Saturday, 27 August 2016

The Twenty-Fifth Week

Saturday 20-8-16

We woke up in Germany and headed for France, stopping at Lidl to by some stock of German beer before crossing the border at Mulhouse. We headed for a camping municipal we'd been to a couple of years ago at Eguisheim, a very pretty little town. We got there at just gone 12 and the reception was shut till 2. I couldn't be arsed to sit outside reception until two so we found an aire nearby and headed there. It was up in the hills and we stopped for a picture of the valley on the way up.

When we arrived at the aire what should have been the motorhome area was full of stalls. It was an art exhibition on all weekend. So along with some other vans we decamped to a nearby car park.

As the day went on the car park filled up with cars but then by six they were all gone and it was just vans. We walked around the art show and it was a bit dire really. They all seemed very keen amateurs who liked to splash the colour around a bit much or go in for wishy washy moody pieces. But they were having a go so fair play.

Back at the van I snoozed whilst Liz sat down with the map and the Camperstop Europe book. She plotted a big circuit of French aires to visit in the next two weeks and marked them on the map. Excellent work from my co-pilot.

Aire at Troi Epis, France. N48.10202 E007.23027

Sunday 21-8-16 and Monday 22-8-16

So with a limit of 50km per day we set off. We had to ignore Lizzie's planned aires though, I fancied a camping and we needed to get laundry done. I'd had no wifi for a few days and wanted to upload last weeks blog. Knowing McDonald's have open wifi I dived into one when I saw it in Colmar. I sat in the van and did the uploading and Liz went and fetched us coffees.

That important job done we pressed on and got to the Camping Municipal at Le Val d'Ajol just before the lady closed the reception for her two hour lunch. Good news was it was a great little site, they had washing machines and it was 13 euro a night. We made ourselves at home.

For dinner I fired up our last disposable bbq and did the 10 euro lamb chops we'd bought in Germany. Cooked to perfection even if I say so myself.

On Monday the town got a good coat of looking at and we decided to stay another day. We were impressed, it was tidy and they'd gone to town with the plants and flowers everywhere. The town hall was impressively French.

We visited the bakers for bread and the supermarket for saucisson and ham. We also noticed a sign for a free classical music concert in the town square that night. I like free and some culture wouldn't hurt us so we decided to give it a go. Liz sorted the laundry out and I burnt some pork for dinner. We got ourselves dressed up and headed back for the concert. But it wasn't in the square, it was in a big hall and it was hot and busy in there. So we ditched that idea and went back to the van to watch a bit of The West Wing on the laptop. Bugger culture if its uncomfortable.

Camping Municipal at Val d'Ajol, France. N47.92471 E006.47442

Tuesday 23-8-16

So we now fell back on the Lizzie Aire plan. The bread yesterday had been great so on the way out of the town we stopped and picked today's lunch up.

As we were back in France I could return to my pre-dinner activity of boule. We had a problem though, I'd given ours away in Hungary. So when we saw a huge Carrefour supermarket we wandered in to get some new ones. I opted for a nice but stupidly expensive set while Liz was happy with the bog standard ones. We also grabbed a small fold up bbq so I could continue burning pork without having to buy disposables.

At lunch we found the aire and it was busy even then, free overnight parking is quite popular. But we found a gap and got ourselves installed by the canal. The old boy next to us caught lots of small fish, put them in a net, then chucked them all back in the canal again. Which seemed a bit odd. 

During the afternoon a couple in another GB motorhome recognised our number plate from reading this blog and came over for a chat. They were Phil and Julie from York. They were on their way south and this was their first stop on the way. We went to see their big motorhome. After six months of being inside ours seeing how much room they had was a shock. We had a good natter, took a picture and then left them to their dinner.

Next to the canal was one of the most impressive boule playing areas I'd ever seen. Normally they play on a patch of gravel and the council might stick a bench or two around it. Here they had a clubhouse with bar and a huge floodlit covered playing area. It intimidated me a bit so my new boules stayed in the van.

We also got to watch huge sand barges floating by every half hour. They carried 420 ton of sand and were 58m long. Impressively big when they're passing a couple of metres from your front door.

Aire at Thaon les Vosges, France. N48.24913 E006.42473

Wednesday 24-8-16 and Thursday 25-8-16

Today should have been 50km and it turned into 100km. It started off well as on the route we'd spotted a small village called Aulnois. We decided to stop and have a look about as Lizzie s maiden name is Henry d'Aulnois. Which means Henry of Aulnois. We took the obligatory picture of Liz by the sign and then parked up by the church. And apart from that there wasn't much else. The cemetery turned up no Henry d'Aulnois's and the small mayors office was closed.

We drove on but then when we got to Neufchateau our road was closed, we took the diversion and drove south when we should have been going West. Eventually I gave up on the diversion and headed west on a small road. It got us to the town with the aire and after driving about through its one way streets found a place to park to get our lunch. Then we went off to find the aire, the coordinates in the Camperstop book were wrong and we ended up in a farmers yard. I looked on the gps and found the aire marked on it elsewhere, which meant negotiating the one way system again. We found it and rejected it, just a gravel parking with nothing around it. The next nearest aire was one we'd used on our way south six months ago. So back to the town, around the one way system, back down the small road and then we carried on south. It was a pleasure to get to Goncourt.

We had a meaty salad for dinner and all was well with the world again.

During the evening two huge motorhomes parked up next to us. The larger one having a Fiat 500 in the boot. They made our little van seem a bit inadequate.

The next day was a lazy one. A bread van turned up at the aire in the morning and we got our bread for lunch without having to walk anywhere. I cleaned the van windows, snoozed and got up to date writing this. The only exercise we got was a game of boule. My new boules were the bees knees and I thrashed Liz with her crappy ones. A great day really.

And then it got even better. A kebab van turned up at the aire. Two kebabs and frites finished the day off a treat.

Aire at Goncourt, France. N48.23695 E005.61026

Friday 26-8-16

With another aire just north of Dijon set as the destination in the satnav we packed up the van. The aire at Goncourt had an honesty box next to the service point so we dropped our euros in it and used the services before leaving.

We had quick shopping stop for beer and milk just up the road and then a leisurely drive south. As we got near a town called Langres Liz remembered that we'd stopped there 6 years ago in our VW camper. It had a nice camping municipal inside the old city walls. So we ditched the planned aire and headed into the town. It was market day so we had to squeeze the van through the cobble streets via a diversion around it. The site was how we remembered it and we had no trouble finding a pitch.

The market was the usual French type, with stalls selling veggies, cheese, saucisson and handbags. We thought the prices were on the high side for everything so nothing got bought but it was good to look.

On Friday evening the site filled up with people using it as a stop off on their way south, lots of noisy Dutch in caravans and a few GB's too. We decided to stop here on Saturday night as well, there's lots to see in the town and we fancied a good walk around the town on the old wall. 

And that's another week over, only five more left before our booked crossing on the tunnel. We've one more week in France planned then we head back to a beer festival in Germany next Friday, which should be fun.

Camping Municipal Goncourt, France. N47.86052 E005.32883

Below are the numbers so far for 171 days away.

Cheers, the Van Brian Crew.


  1. Following your most enjoyable blog with envy!! What happened to the 26th week?

    1. Thanks Ian. 26th week being written and uploaded today as we had a drunken weekend at a beer festival with no internet:)


Please comment if you want more info or would just like to say hello...