Friday 27 September 2019

Euro trip part 6

We left Dijon taking the small roads heading towards Troyes avoiding the highway, it was an excellent road meandering through some nice countryside and small towns, we stopped at some point to put waterproofs on as it looked like it might rain, a pleasant stop for lunch in a roadside Boulangerie next to fields of sunflowers, very French . I suspect it was just after this that I got my speeding ticket which arrived back in the UK a week after us! The roads have regular speed cameras, in the past I have been able to talk my way out of minor indiscretions with the police but these damned roadside boxes have no sense of humour or compassion, 88km in an 80 it said so I had no option but to pay, they allow some leeway and in the end I was less than 3mph over the limit, 45 Euros it is sir, credit card will do nicely, for a country which prides itself on its language the website is written in remarkably clear English, some might think its a punishment for us daring to (try to) leave the EU, the Macron has increased his requests to the DVLA for driver details 300% in the last year meanwhile we (The UK) do not prosecute the French due to some finer point of EU law? Total bollocks! Anyway back to the story, the wind increased and seemed to keep the rain away, we eventually entered Epernay and found the campsite which we'd stayed at previously, nice site except for the fact we had some right noisy buggers as neighbours, that's the thing with camping, if you have inconsiderate neighbours it can make the experience challenging at times, thankfully its rare, on one side we had about 20 German schoolchildren on a guided cycling holiday, noisy and unpleasant little bastards and on the other a French couple with 3 large dogs, the dogs were OK but the woman must have suffered from a mental condition, her laughing got louder as they got more pissed and her answer to every word seemed to be an annoying loud cackle, that's life when camping although I have to say its unusual to have a 2 pronged assault on the ears, MOST people are considerate. We spent a couple of days revisiting the town (The capital of the Champagne region) and going on a visit to a vineyard at one of the small private Champagne farms and of course sampling the goods, very nice it was too.
We had booked a Hotel in Arras, another town we'd visited before for the Wednesday night, when we arrived we didn't appear to have a booking, further checks revealed it was only Tuesday Oh well two nights it is and the added bonus we seemed to have won another day, we spent the two days looking around and visiting the war memorials. One thing that struck us was this very nice town like much of France and Europe is heading downhill, aggressive begging, public drunkenness (which also leads to public urination and defecation) was very much sadly in evidence, at one time the Gendarmes would have nipped this in the bud but it seems to be overlooked, sad to see and I don't think I'll visit Arras again for a while despite it being a worthwhile stop for the architecture.
We got a bit confused leaving Arras and it took us a couple of laps to get free of the town in the right direction, we headed North and due to our confusion ended up on the Highway to the Belgian border rather than the small roads, as we got near Kortrijk we turned onto the small roads before finding a place for lunch. We also tried a couple of shops looking for camping gas but to no avail, we arrived at our friend Geert's house on time and proceeded to spend a wonderful day and night in his company (apart from the 1 1/4 hour walk into and then out of the city to visit Peters bar to have a beer with Tom! To be honest I have been in Kortrijk many times but I probably saw more of the town and understood the history better thanks to the prolonged walk so thanks Geert! Unfortunately the small nightcap we were going to have turned into a whole bottle of Aberlour so we (the three of us ) were a bit sorry heided in the morning! A fine start to the Begonia rally, photos and story of which will follow soon!

Camp scene Dijon
Sunflowers (happy because I was unaware the French government had just robbed me) 
Be nice when its finished
I must have said something funny
Lunch in Epernay
Just so you know where this is!
Read all about it
War memorial outside the town hall
Took the exact same photo 10 years earlier
You get a Moet and Chandon in a pretty cabinet.......
All Champagne houses
Baby vines
I'm not keen on Fish so I think the French word is amusing for fishmonger
Nice vineyard and nice lady who runs it
Starts here
Middle bit, this is the press for the grapes, no sweaty feet anymore
Arras square
Army barracks
Entrance to the fort and barracks 
Sobering thought
The walls much like at Ypres have the names inscribed for the men who fell and were never identified
From the top of the church, felt like I was back at work doing surveys!
Geert marching through his collection
oooh er missus, big naked black lady
Canals still being used to transport goods
Churches change with countries
Peters bar
Tom's new Guzzi, very nice
Someones ride to work transport

Thursday 19 September 2019

Euro trip part 5

Marc and Mika rode with us to the Ardeche gorge where we had a coffee and said goodbye, we continued on the D250 to Vallon pont Arc for lunch then Aubenas and finally to La Puy where we'd booked a hotel for a couple of nights, as we rode into town there was a huge catholic festival being policed by the gendarmes and the Army, a reminder of the fact France has had some high profile attacks. Our Hotel was just outside the town around 2 miles away, the restaurant attached to the hotel selling authentic French fayre and as i didn't fancy snails or frogs legs for dinner we walked into town, luckily it was downhill and even more luckily we managed to get a taxi back! The Moroccan taxi driver when he realised we were Scottish told us about the Robert Louis Stevenson connection with the town, there is even a walking trail attributed to him in the area, he seemingly rode his donkey as part of a pilgrimage in this area, fascinating stuff! .  The following day was spent exploring the town which is dominated by impressive churches and huge statues, it is a major religious site and has been visited by many famous historical figures and now even the Rondelli's.
Vallon Pont Arc, busy as hell with tourists but a nice lunch
Le Puy on the way into town
From our Hotel
Churches and statues 
Leading to the church
View down onto the town
Nice French feel to the place
Character in the buildings
It was colourful and busy
Lady with a goat again
Wouldn't fancy being the brickie on this job!
Random Triumph in impressive backdrop
Big Hoose, big statue
Maybe just me but the two arches and the cut of the rock looks like a smiley face?
Another statue 
We partied in the hotel room at night having bought provisions from the supermarket hence eating healthily, avoiding a taxi fare but drinking too much so the following day was a bit bleary to start with. First part of the route was good but then onto the Highway and pretty sure we took a wrong turn as we went around Lyon, very busy with caravans and motorhomes, holiday makers returning home and we got caught up, stopped at the services to refuel, long queues for fuel but eventually back onto the back roads into Dijon and found the campsite, funny enough we realised we'd been here before a few years ago. As soon as the tent was up Fi crashed out, it had been a hard day following a bit of a party the night before and it was hot. We needed to do some maintenance , mega tight spot on Fiona's chain, both chains adjusted and oiled and bikes checked over. A longer than I remembered walk into town , Beer, Pizza and then a walk Home.
More to follow;

I remembered this
and this impressive exchange
Looking out of the bar at the world going by
Very old building could tell a few stories
Baffled by this display
Church again
And elephants and Hippos everywhere