Belgium & France 20 June to 5 July 2013
Thursday 20 June
Set off from home at 19.45 and drove down to Marine Drive Dover arriving at 23.20 with a 15 minute delay at Dartford Bridge. Had a quick beer in the van and then went to bed. Didn’t sleep much.
Friday 21 June
Got up at 4.30 and drove to the ferry terminal and had a cuppa before boarding the ferry at 5.30. Set off at 6.00 and arrived in Dunkirk at 9.00 (1 hr in front). Drove up to Bruges looking for a Hypermarket but didn’t pass one on the motorway. Arrived in Bruges at 10.30 and parked at the Aire south of the city near the coach park. It was 22.50 euro which was a bit steep but was a clean & secure site & included electricity. We walked into the city via the park and saw some wonderful buildings and chocolate shops!!!
Had a good look around the city going to 3 bars. The Cafe Red Rose, Gambrinus and ,T ‘ Brugs Beersel. Had some good beers off my list, the highlight being Black Albert.
Went on a horse drawn carriage around the city but at 39 euros was again pricey. Came back to the van and had cheese & bread for tea and because we were tired was in bed & asleep by 21.00
Saturday 22 June
After yesterdays photo overload we set off around 10.00 and drove firstly to Saint Sixtus abbey where we bought 12 bottles of Westlveteren 12 beer. Excellent stuff at 10.5 %.
Carried onto Ypres and after stopping off for groceries and getting a little lost in trying to find the campsite finally arrived around 13.45. Walked into Ypres and stopped in a bar for a quick beer before going to the Flanders Fields museum in the cloth hall in the market square. After that we had a drink in a bar in the square narrowly missing a torrential rain downpour. After that we went to the ” Central” restaurant where Jane had smoked salmon pasta & I had scampi Indonesian. Both were gorgeous. Then went to the Menin Gate ceremony where the last post is played by the local Fire Service each night at 20.00. this night it was followed by some Scottish bagpipes. Walked back to the campsite and had a nightcap before retiring to bed around 22.00
Sunday 23 June
Set off From Ypres around 9.30 and drove down to Seacourt le grand via a quick stop at the Canadian War memorial outside Vimy where 60,000 of my Grandad’s colleagues were killed at Vimy Ridge.
Arrived around 13.45 and the kind lady in charge booked us in even though it was her lunchtime. We settled in and then had a walk into the village where there was a bar on some fishing lakes. On entry the bar was crammed full of fishermen and their families having lunch. Luckily there were tables outside where we sat and had a drink. We were under shelter because several times the heavens opened briefly but heavily.
On returning to the van and dodging the showers we had some cheese & bread and listened to some music before watching a movie and going to bed. Neither of us slept well hearing the church clock chime at 3.00, 4.00, & 5.00.
Monday 24 June
Set off at 9.30 arriving at Epernay around 11.45. Once settled in we went for a walk into the town where there was a market going on in the streets. Usual market crap. We had a drink in one bar and after another walk round before settling in for lunch. Chicken in champagne sauce, very tasty.
We walked then to the Avenue de Champagne where many Champagne factories are including Moët Chandon. We then returned to the van & chilled.
Tuesday 25 June
Left around 9.30 and travelled to Joigny with a bit of getting lost around Sens. This was because we took a wrong turning which ended up in the centre and because of height & weight limits took about 1/12 hours to sort out. We ended up in a small village turning around up a mountain road and then retrying to get through the centre. Finally we managed it and arrived in Joigny on a lovely municipal site down by the river. It was a bit of a trek into the town but we found a small bar in the centre where a gas explosion had destroyed everything and had been rebuilt. Then we walked around quite a bit looking for a Restaurant but because it was 5.00 none were open so we bought a pizza from a supermarket and ate it back in the van. Then we chilled and watched some tv in the van. Site was very green and would definitely return here.
It only cost 8 euros including wifi
Wednesday 26 June
Set off early today around 8.30 and had a steady run through to Beaune arriving at 11.30. The municipal site here is very good with private pitches and also a bar & restaurant. Beaune is a very pretty town with lots of bars & restaurants and is in the heart of burgundy. Had a nice meal out and after a while returned to the site where we managed to sit out in the sun for the first time. Met a couple Ian & Betty from Luton who were in a caravan next to us. Invited them for a glass of wine before we all had supper.then watched TV and then into bed.
