A Travellerspoint blog

August 2013

Destination Orange - Day 7

The Final Day

It was spitting with rain as we sat down to breakfast. Although the hotel was the cheapest on the trip @ €40 a night, it was very good.

It is currently under a massive plan of updating. Our room was brand new, the bed, everything. Some of the other rooms where we could see in had been decorated and were "under construction" still. We were the only guests that night.

We were away a little after 9.20 and this time we headed straight for Reims on the N roads before a detour around looking for the city centre.

On the way we drove along the D951. Every kilometre or so there are markers showing it to be the "Voie de la Liberte", a huge monument stretching across France to commemorate the Liberation.

I pulled up to take a pic of one in Mont Chenot village. This village on the road to Reims from Epernay would have been liberated on or about 30th August 1944.

Voie de la Liberte - Mont Chenot

Voie de la Liberte - Mont Chenot

We didn't intend to stop, just have a fly-by in case we want to come back. We passed Pommery on the way in.

Once on the A4 and then the A26 we saw signs for the "Chemin des Dames" and decided to detour off to have a look. We were curious about the name and the wiki entry explains that!

Chemin de Dames

Chemin de Dames

The first stop on the way to Laon was at a monument that had a couple of tanks and armoured cars. This is a national tank monument and is on the spot where the French launched their first tank attack on the German lines in April of 1917.

Monument to the Armoured Corps

Monument to the Armoured Corps

French self propelled gun

French self propelled gun

French armoured vehicle

French armoured vehicle

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Once back on the A26, Claire took over driving and we navigated without much help from TomTom via Lille and to Bergues for lunch. For some reason TomTom has an affinity with pay roads unless you say no and then it avoids them altogether. If you accept, it seems to stick to them rigidly when there may be a free alternative that might be better.

We arrived in Bergues and parked in the square and went to the friterie for lunch. So many chips we couldn't eat them all....

From there it was a short skip and a jump to the ferry.

Another pleasurable holiday over.

Posted by InvictaMoto 12:55 Archived in France Comments (0)

Destination Orange - Day 6

he last full day in France.

The plan was to use the A31 and A26 to get up to Épernay as soon as possible. So we left the hotel just after 9am and by noon we were in Chalons en Champagne to get some lunch from the supermarket.

The local foire had started and roads were closed off and Aldi had guards on their carpark and roads were lined with parked cars.

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We bought some stuff for lunch and set off for Épernay looking for a picnic site. In the end we made our own on the edge of a village. The rug on the grass.

We arrived far to early to check in to Hotel Colbert and so we parked in the huge car park in the town centre and went to look at the champagne houses.

Epernay

Epernay

Epernay

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Epernay

(Excuse photos in one lump!)

In the end after a long walk along the Avenue de Champagne, lined by champagne houses like Möet and Perrier-Jouet, to name just two, we arrived at Castellane with its large tower.

The tour is €10 per person and there were only four of us on the English speaking tour. It takes you through the processes of making champagne and the way they do it, starting with grape juice bought from suppliers across the region and blending the juices to meet their taste requirements.

The label isn't very common on our side of the Channel as most production goes to hotels in France (80%) and Belgium (15%) and the rest to hotels across the UK and the US.

They also label for clients who want their name on the labels and there is a large room containing little pigeon holes for these, numbering about 2000!!

The tour is interesting and the glass of Brut very nice. So much so we bought a bottle of the demi-sec for a special occasion. Maybe Claire's birthday?

We then walked back to the car and in the heat of the afternoon drove out to the hotel.

It's a strange one. It looks far better than the picture. Is freshly decorated throughout. The rooms are clean with a newly installed bathroom and double glazed window, but there is no hanging space. No wardrobe, no rail.

Showered and changed ready for the evening.

When we went downstairs the bar was locked and so was the front door!

We had a run to Épernay. In the main car-park you get an hour free and also only pay between 7am and 7pm. We arrived at 6.15pm, so free.

We looked for a bar. It seems there are few and the one we stopped in was strange. They pushed everyone not eating onto tables close together. But two beers and some secondary smoking later and we were ready to look for somewhere to eat.

In the end the paucity of places meant we drove out to the Campanile hotel. They always have a restaurant and we had the buffet.

Then back to the hotel to get the wifi key and bed. Books to read and sleep.

Posted by InvictaMoto 14:40 Archived in France Comments (0)

Destination Orange - Day 5

Another early start after breakfast. Firstly across to the market in Orange and then off northwards on the A7.

We had bought some mushroom pizza and apricot flan at the market so we could stop whenever.

A coffee stop after about 100 miles in a new services and then towards Lyon and into solid traffic. I re-programmed TomTom and we were then taken on a massive loop via Bourg en Bresse and then through the centre of Chalons sur Saone! Thanks TomTom. The extra 60 miles is one thing but the latter was terrible.

On the way we passed a restaurant that might do a lot of chicken!

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We eventually arrived in Beaune just before 4pm. Our lunch stop was somewhere east of Lyon.

