The Heart of France

Trip Start Jan 01, 2008
Trip End Sep 29, 2009

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Flag of France  , Aquitaine,
Monday, April 20, 2009

Since La Rochelle the trip has taken a slower pace not driving huge distances as we have made our way over towards the Dordogne region. Today for the first time we have decided to stay put for two nights and not go anywhere. We're the only people on a free camp spot right next to the Dordogne itself. The site belongs to a hotel, and as its still early season so the whole area is deserted. We still can't get over how these places encourage campervans to stay free in these stunning areas, I have tried to take photos which show off these spots, but they don't really do them justice. I reckon The French must really be proud of their country and must have allot of respect for this service as they are always spotlessly clean and the campers never leave a mess. I couldn't imagine this ever working back home, its just nice to be able to stay still without someone trying to put there hand in your pocket!

We only decided to leave La Rochelle as we wanted to stop on a camp site to freshen up properly, and the sites in the town were closed. So we hopped over to Ile d'Oleron, and found a great site with everything you could possibly need including a heated indoor swimming pool, after a week on the road it felt like we were staying at five star hotel! Unfortunately the next day the rain caught up with us again so we decided to head inland, as the atlantic coast isn't really up to lazing around on beeches just yet.

On the way we had our first mini disaster, our fan-belt snapped so it was out with the orange vest! A farmer stopped to help but he wasn't sure how to get the belt on as it meant removing another belt that was in the way. I'm not really mechanically minded so it was the AA to the rescue, they sent out a local mechanic who replace it no problem.

So back on the road we found another brilliant spot on the river bank in Boudeilles, its a picture postcard of a town, very French with a chateau and everything! The next day we just drove round the area a bit, visiting St. Cyprien and Sarlat la Caneda, the whole area is really nice, very sleepy and relaxed towns. I was told by the farmer who stopped to help us the region was full of English who brought property during the boom and we did hear a few English accents in the crowds. In the supermarkets there are even speciality English food areas! God knows though who would want to spend £4 on lemon curd and Batchelors Pasta in Sauce when you have so much amazing local food to choose from, madness!

Then even more bizarrely I bumped into a fellow student from my university days! It must have been 12 years or so since we last saw each other and I only knew him to say hello to back then, but we both stopped in out tracks and asked how we knew one another and the penny dropped. He was on holiday and just heading back to Brighton with his wife and three kids, after quickly catching up on years passed we went our separate ways again. It really made me stop and think how quickly time passes. I know its a cliché but time really does fly by and I'm so glad we took the leap into our travels as I think it would have been our biggest regret not to when we had the chance.

So here we are on the Dordogne, upto date with our blog and planning to head toward Toulouse, the Spanish border is getting closer and our first goal of the Pyrenees must be just over the horizon.
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