A bit of a change of plan; the tourist planning I’d done was now null and void. And we went into van cleaning and bedding airing mode.
1605: Tyre and Airport
Tuesday 28th July
We planned to leave about 10.00 to give ourselves plenty of time for the 4.30 hr drive to Carcassonne. Whilst we were breakfasting, others on the parking altered us to a flat tyre. The one that’d had a resuscitation of air yesterday. Completely pancaked. Decided which of the 2 choices of breakdown recovery policy to use and rang RAC. Yes, would typically have someone with us within an hour. It was nearer 2 hrs! When he did arrive, it was in a battered old car with no kit, but the ever important mega jack in the boot. Repair to tyre will have to wait till tomorrow … we’re off to the airport. Only 2 hours later than planned. Maddy had to wait about an hour as we were late and her plane was early.
We parked up in the authorised motorhome parking in Carcassonne … free till end July as a gift from the council and retailers. A walk around the citadel area, but quite busy and then across the river in the newer part. A glass of wine on the way and then the time got away from us (too late for me to cook!), so we ate out … nice.
Our pukka grease monkey. One being asked if I could take his, pix, he smiled for me.
The culprit … a whopping nail.
The Medieval part of Carcassonne is simply stunning. A massive citadel around narrow streets. But even in Covid Times, it was busy. And the carparks were empty, so heaven help anyone who comes in a normal summer.
The ‘new’ Carcassonne is not to be ignored either.
This is not the first time, I’ve warned M that we will be walking and then her shoes rub up a blister, so we swap!
Wednesday 29th July
We exercised … leg workout, never again! And wandered into Carcassonne for breakfast / brunch. It was even busier than last night, so we didn’t stay long. Perhaps the best time to visit is Spring / Autumn.
Maddy rigged for iPhone charging and a fan. Corrie attempting to join her!
Maddy led the leg workout. What you can’t see are the resistance bands around our thighs. I felt muscle pain for about 3 days. Funnily enough, I refused to do it again!
Busy, busy, Busy. We don’t like crowds at the bust of times and especially not in Covid Times.
We found another Feu Vert tyre place …. they could fix the tyre but we would have to wait an hour. All the garage was emptied onto the tarmac and we sat and waited our turn.
Maddy to the opportunity to soak up some rays … bemusing the odd shopper!
Determined to do the tourist thing, I dragged M, J and CO2 around a book town, Montolieu, the French version of Hay-on-Wye. Would have been great for buying all sorts of second hand books, had we been fluent in French!
Book shops spilling out into the narrow streets.
CO2 flaked out after a ball game in our overnight aire.
1607-9: Millau Sheltering and Sweltering
Thursday 30th to Saturday 1st August
I had planned lots of places to visit … not to happen! We ended up avoiding the heat by booking into a campsite for 3 days. It had a pool for Maddy, shade for for all of us. And other than a walk into the market, we didn’t do a lot! A couple of BBQs and a bit of swimming, laundry and admin. Even the water adverse CO2 had a couple of enforced dunkings in the River Tarn. We were up early mornings, so it was cool enough to exercise, but NOT that leg workout!
Marinated thighs with satay sauce … yummy.
Greek night in France: fava, aubergine salad, beetroot with garlic and slow cooked beans. With my first attempt at flat breads. Nostimos!
1610: Bridge Views and Roquefort
Sunday 2nd August
Leaving the campsite we headed to a bridge information centre under the bridge. Maps.Me is infallible, I’d spotted it here … obviously long since closed but it gave a sense of perspective of the hight of the bridge legs.
You catch the odd view of the bridge from all angles.
We attempted to follow the sat nav, set up for our weight and size, to the correct information centre for the bridge. It took us down the valley and across to Peyre … one of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France and a village perche. After narrow road and cars coming in the opposite direction, we lunched in the car park and then aborted our quest for the bridge information centre.
Peyre, super pretty, but the mediaeval and troglodyte caves to be explored another trip.
We arrived in Roquefort – the AOC village where fluorine air from the caves gives the cheese it’s distinctive flavour. Super helpful last in the Tourist Centre but the free aire. She told me about a walking app, which I duly downloaded. Maddy and I took CO2 on a short walk. Little did we realise it was down, down and down to the river, then up, up and up back to the parking. This, with a run in the morning, meant we both achieved more than our target steps.
The walk was called the Sentier de Mehir … this store which apparently has very little in common with a menhir! But CO2 got to cool off.
Interesting canoe tent!
View from the free parking with free services. Thank you Roquefort.
1611: An Active Day: Tasting and Cycling (of sorts!)
Monday 3rd August
A pre-booked, but free tour of Roquefort Papilion. Tour in French but I followed most of it, aided by the booklet in English. Sadly, my French has been letting me down … whether it is the face masks making it harder for me to translate and / or my ear is just not in, but I’ve had the humiliating experience of French people on hearing my French, offering to speak English to me. Much to Maddy’s glee! I am not amused!
OK, a few cheeses facts:
- Only 7 producers have Roquefort AOC accreditation.
- The fungi is grown and harvested from rye bread
- A local left rye bread and cheese in a cave, came back later and … liked the mould!
- Production is seasonal …you’d have thought the sheep could be more accommodating and spread out their milk / lamb yield.
- It takes 25g of mould to produce 1 ton of cheese
Maddy and I did a self guided tour or another marque, having first sampled their ewe’s milk ice cream! After lunch, we went back in and bought a cheese for a third producer. All set up for a Roquefort tasting with our friends Bev and Mike who we are seeing soon.
And Maddy doesn’t even like mouldy cheese!
A rare sign of affection!
