Sunday, 25 November 2007

From Mulhouse to Amiens

This post covers our journey northwards towards Calais, visiting the medieval towns of Langres and Provins.

On Sunday afternoon we drove 2 and a half hours to our next campsite – Lac de la Liez – situated just outside the medieval walled town of Langres. The campsite was very busy with British and Dutch tourists, all of the pitches anywhere near the facilities blocks were taken. We set up Ace on the first fairly decent place we could find then donned our bathing suits and headed towards the heated indoor pool. We had a quick swim but we’d had enough within a few minutes and headed, dripping wet, in the cold air towards the shower block. As we split up Sarah thought some old bloke was looking at her strangely….

Half way through her shower, the lights went off. Oh no… maybe this strange man had crept into the shower block, turned off the lights and was now waiting to attack her? Or maybe the lights are on a timer and exactly the same thing had happened to me? Yes, I had to run out of the shower in the nude to hit the switch again, luckily there was no one about!
Above, left and below: Langres

Not overly impressed with luke warm showers and lights that switch themselves off, we decided to only stay one night at this campsite. The next morning, Monday 1 October, we packed up and headed into the nearby town of Langres, which sits high up on a hill and is surrounded by a huge town wall. We parked Ace up just outside the wall under some trees whose leaves had just started to turn a golden yellow. Langres was quite a charming little place.

We walked along the main street, window shopping as we went, and finally ended up in a bakery café eating a warm croissant and drinking a cappuccino. We took the long way back to Ace, exploring more of the town on the way back.

From Langres we continued north towards our next campsite which was about 2 hours away. We stopped twice en route, the first time was for me to take some photos of wildflowers along the road. After 15 minutes or so, Trudy had got out of the van and shouted “hurry up!” so I headed back with a three pretty flowers for her as a peace offering.

Our second stop was for me to pop into a supermarket to get some food. Sarah stayed in the van – until now we’ve omitted some details from the 2nd week of September onwards…. We’d discovered in Spain in late August that Sarah was pregnant! WOOHOO! From about the 6th September however, she had been feeling very ill, all day!

Lying on the bed in Ace she sent me brain waves.. matt buy some fish, matt buy some fish… must’ve worked because even though it wasn’t on the list I came out with some fresh salmon, yum!

We continued north after our shop, eventually turning off the main road and heading a few kilometres deep into the countryside, where the roads were barely wide enough for Ace to fit down. Somehow we ended up driving past the signs to our campsite but we realised our mistake and headed back.
Above: Don't be Trude! Wildflowers
Below: Ace on the farm, sort of...

We arrived at the small farm campsite which was pretty informal. A friendly woman greeted us and told me where everything was. The facilities were pretty basic but the pitches were nice and big and shaded by lots of trees and shrubs. Even though it was in the middle of nowhere, the campsite was quite popular, there were 3 british motorhomes and a dutch motorhome there. We had salmon and chips for dinner and watched more of Heroes Series 1 on DVD.

The next day, we drove slightly out of our way towards the medieval town of Provins, a half an hour drive from the farm. We parked along a residential street on the outskirts and walked into town. The low town was quite a pleasant place with interesting shops and a beautiful old wooden church, but it was the high town with its medieval buildings we had come to see. Sarah struggled up the hill but eventually we made it to the top.

Left: Tour Cesar
Below left: View from Tour Cesar
I decided to climb the 12th century Tour César which gave a great view over the town and surrounding region. At the top there were a few thousand tiny flies, so I don’t think Sarah would’ve enjoyed it anyway! Back on terra firma with Sarah, we walked towards the old town. On the way Sarah threw up into a paper bag, unfortunately some of it leaked onto my fleece!

We searched the old town in vain for a boulangerie where we could grab a croissant, but the only eating places here were posh restaurants. We headed slowly back to Ace and sought out the nearby McDonalds with our GPS. Our baby just loves a nice McDonalds and Mum is never sick after a plain cheeseburger and fries!
Below: Historic building, Provins

Many things that Sarah used to love to eat (plums, porridge, vegetables etc) now are thrown back up. A packet of ginger nuts and a bottle of powerade are now her new companions!

After our Mac attack we set sail for the town of Amiens where we had stayed in early June, a 3 hour drive north. As we got to the campsite, I checked us in as Sarah was vomiting in Ace. I chatted to the friendly receptionist and was chuffed she remarked that my French was very good. I returned the compliment and told her that she spoke English very well. She then looked at me like I was crazy until I explained that I remembered her from when I was there in June speaking English to some Dutch people. The campsite was a lot less busy than the summer, but the weather was no different, a grey blanket of fog and cloud overhead. We set up Ace on a nice pitch and started to make plans for our last full day in France.

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