France
France

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  • Day924

    Étang d'Incheville Aire

    January 6 in France ⋅ ☁️ 8 °C

    We've treated ourselves to a paying aire. €9.50 gives us 24 hours of electric hookup, fresh water, and all waste disposal facilities including glass and packaging recycling. Through our windscreen we can see Incheville Lake stretching up its small valley. It is wonderfully quiet, no main roads run nearby and grass surrounds the tarmacced parking area that we have all to ourselves.

    Before the light fades we set out on the 3km track around the lake. It is a dull day, with no direct sunshine penetrating the thick cloud layer to highlight winter's colour; the valley's woodlands, fields and few houses appearing as if in sepia. There are many wooden fishing pontoons projecting out from the grassy bank. They appear to be on long term loans to individuals, like allotments. Most have fencing or hedges and a gate shielding them from passers by and many have sheds. We encounter lots of dogs and their walkers enjoying a Sunday stroll and exchange friendly 'bonjour's. We are beginning to be able to enjoy seeing other dogs and be happy for the many wonderful walks we shared with Poppy.

    An unusual feature of Étang d'Incheville is the flocks of fake waterfowl floating on its surface. We've never seen them before, but there must be hundreds on this lake, fanning out in groups of about 30 from anchored buoys. With Geese, Eiders and Mallards, they look very realistic but we can't find any information boards that shed light on why they are there. Is it to encourage migrating birds to land and nest?

    Incheville was a nice spot but there were no shops within walking distance and we were running low on food, so we set off south, hoping to stock up at a supermarket on the way.
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  • Day929

    St Georges-sur-Cher

    January 11 in France ⋅ ⛅ 3 °C

    The electric heater is humming away happily and our living area is snug and warm. The medium sized, compacted yellow gravel aire at St Georges-sur-Cher provides free electricity, so the leisure batteries are getting a good charge, together with the rest of our electricals. We look out onto an open area of grey gravel and grass where cars park during the day. To our right, the main road is backed by a plantation of skinny poplars and far enough away not to bother us. Close by is the boulangerie, its red sign for 'pain' lighting up at night. An archway, whose christmas decorations are still illuminated, gives access to shop frontages in a small square with a limestone brick church. A fleuriste, boucherie / charcuterie and little supermarket; nothing remarkable, but it feels open and welcoming. One thing we especially love is the token system for the service point. An information board advises that 'jetons' for fresh water are available for free in the shops. It is a great way to foster a good relationship between business owners and the town's temporary residents.

    The day we arrived we had set off promptly in order to try and get Will a fishing licence. The system seems very complicated, with no national permit, but ones obtained from fishing clubs. Regional lines restrict the reach of permits from all clubs, but many have agreements with other regions, allowing licence holders to fish their waters. Will found a club that had agreements with every region but the next hurdle was the online application form. This was so tortuous that following many failed attempts he decided to visit somewhere he could buy it in person, thus the prompt start to the day. The skies were grey and showering Martha with rain. Perfect for travelling, as we didn't feel we were missing out on anything! On the way we saw several gilets jaunes encampments at roundabouts but they caused no trouble.

    The sat nav first took us to a residential street in Tours, which after 15 minutes of searching on foot, we concluded was not concealing anywhere that might sell fishing licenses. Following directions from Google Maps, we drove 4 kilometres accross town, parked and walked half a kilometre to find a somewhere that could feasibly, in the past have sold permits, but was now, most definitely, offices for a graphic design company- grrr! Back on the road and after parking up at St Georges, much persistence and €96, Will finally managed to purchase a fishing permit that would allow him to pursue his pastime throughout France for the coming year. All we've got to do now is find somewhere to print it out! It wouldn't have been worth the time, cost and effort if we were here for a matter of weeks, but we'll potentially be spending a lot of time in the country over the coming months, waiting for and travelling back to medical appointments in the UK.

