….and other fortified towns.
On Sunday morning the breeze had increased and because there was much more cloud, it looked like a change in the weather was approaching. We took the reluctant decision to leave our lovely lake and continue the inevitable journey north and closer to home.
It must be more than 30 years since we had been to Martel, a lovely old town close to the Dordogne. It was a lovely drive through lovely countryside on lovely roads. It was even a lovely day, until we reached our destination when the clouds took over from the sun.
The free Aire de Camping-Car (GPS 44.93934° 1.60811°) is just a couple of minutes walk to the old town and has been extended very recently into an area at least double the size of the original. There is no dump or water on the site although there are facilities on the other side of the town.
Martel is a lovely little town to wander through. Lots of narrow streets, alleys, towers and squares to explore and in the centre an ancient covered market place.
An early…ish start on Monday for a long…ish drive to the Loire area.
I pace our journey through France by the rivers. As a rough (very rough) guide I reckon an easy days drive across France, north to south or the reverse, can be paced by the distance between major rivers.
Day 1, Channel ports to the River Seine.
Day 2, River Seine to Loire.
Day 3, Loire to Dordogne.
Day 4, Dordogne to Pyrenees or Spain or the Mediterranean.
It goes without saying that we have never covered that distance in 4 days as we always linger for a day or three at numerous places en-route but you will get the picture. You will also note that I said “an easy days drive”, we always try to reach our destination by early afternoon. That way you have more chance of getting a space on popular aires and time to explore if you intend moving on the next day. We are on holiday after all and there’s no point in flogging on for mile after mile and not enjoying the drive.
So we ended up on Tuesday afternoon just south of the River Loire at the small fortified village of La Coudray-Macouard, south of Saumur.
The aire didn’t look very promising but we parked and had a walk around the rather attractive village. Very light stone buildings looked good in the late afternoon sun as we strolled around another completely deserted settlement. After our walk we retraced our route by a few km. to Montreuill-Bellay, another fortified town we had stopped at earlier in the year.
Another free aire, (GPS 47.13252° -0.15818°) this time with free dump facilities and water for €2. The aire is between a river and the town which is dominated by an impressive chateau, complete with more towers and pinnacles than you can shake a stick at. The chateau looms high above the aire and makes an attractive background. Ruins of an ancient church and abbey are next to the aire and sitting in the motorhome looking out at the darkened street, lit by a lantern over a stone arched entrance, it was easy to imagine oneself back in earlier times.
On the banks of the Seine……
After one night at Montreuill-Bellay it was north again from the Loire to the River Seine and our favourite place at La Mailleraye-sur-Seine.
We spent the rest of the afternoon watching the busy river and the ships that passed. The following day, Wednesday, started grey and damp but very quickly the weather perked up and the sun appeared. After walking around and a visit to the boulangerie we spent the rest of the day sitting in the sun and just chilling. This was to be the last day when we weren’t driving so best make the most of some decent weather.