France 2013

2013 summer in France would turn out to be a bit problematic, but nothing the Giblings couldn't overcome.  Our trouble began on the first night while we were still in the UK.  We parked at our usual friendly farm about 10 minutes from the Tunnel, settled down for the evening with a glass of wine - and the lights went out!

It became apparent that our 'house' battery had died.  No worries we thought, we'll buy a new one in France, will probably be cheaper than the UK anyway.

We did find a specialist battery man in Calais; unfortunately, he didn't want to fit one for us and was keen to close up and go on holiday.  It was the 1st August and all of France goes on holiday in August, for the whole of August!  So we carried on and went to bed with the sun.  No problem.

Souppes sur Loing

We discovered how the cars 'park' on the top of the barges, see  pic from 2011 on the left


Mystery solved. The boats own derrick lifts a frame that the car parks on.  Still very unstable I imagine.

Here's a new mystery:     If it were a different kind of telephone box, I might be looking for a certain Doctor?  This is France remember and there's a spooky ruin next ...


That's Bouconville-Vauclair above.  Bourges below ...

Bourges   Bourges

Bourges revisited, we love the gardens there.  Marj will be devastated to know that the colour scheme this year is ... yellow.  Our favourite restaurant was closed; they'd just closed the doors and gone on holiday.  We did have a very good shellfish selection at another eatery, no surprises though.


We took our coffee machine with us this year, along with a host of other electrical goodies.  We found some cheap coffee capsules but they're not as good as the genuine Nespresso.  Later in our trip, we overcame our power problems; I have a magic wand, it looks like a small rectangle of plastic.

By the time we got to Felletin, (that's a funny little town) John wasn't feeling too well but we still explored a bit


If you go through the doorway above, you'll find the interior on the left.   I reckon that Doctor's been here too.

2 days later I was locating the A&E at 8 a.m.  John was so unwell that he was transferred by emergency ambulance, with police escort, to Aurillac where he was wonderfully cared for for 13 days.  If you're going to be unwell anywhere, choose France.

Entraygues-sur-TruyereEntraygues-sur-Truyere, our favourite place to recuperate




After crossing the amazing viaduct at Millau, the landscape was terrific.  At one point we were up at 825 metres with stunning views, I do love a rocky landscape.

Duilhac Peyrepertuse  


An amazing spring in the village of Duilhac Peyrepertuse, where there are several Auberges, restaurants and a good Aire de Camping Car.  There is also a chateau 3.5 k further up but the road is not suitable for the camper - we declined to walk.  There's also a castle nearby; same story.  I haven't managed to translate the stone above the spring, maybe one should before drinking the water?

You could arrive in Alice's wonderland, somewhere like Laás Château



Just look at those finials and it even has it's own theatre in the garden.


I can't resist a handsome horse

This mare's mane looked wonderful even though it needs a good brushing.

These were in the small village of Lagor, fairly close to the Spanish border.


Across the border in San Sebastian, or Donastia in Basque, we met up with our friend Marj and her grand-daughter, Maia.  We all had a very tasty lunch followed by a good sightseeing walk.

San Sebastian Donastia

Lunch in Zumaia, just look at the size of those wineglasses.  A nice Tempranillo to go with delicious Basque lamb .

Evening, back in San Sebastian we found a group of street entertainers

We couldn't believe that no-one came around with a hat afterwards, the entertainers just encouraged the kids to juggle and dance.  It was terrific.

Here's something else we have never seen before; Das Rollende Hotel in the campsite at Zaraute

Das Rotel

We're not sure whether we'd like that and certainly wouldn't swap.  It obviously gets around ... click here

Next was Bilbao, thankfully we arrived on a Sunday so the traffic wasn't too manic.  We decided to check out the aire up in the hills, have a bite to eat then drive down to the town.  Well, that was nearly right.  The aire is right on the bus route that took us right into the city, connected with the tram system, and that stopped right outside the fabulous Guggenheim.  All for €7.70 for 2 of us.

Bilbao Guggenheim   Guggenheim Puppy

Guggenheim Spider   Bilbao

The last pic is our view from the aire.  It's absolutely fab and highly recommended for motorhomers visiting Bilbao.  OK, so it cost €15 (2013) but we felt that it was very much worth the money.

We shall return to Potes (on the left) another year as there is so much more we would like to see.  The road up to the very top and the cable car ride that we didn't manage this year.  The drive through the gorge to get there is very dramatic.

This photo of the village is probably going to be an expensive one, I dropped my camera about 5 ft onto the road as I was getting out of the camper and although it is still working - and that's a big accolade from me for Sony BTW, I dislodged some muck which will now appear in all my photos until I can get it specialist cleaned - again!Potes Spain 

On the right is the entrance to the excellent campround, La Viorna, that we stayed at in Mieses.  I think that is the right spelling but the village is so small I can't find it on my map.

Next ...

The small town of Comillas benefited from several of it's inhabitant's good fortune made in the new Americas in the 1850s.  They returned home and chose to show off their new wealth in property.  One batchelor chose one Antonio Gaudi, a young new designer, to make his new house stand out from the crowd.  The resulting La Capricio has recently been restored and we love it!  Designed on the theme of a sunflower following the sun throughout the day, the rooms begin with bedrooms to the east, living rooms south and dining in the west.  The exterior is just ... well, you decide ...

However much work went into those sunflower tiles?  Every one is different and there are hundreds of them.  The attic beams are all beautiful golden pine and black lined - and that was the servant's quarters.  (I hope to add more pics of the main rooms later).  The two bottom pics are from one of the stained glass windows and depict a bird playing an organ and a bee playing a quitar.  What a surreal concept.

In another part of the town, for another patron, Gaudi designed a gate with 3 entrances; one for cars, one for people and one for the birds.  Later in his career he designed some amazing buildings in Barcelona, including the Sagrada Familia.

Gaudi Bird Gate

But Comillas isn't all about Gaudi and money, here's where the other half live

Comillas, Spain  

We returned to the UK by ferry from Santander to Portsmouth on Brittany Ferries Pont Aven
We went posh and had a cabin with a porthole


Once on home soil we made an overnight stop at Goff's Oak where we were entertained by a local ...


It was an interesting trip, we will try to get the timing better for the restaurants next time and hope not to have quite as much drama.  Thank you to everyone who made us welcome and served us so well.


Here is a precis of the dramas:  Dead house battery, a water leak, got paintballed in the night, John unwell, 2 x favourite restaurants closed for holidays, Cynn broke denture and glasses,  Hit an electricity bollard, 3 drunks in the night, con man in the hospital car-park, Cynn got a cold, blew 2 x power trips in campsites (our kettle is too powerful), rough sea trip home - plus much more.  But we'll still do it all again !!