    We decided to stay longer than usual St Georges-sur-Cher, mainly because of the electric hookup. Will had found a restaurant with good reviews but sadly Vicky's energy levels were very low, so we didn't make it. She stayed in the van while Will explored the town and made use of his new fishing permit and the fishing trousers, stool and bait catapault he got for xmas. On Sunday morning the car park filled up and people made their way through the arch with round, woven grass baskets and bags - it was a Sunday market!

    We joined the flow of people and saw a dozen or so stalls selling oysters and other seafood, veg and plants, roasting chickens, Chinese street food and honey. Vicky didn't make it round but was able to sit on a bench and watch the comings and goings while Will queued at the busy stands and picked up some produce we liked the look of, including a white petalled kalanchoe from the florists to cheer her up. There were a few people going into the little church and as we passed the open door we saw them huddled around a large candle at the end of the aisle, crystal chandeliers shedding their soft golden glow on the chestnut coloured wooden pews, while daylight shone in through the stained glass window, picking out its indigos and blues.

    Knowing the boulanger would be closed the following day we went in to pick up a loaf and decided to get one of the delcious looking (if a little expensive) puff pastry tarts that had filled shelves in several towns we'd visited. When cutting it open we found a ceramic tile inside. Puzzled and curious, Will took it back to the baker to ask what it was. The baker explained it was a traditional 'fève' (a bean). The tile had a moral inscribed on it which translated as "doing well is better than saying well"; actions speak louder than words. With a little research we discovered the tart was a Galette de Roi (King's Cake), eaten from epiphany / the 12th night onwards. The person who finds the fève becomes king or queen for the day, with special privilages. Will even got to wear a paper crown supplied with the galette. We love discovering new things and learning while travelling!

    Out of a maximum allowed stay of 7 nights, at Saint Georges-sur-Cher we stopped a total of 4. We'd begun getting itchy feet after 2 but it was good to just spend time relaxing and 'Being' in a place, instead of just passing through (especially as it came with free electricity!)
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  • Day935

    Moulins, River Allier

    January 17 in France ⋅ ☀️ 7 °C

    We've passed into the Auvergne Region and settled ourselves for a few days under big old Plane trees, overlooking the wide River Allier
    at Moulins' aire. Winds have blown brittle brown leaves and heaped them into piles against the chainmail fence enclosing our grassy site. We've chosen a spot where we can see the arched, red sandstone Pont Régemortes crossing the water a little way downstream and giving vehicles access to the town, with its two, double spired churches.

    We set off this morning with the aim of getting a good number of kilometres under our belts but several things got in the way. We spotted a Netto, so stopped for supplies. Not much further on we saw signs for a Decathlon that would undoubtedly sell the fishing gear Will wanted for his birthday, in a few day's time. Will had fun choosing, but Vicky started to feel unwell and by the time he returned to the van she wasn't up to travelling far. A quick search of Park4Night came up with the Moulins aire, just 5 miles away. It had all the facilities and whilst not free, it was very affordable at just 10 cents an hour, costing only €4.50 for our two nights.

    Once Will worked out how to enter our details into the ticket machine, the barrier rose and we were in. It was a lovely quiet spot with plenty of space. There was a definate chill in the air so we took advantage of the electric hookup costing €2 for 4 hours and got the fan heater working away. When the sun came out, Will wrapped up and took his fishing gear down to the river bank. He managed to make it back in before the hailstones!

    The following day he made a couple of trips into Moulins' commercial centre. On the way he passed an art installation of cows painted by different artists and found a great shop selling organic foods, so filled our fridge with goodies for his upcoming birthday celebrations.

    The night was properly cold at -3°C, but the frosted sights we woke to were gorgeous, with ice crystals forming on tree branches and fronds of grass. Inevitably our waste water tank had frozen shut so we weren't able to empty, but the Flot Bleu service stands provided by the aire were heated and insulated, meaning we could still fill up with fresh water for a couple of euros.
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  • Day937

    Renaison. Happy 65th Will!

