The long way down

Finally, the time was here for Rex and us to head across the channel to the south of France. We have a good few weeks left before we have to be in Canterbury, so we excited to get some travelling in before then.

In the flip-flops fashion, we haven’t really planned anything… All we know is that we’re heading for the south of France whilst trying to avoid tolls. Gloria Garmin was set up and off we went… Instantly we took a wrong turn and ended up on the A26 toll to Reims. ā‚¬5.00 later and we’re back on the back roads, but it transpired that Gloria was struggling to find us a sensible route and was sending us halfway through Belgium just to get back south. By this time it was getting quite late and we were tired and hungry. Time to find a place to stop for the night. I found a nice-sounding aire on NKC and we set off down dark winding country lanes.

After what seemed like forever, but probably only was 10 minutes we arrived at the aire in Estaires. It really was lovely… But it was also very small; 3 spaces only and we were the 5th van. It was too late, we were too tired, and after conquering those dark winding lanes to get there, there was no way we were moving on. So we edged onto a tiny bit of free space that wasn’t really in anyone’s way and started dinner. We set our alarm for early to get out of everybody’s way first thing. Job done! About an hour later, another van turned up! There was no more space to squeeze in so they left again. We spotted them the next morning tucked up on a junction nearby.

Now it was time for some proper driving and managing Gloria around Paris. We have now learned to chunk up the route so she can calculate the route better. As nice as the Route Nationale is, with all its roundabouts it does take forever! At last, we got to roughly where we wanted to be and found another spot for the night, this time in Nogent sur Vernisson.

After a walk around the village and some lovely dinner we settled down for the night with the alarm set again for another early start. It was going to be a long slog but we could get all the way south the next day!

As the hardest bit was done by now, it was mostly a straight dive south and we enjoyed plenty of quiet motorway driving before we hit the mountains south of Clermont-Ferrand.

Here we were greeted with beautiful vistas of valleys, mountains, chateaux and hillside villages, along with long, high, windy bridges making driving Rex that extra bit exciting… We thoroughly enjoyed going over the Milau viaduct, worth every penny of the toll!

Time to look for a place for the night and we decided to head straight for the beach! Again NKC obliged and we find an aire in Portiragnes, just south of Beziers.

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Rex at Portiragnes Aire

Tired and content, we parked up and went down the beach. Luna was happiest off all too be running around with the sand in between her paws!

It was a long, long way down with a few wrong turns, arguments with Gloria and long hours driving for Stuart. But so very worth it now we’re parked up in the warm sunshine by the sea. Tomorrow we’ll explore a bit more but first a good night’s sleep and no alarm to wake us up in the morning! Time to relax!


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