On Sunday morning we left a very wet Dordogne valley and retraced our steps back to the south east. It was a fairly short drive back to the aire at Moissac which we had so enjoyed a few days before. Unfortunately this time it was damp and drizzly so we didn’t stir from the warm comfort of the van.
Monday morning was still drizzly as we set off for the Med. On the way up to the Dordogne we had driven via Toulouse but the D820 is a dreary and crowded road to the north of Toulouse with endless industrial units and retail warehouses. Once you get round the city the D813 is very ‘Micky Mouse’ with bus lanes and narrow lanes for other traffic. This time we would go across country using the D630 to Castres, then south and over the Montagne Noir range to Carcassonne and turning east on the N113 to Narbonne, then back to Gruissan.
It turned out to be a good choice of route through lovely countryside and small towns with very little traffic. It was certainly less stressful than negotiating Toulouse.
After on-off drizzle most of the way, the sun was shining by the time we stopped for supplies at Carrefour in Narbonne. Having replenished the stores we arrived to find the Aire de Quatre Vents quite busy again but found a quiet spot at the far end backing on to the marina.
The following morning, Tuesday, as other vans left there were some nice spots available so we moved and found the perfect pitch in a corner with nice views over the water, with the hazy Pyrenees in the distance. The wind had dropped, the sun was out and we were very happy bunnies. At last the weather looked settled and the forecast was good.
We stayed put for eight days, sitting in the sun, lazy lunches in the shade of the awning, walking round the marina in the evening before lighting the BBQ and opening a beer or two before supper. I went out on my bike everyday for a bimble round the area, including a couple of longish rides.
After the mixed and unsettled weather of the previous three weeks this was just perfection.
All good things must come to an end and we had to start heading north and home. The weather forecasts were again looking a bit unsettled so we left lovely Gruissan a day earlier than planned and drove up the excellent A75 and up onto the high hills of the Massif Central.
Our overnight stop was at the lovely small town of Le Malzieu-Ville, just a short way off the motorway.
We stopped there once before and thought it was a delightful spot with its beautifully restored walled old town. The free aire has room for about 7-8 motorhomes but there is lots of parking space either side. Water and dump facilities are also free and although the aire is just on the roadside it is very quiet and peaceful.
(GPS 44.85509º 3.33353º Beware of sat-nav trying to take you down a very narrow turning to the aire, take the previous right turn while in the one-way system. Watch the video in the link below.)
As we were at about 3,000ft it was a chilly morning so the heating was deployed while we had breakfast but we were rewarded by a hot air balloon taking off close by and drifting right over us. A lovely sight in the cool clear air.
We continued north on the A75 to Clermont-Ferrand then on to the D2009 to Moulins, N7 then D2076 through our usual stop at Sancoins and on to Dun-sur-Auron, just south east of Bourges.
I had circled Dun on the map ages ago as someone had recommended it so we really should go and have a look. As we drove through the town it looked very nice and we found the aire between the old Canal du Berry and the old fortified town walls. However, there was construction work going on and one ore two slightly unsavoury looking characters hanging about in cars plus the road was quite busy. We stopped for some lunch then drove back down the D2076 to Sancoins with its peaceful and free aire where we have stopped so many times before.
We enjoyed a lovely afternoon in the sun but the forecast for the next day wasn’t too hopeful so next day we were back on the road and the long drive to La Mailleraye-sur-Seine where we stopped for three nights.
After our three peaceful nights beside the Seine we returned to Cite Europe for our last night. We stocked up with some wine and beer plus a few other goodies at Carrefour then had a meal in one of the restaurants.
Wednesday morning was breezy and chilly as we went round to Eurotunnel and our crossing home. It seemed even colder when we arrived home, the central heating was quickly turned on and we changed out of shorts and tee shirts into something much thicker and warmer……..we were well and truly home.
Total distance driven was 2334 miles at an average fuel consumption of 25.9mpg.