    January 19 in France ⋅ ⛅ -1 °C

    This is the first stopover of our journey south where we've felt a real change in the scenery. We are nestled by a clear brown brook that flows gently alongside the Renaison river, after which the town was named. We are in the valley floor with vine clad hills rising to one side and the infrastructure of the town to the other.

    On the drive here we saw more groups of Common Cranes and a dozen or so Muntjack deer grazing wild. The sun was out when we first arrived, although the soil under Martha's wheels remained frozen hard. The light warmed the sandstone bricks of the handfull of houses over the road, enhancing the colours of the painted wooden shutters; green, white and hyacinth pink. Will went to investigate fishing possibilities at the river and saw a bright flash darting along its course; a Kingfisher! We always feel so lucky to see one of these beautiful birds and over the course of 2 days Will was privilaged enough to see it a total of 5 times!

    Sunday 20th January was a special day for Will; his 65th birthday! We began with bucks fizz and croissants Vicky had fetched fresh from the boulangerie, dodging the black ice as she went. We were glad we weren't travelling today! After presents, we set out on foot along the country lanes and fieldside footpaths, roughly following the course of the river. The day was mostly cloudy and white vapour clung in drifts to the sides of nearby hills. In the far distance we could see the foothills of the French Alps, similarly shrouded in cloud, but with large pockets of snow visible in the dells. A round route took us back through Renaison, the streets quiet now all the shops had closed for Sunday afternoon. As Will has reached retirement age he will start picking up a small income from his work with the council, but because changes in the state pension age have begun to take effect, he won't get this until May. All the same, we'll have more financial freedom in 2019 than previous years, which can only be a good thing.

    Back home, we fortified ourselves with millefeuille birthday cake and a cuppa before breaking into the champagne while Will cooked a delicious chateaubriand. For him, cooking is enjoyable while watching Vicky cook is very stressful so we've long since come to an agreement. The rest of the day was spent relaxing, listening to Leonard Cohen and receiving birthday messages, videos and calls from family and friends. Thanks so much for these- we were definitely feeling the love!
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  • Day944

    La Tête de Chien, above Monaco

    January 26 in France ⋅ ⛅ 9 °C

    Privilaged. We feel so privilaged to be able to stay at this amazing spot. Martha is settled in the small car park, at the end of the road, at the top of La Tête de Chien; one of the Maritime Alps on France's South East coast. We are 550m above the wide expanse of the Mediterranean Sea. From within the van we have a view of the undulous coastline to the the west, the promontories and coves covered in a mix of deep green forest and chalk coloured communities, clustered together near the shore, but dotted like splats of paint on the steep slopes as they rise inland.

    It was a long, slow and difficult drive to get here. From our resort stopover at La Lavandou we climbed into the hills. The narrow winding road had no kerb, just a drop into a large ditch. Grooves cut when vehicles' wheels went over the edge and their metal axels scraped into the tarmac were disconcertingly frequent. From the hills we dropped down to the ribbon of high density urban development that is the French Riviera. We bypassed St Tropez, then travelled through Antibes, Cagnes sur Mer, Saint Laurent du Var and Nice. We felt cordoned in with concrete, funnelled into too narrow lanes, filters, roundabouts. The seafront boulevard at Nice provided some distraction as we watched well dressed people roller blading, biking, skateboarding, jogging, walking dogs and riding in groups of 4 on hire bikes. It was like something you'd expect to see on the Venice Beach boardwalk in Los Angeles!

    From the metropolis we once again climbed, this time squeezing through little hill villages that felt far too small for our 7m van. Approaching the summit of La Tête de Chien, cars lined the right side of the road, but between them we glimpsed the most amazing views of the riviera layed out below. Our nerves were wracked from the drive as we came to the packed car park marking the end of the line. We stopped outside delivery gates for a small fort and waited around half an hour, when miraculously the perfect space was vacated. Once settled, our nerves began to calm and it sank in how beautiful the view really was. The sun was sinking low and many people were making a beeline for this spot, to look down over half a kilometre to the jagged line of the coast, jutting in and out as the sky began to change colour.

