Posted by: glenswatman | April 11, 2007

199705 England France Belgium Luxemburg Switzerland

THURSDAY 1 MAY 1997 – Election day. Booked ferry crossing £36.  Left Peter’s early afternoon to drive to Mum’s then Jan & Dave’s in the evening.  Labour win the election from the Conservatives.



FRIDAY 2 MAY – To Telford naturist club.  Stayed all day.  Played Scrabble with Heather & Dave.  Too much to drink.  Very hot and sunny all day.  Used gas BBQ for the first time, very good and quick.



SATURDAY 3 MAY – Stayed at club.  OK early morning.  BBQ lunchtime.  Rained a bit in afternoon then became warm again.  Adults and children’s games party in evening.



SUNDAY 4 MAY – Lazy day watching TV & videos.  Rained on and off all day.



MONDAY 5 MAY – Left Telford early and went to Pete and Carol’s.  Vi & Alan’s in afternoon for Alan’s birthday.  Line dancing with Carol in evening.  Rainy all day



TUESDAY 6 MAY – To Travelworld for air suspension fitting.  Into Wolverhampton past new Molineux stadium.   Drove down to Dover.


WEDNESDAY 7 MAY – At last the new air bags are fitted and we are ready to roll (or not as the air bags are supposed to stop rock & roll).  Have booked on to the 0515 ferry for tomorrow but arrived at Dover early and caught the 0230 one.  Arrived in Calais FRANCE at 0530 and pull over at the side of the road in a line of lorries to sleep.  Woken by a lorry hooting as we were blocking an entrance so we made an early start.  Drove in BELGIUM and then made a mistake trying to take a “short cut” through Namuk in rush house (mental note to avoid towns at rush hour in future).  Couldn’t believe it as it started snowing.  ABS warning light came on but went off when engine was turned off.  Carried on towards Luxembourg up into he hills as the snow became heavier.  Pulled up in a village called Bastagne and parked by a pond where we watched the snow falling, ducks playing whilst sat in the warm eating our meal.



THURSDAY 8 MAY – Drove into LUXEMBOURG and walked round Esch Sur Sure.  Carried on towards France having filled up with cheap diesel (188 litres, 42 gallons).  Drove to Colmar in FRANCE.  Very pretty town.  Pop group playing in the park, old houses and canals with boats like Venice.  Rained most of night. Parked up near a sports stadium. ABS light on again.



FRIDAY 9 MAY – Still raining.  Tried to drive to Basle but they wanted to charge 24CF (£10) road toll for a day in Switzerland as our van is over 5 tons.  Decided to stay in France.  We keep getting the ABS warning light coming on so call at a garage in France to be told to go to Switzerland to get it checked!  Second garage said Switzerland or Germany so phoned Travelworld in Wolverhampton and they said go to Switzerland.  Change of plans yet again.  Went into Besancon and saw the astronomical clock.  A very old clock with over 100 dials showing tides, lunar cycles etc.  Spent the evening parked up at the river side in Quingey. A lovely spot but once again it rained through the night.  Decided to make our way to Switzerland for Monday morning.



SATURDAY 10 MAY – Mr Fix it Steve twiddled with the fuses in the engine yesterday and now the ABS light seems OK but still heading to Switzerland to check.  Went to Arc Et Senans where he architect Nicolas Redoux has designed the perfect salt mining town in a semi circle.  Carried on the Lac de Chalan to stop for lunch but liked it so much we stayed overnight.  Right on the lake side with our own beach at the side of the van.  Warm and sunny but not yet hot.  We have been eating out of he freezer but don’t reckon much to the food we got cheap at Aldi; there is no taste in anything.



SUNDAY 11 MAY – Woke up to see about 20 fishing boats already on the lake.  Had to laugh at one boat with 3 men in all facing different directions.  Visited cascades de Herisson where we walked for 2 ours past some waterfalls.  Drove to the Swiss border at a little village to be told that we didn’t have to pay to drive into SWITZERLAND – so we drove to Geneva.  Saw the famous high fountain.  Tourist info was shut (well what do you expect on a Sunday) so we headed out to the airport to try and get information on Ford dealers.  Didn’t get to the airport but found a Euro Relais station in a car park (for the uninitiated this is a fill up and dumping station for motorhomes).  The next motor caravan to pull up was a Swiss family from Geneva and they told us where the garage was and also a place to park near a sports centre overnight.  They even drove around in their car later on to check that we had found the place to park.  We keep meeting these nice people.