Cheese loaves maturing … fake at this time of year.
A flock of steel sheep on the roundabout at Roquefort.
Late afternoon we shifted to Saint Eulalie de Cernon. We had booked a 5.00 pm velo (bike) ride … think The Railway Children film … pedaloes on a disused railway. Across viaducts and through tunnels. Great fun and the 8KM were over too quickly. A train took us back to the start.
Two people pedal and up to 3 can take it easy in the back. To be honest is was mostly downhill, so as much breaking as cycling.
Over night we were in a private aire by the medieval town of Saint Eulalie de Cernon. It even had showers and toilets.
1612: Les Hospitaliers and the Bridge Proper
Tuesday 4th August
With access to water, a laundry session was in order. The aire owner pressed leaflets into my hand … even for the velo ride, despite my saying we’d done that last night … perhaps my French let me down again! Maddy didn’t fancy going into the Knights Hopsitaliers medieval building, so James and I took a gander. No pix as my camera SD card died.
After lunch, we set off for the correct / current Millau Viaduct visitor centre. Tours on the build would have greatly interested J, being a bridge man, but we’d not booked. However the information centre was pretty good and had a viewing area.
With hot weather forecast and M needing to top up her tan, we headed for water … Lac de Pareloup. A massive ex-municipal campsite turned camperstop was rammed. But fortune smiled on us … after by passing a lake side site that wanted EUR42 plus 3rd adults plus dogs … we found a farm site about 700m from the lake … EUR18 inclusive. Pretty basic but roomy and we had shade late afternoon.
Mum rang. She’s due a minor op and doesn’t want to risk it being postponed should quarantine arriving from France be introduced. They brought their return forward and we would not be now staying with them at my sister’s house in Charante.
1613: Lazy Lake Swim
Wednesday 5th August
Exercise again in the morning .. I found a run off road … J complemented me on finding so many hills! More laundry … cos I could and it mounts up quickly when there are 3 of you (and one changes her clothes every day!). M and I did a session on the beach by the lake.
Maddy NEEDED to wear her posh dress out, so we booked a table at the restaurant. Lovely food with a choice of menus.
J had salmon tartare with a beetroot sorbet.
Charcuterie for M with pickled mushrooms.
Foie Gras and another sorbet ? for me. And lots of edible petals for us all!
Main courses were also excellent … then the cheese course …
We filled our boots and then I did a homemade doggy bag … the remainder into a doggy poo bag. The lovely waitress gently told me that it was for us to take and return what we didn’t want. Oops, I’ve just taken it. “I saw!” was her wry reply! My justification was that on hygiene grounds they couldn’t re-serve the cheese to others, surely! Anyway, they got a good tip, as I felt guilty and we enjoyed the leftovers for lunch!
1614: Rodez Shopping
Thursday 6th August
Leaving the campsite we set off for Rodez. Maddy had not had time for proper retail therapy and Rodez had a Sephora … makeup store! We parked slightly outside and let CO2 tow us uphill to the centre. A bit of shopping and a cafe frappe. Given the heat, we headed for Belcastel, another Beaux Villages, but we were one side of the river and the campsite was the other … just a small packhorse bridge between the two which was quite unsuitable for Jez …. narrow roads the other way …. abort.
A quick perusal of Park4Night and the next village on our tourist trail was Figeac, but temperatures predicted to be up in low 40s, so we stopped just before at another ex-municipal site, now a camping car aire. Barrier with multi-lingual instructions and we gained entry for 2 nights and we now have a card for the Camping Cars Sites. For EUR11.92, it was a great site: EHU with good amps, hedged pitches, hot showers and river front on the Lot. The site had the Lot!
1615: Return Change
Friday 7th August
The Times newspaper, so it had to be believed, reported that the Government was seriously considering imposing quarantine on arrival from France. We have a LOT organised for our return and it would be awkward to impose on anyone for 14 days (I know Lin and Bo have kindly offered us their yard) … so as soon as the lines opened, I held on for 25 mins to bring our tunnel crossing forward. The earliest we could take was 0123 on 10th. This stupid o’clock time also incurred an additional fee of £34 … prices just keep going up with demand. But a small price to pay compared to 14 days incarceration … and I do appreciate that most folk have done this for months.
We cancelled seeing Bev and Mike … but will catch up with them in the UK … wonder if we will be able to keep off consuming the varieties of Roquefort for the tasting we’d planned!? A local vet could see CO2 at 4.30. I cycled the 1.5km with CO2 in the Os-car … far too hot for them to walk. In the event I was a sweating puddle as soon as I felt the vet’s air con. I had rivers running down my arms and legs …. if anyone had looked closely as me, they would have assumed I was incontinent. Result with the vet … as I provided the worming tablets, he only charged a consultation fee … EUR30. Sure this is the cheapest i’ve ever paid.
1616: Return Change
Saturday 8th August
Up at 6.00, showered, water filled and we were off by 7.15. A long driving day. Maddy would love to get behind the wheel and take a turn … but NO!
The rear sleeping seat for the non driver!
We arrived at Nonancourt, a municipal aire with free services, that we’ve used before. Dog walk, dinner and bed.
1617: Last Day
Sunday 9th August
With half day closing, we shopped at Evreaux …. a super huge Carrefour. Maddy slightly irritated that I chose to walk every aisle … she was hungry.
Car park croissant.
Just as well we are planning a lot of dry days or this would not last until we come out again in October!
We parked up at the Sangatte aire. Walked the dogs, ate and walked the dogs again. And blogged whilst waiting for our 0123 train.
And another plug for the FaceBook group … Campaign for real aires … CAMpRA. do check it out.