Arrived mid afternoon Monday after our longest drive yet with the van at a beautiful campsite, again in the Castels group, called Domaine de la Breche, near Saumur. Best so far on all counts- space, facilities (well the ones that count like shower block, shop etc) and lovely staff. We set up and unloaded Twiggy for what we thought would be a short drive to the airport at Tours to pick up Anna who was able to come and join us for a few days before starting her new job. It didn’t look far on the map! An hour and quarter later we got there (rush hour in Tours and a very expensive GPS we have named Gertrude that we are rapidly losing faith in! More about this later) . The return trip using Google maps was much shorter. Great to see Anna and probably the only opportunity for a couple of months.
Our luck with the weather has continued ( I think it has been raining in Brittany since we left) and it is so warm now we have pulled out the summer gear . Even had a swim in the pool one day. Finally it is warm enough to eat dinner outside.
The Loire Valley was badly hit in the floods that affected Paris. The river was very high when we arrived and we only realised just how high when all these fields and parks gradually started emerging over the last few days. In Saumur people would have been very worried as many of the houses front the river and all the gardens were under water.
Chateau de Saumur occupies a commanding position overlooking the river. The town itself is lovely and is known as a foodie destination. Heaven for those with a sweet tooth which R is trying hard to resist with mixed success.
Trying to slow down the pace of our exploring at the moment. It is too easy to try and rush off to new places all day every day. But our travels are being driven by our desire to cross into Norway by the beginning of July.
We thought we would try a riverside drive which was recommended in the guide book and passed lots of cute small French villages but our plans were thwarted by the roads that were still flooded – like several points along the riverside. Some of the villages must have still been cut off several days after the rain finished. We ended up at Brissac which has one of the tallest chateaus in this part of the Loire. The same family has owned it for 500 years which is very impressive and still live in it.
The chateau had a long subterranean tunnel used in days gone past to divert flood waters from the basement of the chateau.
We also found a cafe cum wine shop which had Kiwi in the name (can’t remember the rest) – R spent a while wine tasting with the owner (who also imbibed). He had spent a year travelling and working in NZ and fell in love with our cafes and has modelled his on the Kiwi way of doing things. Needless to say we added to the wine supplies in the van.
Back to Gertrude – those technically minded, Gertrude is the top of the line, latest version GPS by Garmin specially designed for motor homes and caravans. You can enter the height, width, length and weight of the vehicle. But …. And it’s a big but, we find Gertrude takes us on these really indirect complicated routes through large towns when we see signs to our destination via motorways etc. Even when we ignore Gertrude and follow the signs, she doesn’t get the idea and change to the more direct route. And yes we have checked all the settings. So the other day we heard about an app called Co-pilot which can be used without data (Roger and David I hope you are reading this) so now I am trying to download the maps on the free wifi at the camp ground. Only 3.67 Gb! Maybe I should have just downloaded Western Europe. It has way better options than our expensive Garmin at a fraction of the cost.
Tomorrow we head further east – not sure where we end up but that is part of the fun.