We loved Île d’Oléron so much we ended up staying 6 days. We thought we were only going to spend a couple of days initially, but we renewed our ticket twice more as we didn’t want to leave. In truth, it was just too hot to move and walking to the market in St Denis d’Oléron just down the road and cycling to the beach was all the exercise we needed; t was far more pleasant swimming or floating in the ocean and we even managed some snorkelling: not brilliant, but I did see a small school of fish and a couple of crabs!
Another reason to stay was the charming company of Joe and Huggy, whom we met at the motorhome aire in Royan, and we had the chance to get to know them a bit better over our meals and drinks together. Joe and Adonis went cycling on Friday morning and Huggy and I went shopping in the market and had a beer in the lovely courtyard of one of the bars near the market. We were having such a good time that by the time ‘the boys’ came back to base, Huggy and I were still enjoying our beers, so it was lucky that we were sitting right by the pavement, as Joe cycled back to get the keys for the motorhome. You know you are having fun when you lose total track of time!
Joe and Huggy left on Saturday morning and we stayed on till Monday, which gave us more time and opportunity to see the port and the two beaches on either side of the breakwater. I simply loved the beach huts there – that Joe had shown us photos of and we went looking for – but the whole beach and port area were a very pretty picture too. We think we might put this gorgeous island on our regular stops in the summer holidays from now on and we shall forever remain thankful to Joe and Huggy for suggesting going there. You do meet some wonderful people on the road!
We packed everything on Sunday evening for an early start on Monday morning and a good job it was too, as when we got to Leclerc at St Pierre d’Oléron, the car park was almost full and the store itself was heaving with people, making it very difficult to go round with the trolley. Indeed, by the time we came out after 10 o’clock, the traffic was horrendous and there was a queue to get into the car park. It was very slow going through St Pierre and Dolus d’Oléron and it was even worse in the other direction coming from the mainland before we crossed the bridge back to Marennes. We must remember that for next time.
Our chosen destination for the day was the aire at St-Germain-de-Marencennes, near Surgères, about 20 km N.E. of Rochefort on the D911. We stopped here for lunch, siesta and afternoon walk and a ‘splash’ in the nearby stream and, although this is a good aire by a lovely wooded park, the parking area itself is in full-on sun and, being 37C in the shade, we just couldn’t stand the heat, even under the awning, and thought it wise to move on in search of shade.
During our walk to the stream, we found the oldest oak tree in the region dating back between 350 and 390 years and it was already there during the reign of King Louis XIV!
Fortunately, our search for a shade spot didn’t take too long and 20 minutes later we arrived at pleasant Mauzé-sur-le-Mignon, 20 km S.W. of Niort on the N11, where we spent the rest of the day and night, feeling grateful for the shade, even if the temperature still hovered in the lower 30sC.
At is was another scorcher yesterday, we hit the motorway A10 south of Niort and carried on N.E. past Poitiers and Châtellerault towards Tours to return to the charming Camping Les Bords de Vienne in L’Île Bouchard, another regular stop for us in the Loire Valley. We bit the bullet and paid the 21 euros toll for the privilege of speed on the motorway, but we were happy to make it here before midday and camp in the shade by the river, where we also enjoyed a cooling swim.
We plan to stay here for a week, for the facilities are very good and there is a bakery, a greengrocer’s and even a SuperU supermarket just outside the campsite with laundry facilities by the petrol station and which I used last time. Adonis has spotted a good ‘swim’ for his fishing nearby, so all is good, or at least it was until he got stung by a wasp in his beer bottle yesterday lunchtime, making it difficult for him to drink or eat, but luckily, the swelling has gone down now and he can enjoy his food and drinks again. We shall keep an eye out for wasps from now on.
We tried to have a BBQ last night, but the weather turned so windy that it was impossible to keep the heat going, so I ended up giving the kebabs and chipolata sausages a blast in the frying pan in the van. The wind has dropped now, but it is much cooler today: only 25C, first time in weeks!