Holidays Our little holiday diary

France Part Two

Day 2.

Well, after a day like yesterday, we had a bit of a lie in and didn’t wake up until 10.00am. I elected to sleep over the cab and Diane slept in the single lower bunk, at the rear of the van near the toilet. I had very little headroom so had to wriggle out of the bunk backwards. Diane found it hilarious saying that I looked (from the rear) like a beached whale. This photo (taken in the grounds of the Louvre Gallery) was a good likeness of me according to Diane. We thought it would be best if we got away from where we were before anyone found out we had been parked there overnight. As we had no idea where we were, it may sound stupid, but we used the position of the sun to work out which way was south and set off in that direction. We soon found a decent layby and after washing and dressing, we had breakfast and after consulting the French places to see book, we ruled out St Omer in favour of Amiens because the house where Jules Verne lived is there and took our fancy.

It was then that we took the momemtous decision to get the Sat Nav out of the glove box and figure out how to use it. I tried to use one some years ago and nearly threw it out of the window. Remembering what Sarah and Charlie had told us, we actually managed to program the address in for the Jules Verne house. After a very nice, quiet drive down to Amiens, the Sat Nav (which we later christened Nigela), directed us right to the side of the Jules Verne House. I was very impressed. We spent a pleasant couple of hours wandering round the house. We found the very top floor fascinating. It was full of the oddball and lots of his weird and wonderful things. After leaving his house, we had a stroll round the town, taking a few photos along the way.

It was getting towards mid afternoon when we decided to move on , so we headed back to our motorhome and got out the camping book to try and find ourselves a campsite for the night. It was then that we discovered the book was all in French. After we stopped laughing, we settled for a site in Chalons en Champagne and worked out the address for it, programmed Nigela accordingly and hit the high road again. It was a joy driving in France on a Sunday, very little traffic and beautiful scenery. Every roundabout was a little work of art in its own right. Diane took more photos of them than anything else I think!! Somewhere between Roye and Soissone, we came into a village/small town called Noyon which was virtually blocked because they seemed to be having a carnival day. There was a small funfair, side shows, stalls etc which were spilling out onto the streets and making it very difficulty to navigate. We were now also looking for a filling station as we were getting low on fuel. We had already passed two that were closed. Maybe because it was Sunday or because of the carnival. Either way, we had a bit of a job finding fuel, but more by good luck than good management, we found a small filling station with just two sets of pumps. The pay kiosk was closed but there was a couple at one on the pumps who seemed to be getting fuel. Once along side the other pump, we tried to 1.) work out which was the diesel pump and 2.) decipher the credit card machine which was obviously in French.  Diane was an absolute gem, she tried to communicate with them and actually managed to make them understand that we needed diesel. I don’t know how, but between the two women, they worked out which nozzle to use. They then tried to explain to us how to pay by credit card. I put my Cash Card in but it refused my pin number. I tried again without success. I finally got one of my credit cards to work. What a panic. We would have been in a lot of trouble if it hadn’t been for all the help of two strangers.

Anyway, we must get on to our camp site for the night. Nigela (Sat Nav) was doing a great job again. We followed her directions exactly as she said them. It was now getting towards 9.30 at night and was dark as we were entering Chalon en Champagne. Still having complete faith in Nigela, we drove through the town before being told that we had reached our destination. We couldn’t understand it, we were in the very centre of the town. We were right outside the Tourist Information Centre. Now what? 9.30 at night, pitch black outside, cold, tired and very hungry. We were starting to get angry with each other as to what to do. In the end, I said we should make our way back onto the main road, head south and try to find a site along there. After what seemed an eternity, and finding no sites along the way, we decided to call it a day and find the nearest lay-by to park for the night. We did find one that was a the side of a large field with a large hedge that we felt would hide us from the passing traffic. This was it, another night of being illegal with no fresh water or mains electrics. It was worse than last night because we felt we were trespassing.  Surely, it can only get better.

Mileage 207 miles (345 km)

Part Three is now available

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