Onwards and Southwards

We opt to spend some of our rest day at Chatel de Neuvre looking at the small town [or perhaps it’s a village?]- either way it’s a one street place, some commerce along the road and houses off the side roads. We have a stiff climb up to the top of the town, which takes considerably longer than seeing the sights. There’s a small shop, a bar and a salon, though nowhere to get a meal. We wander down a side street and happen upon a 13th century mill down a farm track. It’s a magnificent, half timbered building but we can get nowhere near it as appointments must be made to view it. It’s a luscious irony that there’s nothing to see in Chatel except this…and we can’t see it.

We move on and our next night is an unremarkable one in a site in the Rhone Valley at Anneyron, although too far from either the town or the river for any exploration. Next morning’s drive starts with a beautiful journey following the mighty Rhone, a magnificent, wide river, decaying ruins of towers and castles dotting the hillsides on either side. there are swathes of vineyards like a sea of vines stretching away and terracing the hills. It’s Cote du Rhone country. I’m thrilled to see a sign to ‘Crozes Hermitage’ which used to be my favourite red wine when I could drink it.

The RN is scenic but progress is slow and we opt for the motorway to get us down to Avignon, not having clearly decided whether to stay or not. Once we’re approaching the city though, we decide to stop over, at a site we’ve stayed in before, La Bagatelle. It’s on an island in the Rhone and we only need to cross a bridge [not the bridge] to get into city. The site hasn’t changed a bit and is just as antiquated and confusing as it ever was. Once we’ve managed to locate our pitch we wait a bit to go sightseeing. The heat is fierce.

This visit I’m much more impressed with beautiful, elegant Avignon; its marble pavements, grand, creamy architecture, vast squares and stunning views. The Rhone provides a wonderful setting. We manage a creditable wander around before settling under a cafe sunshade in front of the huge papal palace, where we can people watch and sip a cold drink. Sunday is an excellent day to walk around. The gardens above the palace are shady and provide great views of the river and surrounding countryside.

In the morning it’s time to move on again- to a seaside site at Sanary-sur-Mer, typically Riviera and with a sweeping quayside of restaurants and bars- a poser’s delight. We walk down the steep hill to explore the town, where stallholders are setting up for a night market. There seem to be large numbers of slender, elegant, smartly dressed single ladies here, Husband’s suggestion being that they’ve ditched their rich husbands, mine that perhaps they were never married to begin with. Husband thinks perhaps he’ll become a gigolo and I tell him that then I can ditch him, too…

We have one day left before we must leave mainland France, the ferry departing from Toulon. We’re in close range and get there in an hour or so, locating an aire where we can park to look at the town. But it’s hot and hard work and Toulon is not such a tourist draw as we’d imagined, so much of this stifling day is spent in chairs in the shade of the van until we go across the road to a fast food cafe and get burgers- greasy but essential. We won’t be embarking until 11.00pm.

The port of departure is close but seems impossible to get to. We follow another motorhome and they seem as confused as ourselves, there being a dearth of signage. At last I spot a ferry sign which appears to point the way through a sunken car park and though unlikely this is actually the way to port check-in. I flash my downloaded boarding pass and somehow we’re in the ferry queue and in for a loooooong wait for them to load. Eventually we’re driving up the ramp and into the mouth of the ferry…PHEW!!

Grace is also known as the novelist, Jane Deans. Her new novel, The Conways at Earthsend is now out and available from Amazon, Waterstones, Goodreads, W H Smith, Pegasus Publishing and many more sites. Visit my website: janedeans.com or my author page on Facebook: (1) Jane Deans, Novellist, Short Fiction and Blog | Facebook