It was now time to head home towards the UK. We travelled using the toll roads, stopping overnight at Langres just north of Dijon at a campsite alongside a reservoir. It was a beautiful sunny evening but the site was pretty waterlogged from earlier heavy rainfall and more rain was forecast overnight so we took the precaution of parking on the access road, rather than risking the grassy pitches.
The Reservoir At Langes
We arrived in Calais the following afternoon, giving us plenty of time to shop at the big hypermarket and stock up at Majestic Wines before we got the Eurotunnel home. Blog ends . . .
We arrived at Vallon on a Saturday afternoon and it wasn’t until the Sunday that we unloaded the bikes and visited the local town. As a rule Sundays in rural France are quiet days with the shops and homes hidden behind closed wooden shutters with just the occasional sight of a black clad octagenarian shuffling in the shadows.
Vallon was a pleasant surprise. The small town was situated at the head of Les Gorges de l’Ardèche and was the centre for outdoor activities, walking, cycling and canoeing. The town on Sunday afternoon was open for business and was full of people. The restaurants and cafés were busy and all the little touristy shops were open and doing good trade with folks enjoying Le Weekend.
The Pont D’Arc – 30 metres high
Sunday Afternoon In Vallon
The next day we cycled up the valley of the river Ibie that flows into the Ardèche. At that time of year it was mostly a dry river bed but there were a few pools where people were able to take a cooling bathe. Unfortunately we didn’t have our bathing costumes with us.
Not Me Swimming In River Ibie
We stopped for lunch at Lagorce, a small village set at the top of a hill. We were panting and puffing when we arrived but it was fun after lunch travelling downhill at a breakneck speed. We were careful to have only one small beer and a tiny glass of red wine with our meal.
We arrived near the town of Ornans in eastern France, home of the famous artist, Gustave Courbet, (me neither!). The town was bisected by the river Loue. We were in the Jura Mountains and the scenery was beautiful and, at last, the sun was shining – but not for long as our weather app showed rain coming later in the week. There was a restaurant on site and we enjoyed a tasty, home cooked meal sitting outside with the evening sunshine warming our backs. This time we paid €50 for a starter each, two main courses and a dessert plus a bottle of rosé. I had steak tartare and Tony had trout, everything was freshly cooked from local ingredients.
River Loue At Ornans
We planned to spend some days in Switzerland at Bodensee, the lake that straddled the borders of Germany, Austria and Switzerland (where it was known as Lake Constance). Our journey took us into Germany and back into Austria before we arrived at the Swiss border. It had rained on and off throughout our journey. At the Swiss border we had to pay a €32.50 toll charge.
Our campsite was on the shore of the lake and the site had wonderful facilities and a brand new restaurant overlooking the lake. Unfortunately the campsite ground was soggy with the recent rainfall and more rain was forecast. Had the weather been better I am sure we would have found the area beautiful but the rain, plus the threat of more rain, dampened our spirits and we realised that we had made a mistake coming so far north. We ate in the restaurant that evening and were very disappointed. The food was perfectly edible but was more in the style of school dinners than fine dining. We paid almost £100 for a shared salad, meat and vegetables, one dessert and a bottle of wine. Even our bottle of mineral water cost £5.73! Switzerland was proving wet and expensive so the next morning we upped sticks and headed south west towards France.
We lingered a few days in Imst for two very good reasons. Most importantly, we had spotted an Asian Fusion restaurant in the town. Closed Mondays – it was Monday. After spending many weeks in Italy we had a strong urge to eat something different.
The second reason for staying around was that this particular campsite scored 3/3 on our points system: i) Excellent site with friendly welcome, ii) Interesting surroundings with help offered to find local amenities and iii) Good weather. It was very rare that a stopover had all three of these boxes ticked.
We set off the following day to cycle along a vast network of cycle paths that followed the line of the valleys, joining together sleepy hamlets, bustling villages and small towns. The weather was good and the scenery stunning.
After spending nine wonderful days together it was very hard to say goodbye to our four lovely daughters, their husbands our six grandchildren and not forgetting Ella, Neil’s 19 year old daughter – our step grandaughter. When they had all gone we set off north taking a scenic route towards Innsbruck. We stopped at Imst, a summer and winter sports resort in the Tyrolean Alps, 2700 feet above sea level.
The Hills Are Alive . . .