Tuesday 30 August 2011

30th August Homeward Bound

The Auberge Des Moisson turned out to be a modern well equipped hotel with an excellent restaurant. The only downside was the abundance of English speakers as being around 3 hours from Calais it is an excellent place to break your journey. The Logis is only a short distance from Challons En Champagne and Epernay.

We had a large room with a WC separate from the bathroom. We had booked half board and so were given a set meal without any choice. Once they explained what we were going to have, we were quite happy. A filo pastry goats cheese parcel with julienne of vegetables and a honey sauce; Blanquette de Veal, a selection of cheese from the cheese board and a caramel mousse on a white chocolate base. This was washed down with a ‘coupe de champagne’ and a good bottle of wine. Unfortunately the latter were not included in the price. The breakfast was equally good and afterwards we had time for a short bike ride along the Marne canal.

The morning was an ideal temperature and we would have liked to have gone further but had to check out by 11 am and we had a ferry to catch. Stopped at a supermarket for some beer, Calvados and presents and then it was onto the Peage. (approximatelyt 24 Euros to Calais). The Brexton set came out at one of the Rest stops for a picnic.

The French are so much better equipped than we are in the UK with the rest areas being set up with toilets and picnic tables. Arriving in Calais we had time to fill up with diesel and also get some Czech Budvar. Turn of the A16 at junction 3 and turn right at the roundabout away from Calais. The Total service station is after about 400 meters on the right hand side and several wine and beer warehouses are behind it. The beer safely stowed, it was then to the ferry Port and a short queue for customs then the wait for the ferry. The temperature has steadily dropped as we have moved North and not even halfway across the Channel the cloud came down. Welcome to England.

Landing in Dover it was time for fish and chips before the drive home.

Monday 29 August 2011

29th August Lac Du Orient

Full text to follow.Day spent driving North, wine tasting and cycling.

Sunday 28 August 2011

28th August Canal Du Nivernais

Breakfast was OK and included a choice of fruit, cheese, cold meat and eggs. We were also given a small burnt croissant and pain au chocolate. It looked like the "chef" had burnt the whole batch as everyone's croissant was the same.

We eat in the Hotel last night. A confusing menu that allowed you to pick 2 dishes from a list for your starter and main course. These were not separated so you have ended up with two starters or 2 main courses. The meal turned out to be a little disappointing, the fish soup was tasteless and Coq au Vin far too salty. The desert was the best part.

Cycled a section of the canal Du Niverais today from Citry Les Mines to Chatillon-en-Bazois. A return trip of around 45 miles.The canal was completed around 1843 and is acknowledge to be one of the most beautiful in France.You can now cycled along it entire length from Auxerre to Decize where it meets the Loire.

Stopped at a small bar by the canal and had an interesting conversation canal French with the locals. We established that they were all cattle farmers and one their cousins rode in or was mechanic on the Tour de France. A least that what we thought he told us. The bar was a little run down but looked a good escape for a Sunday and as were left they were just sitting down for a meal outside.

Saturday 27 August 2011

27th August St Pourcain

Full text to follow. Good breakfast. Left hotel and drove to St Pourcain for bike ride. Choose route 29 from the guide were had purchased in 2006. The Guide to the L'Allier has 43 rides and we have now completed 7 so we only have 36 to go. The ride was just under 30 miles. Returned to the town and had cake in patisserie before heading to Domaine Gardien for a wine tasting. A small vineyard that we had first bought some wine from in 2006. We were served by one of the brothers that had seemed to have learn a few word of English but not "Have free bottle as you have come all this way". After then it was a 2 hour drive to the hotel.

Friday 26 August 2011

26th August Rain

A leisurely breakfast in the hotel.Just before we were ready to pack the car it started to rain "stair rods". Eventually the car was packed. The rain held off and we had a walk around the village and purchased some provisions for lunch.We set off taking the minor road out of the village we headed towards the small village of Le Pompidou and then on towards Florac and Mende. The rain had stopped by the time we had reached the plain so decided to make a small diversion to Mende arriving in the centre at around 12:40.

Walking round the centre the rain started but fortunately we had spotted the Mon P'tit Chou and for 12 euros has an excellent lunch. The restaurant had a general theme that every dish either contained cabbage or Chou pastry. An interesting concept that produced some very tasty dishes and the best meal we had had in France. Mon P'tit Chou

Driving toward Clermond Ferrand the rain started again so we were forced to have a Brexton drink in the car! The temperature also dropped to 11 degrees by the time we reached the hotel.

Thursday 25 August 2011

Gorge Du Tarn

Standard breakfast but a little disappointing for the price. Drove to La Malene to canoe down the Gorge Du Tarn. We check the time this would take the night before and although it is only a short distance the driving time was around 1 hour 2o minutes as you had to climb and then descend two passes. We had considered trying to find an alternative hotel but decided to stay as we had booked info two nights. Hired a canoe again from the company we had used 2 years ago.The moulin de la Malène We opted to do the 20km descent again from Saint Chély du Tarn to Pas de Soucy 46 euros for both of us. You are taken upstream to start the descent. The first 9km take over have the time as you have to paddle most of the way. The second 11km is thought the prettist part of the gorge and tends to be more popular. The number of kayaks was well down on the numbers we had seen 2 years previously. We not sure why it could have been the Metro forecast which turned out to be as accurate as the BBC with the forecast rain being replaced by sun.
We with a short trip upstream to view the waterfall and then continued around the bend to the start of the rapids. By the time we started going in the correct direction it was 11:50. The were only 5t of us on the 20km and the other group had long gone. The total trip with stops for lunch swimming and photos took about 6 and a half hours. We got the the finish at 6:40pm 20 minutes before the last bus back. We were disappointed to find that bus that sold photos of the trip had long gone. We had even had taken our hats and glasses off to look our best. Decided to eat in La Malene as we could not have got back to the hotel in time for dinner. Had an 13 euro “Chefs Salad” and lasangne

Wednesday 24 August 2011

24th August Aigues Mort

Another huge plate of fruit and good selection of breads for breakfast. We were surprised to learn that in the 12 years they had been running the BB they only had around one English couple a year staying. (Insert Link). We had to be out of our room by 11.00am but could have the car parking pass until 2pm. We deposited our bags downstairs and set off to walk around the walls. The 7 euros entry gave to assess to the walls and the Tour De Constance tower. An audio visual display explained the history of Aigues Mort.The town was founded in 1240 by Loius IX later to become Saint Louis. The town was to become Frances first Mediterranean port and was establish on land surrounded by neighbouring powers. The town was used a a transit port with goods being shipped onwards toward Arles and Montpellier. The short canal connected the town to the sea.
We left around 2 and first head for the Coast and La Grau-Du-Roi. This seasisde town is probably best avoided unless you want to go to the crowded beach. We then started to drive to St Andre De Valborgne having a couple of wine tastings on the way. In the first Cave they lady was very unfriendly so we left having bought a token couple of bottles. Enroute we stooped in the pretty town of Sommieres and wished we had more time as a Velo Vert was sign posted from the town. We arrived in St Andre De Valborgne as easily found the hotel as the town only has a population of a few hundred. Eat in the hotel. Reasonable value but the vegetable portions were more like a garish.

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