France
Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes

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  • Day935

    Moulins, River Allier

    January 17, 2019 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, 2019 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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  • Day1200

    Bioge, Route des Grandes Alps, (France)

    October 9, 2019 in France ⋅ 🌧 11 °C

    We've been travelling for over three years, and visited some amazing places, but the beauty of the natural world never ceases to stun us. Sitting at Martha's table, the view outside her windows is mesmerising. The chalky grey Dranse river rages over rocks towards us, cutting a corridor through the patchwork colours of autumnal trees. The varied foliage covers intersecting fingers of the steep mountain valley, while outcrops of hard bare rock show through where the gradient is too vertiginous for large plants to grow. Heavy rains have fallen today and the sky is ashen. This and the occasional whisps of white mist that form and drift down the valley give the location a brooding atmosphere.

    Today has seen us cross the border several times. We began our journey in France, then passed over the Rhône into Switzerland and drove to Geneva at the southern tip of the lake with the same name (also called Lac Léman). Unlike our visit to Bern, we were surrounded by urban sprawl a long way from the centre. This city, Switzerland's second largest, had far more of a feel of a capital and reminded in places of London. There was a business about the place, pedestrians looked professional, purposeful and hurried. Cars were parked nose to tail down each side of the roads, but the layout was sensible and drivers very courteous so our stress levels didn't rocket. We'd been in two minds about visiting Geneva, but with the windscreen wipers working overtime, we doubted we'd enjoy cycling in as we'd planned, so simply drove through, stopping by the waterfront to peer past the yachts and watch the giant lake fountain shoot water over 400 feet into the air. Exclusive looking shops and dwellings reminded us of our time in Monaco and the French Riviera earlier this year. Speaking of France, we passed back over the border after not too long. It was getting to the stage where we really needed to think about which country we were currently in!

    Normally when we've set out to explore a nation we like to immerse ourselves entirely, but the temptation of the far lower French prices and the convenience of not having to retrace our steps won out. We spent several hours at a launderette in a shopping centre car park, stocking up on groceries at Carrefour and buying diesel, which was 20 cents per litre cheaper. We failed to get LPG because one fuel station's attendant clocked off at midday and the other had a height restriction preventing Martha from accessing the filling point. Oh well, three out of four ain't bad.

    Back on the move we escaped to the mountains on the Route des Grandes Alpes. Road tunnels ploughed through rock but old meandering sections of tarmac still existed. It was onto one of these that we reversed. The noise of the rushing water easily penetrated the thin van walls, but surprisingly we both slept very well at this beautiful spot.
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  • Day939

    Cornas, Ardèche - wine country!

    January 21, 2019 in France ⋅ ⛅ 5 °C

    Today has seemed like rather a long day. We moved on from the lovely Renaison, where we spent Will's birthday and have finally settled at a car park aire in Cornas. A road runs past the entrance and on each side are houses. There is only one other van here now but the motorhome area is separated from the rest by half logs and height barriers, reminding us that in high season, the demand for free van parking must be high. The perimeter is cordoned off with wooden wine barrels and beyond them, the view through our windscreen shows neatly trained rows of vines leading up a hillside with various winding farm tracks. We've reached the Ardeche and wine country!

    The day's travels have taken us over what seems like hundreds of roundabouts. We deliberately avoid the toll motorways when we aren't in a hurry, preferring to take things slow and have time to absorb some of the sights along the way, but at times these roundabouts prompted the idea that we were being made to pay penance for not forking out on the fast route!

    The air had an icy chill from the start of the day, but at Saint Étienne, the roads began to narrow and wind round tight bends, climbing and climbing. With each 100 metres we gained in altitude, we lost 1°C in temperature. We'd entered the Des Monts du Pilat and the sparse patches of snow we'd begun to encounter at the sides of the road soon built up to around 20cm. Thankfully the surface was well gritted, so driving wasn't too difficult and we got to enjoy the sight of a winter wonderland from inside a nice warm cab! Our ears popping, we peaked at 1157m above sea level, by which time the outdoor thermometer read -2°C. It was a little surreal to see the snow appear as we climbed, then disappear as we descended over a kilometre to the wide river channel carved for the Rhône.

    We decided against staying at the first spot we had found on Park4Night, between the main river and a managed channel that ran alongside. There were signs warning that only service vehicles were allowed; always a bit off putting! We used our watering can to top up with fresh water at Gervans aire. The town had a couple of spots for overnighting, but we fancied somewhere a bit more rural so left €2 in the donation box and moved on to Tournon-sur-Rhone. Here there was a grassy car park amongst trees, overlooking a small river. We hadn't turned the engine off when Will spotted a creature swimming low in the water. Vicky leapt out and began filming what turned out to be a coypu, as it swam right up to the bank we were on!

    Feeling excited at having been able to watch this, we settled down for a cuppa and birthday cake, but before the kettle had even boiled, a horn honked and a police car pulled up outside, knocking on our window. Vicky went out to talk to them but as suspected, they were there to move us on. They agreed to let us stay 10 minutes to drink our tea, so we used the time to find and program the position of Cornas's official aire into the sat nav. It wasn't too far away but we felt tired when we arrived, so didn't explore the location. The night was peaceful enough but the service point was out of action so we left as soon as we'd packed up the next morning.