Thursday 27 June
Set off 9.00 and arrived at Cluny at 11.00. Did a load of washing and sat around the van bringing in & taking back out the washing to dodge the showers. Stayed at the van until about 16.00 before a gentle walk into Cluny which took about 10 minutes. Cluny was a very pretty town with the remains of what was the biggest abbey in Christendom. We unknowingly went in the back entrance and wandered round finally exiting through the front. We had managed to avoid the 9 euro charge !! Result ! ! We had a wander through Cluny and found a small bar in the sunshine where we had a Grimbergen Ambree which was very nice. We had a further look around and then went into a restaurant and I had Prawn & Scallop skewers which were delicious. Jane had a chicken salad which she also enjoyed. On returning to the van we watched some more TV and retired to bed.
Friday 28 June
Woke up and the rain was pouring down. Stayed another day in Cluny.stayed in the van all day because of the weather. I read and played Sudoko whilst Jane did her Cross stitch. Went out for a quick respite at 19.00 for dinner. Went to an Italian restaurant which was nice but very expensive, not really worth what we had. Came back to the van and watched TV before settling down. Cluny is a nice place and the campsite is of a decent enough standard. One big attraction here is there is a traffic free cycle track which goes through some pretty scenery & little villages. Unfortunately because of the weather we didn’t get to use it.
Saturday 29 June
Set off at 8.30 but the weather again was crap and we filled up with diesel and shopped for some wine before we arrived in Langres a walled city dating from Roman times. It was ok but there didn’t seem to be much in the town in regard to bars & restaurants. Bought the local Tarte Langres for tea and ate in the van. Decided to head west instead of continuing north and on the east side to try and find a bit of decent weather. Stayed in the van for the evening with a view to getting an early night and setting off early tomorrow morning.
Sunday 30 June
Got up at 6.00 and went west to try to get some decent weather. Journey was great as there was no traffic on the road. Arrived at Gien around 11.00 after stopping for a break and not being able to find the campsite initially. It was a beautiful day ( for a change ! ) and we hung around the van until about 18.00 before walking over the bridge above the river Loire and into Gien. The town was fairly small and we had a couple of beers sat in the sun in a bar before choosing a restaurant down by the river. Jane had the mussels which she did not like due to cracked shells in her sauce. I has fish which was ok. Then walked back to the van and sat having a glass of wine watching the sun go down on the river before retiring to bed.
Monday 1 July
Awoke to glorious sunshine and after a lazy start had a cooked breakfast and watched the shepherd move his sheep & goats through the site before moving up the river. Went for a cycle ride,the round trip was 24 km and we went along back roads & forest tracks to Briare which has a famous canal aqueduct which we cycled over the river Loire. Had a large beer in Briare which was cold & tasted like nectar. ( Had worked up a thirst by now ! ) On the return journey stopped off at a little bar in a small village called St Martin which gave us time again to get our breaths back before returning to Gien. The weather clouded over and the forecast tomorrow is some rain so we are heading north again chasing the sun. Had a home cooked chicken curry at the van whilst sitting outside & chilling with of course a couple of beers
Tuesday 2 July
Set off from Gien at 8.00 and arrived at Isle de Trois Rois at Les Andeleys on the river Seine after a couple of diversions. Set up the van and then walked into Little Les Andeleys which was very pretty and had a beer sitting in the warm air although the sun had gone behind the clouds. Walked up to the local Carrefour and bought some food for tea. Sat out all evening having eaten our dinner and drank a glass of wine. Was visited by a pair of ducks who settled down for the night at the side of our chairs.
Wednesday 3 July
Stayed another night at Isle de Trois Rois and it poured down all night. It was cloudy & cool all day. Went out & bought 4 different bottles of red wine to try from Carrefour. Had a taste of each with lunch to see if we liked enough to take home. None really was outstanding. Stopped in the van the rest of the day chilling. Had a roast chicken we had bought earlier with some chips from the bar. Watched some TV & went off to bed.
Thursday 4 July
Got up early again and left at 7.00 and mistakenly ended up on the motorway which cost €4.90 for about 10 miles. What a rip off. Arrived at Guines, a beautiful campsite with pool and bar, restaurant etc. that cost €34 for one night.stayed in the van all day chilling with Sudoku and Jane doing her Cross-stitch. Went for a lovely meal in the restaurant on site and then chilled again before bed.
Friday 5 July
Set off for Dunkirk around 7.30 and arrived shortly after 8.00 having an easy run. Caught the 10.00 ferry which was a little late and by the time we were off the ferry it was close to 12.00. Arrived home around 16.00 after a nightmare queuing around Dartford crossing.