France at speed – Jumieges, Ile de Re and Leon

Spent a lovely couple of days with Paula and Mark in Chelmsford and then overnight catching up with friends in Kent and Eynsford before heading to Dover for our ferry. After a hair raising journey through the narrowest of roads in the Kent countryside, following the motorhome built-in sat nav, we download a truck one for a free trial. It allows us to put in height, length, width and weight which hopefully should keep us off single track roads in future.

We originally planned to get a ferry to Santander but by the time we’d confirmed our plans it was sold out! This means we have to race through France and Spain in order to get to southern Portugal by 17th to meet Rach and Paul.

From Calais we make an overnight pitstop in Jumieges near Rouen but don’t get to see much as we don’t arrive until 6:30pm after paying a small fortune in toll fees. We can’t get the power to work in the van but eventually with help from our neighbours we realise we’ve tripped it cos the ampage is set too high. We have much to learn! Ding meals and a beer inside as it’s raining before watching another episode of Enterprise…season 1.

Big drive today to Ile de Re. Stayed in La Rochelle in 1980 doing a language course. My Mum and sister Paula visited me and we spent a lovely day on the island. Mum got bitten to death by mossies and thought the squat and drops were disgusting and fever rivven …we all laughed a lot!

In those days you had to take the ferry but now there’s a huge bridge. We arrive late, around 6:30pm. Campsite lovely with lots of landscaping and a fantastic shower block. We take a stroll into La Flotte for a beer.

Lateish start and breakfast and then out on our bikes. Ile de Re has over 100k of cycle lanes ….the cycle here is King! 🚲🚴‍♀️ We bike to St Martin and picnic by the lighthouse and then cross the island to Le Bois and St Marie. Gorgeous villages with small harbours and cycle paths through lovely countryside. The island is basically flat which is a blessing to an unfit cyclist like me!  We really enjoy a  beach and Kindle stop at Plage de Montamer which is beautiful. Back at La Flotte I enjoy a beer and chips whilst Tony visits Abbaye de Chateliers. Evening spent enjoying a BBQ and doing laundry👗👚

Yummy croissants for breakfast this morning and then we are off on our next cycling adventure. Hard to get back on bike again though for a second day. We cycle to Le Bois and then onto La Courade and eventually get to Ars-en-Re…..by the time we get there we are certainly feeling it! Along the way we travel through wetland nature reserves and see loads of birds and wildfowl. The highlight is seeing a beaver attacked by a duck! We then cycle to Loix which is a bit rundown and then back to St Martin again for a beer before the final leg to La Flotte….29.5 miles of cycling!! About 75% of cyclists are using e-bikes…by the end I was very jealous. Lovely early tea by the harbour in La Flotte followed by fizz and beers outside our van, finishes off an excellent day.

Leave the lovely Ile de Re and begin the long drive to Leon in Acquitane for another overnight pitstop. Enjoy a fabulous meal at a local restaurant and then an early night as it’s raining! Pictures are starters and dessert as I forgot to take photos of our main course 😚

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