    We joined the French, fellow Brits, Italians, Romanians and Monacans, passing by a few abandoned buildings, their rooves just skeletal structures of rusted girders and stone chimneys. Teenagers gathered here and we even saw one responsibly disposing of spent spray paint cans in a wheelie bin. We clambered over bare rock, dirt and shingle and peaked over a stone ledge to see Monaco to the east, nestled into a cove and stretching out into the sea. It was strange to think this little area constituted a whole country!

    As the world's most densely populated principality, it would be extremely difficult to find a parking space in Monaco, so we'd decided to walk in. We scouted out the beginning of the route (more on this in our next post), then watched the sun set over the hills and the streetlights below begin to twinkle.

    As darkness fell, people departed. A taxi driver and their partner were one of the last to leave, cheekily hailing Will from within the van and asking if he had any wine! After tea, Will carefully made his way over the uneven rocks to see Monaco lit up. It was good timing because he was looking on when the Saturday evening quayside fireworks display began! The myriad of colours reflecting in the calm waters of the harbour. The loud explosions echoed off the hillside and drew Vicky out to watch the grand finale, after which moored boats blasted their horns in tribute! It was a really special experience to be the only ones watching from our quiet hilltop lookout!

    To watch a one minute video of what we saw, go to the VnW Travels You Tube channel here:
    https://youtu.be/R1f7IFOtKfA

    As if this wasn't enough, an hour later we got to watch the French firework display from within the van, looking down to the Grande Jetée at Saint Jean Cap Ferrat! Saturday night was definitely the right time to stay in this wonderful spot! As wonderful as the stars above were that night, they were eclipsed by the light show below!
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  • Day4

    Last Day in Paris!

    April 2 in France ⋅ ⛅ 61 °F

    Yesterday (especially yesterday night!) was the perfect end to our amazing trip to Paris. We finally adjusted to the time difference and to the travel night with no sleep. We woke up at a reasonable hour (9:00) and made our way to the Catacombs, which was only a short 10-15 minute walk from our Airbnb. We stopped for a sugar croissant on the way. We waited in line for a bit and then entered the Catacombs, the largest ossuary in the world. The underground tunnels hold the remains of over 2 million people. It is absolutely insane. The bones are never ending. It was very morbid but one of the coolest things we’ve ever seen.

    After the Catacombs, we walked back to our awesome little neighborhood and had a delicious fondue lunch - three cheese fondue with garlic, onions, and white wine. For dipping, we had bread, apples, and potatoes. And a side of prosciutto. It was so yummy but I was about ready for a nap! We went back to the Airbnb and relaxed for a bit and got ready for the night.

    Next, we took an Uber over to the Arc de Triomphe, a giant monument overlooking the city. On our way, it started to drizzle, so we didn’t go up to the top of the tower. We walked down Champs-Elysées, one of the most famous streets in Paris, and stopped in for a glass of wine to escape the rain.

    The rain stopped and then we walked the mile and a half towards the theater district. We had a delicious dinner at a little Tavern - delicious perfectly cooked duck for Tim and a Caesar salad and French onion soup for me! Next up was one of the highlights of the trip - L’Olympia Theater to see Tedeschi Trucks Band. This beautiful old theater opened in 1888. The Grateful Dead recorded parts of their Europe 72 live album there. TTB is in my top 3 favorite bands so this was definitely an incredible experience (and a crazy coincidence that their European tour began here on our last night in Paris)!

