With little recent sleep we left Lake Geneva aiming for the wine region of Bourgogne.
With leaden skies we briefly called in on the famous “Cité Médiévale” of Yvoire before moving on to find a route north west without either going on a toll road, entering Switzerland or going through Geneva, neither of which our Sat Nav thought was possible. Annie, with her map on her lap had other ideas and was the eventual winner!
We spent the night on a small but very busy grassed Aire in the small town of Orgelet where our plans for a drink in the local hostelry were thwarted by the rain, but not before Annie had arrived back from a walk in the hills drenched to the skin. Richard meanwhile was sitting in the warm but with every window and roof light closed because of the massive downpours and very high winds that continued through the night.
So, still sleep deprived we moved on to the pretty town of Dole, recommended by our friends Julia and Matt who had stopped there on their 3 month cycle ride of over 3,700km from Bucharest to the Atlantic Coast of France and onwards to Cornwall a couple of years ago. Besides its pretty city centre the town is also known as the birthplace of Louis Pasteur, plus it has a lovely quiet campsite within walking distance and where we finally had a great night’s rest.
From Dole it was an easy run to the beautiful Bourgogne wine region. We took the Motorhome off the main roads and drove along the Route des Grands Crus through gorgeous old villages with very narrow roads and lanes to get a feel of the region.
The sun shone on the myriad of vineyards and famous wine producing villages such as Montagny, Chassagne Montrachet and Santenay. We camped in the village of Chagny and whilst there cycled along the tow path of the Canal du Centre Dheune to Santenay where we joined a velo route on an old railway line for the 14km to the village of Nolay where we found a viaduct at the very end of the route. This was a fantastic bike ride through railway tunnels, cuttings and yet more glorious vineyards on gentle hillside slopes.
At least Annie thought so, Richard was less impressed and this wasn’t helped by us getting caught in a huge thunderstorm when we were still 5kms from home! Interestingly this is the first wine region we have visited in France where it proved more of a challenge to actually buy any. The Caves and Wine Houses didn’t invite visitors in and so we ended up buying our very expensive Bourgogne from a bar/ restaurant in Chagny and a little more from the campsite office.
Our next wine destination was Sancerre where it proved much easier to buy their wines and here we visited two different producers in the villages of Sury-en-Vaux and Thauvenay (which also welcomed Motorhomes overnight) and given free tastings at both of them.
So more purchases were made of both Sancerre White, Rosé & Pouilly-Fumé and we set off for an overnight stop in a nearby campsite in Cosne-Cours-sur-Loire. The campsite itself was good but virtually empty, sadly the town didn’t have much to offer.
The following day we had a brief stop in Briare to see the canal aqueduct over the Loire River. We had planned to stay overnight in Briare but with a cold wind and grey skies we decided to add it to the list of ‘come back one (sunny) day’ places rather than sit cooped inside the motorhome all day and continued in a northerly direction.
This resulted in a long driving day and an overnight stop in a very quiet campsite at Chateauneuf-sur-Loire where we wandered around the town buying a baguette, some goat’s cheese, grapes and French pastries to have for our supper with a glass or two of our recently purchased Sancerre.
The weather finally beat us and on the 24th September as temperatures had dropped by over 10° and the forecast for the week ahead was pretty dire for the whole of France.
With nothing therefore to look forward to we took the option of a long drive north in rain, wind and hail eventually arriving at a favourite campsite just outside Wimereaux half an hour from Calais. Here we enjoyed a meal in the warm and friendly campsite restaurant along with a glass or two of wine to mark our last night in France.
A windy and fairly rough morning crossing took us across the channel from Calais to Dover, a battle with the M25 traffic (oh! the joys of England) and the start of our 14 day quarantine.