MONDAY 12 MAY – Drove to the Ford garage to be told that no one in Switzerland could help try France!  Drove to FRANCE and tried a couple more garages and no one really knew but as the light hadn’t come on for a few days it was probably OK.  Stopped at Annecy but couldn’t park.  Went to a hyper market to stock up on food and diesel.  It was 1210 and the store and petrol station shut at 1215 so Steve left me shopping while he went to get the diesel.  He couldn’t believe it when after putting 2FF (22p) worth in the girl shut off the pumps and went to lunch.  We headed up into the mountains through Grenoble (near the 1996 Olympic ski resort) and parked overnight in a picnic area overlooking the Italian, Swiss and French alps and a viaduct on the road towards Sisterton. Decided to have a bath, the lotus position came in handy.  Very thrifty with the water, Steve bathed after me and then we washed he clothes in it.  Rained all night.



TUESDAY 13 MAY – Still raining.  Drove over two mountain passes to Montelimar in Provence.  It finally stopped raining so we walked round Orange and saw the Roman Arc de Triumph and theatre.  We also saw dozens of large caravans being towed through.  It seems that at the end of May each year the gypsies drive to Sainte Maries de la Mar on the south coast for a festival.  Think we may end up joining them.  At last the sun is out and having parked up by a river for tea we drove through the narrow medieval streets of Avignon (by mistake). We then parked up outside the town walls (which we should have done in the first place) and walked to see the famous bridge and palace.  Drive to Point du Gard, a Roman aqueduct, and parked up for the night.  Very warm for a change.  Hope tomorrow is sunny.



WEDNESDAY 14 MAY – Sunshine at last.  Went to look at bridge first thing then sunbathed on pebbly beach by river.  We like inhere so will stay overnight.  A Ford motorhome pulled on the car park at tea time so Steve pounced on them and found out they were French/Canadians from Montreal that had rented the van from Avis.  We now have a phone number for Avis so may be able to get some help with the ABS problem tomorrow.



THURSDAY 15 MAY – Another nice day spent mainly by the river and late afternoon making phone calls about the ABS problem.  Tomorrow we must go to a place south of Avignon to see a man at a garage there.  Set up the table outside in the evening and played cards.  We bought a book on new card games just before we came away.  Steve doesn’t like it as I keep beating him.



FRIDAY 16 MAY – Drove to garage but it was closed for lunch so we went for a meal in the lorry driver’s restaurant next door.  Menu of the day included a whole bottle of wine.  I drank most as Steve was driving.  We then walked up to the supermarket and I stocked up on chocolate and ice creams.  Garage couldn’t help so we headed for Nimes.  We emptied the toilet tank this morning and now know why they recommend double the amount of chemicals in hot weather.  Must remember to do that otherwise I might end up with the emptying job next time.  What a pong it was, Steve was nearly sick.  Drove into Nimes early evening into the middle of a four day festival.  The town was packed with outside bars, food stalls, tables, musicians etc.  Managed to park outside main centre and walk in.  Saw the Roman temple and amphi theatre, the best we have ever seen anywhere.  Bull fighting was going on inside the temple and horses were performing in the Jardin de la Fontaine.  We stayed too long wandering round and soaking up the atmosphere because we had trouble parking later.  Headed to Montpellier and ended up down a “lane” in a car park opposite a church.  The problem was it seemed to be a short cut route and sounded like the grand prix most of the night.



SATURDAY 17 MAY – Where do the days go?  Good job I’m keeping a diary or I wouldn’t have a clue.  I have spotted a voucher in my campsite guide for 50% discount on weeks stay at Campsite L’Eden in Le Grau du Roi, so guess where we are heading.  It’s a four star site and once you have paid your site fees everything is free – sauna, pool, pool slides, sun bed, table tennis etc.  Rained in afternoon, had a sauna the watched a video.  Walked around the area outside the side then returned to watch another video.



SUNDAY 18 MAY – Woke up to sunshine so went for a bit ride to the local naturist beach a good ½ hour each way and my bum felt every minute.  Still hot when we got back to the site so we ate out and played scrabble then not having had enough exercise we went for a walk to the marina (the larges in Europe with over 4,000 berths).  Now I have a sore bum and sore feet.  Think it will have to be a day on site tomorrow making use of the nearby facilities.  Watched a video when we got back. It was strange because it was taped at Xmas and all the adverts were showing snow whilst here it is over 80F. 



MONDAY 19 MAY – Dull but dry day.  Walked over to the commercial centre but it is a bank holiday in France and everywhere was closed, typical bank holiday weather.  Steve went in the gym for ½ hour.  Restful day. 



TUESDAY 20 MAY – Cycled into Le Grau du Roi and posted letters.  Warm but cloudy.  Local market selling veg, cheese and clothes.  Came back and decided to clean up the van.  We flushed out the holding tanks and no know why it was smelly. (The super absorbent tampax came out like giant furry rats!). Yuk.  Lessons have been learnt, won’t be eating sweet corn again either.  Sun came out late afternoon so I did some washing then we went to the swimming pool, which was very cold.  Came back and had BBQ with steak, salad and chips followed by ice cream cornets (one advantage of having the big freezer in this van).  Washed down with wine we begin to wonder just how much of this we can stand?