    The concert was absolutely incredible. We had seats in the 5th row of the orchestra so we were a few yards away from Susan, Derek, and the band. This was a seated show and during the first set, we were a little worried about the crowd, who didn’t seem to be dancing too much. But after the set break, the crowd loosened up, and we saw some of the best live music we’ve ever seen. Although everyone remained seated, people were loving it. Everyone was dancing, cheering, “woo”-ing, and giving standing ovations. They ended with a couple of my absolute favorite songs. I have never seen a crowd clap and scream so loud for an encore. The encore was incredible and everyone finally stood and danced. That band is so good! We are strongly considering seeing them again Thursday in the Netherlands.

    After the show, we had another round of beers at the tavern where we had dinner and then Ubered home. Last night was the perfect ending to the perfect trip. Now off to Amsterdam!!!
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  • Day1015

    Mutigny

    April 7 in France ⋅ ☁️ 11 °C

    We're perched on the end spot at Mutigny's quiet, free aire, overlooking rolling vinyards webbed with a network of pale paths worn into the chalky soil. At 240m, Mutigny is the highest wine village in the champagne region and commands impressive, far reaching views of the surrounding countryside. It only has 200 residents, but it provides a 7 place motorhome park for people like us!

    We hadn't planned on visiting, indeed, we didn't know of the existence of this place until we read the placemat advertisement for Le Sentier du Vigneron vineyard tours and tastings, when eating lunch at Le Bistrot in Mareiul-sur-Ay. We'd visited the Lanson and Möet & Chandon champagne houses and really fancied exploring the vinyards themselves and sampling some bubbly produced by the smaller houses. We looked at the options on the webpage and found the start of the trail was just 3.5km away. The discovery of the free aire in the village decided it and we requested a tour via their webpage.

    At 2pm we met Emmanuelle at the Marie (Mayor's office) that doubled as a base of operation for the tour company. Apart from the church, it was the only public building in the village, which had no shops. She greeted us nervously (we later found out we were her first booking of the season) and the three of us ambled up towards the vinyard tracks. Emmanuelle focussed the tour round a series of public information boards, explaining and elaborating on the information they imparted. We covered the soil, different grape varieties, grafting, pruning, pests, cultivation and commercial concerns among other topics. Will made the observation that in other wine growing regions, the growers produce their own wine, whereas in champagne there are a myriad of smallscale growers, who sell their grapes to cooperatives and producers. It was good to be out amongst the vines and the hillside was peaceful, save for the squadrons of quads and scramblers that raced past us at points, their engines growling and their wheels kicking up dust!

    After a few kilometres it was back to base for tastings! As a treat for Vicky's upcoming birthday we'd indulged and chosen the 'Trilogy' tour, with 3 (very generous) glasses of champagne. Booklets provided us with a handy description of the 20 or so bottles they had in stock and we focussed on exploring the different grape varieties, choosing one made from 100% Pinot Meunier grapes, another from with a high proportion of Pinot Noir (Will's with no added sugar), then Vicky ended with a 100% Chardonay Blanc de Blanc and Will with an Egrot 2009 vintage with 70% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonay and no added sugar. This ended up being his favourite. We got a bottle of this and a few bottles of the fruity Didier Ducos Absolu Meuneir that Vicky really liked. There wasn't any pressure to buy and at €20 a head we thought the tour and tastings were good value.

    We stottered back to the van with wide grins on our faces. It had been really interesting being able to sample the different types side by side and talk with Emmanuelle. It was good to see many of the producers mentioning their move away from weedkillers and pesticides towards mechanical cultivation and confused fertilisation to do the same job.
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  • Day1189

    Richardménil, Autumn 2019

    September 28 in France ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    It's been just five and a half months since we first found this woodland aire at Richardménil. We liked it so much we stayed 3 nights back in April. We'd not planned to revisit, but it happened to be on our route and have the facilities we needed, as well as free electricity! We recognised the familiar approach as soon as we entered the village and were able to claim the end bay we like best, when the only other motorhomer departed a few hours after our arrival. It's a popular spot so we weren't alone for long, with several German registered vans soon joining us.

    Will sat mindfully and fished on the bank of the small river nearby. The wood opposite him had just been coming into leaf in the Spring and was now taking on its varied Autumn colours.