We had time to book in and then walk into town. The Hotel Bellevue is nice but the wifi doesn't work and isn't as near the centre as I had anticipated. The staff however were excellent. And the "small world" feel continued when the manager said he used to work in Oldham, where I lived and where my brother was born.

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We found the Hotel Dieu, but with greater skill than at Pont du Gard they have managed to make it invisible to anyone that doesn't want to spend a small fortune to get in. Oh well we tried.

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Beaune

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Beaune

We had booked the hotel restaurant for 8pm and walked back slowly after a beer and a cake!

Tomorrow is the last full day in France. We are going to Epernay. We want to arrive in time to get to visit one of the champagne houses. It looks from the Rough Guide that Castellane is open longer, but Möet and Chandon and also Mercier are nearby.

Posted by InvictaMoto 14:34 Archived in France Comments (0)

Destination Orange - Day 4

The plan today was to do the Roman theatre and the other roman sites in Orange.

So after breakfast we were out just after 9.30am for the short walk round to the theatre.

The main wall facade can only be seen in photographs as France 2 TV station has lined the entire wall with portababins to house the crew and entertainers at the many concerts, both opera and musical that take place during the summer.

The €9 entry fee gets the free audioguide and entry into the theatre and also to the museum across the road.

We spent a good few hours going from one audioguide spot to the next as it took us up rows and rows of steps to the top.

The main wall is the original as is the upper where it is built into the hillside, but much of the seating was replaced by the Victorians as it had been looted over the 1500 years since the Roman empire had failed.

The job has been done very well as it looked to fit right in. In fast, only the first three rows are Roman originals.

Roman Theatre in Orange

Roman Theatre in Orange

Roman Theatre in Orange

Roman Theatre in Orange

Roman Theatre in Orange

Roman Theatre in Orange

Roman Theatre in Orange

Roman Theatre in Orange

Roman Theatre in Orange

Roman Theatre in Orange

Roman Theatre in Orange

Roman Theatre in Orange

Roman Theatre in Orange

Roman Theatre in Orange

Roman Theatre in Orange

Roman Theatre in Orange

Roman Theatre in Orange

Roman Theatre in Orange

Roman Theatre in Orange

Roman Theatre in Orange

Roman Theatre in Orange

Roman Theatre in Orange

Roman Theatre in Orange

Roman Theatre in Orange

In the "caves" off the "vomitariums" are some audio visual displays to highlight the ways that the theatre has been used since it was built 2000 years ago.

By the time we had finished we need a coffee and we had a short walk into the centre of the city for a cafe creme. Next stop was the museum. For me the most interesting bits were the mosaics that have been find across Orange over the years. One in particular only in 1988. Most aren't complete as building and work in less enlightened times has seems the small marble stones lost forever.

Once museumed out we walked back to the hotel to get the car and got to the second town of the day; Avignon, some 35kms away.

On the way back to La Cigaliere we stopped at a bakery for lunch. After the Michelin guide mentioned Forum yesterday we needed to save a few quid! In the end we had a potato quiche, a tomato and Gruyere quiche and flan (a sort of custard tart).

The car had been giving a message to say it was low on oil and so I dipped it. It was between the high and low marks. It had been higher before we left when I checked it and also topped up the washer bottle. So the next stop would be a car shop to get some.

Somehow TomTom seemed to have forgotten about the N7 and took us on a series of back roads through villages to Avignon. We stopped at a Norauto and I invested in some GTX. Putting a litre or so in the engine.

Avignon was full of traffic, we had a tour around a few car-parks with no spaces and then decided to pay. If you do it everyday you will want to park free, but as a tourist, a few quid isn't that much of a problem.

We walked out of the walled city to take the view of the walls and the famous Pont d'Avignon. But baulked at €9 each to walk on it. We then took in the Pope's Palace. An extravagent building and by this time we were a bit touristed out.

Avignon Cathedral

Avignon Cathedral

In Avignon

In Avignon

In Avignon

In Avignon

In Avignon

In Avignon

In Avignon

In Avignon

In Avignon

In Avignon

In Avignon

In Avignon

The final stop was to be the Pont de Garde. TomTom took us to the left bank and the car-park. As soon as I saw that to take the ticket would cost me €19 to park, I reversed. Not the only ones either. All we wanted was a quick look at the double decker bridge. If we had had the whole day maybe, but by now it was late afternoon. WOW!!!!

From there we shot off back to the hotel and a swim.

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Posted by InvictaMoto 14:27 Archived in France Comments (0)

Destination Orange - Day 3

Superb start to the day. Yesterday's rain continued during the night and into the morning.

After breakfast with accompaniment from Take That on cd we squeezed out of the parking garage. It was easier than I thought but the flooring of damp slippery cobbles would have defeated two wheels! Even four wheels slipped and slid.

Once on the A31 the rain began in earnest, with spray on some sections demonstrating that maybe the French need to change their road surface to something like we have in the north that allows water run off!

Our first stop was just north of Lyon for a pee and coffee.

And still it rained.

It was as we approached the Valence turn off it began to dry up and the sun made it's appearance.

