Walking around the town we discovered that the mini golf (right) had some unusual obstacles. This one had a model of the Garabit railway viaduct, which is very closeby. The full sized, Garabit viaduct was built out of wrought iron in 1882/4 and was designed and constructed by Gustave Eiffel of Eiffel tower fame. It is as spectacular, for its age, as the Millau viaduct.In the main photo (courtesy of Wikipedia) you can just discern the A75 autoroute in the distance. You have a very good view of the railway viaduct from the autoroute. (The viaduct is west of the autoroute)
We awoke next morning to a thick fog which was a stark reminder of the winter we were heading back to. The fog burnt off quite early and by 10:00am we had another beautiful sunny day. Northwards again to our next destination Lurcy Lévis(11) north west of Moulins and south west of Nevers. Again we picked this aire from the Aires de France book. This was a beautiful aire just north of the town in a landscaped waterpark. We arrived early enough to enjoy the hot afternoon sunshine and a walk around the lake. Again no charge for overnight parking but the same Flot Bleu service point if one needed it. We get sufficient charge into our leisure batteries whilst we are driving to provide for all our electrical requirements. The 2000W, on board inverter allows us to boil kettles and use the hair dryer when we have no mains supply available. We can even have toast in the mornings from our electric toaster!The town itself, is rather run down with many closed-up small shops. On the far side of town was an ATAC supermarket which was well stocked. It is about a 15 - 20 minute walk from the lakeside. A shorter cycle ride, uphill on the way out and free wheel back again.
This aire, the previous one at Ruynes en Margeride and the ones at Narbonne are strongly recommended if you wish to make an easy trip down to Spain.Time to set off north again to a town we had visited before, Beaugency on La Loire. We had stopped over in previous years on the aire right alongside the river and just a short walk from the town centre. We arrived to discover that the aire had been closed !!! There was a notice informing us that the aire had been relocated to a short ditance away but when we looked there was nothing there and that area was blocked off with large boulders as well. Out with the Aires De France book. There was not much to be found north of Beaugency so we decided to retrace our route for a few kilometres to La Ferté Saint Cyr. There was an aire in the village centre, alongside the river and tennis courts - a very pleasant stop with village shops close by. However, this was not to be !! We needed to fill up with fresh water and so we pulled up by the Flot Bleu service point. There was a hand written notce saying electricity was available but no water !!! We found a local who told us that there was not an alternative tap and it had all been turned off for the winter - very helpful. Not to worry he says. There is another aire and Flot Bleu in the next village, Crouy-sur-Cosson, it is just 4 km away and we can get water there. We arrive to find a pretty little aire just outside a campsite. Again, a good stop over with shops nearby. But, you have guessed correctly --- an Hors de Service note -- the water was turned off for the winter. We could have stopped over at either of these villages but our fresh water tank was empty. No water = no tea, no toilet !Time for a change of plan and find a campsite that was open (not so easy in France out of season). We were in luck. A quick phone call established that a site at Nouans-sur-Loire (12) was open all year. So we turned north again and were pleased to find the campsite and fill up our tank. Nouans-sur-Loire is not a very interesting town but there was a small supermarket where we could buy some food for dinner. The site is probably lovely in season as it is right on the south bank of La Loire but today it was drizzle and grey skies and all a bit gloomy.
(left) the pretty village of La Ferté Saint Cyr. The motorhome aire is just behind the trees.Plenty of water in the river but none in the taps!
We left Nouans-sur-Loire the next morning and the weather had improved slightly. Tonight was to be our last stop in France and we needed to be within reasonable distance of Calais. A fellow Carthago owner had recommended an aire atNeufchatel-en Bray (14). This is 50 km north east of Rouen and just off the A28 autoroute. Also, just 2 hours drive from Calais.We found the newly refurbished aire but had a real struggle to wriggle in through the entrance barrier. The pitches were also a bit restrictive and we only just fitted. It was not until later that we read the notice outside the barriers saying maximum length was 8m. Our 8.5m was a bit of a challenge.The fees here are €12 euros per night but it is very clean and tidy and 10 amp electricity is included. Just down the road is a LeClerc super market which has everything you need and a whole lot more that you do not.
Just outside the aire is a disused railway line which has been converted into an Avenue Verte (Green lane) cycle path. It is a section of the Avenue Verte which runs south from Dieppe down to Les Andeleys (see map on right). If you needed some exercise then you can cycle from here to Forges-Les-Eaux which is around 17km away. It is probably a beautiful ride and we will do it one day. However, we will be stopping on the aire at Forges Les Eaux which is much easier access or maybe the campsite at Les Andeleys which is also a lovely spot right on the Seine.
(below) the newly completed aire at Neufchatel-en-Bray- very nice but make sure you are 8m or less or it will be a struggle!
When you enter the aire, a machine issues a ticket. You then pay at a pay point before you leave. We were leaving at 7:00am on Sunday morning and discovered that the pay point was out of order! There was a telephone number to call. It rang for sometime before a sleepy voice answered. The owner arrived within a few minutes to take our money and open the barrier. Good service there.We arrived in good time at Calais and managed to get an earlier ferry.This was a really enjoyable trip. The weather was wonderful, the roads were empty and we enjoyed good company in Spain which made the event very pleasant all round.