After getting a bit lost, spent the night in a lovely forest setting camping ground just south of Chateauroux in Velles . It rained lightly most of the way there as well as overnight.
The camping grounds we have found with our ACSI camping card cost about $20 a night including electricity and the facilities have so far been very good.
We set off for the south and had lunch in a quaint little pub in Alencon. The rabbit terrine and pork dish were delicious as was the
Iles flottant (soft meringue floating in custard).
We travelled mainly the national roads or 3 tier roads which didn’t attract a toll. We did do part of the day on the toll road
and were a bit taken aback at the $30 toll charge. The previous toll charges in Ireland which we experienced were only about 5euros.
We left Velles at 8.30am. We stopped for coffee at a lovely little village and then continued on to Alencon where we had
lunch at a modern Brasserie. We had forgotten to get a parking ticket so I went back and asked a pedestrian if one was needed.
He was very helpful and said “yes it was necessary and where was I from”. When I said Australia he replied that he thought it was a very nice country.
My French has held up so far but it has consisted mainly of simple questions and answers. It rained quite consistenly for most of the day as we travelled the winding roads through the lovely mountains of the Ardeche to Avignon and there was luckily very little traffic. We had read about an amazing town called Le Puy en Velay and decided to make the journey over the mountains to see it. The city is dotted with vast volcanic karsts on to which statues and a church were built hundreds of years ago. We were lucky that it stopped raining enough to take a few photos before the rain set in again. Just before Avignon we had a torrential downpour which lasted about an hour and which continued for the rest of the night.
In the four weeks that we have had the van we have covered nearly 4,000 kilometres and in a few days have travelled from the north to the south of France. The distances are not so great but
the winding roads and many small towns in between make progress much slower than in Australia.
Thursday saw us having a sleep in, catch up on washing our clothes. In the afternoon we ventured with the van to east of Avignon to
Pont du Gard an amazing 3 level aqueduct built in Roman times and perfectly preserved. From there we travelled about 25kms south of Avignon to see the Carrieres de Lumieres a multimedia exhibition of impressionist painters held in an old quarry which were excavated over the years to extract bauxite and limestone used to build the Chateau and the village of Les Baux. We were in time but the staff said they had closed the exhibition and wouldn’t let us in saying we were too late to see the show which was a pity as it was something that I wanted to see. We made a complaint to the Tourist office (don’t know if that would make a difference but it made me feel better!). We went however up the many stairs to Baux a beautiful old village sitting right at the top of the hill. It was very quaint and took away a bit of the disappointment at not seeing “Les Carrieres de Lumieres”. The whole area of the Baux de Provence is made up of spectacular limestone cliffs with resort hotels set into the mountainsides and slopes.
The following morning we set off in the rain again to see the “Palais du Papes” inside the vast walls surrounding the old city of Avignon but we could not find a parking spot so we made a note to come back at a later date and went instead to the Lavender museum in Coustellet. Here we happened to bump into Steve and Debbie from Perth. We knew they were travelling but didn’t know where they were. What a coincidence! We decided to have lunch together which was a nice interlude to the rainy day. We bid them goodbye and continued north east of Avignon to Anne and Laurent in Puymeras.
They and their delightful daughter who kept us entertained live amongst the vineyards overlooking Mt Ventoux which we could see only at the end of the day as it was raining still and covered in clouds. When we did see it we saw snow on the top of the mountain.
Laurent made a roaring fire as it was pretty cold. We had a lovely meal of local white asparagus, local beef and the most delicious strawberries we had ever tasted. Overnight the wind picked up and it was raining again by morning. It was a shame for all the people visiting Provence over the long weekend and for all the people at the Cannes film festival.
The next morning we stopped at a large “InterMarche” and with several bystanders help we purchased a plug which we needed with our French electrical connection for the campervan. We set off on the motorway as it was pouring and not worth taking the picturesque side roads to our friends Marianne and Franz who live near St Tropez.

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