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Emma & Maneesh on the Big OE

France - A Few More Days

FRANCE | Sunday, 8 November 2009 | Views [387]

Mont Saint Michel.

Mont Saint Michel.


November 4th

We were up and on the road just after 7am. It was a cold, rainy day. After picking up bread for lunch and a couple of treats for morning tea we started our 330km trip. It was a good journey, with some motorway and some back road driving. We stopped at 9am for lunch, and late morning for a morning tea of citron tart and custard square. As we drove the sun came out, but the clouds hung around.
We arrived at our campground in a small town called Champignelles at about 1:30pm where we parked up, had lunch and enjoyed the periods of sunlight we had coming in through the van windows. Late afternoon we headed into town to have a look around with the hope of going out for dinner. Our first stop was the hairdressers though, where I managed to mime my way through what I wanted for a haircut, with a few add-ins of broken French from Em. The ladies in there were very nice, and the end result was not too bad. From here we went to have a look at the restaurant, but unfortunately, as with our luck in the past week, it was closed (the only day of the week they are closed). So we headed back to the campground, where we had a dinner in which was nice, before having an early night.

November 5th

Today we woke to an overcast day and a cold morning. We left the campground and drove north west initially towards Paris. We had a stop at a bakery to pick up our daily bread and treats, before getting on the road again. Once we got near Paris, we bypassed it, and headed southwest. Shortly after we were past Paris we stopped in a motorway rest stop and had lunch. We drove for another good couple of hours before coming across a nice small town that had quite a few restaraunts. It was only about 3:30pm, so we drove to the next village to see if they had a campground. They did indeed, but it was closed, so we went back to the last village, and parked up. We played cards until 6pm, when we moved to one of the restaurant carparks. It turns out this was rather early for dinner, but they were still more than happy to have us - the chef / owner, who lived there, was watching TV when we arrived, but came back out in his chef uniform. We spent the next few hours having a great time, with delicious food, and we were the only ones in the restaurant. The owner was very friendly, and Em asked if they would mind us staying in their carpark overnight. They were more than happy with this, so that is where we spent the night, secure behind their house and restaurant.

November 6th

We had a good nights sleep. After waking up and packing things away we went across the road to the bakery for the daily buy. We left the carpark at about 8:30am and continued west. We stopped at Argentan, and small city, where we were on the hunt for some markets. Eventually we came across them. We ended up having crepes here for morning tea and also I had a sausage on baguette which was good. After wandering around the shops for about an hour we drove to the outskirts and went to the supermarket where we stocked up on 10 bottles of wine for us, as well as 10 cheeses and chocolates to take on our visits to our works in Ireland. We got back on the road and drove through Caen, which looked like a very impressive city, before stopping on the outskirts for lunch. We finally got to Mont St Michel just after 4pm to the campground to find that it had closed the previous day. We still had a back up down the road so we went there to find that it had also closed this morning! Coincidentally there was a man there who directed us to another campground that we did not know of, and it was open! So after setting up and having showers we went out for dinner. Seafood dominated dinner which was great. After dinner we ran back to the van in the rain and watched a movie before going to bed.

November 7th

After waking we went for a walk to Mont St Michel, which is a very impressive abbey and defensive fort built on a rocky outcrop on the coast. It was a cold morning, and about half way there the rain started. We managed to get a few pictures, before deciding to turn back as the rain kept on getting heavier. It was extremely impressive, it just seemed to be standing on a hill, in countryside that was dominated completely by big open flats. On our way back the wind got stronger and the rain and sleet heavier, so we were happy we had decided to turn back. After showers we had breakfast and packed up camp, trying to dodge the downpours of rain and hail. We left camp and drove down to Mont St Michel again, for a few more pictures. This was really our last 'tourist' stop of the trip. We were disappointed almost four months ago because we did not have time to come further south in Normandy to see Mont St Michel, so we were very happy to have been able to see it in the end.

From here we drove north to Cherbourg. We were on back country roads for the first part of the trip until we had a few bad instructions from our GPS that we could not seem to get past, so after making a few changes we got back on the main roads. Unfortunately we ended up on these fairly boring motorways for the remainder of the trip. We arrived in Cherbourg at about 4pm, so we went and found the ferry dock, before heading into town. We picked up a couple of things for dinner and our last treats from a French Patissiere for a long time!

We went back to the dock at about 5:30pm to start our wait until check in at 7:30pm. Em cooked up the things we had bought in town for dinner. It turns out our 'Pur Pork' sausage did not actually contain pork meat, it was offal sausage! The smell hinted this but the taste overwhelmingly confirmed this, so needless to say that was left on both of our plates (especially as we're both prone to seasickness and were about to board an 18 hour ferry!).

The ferry was suprisingly full and we left just after the scheduled 9:30pm. It seemed more like an interislander ferry, with all of the cars and trucks really jammed in, and all of the trucks being tied down. When we were on the ship, we went to our room, where we had our patissiere treats and dropped off our gear. While we were in our room the captain came on the loud speaker to welcome us aboard and to also say that it was likely to be a rough sailing unfortunately with 7m swells! Well that was a little bit of a shock. So we decided we should have a quick look around the boat while it was still relatively flat, after taking some 'sealegs' tablets. After a wander around we came back to our room and were in bed by about 11pm. The big seas had started it was quite a bumpy ride.

November 8th

We both woke at about 8am, and had suprisingly managed to get a broken nights sleep (probably thanks to being knocked out by the sealegs tablets). We could feel the ship going up, up, up, up, up the waves... then... crash! Down the other side. It was still as rough as ever in the morning, so we spent a while longer in bed. Just before we got up, the captain came on again to tell us they had lost time overnight because of the wind and seas, so instead of our 2:30pm docking time, it was more likely to be about 5pm.

I got up and had a shower, which was very hard work, because everything was all over the place. I had to close my eyes and lean on the wall. Afterwards I had to have a little lie down because I was feeling worse for wear. Em did not fare any better and was straight back into bed after her shower.

At about 11am I got up and was feeling better so went down stairs to have breakfast and check the seas. They sure were rough, but it was about this time that they started to gradually improve. Em could not join me so I took we back some toast for her to eat lying down - we've discovered that lying down really helps with seasickness!

We spent most of the remainder of the day on our beds flat on our backs. I watched TV, and Em read her book. We were so glad we had a cabin and beds, because lying down made the whole thing tolerable.

We left our room at 1pm and went and had some lunch. Em joined me this time, and it was a successful mission. After a small walk around the boat we went back to our cabin again to lie down. At 3pm we got up and went back to the restaurant, which is where we stayed for the remainder of the journey. By this stage it had flattened out considerably, so we were safe in an upright position.
We got to land just before 5pm, and after taking a short while with customs we were back in Ireland and back on the left side of the road for the first time in nearly four months. It was strange.

We had a 200km trip from the ferry port back to Limerick. The trip went well, and even with a stop for some good burgers for dinner we made good time and pulled into Eva and Shane's house at about 8:30pm. That was the end of our trip! It was great to see Eva and Shane again, who had kindly offered to have us to stay for the week. We spent the rest of the evening just chatting. The floor didn't stop pitching and rolling until we went to bed though!

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