    Vicky took advantage of the electric hook up, chopping ginger root, cinamon bark, star anise, peppercorns and cardamon in the electric blender we bought back in the UK. Her favourite morning cuppa of loose chai is very difficult to get hold of when travelling. Its often easier and always cheaper to make it from the base ingredients. The blender hasn't quite worked out as planned; although small it requires a higher ampage than either our portable power pack or our inverter can give, so is only useable when we are attached to the mains.

    Richardménil was so relaxing we decided to stay a second day. In the morning Vicky walked along the canal then up to the boulangerie to buy croissants for a long Sunday breakfast. Will enjoyed the sunshine on the canalside while Vicky caught up on housework and managed to make some vegan mayonnaise in the processor. Before leaving on Monday we climbed the hill to town. Vicky's doctor was only able to provide her with enough sertraline to last a couple of months so we were keen to see whether we could obtain more whilst on the road. To our great relief the pharmacy was able to sell her a further 28 days of medication when she showed them that her UK doctor had prescribed it! Success!

    After a visit to the Carrefour we took the gravel path back towards the aire. It lead between mature trees, some of which had signs tacked to them warning of 'chenilles urticantes'. Remembering the numerous nests of Processional Pine Caterpillars in Italy, Spain and even southern France, we first looked up to the branches and leaves. We were standing within a foot of a tree doing this when we realised there were hundreds of Processional Oak Caterpillars on their thick silken web clinging to the trunk at eye level. We got quite a shock! Looking closely we saw with relief that they were only the exuviae (skins) of these dangerous little minibeasts, which had already pupated and emerged as adults. Internet research back in the van informed us that these moths will have used their 4 days of life to lay eggs high up in the leaf canopy. Extreme caution was still necessary to avoid contact with the long hairs remaining on and around the exuvia, which can deliver a powerful sting, irritating skin, eyes and throats (if inhaled). As hazardous as these creatures are, we found ourselves examining the dozens of nests wrapped around trunks with fascination. Every Oak was affected, with some webbing covering almost the entire circumference and stretching up several metres.
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  • Day999

    Estaires, France

    March 22 in France ⋅ ⛅ 11 °C

    Hello from northern France! A month in the UK gave us time to catch up with a few of our family and friends, get some medical appointments over and done with and finally get Martha Motorhome's bumper replaced, after a small collision we'd had in the summer. We were without our home for 2 weeks, but luckily family came to the rescue with offers of help, we stayed with Will's sister and brother in law, who put us up in their spare room and Vicky's Dad and Stepmum allowed us to use their van as a home from home - thanks everyone!

    Returning to the continent, we took the Spirit of Britain ferry from Dover to Calais and drove eastwards to the free aire at Estaires, the first stop on a 5 week trip. Located between a modern, low density housing estate, a petanque club and fire station, it has all the basic services, except bins and its 3 bays are separated by rows of Beech saplings, that will eventually knit together to form hedges. Behind us is a strip of grass with a picnic bench for each van and an electric point. Hookup is charged at €4 for 12 hours, meaning we don't need to move on when the leisure batteries start to run low.

    Arriving late afternoon on Thursday, Will immediately leapt out and after a short explore, settled down to fishing the nearby River Lys while Vicky curled up with a good ebook, enjoying the peace and quiet.

    The following morning we woke to birdsong, cockrels' crows and the chime of bells from Estaire's clock tower; the sort you might expect when opening a child's jewellery box. After a slow start adjusting to the 1 hour time difference, we took a saunter around the nearby town. Its red brick buildings reminded us of Belgium, but considering we are just 13km from the border, this makes sense! Amongst other outlets, the centre hosts a couple of artisan boulangers, boutiques, a tabac and several cafés. After a little window shopping we crossed a bridge and returned to the van via a treelined riverside walk. When the sun came out, buds and blossoms on the branches created a happy sense of Spring in the air!

