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Europe 2013 - The Last leg North

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The Last Leg North

After booking in to the quite busy municipal campsite at St Amand Montrond which is a popular overnight halt, we walked around the town centre where they were getting ready for the Tour de France stage with cycling displays in all the shop windows and bunting across the streets. There is a Museum of Gold listed in the town but we didn't see any signs to it so we returned to the site beside the old canal. Using the site's free wifi we were able to catch up with our e-mails and home news.

Tour de france decorations at St Amand Rotrond
St Amand Rotrond
Valencay chateau
Valençay chateau

The river at Chaumont sur Loire

The next morning we took the mostly straight main roads across the Centre region to Valençay which was busy with a street market. We managed to park near the massive chateau for a short stroll into the town then continued on a maze of back roads through Fougieres and after negotiating yet another deviation due to a Route Barré we reached Chaumont sur Loire to visit the annual garden festival. This year's theme was Sensations but we felt the show gardens weren't so attractive with wild areas of planting and lots of quirky hard landscaping with sound and lighting effects. There were several motorhomes parked by the riverside but overnight parking is now banned.  Now heading north with only a couple of days to our ferry we stopped on the outskirts of Vendôme at a large Brico-marché to look for some housewares and kitchen gadgets for our new home if we ever sold our house (we did a few months later!). Didn't find much but bought a bargain 25 metre non-toxic blue hose for €25. The old town centre looked quite interesting but was very busy so we drove around the ring road and through the Parc Naturel du Perche with several pretty villages to Nogent le Rotrou  and on to Bretoncelles where we pulled in to the small free aire by the sports centre just north of the town. How come we always seem to arrive at these peaceful places on grass cutting day? After a peaceful night with one other GB van, a couple from Sheffield (we later discovered we have a mutual friend) we drove through l'Aigle and more attractive villages stopping at la Ferrière-s-Risle where there was a large timber framed market hall in the wide main street and several antique shops. After passing the ruined priory at Beaumont le Roger the roads became busier around Brionne where the autoroute crosses the wide valley on a high viaduct. We followed the brown tourist signs to Le Bec Hellouin, a delightful village - Plus Beaux listed of course, where we stopped for lunch and a walk around the abbey grounds and the impressive St Nicolas tower.

Le Bec Hellouin St Nicolas tower
Le Bec Hellouin St Nicolas tower

From there it was a short drive to reach the River Seine at Heurteauville and the pleasant private aire, Les Cerisiers, overlooking the river with many ships and barges chugging past. The aire which had fifteen pitches was like a British CL with a good children's play area. (The popular aire at Mailleraye-s-Seinne was apparently closed due to road works.) There were two small car ferries (3.5T limit) across the Seine nearby and the large Abbey of Jumieges was visible on the opposite bank. On a stroll along the river bank we passed several old half timbered farmhouses with thatched rooves which had plants (irises?) growing out of the ridges.

Ship on R Seine at Heurteauville
Cable barge on the Seine

Our final day was grey and drizzly just to remind us of the British weather as we crossed the now toll free Pont de Brotonne and up to Yvetot where on the edge of the town we found a couple of discount warehouses mostly full of tat and a new centre commercial for our final top up of French food and wine and a look around a couple of homeware shops including a branch of La Foir Fouille similar to Wilkinsons and the Range in the UK. From there we drove a few miles across flat countryside to the coast at Veules les Roses then turned east through small resorts all looking rather desolate in the grey weather and closed up despite it being the end of June. After a lunch stop on the concrete promenade at Quiberville where we chatted to a young German couple with a Possl van conversion similar to our Adria Twin we sat around for a couple of hours before heading to Dieppe which was very busy on a Friday afternoon. We topped up our diesel using our remaining euros before taking the bypass to the ferry terminal for the late afternoon ferry to Newhaven.

Chaumont garden festival    Chaumont Garden festival     

Chaumont garden festival    Chaumont garden festival

Chaumont garden festival    Chaumont garden festival
Chaumont sur Loire garden festival

La ferriere s Risle market hall
La Ferrière s Risle market hall

La Ferriere s Risle
La Ferrière s Risle

Le Bec Hellouin
    Le Bec Hellouin

Thatched farmhouse at Heurteauville
Thatched farmhouse near Heurteauville

Le Cerisiers aire Heurteauville
Le Cerisiers aire at Heurteauville


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