May 18 – Trip Resumed – France

After a longer spell in the UK than anticipated, we were off on our travels once more.  We caught the 1730 ferry from Newhaven to Dieppe and arrived at 2230 in the dark.  As we were familiar with the aires in Dieppe, we were expecting a short drive to our overnight stop.  No such luck – both aires were full!  After a quick troubled assessment of the situation, we noticed a few motorhomes parked alongside the seaside aire.  They were in bays marked bus and coach and so, in the absence of any better plan, we decided to join them.  After a peaceful night we awoke to find there were other latecomers parked along the front.  By 0900 we had all moved on and I am sure the good citizens of Dieppe would have been none the wiser.

Ferte-St-Aubin

With our usual attention to planning, we had a rough idea that we would work our way down the Loire valley enjoying the scenery and weather.  Unfortunately, the weather expectation was a bit optimistic, but we proceeded to a place called Ferte-St-Aubin which is just south of Orleans.  We arrived in gorgeous sunshine and stayed on a small campsite a short stroll from the Chateau de la Ferte St Aubin.  The chateau was late 16th century and typical of its time.  It has been inhabited by the same family for 350 years and the family have opened it to visitors to help pay for essential repairs which are obviously badly needed.  It is a charming chateau with a moat and grounds.

Chateau Ferte St Aubin
Across the moat to the family chapel

There are 15 furnished rooms to be explored including the kitchens where demonstrations take place on Sundays and holidays.  We were there on a Friday so, we missed out.

Chateau kitchen

We were fascinated by the gruesome use of animal trophies as hooks and wall light fittings, particularly complete legs and hooves!  The display of childrens toys was fascinating as they really brought the early 20th century to life.  We did not explore the parklands adjacent to the chateau as it had started to rain heavily.

Autun

Due to the continuing poor weather, we decided to head a lot further south and return to the Loire valley on our way home.  A convenient stopping place was Autun which had an aire near a lake.  On arrival, in the rain, we discovered the aire was closed as there had been a triathlon and they were still in the process of clearing up.  I consulted the aire book again and discovered that there was another aire by the cemetery.  We found said aire which had no amenities, but was very peaceful, and settled down for the evening.  There was a splendid view of the lake from the more elevated position.  Still raining next day so we did not stop and pressed on south.

St Victor Sur Loire

The aire book had highlighted the next stop and, as it was about the right distance for a day’s driving, we decided to pay it a visit.  This was a beautiful free aire overlooking a leisure lake on the Lac de Grangent, fed by the Loire.  There were plenty of youngsters enjoying themselves in small boats which was a pleasure to watch.

Sailing activity on the lake at St Victor Sur Loire
View from above the aire

We had a walk up to the viewing point behind and above the aire.  Although the medieval town would have been nice to visit, we could not walk there so, we decided to give it a miss as we really wanted to press on to Orange.

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