    Out of all the countries we've visited on the continent, we've spent most time in Germany and France and have always viewed them both as quite liberal minded when it comes to camping. This is the only time we've been asked to move on here and whilst the police were courteous, an experience like this always increases the level of insecurity you feel travelling in a mobile home. We hope it is a one off anomaly confined to this area. 🤞
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  • Day1199

    Pougny; a stone's throw from Switzerland

    October 8, 2019 in Switzerland ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    Whilst no longer in Switzerland, we can still see it over the chalky turquoise waters of the fast flowing Rhône. Martha is parked at the side of a stoney, tree lined track with the river on one side and a shallow quarry lake on the other.

    After zipping down the Swiss shore of Lake Geneva and an awe inspiring visit to CERN in the south west corner of the country, we decided to travel north via the French side of the lake. Situations like this are where the advantages of the Schengen Zone really shine.

    Arriving in the late afternoon, we took it slowly over a surface that was more pothole than track, parking up with just a few fishers and another van hidden away amongst the trees. The Rhône was flowing far too fast for any excursion into her chill blue water, but Will found a path to the lake for a swim. The sun had been kind to us today so his dip wasn't a cold one. We spent a restful night digesting all we'd seen at CERN.
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  • Day1

    Good night!

    October 11, 2019 in France ⋅ 🌙 16 °C

    We are so ready to sleep! Managed to drive 500 km. Tomorrow the goal is to double that haha.
    The weather is changing from +30 to under +20 and it feels and looks like autumn here 😍 We are loving it! The road was so beautiful today with some colours on the trees, awesome sunset and the moon that was shining big and bright in the end of the road. It's time to get some rest and hit the road again tomorrow!

    Ollaan valmiita menemään unten maille! Onnistuttiin ajamaan 500km. Huomisen tavote on tuplata tää haha.
    Sää alkaa muuttua +30 -> alle +20 ja tuntuu syksyltä 😍 Tää on ihanaa! Matka oli kaunis tänään! Puissa on ihanat värit, auringonlasku oli huikee ja loppumatkasta kuu paisto isona ja kirkkaana. Aika saaha lepoo ja jatkaa matkaa huomenna!

    Es hora de dormir! Hemos recorrido unos 500km. El objetivo de mañana es doblarlo haha. Hemos pasado de 30° a menos de 20° y huele a otoño aquí😍 Nos encanta! Ha sido muy bonito hoy, diferentes colores en los árboles, un atardecer encantador y la luna enorme y brillante. Es hora de descansar y volver a la carretera mañana!
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  • Day43

    kleines nest

    September 4, 2019 in France ⋅ 🌙 23 °C

    wir sind nochmals auf einem huttopia-camping-platz und weil wir nach 1100 km auf dem fahrrad ein paar ruhetage einlegen wollen für wäsche zu waschen, fahrräder zu kontrollieren und auf einer richtigen matratze schlafen wollen, haben wir uns für ein mobilehome entschieden. das kleine dörfchen saint-martin-d'archèche ist nach der brücke ein dörfchen, wie im französischen bilderbuch (der franzose, welcher mit dem fahrrad und seinem perret auf dem kopf sein baguette abholt und mitten im dorf das boule-spiel in vollem gange ist)...Read more

  • Day39

    bummelfahrt

    August 31, 2019 in France ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    wir haben noch einmal auf das wunderschöne dorf saint pierre de boeuf geschaut und sind dann weiter auf der viarhona-veloroute. neben wiesen, auen, dörfern und städtchen sind wir gemütlich gebummelt; bis zum zeitpunkt, als carla ihren ersten platten eingefahren hat. fast formel 1 mässig haben wir den schlauch gewechselt und waren nach einigen minuten schon wieder unterwegs. als der weg einen damm überqueren wollte, wurde der weg so steil, dass weder corinne mit gaia noch nik mit seiner carla hochkamen. wir mussten also alle mitanpacken und schieben. das ziel ist ein wunderschönes städtchen namens touron sur rhone. der camping ist direkt an der rhone, wo sich die grossen rhoneschiffe kreuzen. in der nacht ist der charme noch viel grösser mit den beleuchteten kirchen, monumente und stadtlicher. wir haben uns heute einen luxus geleistet und zwei relaxstühle gekauft. natürlich war das gewicht massgebend, welches nur je 900 gramm schwer ist.Read more

  • Day2

    Frankreich

    September 21, 2019 in France ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C

    Heute ist der erste Urlaubstag 😎.
    Es war schon ein bisschen frisch beim Frühstück und in der Nacht haben wir durch geheizt.
    Der Platzwart hat uns seinen letzten Platz gegeben den er nur zur Not vermieten.
    Zu meiner Überraschung wollte er kein Geld von mir, das konnte ich gar nicht glauben, habe ihm 5€ Trinkgeld gegeben.
    Nach 165 Km Rue Nationale schleichen sind wir doch auf die Autobahn. Bin überrascht wie schön es in Frankreich ist.
    Auf einem Parkplatz haben wir ein Päuschen gemacht ,eine Currywurst gegrillt und dann gleich weiter. Unterwegs hat Dagi unseren Campingplatzführer und Landkarte studiert.
    In Royat haben wir einen netten Campingplatz gefunden, hier lassen wir den Abend ausklingen, glaube heute Nach müssen wir nicht heizen.
    Von hier sind es Morgen noch ca. 400 Km bis zum Atlantik. 🙂
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  • Day1

    1. Übernachtung

    August 4, 2019 in France ⋅ ☁️ 23 °C

    Nach unserem Zwischenstopp in Dole sind wir nochmal 200 Km über die Landstraße gefahren und haben einen schönen Stellplatz für unsere 1. Übernachtung gefunden.

    Um 23:15 kamen wir hier an und richteten dann gleich mal unser Nachtlager her.

You might also know this place by the following names:

Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes, Alvernia-Rodano-Alpi

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