Off to France to meet up with the Carthago Owners UK get together at Soleil Plage on the Dordogne river.
We crossed the Channel to Calais after stopping the previous night at Black Horse Farm campsite at Densole (just 20 mins from Dover).From Calais we headed to our regular aire at Forges-les-Eaux just north east of Rouen. This is a convenient distance and there has always been space for us.Next day we travelled south to Amboise . We have been here several times and enjoy visiting the town on the Loire. Very pretty and a spectacular chateau on the south bank. The campsite is on an island in the middle of the Loire.
<-- (left) The aire next to the campsite at Amboise. It was a very warm, still evening and we watched the hot air balloons taking off from the field behind us.Our next stop was at our friends, Tom and Jan in Taizé Aizé . We met Tom and Jan in Spain in February/March and they invited us to call in if we were passing - so we did!We parked in their front garden and enjoyed a couple of days with them exploring the local area.
Taizé Aizé is in a beautiful area close by the Charente. We enjoyed a day out visiting Verteuil sur Charante. Here was a charming, old watermill which is now a restaurant. They make their own brioche which they are well know for. It was delicious - like no brioche we have ever tasted before!Below are some snaps from the day out. Click on the photos to enlarge the images.
After a two night stop with Tom and Jan we travelled on to Saint Leon sur Vezere . This is one of our favourite stops in France. It is a charming village and has an informal restaurant right beside the Vezere.There are plenty of quiet country roads to cycle on and it is just a few miles down to Roque St. Christophe (which is an ancient troglodyte settlement in the chalk cliffs carved out by the river). We have visited before on trips to this area when we stayed at Le Paradis campsite.This time we stayed on the aire right in the centre of Saint Leon sur Vezere.Below are some photos of the area and the village, Click on the photos to enlarge the image.
The two right hand photos (above) are of the Roque St. Christophe. The left hand photo is a fortified home called Maison Forte de Reignac and was built in the early middle ages. Again, it was cut into the rock to help with the fortification.
From Saint Leon it was just a short hop to Vitrac  where we were gathering with other Carthago Owners for our September meeting. The campsite, Soleil Plage, is on the banks of the Dordogne.Soeil Plage is a delightful campsite with an on site restaurant, several indoor and outdoor swimming pools, kayaking on the Dordogne etc. etc.A short distance away, by bicycle, is the village of Monfort with its chateau on the cliff edge. There is not much else to see. A few more kilometres and you can cycle to Sarlat en Caneda via an old railway line that has been changed into a cycle path. If you have never visited Sarlat then you have missed a treat. It is a medieval city built out of the lovely sandstone of the area. But be aware - it gets very busy on market day! The cycling is also quite energetic! Another cycle trip is to follow the river (see photo below, top right) to the village of Carsac-Aillac. This has more character than Monfort and there are pleasant cafés and bars and it is also the local shopping centre. If you do not have an e-bike then it is quite a challenging ride back when you are laden with shopping! The campsite does have its own shop but the variety of stock is limited. It did provide bread every day.During our stay at Soleil Plage the weather was rather rainy and we were disappointed with the restaurant food. We took a coach trip out to Beynac, which included a river cruise on a Gabarre (an historic river trading ship) and followed by an excellent lunch at a riverside restaurant. After lunch the coach took us on to Domme, high above the Dordogne. Here there is a wonderful panorama looking north but our view was spoiled by the rainy weather.
After seven nights at Soleil Plage we said our farewells to everyone. Many were going on elsewhere and continuing their holiday. However, we had to head home as we were due to fly out to USA in a few days time!
Our map shows our first homeward stop as Chateauroux  but we actually stopped at a small village aire near Chateauroux (right) the name of which we cannot recall. It was a typical rural French community. Very peaceful and pretty but it shouted out that there was little employment in the area and many businesses had closed. The village shop/post office/café was still open but that was it.The aire was beside a small lake in the village centre and had electric hook up and water so we needed little else. A nice stopover so must try to remember the name!!
Next day we were on the road early for a longish haul up to Les Andeleys  (left). This is a favourite campsite stop over. A delightful small town on the banks of the Seine. We have stayed here several times before. It is within easy driving distance of Calais to catch the afternoon ferry back to UK.A very pleasant tour of rural France - we will be back !