We have finally started what we hope it’s going to be a year-long trip through Europe and, with a bit of luck, Morocco too in the new year. We left England right on schedule at 1.30pm on Sunday 16th on the Eurotunnel as usual and drove down to Boulogne-sur-Mer, where we spent the rest of the afternoon and a very quiet night in the Auchan car park, off junction 31 on A16, for an early shop first thing on Monday morning. I took a couple of pictures as a memento, as if everything goes according to plan, we won’t be coming back this way for quite some time.
Shopping done, we followed our usual route south past Abbeville, Rouen and Évreux and continued on N154 to lovely Nonancourt, about 10 miles west of Dreux. We stopped at the pretty aire by the charming Mairie, facing the park and the river Are, ideal for picnics and where Adonis and Beano enjoyed a cooling swim. We fancied a drink in the village but unfortunately, when we walked down mid afternoon, everything was shut, so we returned to aire for a cool beer in the shade of the trees by river. It was very hot by then, but we were lucky enough to be able to put our table and chairs out in the shade and have our first outdoor meal of the holiday.
Yesterday, we carried on south, making very good time until we got to Orléans bypass, where we found ourselves in a bit of a mess trying to join the D2060 east and we ended up wasting some valuable pre-lunch drinking time totally lost in Fleury-les-Aubrais, which put us a whole hour behind schedule. We had arranged to meet up with John and Julie at the aire in Briare on the river Loire and were hoping to get there for midday, but we finally arrived just after 1pm. The aire felt a bit overcrowded and we all agreed to try the alternative one by the campsite, so we drove there only to find the barrier system didn’t work and had to find somewhere else to stay.
I must mention at this point the little accident we had with our newly acquired trailer (especially for this long trip) as we came across the narrow bridge before the campsite, where we were forced to reverse due to an incoming vehicle which had priority over us, but in doing so the trailer twisted and hit the left back light and broke the plastic cover. Still, annoying as it was, Adonis and John did a very good job at fixing the damage and, if not as good as new, it will certainly be more than adequate for now.
After all that drama, we all joined forces and turned the trailer around manually with a bit of elbow grease and continued on the last leg of the journey to our final destination of the day at Bonny-sur-Loire, another very pleasant and free spot by the river where we had a very late lunch and the opportunity to use our brand new Hobb BBQ, as John and Julie were kind enough to buy some delicious beef steaks and assorted salads for our evening meal. It was a bit of a fiddle trying to get the cobble stones to light to begin with but, at Adonis’s insistence, we used some of my nail varnish remover and that worked like a dream, to everyone’s relief. Thus, we had a most agreeable evening in great company and an early night after a bit of a challenging day and drive, for Adonis is still recovering from the after effects of his radiotherapy treatment (the least said about this, the better).
It was with a heavy heart that we had to say goodbye to our friends this morning with the hope of meeting up again soon, but family is expecting us in Portiragnes the day after tomorrow to celebrate Adonis’s birthday on 24th and we must press on.
Our drive today was very easy on the motorway to make up for yesterday’s frustration and we made it to our destination by 1pm with just one stop for diesel. We are in the Auvergne country, just as pastoral and idyllic as we expected it to be and all the more special for being our first ever stop in this region. The aire is just 300 m past the campsite and only a short walk from the river Sioule and town. This is another wonderful find and we are looking forward to a quiet evening and night here.