    We've been saying for some time that we'd like to slow down our travels, spending longer in each location, striving for quality over quantity, hoping to gain a deeper experience of each place instead of just a snapshot. Old habits die hard and our last trip saw us moving on frequently despite this resolve. One of the reasons for this was the need to charge our leisure batteries every few days, either by driving or finding somewhere to plug in. At the end of summer we ordered a roof mountable 150W semi flexible solar panel to help feed our power needs. We picked it up during our stay in the UK over Christmas but our plans to fit it were scuppered when we read that the adhesive required temperatures exceeding 18°C for it to stick properly. Well, after lunch on the picnic bench our outside temperature sensor read 23°C in the sun so we siezed the opportunity.

    Vicky washed the area and we hoisted the lightweight panel onto the roof so it would warm to a similar temperature. After some meticulous positioning and being careful not to bend it too much, she peeled back the film to expose the strong layer of adhesive and smoothed it down. Covering the cells with cardboard to ensure they weren't live, she ran the thick wires along one of the roof bars, securing them with cable ties, and connected extension leads. Now it was time to test it!

    The power needs to be routed via a control box so Will cut a couple of lengths of wire and stripped the ends, attaching the panel to the MPPT controller, then the controller to the battery terminals using connectors we'd bought for the purpose. When Vicky exposed the solar panel, low and behold the MPPT displayed 12.8V! The panel was charging our batteries! Test complete, we unplugged the input and tidied the tools. The next stage will be to drill a hole in the roof and feed the wires through this and down an internal column to reach underneath the passenger seat where the batteries reside, but it was getting late in the day so we quit while we were ahead.

    We stayed 4 nights in total, taking things easy and enjoying the quiet surrounds. Unfortunately the IUS Vicky had fitted back in the UK doesn't seem to be helping with her PMS related fatigue at this stage, so we postponed drilling the holes. Will enjoyed many hours sat on the grassy bank of the Lys with his fishing rod and Vicky even joined him when the sun was out. Estaires proved just the ticket as the first stop in this journey, allowing us to relax and readjust to being back on the road.
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  • Day1

    Paris Arrival!

    March 30 in France ⋅ ☀️ 66 °F

    After we FINALLY made it to Paris, we had the best day ever. But the trip here was exhausting! We sat in traffic all the way from Richmond to Dulles. Then had a yummy airport dinner before our redeye flight to Iceland. We each got a couple of hours of sleep on that flight and then a couple more on the flight from Iceland to Paris. We arrived in Paris at noon yesterday and we were both very tired. Our Airbnb host had told us to take the train to his stop in Paris. But the train was closed for maintenance, which we found out after we had already bought a ticket! So we waited in the longest line ever for the replacement bus then transferred to the train and then got off at our stop. Then we were planning to turn on cell data briefly to get walking directions to the Airbnb but the cell data wouldn’t work! Fortunately, all of the Parisians we met were the nicest and most helpful people ever. Three different people tried to give us directions and a random hotel let us use their WiFi. We arrived, about 2 hours late, and our awesome Airbnb host was still sitting there waiting for us!

    We were tempted to take a nap but decided to push through “until 8:00 or so”. That’s when the awesome part of the day started. Our Airbnb is in the perfect part of town. It is just south of the Latin quarter, right off of Rue Mouffetard, the oldest street in Paris, and probably the coolest street ever. For a couple of miles, the street is lined on both sides with everything you can imagine - bakeries, fruit stands, fresh seafood shops, butchers, cheese markets, cafes, bars, restaurants, creperies, shops, ice cream parlors, markets, and anything else you can imagine. Live music is played on every block. And it’s pretty much all Parisians, very few tourists. We started at a cafe with a cheese plate and wine. Four amazing types of cheeses and a basket of French bread. We sat outside and people watched and listened to a band and ate and drank for awhile.