WEDNESDAY 21 MAY – Hot day so went to the naturist beach then back to campsite pool.  Received a letter from England post marked Mon 7pm, very quick.



THURSDAY 22 MAY – Hot day so went to the naturist beach.  Journey back was not quite so bad as the wind had dropped.  Walked to the marina in evening and phoned Mum who said it was raining.  Definitely in the best place.



FRIDAY 23 MAY – Up early to get the bedding into the washing machine.  Cycled to the old walled city of Aiges Mortes (6km).  I was very nice and we climbed up the Tower of Constance (once used as a prison) and walked all the way around the walks, just over 1 ½ km.  Had a super lunch at a pavement café, Steve had mussels in sauce for main course and got a huge dish full.



SATURDAY 24 MAY – Left site and went to car park by Espiguette (naturist) beach where we had seen vans parked during the week.  Nice steak for tea on the BBQ. 



SUNDAY 25 MAY – Cloudy day.  At Saints Marie we drove in to town just as the gypsy parade was arriving.  The police blocked the road immediately in front of us so we had a grandstand view of the parade.  In Arles we saw the roman theatre and area, also Pont de Trinquetaille painted by Van Gogh.  He spent a lot of time in Arles painting and it was here that he cut off his ear.  Saw the Alyscamps, a mythical burial ground wit open tombs and sarcophagus (look it up in the dictionary, we had to).  All very gloomy.  Drove on to Les Baux de Province an old town perched high up on a rock.  Half the town is old houses with tiny streets, the rest is the Ville Morte (dead town), a medieval ruined town built into the rocks.  Very interesting place with super views.  Drove back to the coast just south of Martigues.  Parked up at naturist site on beach.



MONDAY 26 MAY – Very lazy day sunbathing under clear blue skies.  There is a small shingle beach here and flat rocks surround the cove.  We managed to find the energy to paddle out to sea on he airbed a couple of times.  A fisherman (Robert Gazelle) caught a very large fish on his line (4 – 5 kilos) and we took a photo and video for him, which he was delighted with.  Hope the bank holiday weather has been good in England, if not come and join us for the next one.



TUESDAY 27 MAY – Hot and sunny.  Lazy day.  BBQ at teatime with turkey fillet, pork chop, potato noisettes and mushrooms in onion and peppercorn sauce.  Went for a walk early evening then ended up at the bar.  Ronnie the barman went snorkelling and brought back some sea urchins which we ate raw (wasn’t I brave).  More people arrived through the evening (including Claude & Martina, Phillipe & Rachel) and each one bought a round of Pernod for us all.  We finished eating and drinking at 2am. 



WEDNESDAY 28 MAY – Both poorly.  Too much sun, too many mosquito bites and maybe too much alcohol last night!  Staggered to beach for ½ hour but couldn’t cope.  Walking didn’t help nor did egg & chips at the bar.  Even a siesta had no effect.  Very windy day so we have written today off and gone into hibernation.



THURSDAY 29 MAY – Wind has died down, hot and sunny.  Steve much better, I am OK but think the anti histamine tablets gave me headaches but I got so many bites on Tuesday nigh that I need to take them.  BBQ at lunchtime, corned beef, potato noisettes and tomato and onion salad.  We have having some very nice meals.  The gas BBQ is great, should have bought one years ago.  Evening in bar with Guther and Ronnie.  Ronnie showed us “cigale” that he had caught (like small lobster).  Drank rose wine with julep that Ronnie had made.



FRIDAY 30 MAY – Managed to leave naturist site, we have met so many friendly people that our 1 or 2 night stay became 5 nights.  Had a look at Martigues town, another miniature Venice.  Went to Port Bouc for gas for van and detoured to Carrefour for a big shop.  Got charged normal price for a special offer and when I complained their policy is to refund the full price and you get to keep the item.  Drove to Aix en Provence and found a nice piece of wasteland with cars and another motorhome parked.  Drove on and heard a clank so looked and thought it was just the bikes, which are a bit loose.  Carried on and parked next to the other motorhome and he pointed to our roof.  We had driven under a low cable, which caught on the roof rack and ripped one of the struts off – oops.  The man in the other van said he had also caught it but was going to cut I before he left!  Fortunately he did and with a bit more of Steve’s nearly expert DIY we are now mended.  Another lesson in looking above more often.  Aux (where Cézanne came from) was OK.  We went ten pin bowling (only 10FF game) and left early evening to go NW to a naturist campsite near Le Puy Ste Reparde.



SATURDAY 31 MAY – Started dull, not the weather for a naturist site, but it brightened up and we used the swimming pool.  Big site with lots of caravans half hidden in the woods but very few people around.













  1. Glen, you have a wonderful site!

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