France (and a little bit o' Spain) 2014   
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A Wee Tale

We're down south, deep in rural France in what is probably the worst flea pit of a hotel in Christendom. The place smells like a rugby player's jockstrap, and the decor is a worn out dismal brown which has flaked off in several places. It's actually an improvement. The bathroom is dank and the ceiling looks like it's ready to come down at any minute, if the stench from there doesn't get to us first then the flies will. Then there's the beds, the springs of which are making a valiant effort to escape the mattresses - think Dolly Parton in a worn out bra 3 sizes too small and you'll get the idea. It's safe to say that our room is more Beiriut hostage cell than the 3 star hotel we were hoping for. Two nights here ... hey, we can hack that, we're British and it's not the end of the world. We're tempted to say we've stayed in worse places...but truly we haven't.

We'd planned staying out 'til the local bars close but this is outback France and it's midweek in June so that turns out to be a tad earlier than we anticipated. With nowhere else to go we take a slow walk back to our cell to get better acquainted with the bedsprings, in the hope they'll not inflict too many injuries during the night should they finally succeed in their bid for freedom. The TV is miniscule and it shows only bad French game shows, there's a World Cup taking place out there somewhere but you wouldn't know it.  

I'm first in the bathroom, which for some inexplicable reason has a clear glass door with just the flimsiest net curtain to preserve modesty, so whoever you're sharing with can watch you taking a dump should they be so inclined, interesting!  Just as I finish cleaning my pearly whites the power goes off and we're plunged into darkness. It's just 10.45pm but the upside is that the TV has gone off too ....every cloud etc. So, with nothing much else to do I climb carefully onto my bed so as not to upset the springs any more than absolutely necessary, wee Jim heads off to find someone she can ask how long we're likely to be without electricity. We seem to be the only place in the entire village without light and she wants to read her book

She returns five minutes later muttering something about the Marie Celeste. She rummages around in her travel bag for a while then shuffles off, toothbrush in hand towards the bathroom. Eventually she re-emerges and clambers into her bed, but she's unusually quiet. I put it down to her fears that a bedspring could explode forth from it's weakened restraints whilst she's aslumber......women do tend to worry about that kind of stuff. Then, after a few minutes of silence I ask her if she's ok. "I've just cleaned my teeth with foot ointment" she tells me.

I try very hard not to laugh - honestly I do, but....................



Another road trip to Europe for Wee Jim and me, this time to France and Spain. As this will probably be our last continental road trip for some time we thought it would be an idea to go and see some bits of France that we've never been to before - or not visited for a long time. We usually just drive through France to get to Germany, Italy or Switzerland etc. which is a shame because it's a beautiful country with some great back roads and nice little villages to be found if a little effort is taken to search them out. As the title suggests, the trip was done 95% on rural roads, which is the only way to see the real France and get to meet the natives who never see an English speaking person from one years end to the next

Spain? Well, that only came into the equation because we plan to visit two old friends of ours who live there, Jim the amiable Scot and his lovely wife Dessi, so as we're heading down to the south of France it would be rude not to pop across the Pyrenees to see them.

The car this year is an MX5 2 litre Sport Black - it looks a lot like last year's car but it's actually a very different animal. I swapped the 1.8 Miyako for it last September.

There's no blurb here as is usual with most of my trip blogs, so hopefully this collection of annotated photographs and videos has captured a little of the "flavour" of backroads France. Enjoy.....


Once again I'll lump all the videos here in one place rather than spread them out through the photos - it seems to work ok.

(Click on images - opens a new window)

Video 1


Video 2


Video 3


Video 4






Wye, Kent

'Tis a murky afternoon when we land at the little village of Wye in Kent, we'll spend the 
night here before catching the train through the Eurotunnel tomorrow morning



This little Chelsea Pensioner cottage belongs to the hotel.



Slightly nicer weather this morning, waiting to board the Eurotunnel train at Folkestone

Northern France



First stop on the way to Honfleur (where we're headed for our first night on French soil) is here at the nice little seaside town of Etretat






Honfluer is a bustling harbour town in Normandy, just east of the "Sword" D Day landing beach, 












This loses something in the translation I think - I hope!










Rude not to really.



On the way to our next nights stop near Mont St Michel we divert to Bayeaux to visit the British war cemetery. It's just a couple of weeks after
the 60 year D Day commemorations so there are still lots of wreaths and other tributes around. 









The spires of Bayeaux Cathedral watch over the cemetery



An unknown sailors grave and a Tribute to Robert Cappa, legendary photographer & one of the founders of Magnum Photos. 





Beauvoir and Mont St. Michel


Our nice, quirky little hotel at Beauvoir near to Mont St. Michel. This place only has 5 rooms, 
the rest of the accommodation consists of several grassed roofed "pods" in the garden









The mount in the late afternoon sunlight. No traffic is allowed anywhere near the place now and It's a 4km walk along a dead straight 
river footpath from our hotel. We walk about 2km and the mount looks no nearer, so I fetch the telephoto lens out of my bag. Lazy photography.



After sunset we get past the barriers that were there in the afternoon





Josselin is a small town in the Morbihan area of Brittany, the centrepiece of which is the 
magnificent chateau. It's still inhabited by the Rohan family



The narrow driveway leading to the Chateau






Piriac sur Mer

We find the little port town of Piriac sur Mer whilst on our way to Guerande and have an hour or so to kill, 
it has a sleepy marina where they seem to work on boats when they can be bothered.










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