We returned to Chef Boutonne a week ago where I was relieved to find that Horace does indeed fit just fine onto the parking space by our static (as Dave said he would, of course!). The weather was beautiful for most of our journey down through France, in contrast to that from the UK which saw our Poole-Cherbourg ferry cancelled at about half an hour's notice (having got up stupidly early in the morning too). So we zoomed(ish) from Poole to Folkestone, stayed overnight at a nice CS near the Channel Tunnel, and made our first journey under the sea on the train next day. I appreciated that we got to be in a double-height carriage as I imagine it would have been very claustrophobic in a car. However, the journey was certainly swift and, other than not knowing when to leave the holding area, pleasantly easy. I think we'd still use the ferries further west rather than drive all the way to Calais or Folkestone again, but if we find ourselves needing to cross in that eastern corner again, the Tunnel could be our choice.
|Horace at Bec Hellouin aire|
It's felt like a busy week, although I am now struggling to remember quite what has taken up so much of each day! Travelling down, we stopped at our first free aire in Bec Hellouin which is a stunningly pretty village in Normandy. It's chocolate-box pretty, almost too pretty! The aire is basically just the car park behind the abbey and there were a couple of other motorhomes already parked up when we arrived.
If you don't know about aires, they are dedicated places for motorhomes and campervans to stop overnight. Most French towns and villages have at least one such place. If there's no facilities, they're usually free or there might be a small charge if water, waste facilities or electric hookup are available. The system makes finding an overnight place far easier than it used to be for us with a caravan when we had to find a proper campsite each night. The EU offers grants to places that want to set up aires so there are now hundreds across France, Germany, etc. One of our motorhoming intentions is to offset the additional costs by regularly taking advantage of aires - and this one was certainly a great choice. Peaceful and beautiful with only the Abbey bells to distract us in the morning (it was a Sunday!).
|Bec Hellouin abbey|
Another intention now that we only have Horace to drive around, is to make greater use of our bicycles for short journeys. The motorhome obviously uses more diesel than our car did, plus it's not always convenient to park - although Dave is turning out to be an admirable parker! So I'm happy to say that we cycled to the shops earlier this week which, as it was our first cycle in ages, was somewhat painful! However we persevered and this evening we cycled into Chef Boutonne to go to the movies. Part of the library building doubles up as a cinema with comfortable tiered seats and a proper large screen. Today's film was an early evening screening of Les Frères Sisters in VO, based on the Patrick deWitt novel The Sisters Brothers. We'd both loved the book so wanted to see the film too. VO is Version Original meaning, in this case, English language dialogue with French subtitles. A good learning tool! It was a beautifully shot film with loads of gorgeous wide scenes of desolate wilderness. I couldn't actually remember much about the novel so have no idea how faithful this film is - Dave thinks there are differences. However it was fun to be able to visit a cinema again and then to jump back on our bikes to whizz home in time for a warming curry!
|Chef Boutonne cinema|