Just off the A7 we stopped for petroleum. With about 340 miles since the last fill-up I had to put in 38.86 litres at 39.72mpg. The best yet.

Our first main stop was at la Garde-Adhémar, one on the Plus Beaux Villages. It was very scenic perched high on a hill top. The medicinal garden was worth the look.

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Although it was still before 2pm, and half the patrons of the Absynthe Cafe had yet to get their main course, the waitress wouldn't serve us lunch. We should have gone, but wanted a coffee.

We had a turn around the village and then headed off.

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As we were peckish we stopped at a nearby Aldi and bought some ham and salad dishes.

Then the search was on to find a picnic spot. Eventually we found one on the side of the N7 at Mornas.

A small town backing onto high cliffs complete with medieval ruined fortress.

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From Mornas we headed a few miles down the road to Orange and after a few false turns we arrived at the hotel and booked in.

Once we had unpacked we headed for the pool and the Jacuzzi before getting ready to dinner. The restaurant was called The Forum and it's near the Roman Theatre. A little pricey but the food was very good.

From now on we need to cut down.

Tomorrow?

Posted by InvictaMoto 15:15 Archived in France Comments (0)

Destination Orange - Day 2

We were away about 0920 after breakfast in the hotel. This time we took the A26 toll motorway.

By 11am we needed a loo break near Chalons en Champagne. Plus it was coffee time! This time only coffee!

Next was off at Troyes to get petrol. The exit from the motorway was some ten miles to the north of the city and as is quite common, the N77 was full of slow moving trucks using the N roads to avoid paying the toll charges.

We pulled in the Géant hypermarket and filled the tank. The price was about 15 cents a litre less than the service area prices. The first fill up was after a tad over 300 miles and the car had averaged 37.34 to the gallon.

We bought lunch in the store, a bread item with chèvre cheese and melted cheese to keep it on and a couple of strawberry tarts.

Once we had meandered around to get back on the A26 we found it had finished and the A5 had taken over.

Dijon was still around 170kms away so e stopped in the next "aire" and found a picnic bench to have lunch.

The weather all day had been misty and soon it began to rain as we headed along the A5 and then the A31, now heading south. The spray at times was pretty heavy and visibility was greatly reduced.

TomTom brought us right to the door of the hotel. Or at least the entrance from the street, through a narrow arch into a courtyard with tables and chairs on the left. The hotel garage is barely wide enough to squeeze the CC through. I'm not sure how I'll get out tomorrow. I'm sure there must be some way to fold the door mirrors!

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The Hostellerie le Sauvage has the rooms around the courtyard and there are vines and figs growing across the courtyard itself.

Once we had had a short rest (!) we set off into the city centre to look at the sights.

One site we didn't see was the large building with the gaudily tiled roof. There is a perfectly good reason. It's in Beaune not Dijon. Doh!! Jolly good that I didn't ask for it in the tourist office!!!!!

We did get to have a coffee and a crêpe with Nutella.

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And very nice it was.

We went back to the hotel for a while. My stomach was a bit funny and I needed a pill or two; codeine phosphate. Fix anything!!

Whilst I was downloading pictures from the camera onto the netbook it started to rain. Damn. Come to France and it rains!

Luckily we have two umbrellas in the car so we could brave the rain. However, by the time we came to leave it had stopped and we just went up the road to a nice little restaurant called Marco Polo. Pizza for me, okay but should have stuck to a margarita, and tagliatelle for Claire.

After all the fresh air we were ready for bed by 10pm!

Posted by InvictaMoto 15:11 Archived in France Comments (0)

Destination Orange - Day 1

Day 1 - Home to St Quentin

Unusually for us we were packed and the car was loaded well before the "off".

The night before I had spent some time checking the route for today and loading all the itinerary files on to the TomTom.

As my maps are fully up to date we will use the Rider again. With the optional car kit it works very well.

The DFDS ferry is the 1200 from Dover and to avoid hold ups our expected departure time from home was 1000, we arrived Dover and were checked in by 1010!

After a Costa Coffee in the quayside building we were loaded and by 1145 ensconced in the forward lounge,with its conservatory windows, so we can watch the sea whizz past on the two hour crossing to Dunkerque.

Kindles fully charged to see off the journey!!

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The crossing went okay and we were off at 1520 local time into France. Judging by the wet in the fields they have had the same rain as us!

I planned a slight detour on the way to avoid the toll A26 motorway. This took us down the A25 to Lille and the to Douai and Cambrai.

The evidence of the wars is plain. So many war graves and monuments to allied troops. We stopped at an American monument to the troops that fought along the Hindenburg Line in 1918, just months before the war came to an end.

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he final stop of the day was the Hotel Florence in St Quentin.

The Satnav took us to the door. Once booked in we had a short drive to get into the private car park.

The room is in what is most likely one of the courtyard blocks. Well appointed and recommended. Loads of other British here too.

Dinner in the l'Univers in the main square. Also very nice and not slimming world approved.

Some views of St Quentin.

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Posted by InvictaMoto 16:01 Archived in France Comments (0)