    After we left the cafe, we walked north up Rue Mouffetard to Notre Dame and the Seine River, passing a beautiful old Church and the Pantheon on the way. We walked into Notre Dame during their Saturday night mass, which was pretty cool. The architecture, both inside and out, and the stained glass, was incredible. Next, we tried to go into Sainte-Chappell’s on the next block, but it had closed. We’ll try to go there today before the Louvre! We stood on a bridge over the Seine River and people watched and waved to the boats passing by.

    Then we wandered around the city for awhile. We ended up in an Irish pub (on accident) for a beer. While in the pub, Tim noticed that his phone was missing. We thought for sure he had been pick pocketed but decided to walk back to a restaurant that we had previously sat down at outside but had left before we had ordered anything. We poked our head around outside and a nice group of people asked us (in French) if we had lost a phone. Sure enough, it was sitting at the host stand!

    At this point, we were ready for dinner! We ended up at a restaurant back on Rue Mouffetard where Ernest Hemingway used to live! The place was packed with Parisians and had a TripAdvisor sticker and had a prix fixe menu so we figured it would be amazing. The wine was amazing, the food was just mediocre, but we had a blast. We each ordered off of the prix fixe menu. We both started with the duck salad, which was fantastic. Then I had the seafood plate (shrimp, scallops, and salmon) and Tim had the flank steak. Both of those plates were okay. And I had a delicious creme brûlée and Tim has a delicious chocolate mousse. The whole meal took about 3 hours (and 2 carafes of wine)! We had a great time sitting outside and eating and drinking and people watching. We finished the meal off with a couple of coffee drinks and headed home. After dinner, we got completely lost, but eventually found our way.

    To be honest, Paris was never really on my bucket list. I was thinking of this had more of a stopover on the way to Amsterdam. I was completely wrong. Tim and I both agreed yesterday that this may be our favorite city we’ve ever been to. Definitely in the top 3.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Republic of France, Frankreich, France, Frankryk, Frɛnkyeman, ፈረንሳይ, Franzia, Francland, فرنسا, ܦܪܢܣܐ, ফ্ৰান্স, Francia, Fransa, Францыя, Франция, Faransi, ফ্রান্স, ཕ་རཱན་སི།, Frañs, Francuska, França, Huák-guók, Pransiya, Francie, Francëjô, Франци, Ffrainc, Frankrig, ފަރަންސޭސިވިލާތް, ཕརཱནསི, Frans nutome, Γαλλία, Francujo, Prantsusmaa, Frantzia, فرانسه, Farayse, Ranska, Frakland, An Fhrainc, An Fhraing, ફ્રાંસ, Yn Rank, Faransa, צרפת, फ़्रांस, Francoska, Frans, Franciaország, Ֆրանսիա, Prancis, ꃔꇩ, Frakkland, フランス共和国, fasygu'e, საფრანგეთი, Ubaranja, Frankrigi, បារាំង, ಫ್ರಾನ್ಸ್, 프랑스, फ्रांस, Frankrish, فەڕەنسا, Pow Frenk, Francogallia, Fransia, Frankräich, Bufalansa, Frankriek, Francja, Falánsɛ, ຝລັ່ງ, Prancūzija, Nfalanse, Francija, Frantsa, Франција, ഫ്രാന്‍സ്, Франц, फ्रान्स, Perancis, Franza, ပြင်သစ်, Frankrike, Furansi, Frankrijk, ଫ୍ରାନ୍ସ, Fransya, Frantscha, Franchiya, Ubufaransa, Franța, Frantza, Fraunce, Frankriika, Farânzi, ප්‍රංශය, Francúzsko, Faransiis, Franca, Француска, Ufaransa, பிரான்ஸ், ఫ్రాన్స్‌, Фаронса, ประเทศฝรั่งเศส, Pransya, Falanisē, Pranis, Farāni, فرانسىيە, Франція, فرانس, Franzsa, Pháp, Vrankriek, Fransän, Orílẹ́ède Faranse, 法国, i-France

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