It was nice to see Dieter and Hedy after two years in Pampelonne and Maurice and Dieter chatted about their time in the north west of Western Australia and then we put the world to rights.

Our controller for our air conditioner had stopped functioning so we left the next morning for a ‘Truma’ shop in Toulouse to see if we could get a replacement without any luck. It was still quite hot (in the 30’s) and humid so we could have done with it.
We had a lovely meal at ‘Les Marots’ near Toulouse with Cynthia and Mariam who we had met in India and we met Cynthia’s husband Jean Yves. After lunch we drove to Lavaur where Cynthia and Jean Yves live. They showed us around the quaint town and we had a nice evening with them and spent the night there.

After a rainy night and a cool morning when we left Lavaur and drove up to Montauban to try and get another sim card without success.
The bain of our lives all over the world is the lengthy procedures to get sim cards and we have come to the conclusion that most of the telecommunication companies are thieves and so many of the staff don’t know what their own companies are offering. The best service we had was in Morocco where we got off the ferry and were offered a free sim card which we used while we were there. We however found a very helpful postman who gave us instructions of how to get to the SFR office and we had a nice vegetarian meal in the main square.

The weather improved as we drove through the ‘Lot’ valley and then along the ‘Dorgogne’ river and had amazing views of both with more impressive clifftop castles and villages. We ended up in St Astier near Perigeux famous for their truffles. We stopped at an amazing market which had the most enormous artichokes we had ever seen. All the fruit and vegetables looked so fresh and the meat was displayed in a novel way.
I had always wanted to see a medieval chateau so we drove to ‘Chateau de Jumilhac’ where we had a tour of the Chateau and learnt of it’s history. The only thing remaining from the 1200’s was a staircase and the wife of the first owner was locked in a room for 30years with only painting, spinning and praying to keep her occupied. Her meals were even brought into the small room.
The present Marquis and Marquise live in an apartment in one of the later additions to the main Chateau.

We had virtually no traffic on our trip from there up to Nantes through a rural landscape again with old farmhouses which were very neat and tidy. Some were no longer inhabited and some were for sale. There were more quaint villages with their prominent ‘Mairie’ or town hall buildings. We passed through so many beautiful avenues of trees which are a feature of the whole region.

It had cooled overnight to 15degrees but we were warm in the campervan. Around Niort we experienced torrential rain for only 15minutes and then the sun came out again.

In France I always have a ‘cafe creme’ which is a strong coffee with a bit of milk because their cappuccinos are also usually served with cream.

Although we only had 424kilometres to travel to Nantes, taking the backroads meant continually changing speeds from 90-70-50 and to 30 sometimes which slowed us down considerably. We decided on a bit of the ‘autoroute’ after Niorte so that we could arrive while it was still light.
It rained heavily for 15minutes and then cleared with the following day being a lovely sunny day. We had a wonderful campsite at ‘Camping Nantes’right on the tramline and the very frequent service got us into the city centre in 15minutes. There were some beautiful apartment and other buildings similar to those of Paris but it was a much more relaxed atmosphere and little traffic in Nantes on the Loire river. The local Saturday market was in full swing and you could see what a multicultural city it was by the people at the market.

The impressive chateau of the Dukes of Bretagne was free to walk around unless you wanted to see inside the chateau and there were many pedestrian areas and large squares with cobblestones. We had been recommended to ‘La Cigale’ a restaurant from the 1800’s which
was beautifully decorated inside with amazing colourful tiles. We had a wonderful meal and then had dessert outside overlooking the square. The waiters were all professionals and looked the part.

I had seen the ‘Jardin des Fonderies’ on the map and I am always up to see nice gardens so we set off on the tram over to the ‘Ile de Nantes’ surrounded by the Loire and found our way to the garden and although it was a novel area with a few trees and shrubs surrounding some old foundry equipment, it wasn’t what I had envisaged.

We happened upon a huge festival on our way back on the tram so got off to see what was going on. It took place on and around the ‘Ile of Versailles’ on the L’Edre canal. We had a good walk around and listened to some music. The entrance was free but we lined up for security checks which we were happy about. There were thousands of people at the yearly event but it was a very
relaxed atmosphere and there was food from all over the world to sample although we couldn’t manage another thing.

We drove the following day to St Malo to get the evening Condor ferry to Jersey.

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