On leaving the lake, we bumbled around a couple of towns site seeing and walking, but the heat was stupid. The shade was hot and there are only so many ice creams you can eat, so we decided we needed more water! Good old internet allowed a search of campsites with water slides, so we just escaped quickly to an ACSI site with a large number of pools – and pretty much just became pool bums for a couple of days. You could tell the previous week the site would’ve been like a zoo, but just out of season it was pretty empty with no squealers. Excellent!
We continued bumbling and walking, and aiming for the med, and got to Sete – again – a place we like. The new small van comes into its own here, and is able to hide/park anywhere as it easily clears the height barriers. We did feel smug watching all the other vans try and fail (we have to pay for our compromises somehow!). We were also able to wildcamp for free right on the beach too with no hassles or neighbours, so that was brilliant. Good to then go for a morning run along the prom and use the beach showers to cool off – running in heat isn’t ideal.
Feeling lazy we continued to Agde for a few days, and at last, made it to Aqualand! We’ve been promising to go for years, but we’re either too late and its closed, or too early and its full of kids. This time though, timing was perfect, maybe 10 screaming kids under 15 and only big kids aged 20+ which was OK, though lots of them still screaming, Mel included. Mel isn’t great at fairground rides, so we started on the adult rides, all with virtually no queues, and managed to do most of them before Mel was on the verge of throwing up so we called it a day. Brilliant fun though and totally recommended, just go out of season!
By now it was sort of time to bumble home planning a cross country way we’ve never been before, for some site seeing and exploring. Nothing overly exciting, just bumbling around! Found a nice little campsite on the edge of the Ardeche, suitable for a few days by a lovely warm pool and its own small stretch of the river for gentle kayaking and our final laundry stop of the trip. Then, to Le Puy where there was nice motorhome parking and a medieval town to explore with lots of religious bits n bobs on high rocks. Great views. And a very flat river for a lovely early morning run.
Mel eyed up something called the Michelin Adventure, which at €9.50 each we expected a fun day out in Clermont-Ferrand. #2 on Trip Advisor. But it was a total waste of time and money. It was more a propaganda and marketing suite by Michelin, more worthy of a free visitors centre. Barely interesting, not at all fun and certainly no adventure. Nothing motor sport related or exciting or any detail of tyres, like tread or snow or race tyres. Clearly built by the marketing team as they described themselves as geniuses, but it was shite, and not worth paying for. So we just left the van there and walked in to explore the city which was also a bit meh. Not a good day! But we did find a lovely rural village aire to spend the night. We planned to explore and do a signed walk, but the morning saw heavy rain so we decided to move on. At least the van gets a wash!
Dawdling north, we went to Chateauroux to explore – the town was a bit pants with a communist party rally, but there was a free aire and a cheap municipal site next to it and next to a leisure pool which we fancied. If you stay on the campsite you got free pool entry, so it was only a few extra euro for the site and we probably needed a long shower – the pool though was a lot of fun and quite empty.
We then went to Tours where we’re sure we’ve been before, but can’t remember it, but we stayed in the free aire (that turned out to be very noisy), and walked a very long walk around the city, following the route of the tourist train via the old town which was rather impressive (compared to the rest of the city). But the weather was now British (aka wet), though UK was having a heat wave, so we just headed to Le Mans to look around – and as it was dumping down did the 24hr museum (again) which was OK, and then explored the old town which we’d not done before. A bit dead due to the weather so escaped north to Fresney sur Sarthe which is one of those nice little places, quiet enough but fun to explore with a medieval side and loads of restaurants which we were going to test out. Sadly, on a Friday evening, they were all closed (apart from a kebab takeaway) – how mad is that! So back to van – shame as we’d run out of wine.
So for our last night, we headed up to the Normandy coast – reminding us we need to make an effort to spend time on the Normandy area and WWII history, and hid next to the beach in Luc sur mer for our last meal before the early morning ferry home.
In short, the trip did what it was supposed to – test out the van and highlight any improvements we need for future long trips. And we had lots of fun in the mountains, on the beaches, and in some lovely rivers and lakes, but that aside, not our most exciting of trips! We like “doing” things in France, but spent so much time exploring its rare for us to find something new that wows us. So not a country we think we can bumble round too much more unless we have a specific purpose.