A visit to Blaye

We’re setting course for the Bordeaux and Gironde area, quietly hopeful that we will find some better weather as we head further south and towards the coast. On the way, we have a stop in the Cognac region, in Lignières-Sonneville where indeed the sun comes out for a little while. 

This tiny village has 3 shops and a bar but it is incredibly picturesque; many buildings date from the early 18th century and there is an even older church a the heart of the village. Along the stream that runs through the village, you can find the ancient public laundry basins by a natural spring the old herb gardens. You can just imagine the women coming here with there linens, scrubbing them in the basins and there is even still a bit of drying meadow where they might have dried their sheets in the sun. 

There are some cognac producers in the vicinity but we couldn’t find one with a public shop so we skipped on the cognac tasting experience. 

After a very quiet night we move on to Blaye, on the banks of the Gironde. Our route takes us through miles of vineyards, a sure sign that we’re in the Bordeaux area for wines. We aim for a vineyard on the outskirts of Blaye which looks very popular although when we arrive, we find it waterlogged so we don’t stay. It seems we’ve driving straight into an ‘amber weather warning’ storm… Typical for us this trip. We move on to the local Aire on the bank of the river and right next to the Citadel, a very central location. 

Blaye is a lively little place; there are plenty of people about, shops and bars are open and it feels like a nice place. We have a look around, dodging the rain as we go by jumping in the Tabac for a glass of wine. 

We really want to visit the Citadel as well, but we decide to wait for it to dry up a little bit at least. The next morning, after another heavy downpour, there seems to be a break in the clouds so we quickly head out. There is quite a large market on with lots of delicious looking, fresh local products. 

We finally make it into the citadel where we are surprised by a small village within its walls. Not only that, but also a farm and the municipal campsite, right next to the ancient castle ruins. You can walk around the ramparts and there are lovely views over the river. In the village there are a number of little shops and galleries, as well as some more bistros and cafes. It really is a lovely place. It’s not long however, until the heavens open again and once more we’re getting drenched. We quickly head over to a Salon du Thé for a hot drink to warm up. 

Our next challenge is to find a nice Aire not far from the city of Bordeaux, ideally close to a public transport link and on a hard surface to avoid getting bogged down in the mud. We’re meeting our friends in the area soon and ideally we’d like to park outside of the city whilst being able to visit fairly easily. We had planned on a vineyard just north of Bordeaux but a quick phone call reveals that motorhomes did get stuck in the mud there so the search is on for somewhere else. 

There is an Aire in St Romain la Virvée which looks like it might fit the bill, so we head over to check it out. What you can’t see on the map, is that the road to the village is more of a country lane and that the village itself is rather remote. We can’t even find a bakery, and there is no-one around. The search continues while we spend the night. It certainly is a quiet spot. 

We finally find an Aire in Créon, which looks to be a bit further out but is on a direct bus route. Without high expectations of the location, we head over excitedly because this is where we’ll meet our friends, Sarah and Andy from Only the Bare Necessities again. 

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