|A French affair
So away from the Spanish/French border and off to the supermarche first thing then on the road to close to Montpelier. The road was really twisty as it wends down the valley and though progress was slow it was only taxing on the car's brakes.
We are making for the only open campsite at this time of year in the area close to the new motorway bridge at Millau (yes, it's Neil that wants to go there - boys and their toys!!). The campsite is OK, large but quiet at this time, with some pitches with views south and looking towards the Lac Salagou (that's a lake to you non-linguists). The bathrooms are pretty dire though - but we have already been reminded of the horrors of the dreaded 'continental' when we stopped at a rest area on the auto route - yeuchhh!
The town of Clermont L'Herault is small but reasonable - nothing to write home about - and probably made less so by the fact that we had a brief spell of thunder and lightning.
The Visit to Millau. Nice new Auto route made light work of the hours drive North to go over the new seven span bridge on the A 75, though we were slightly surprised that there was not a viewing point area just off the motorway to "wonder" at the structure.
However, later we found two of them down one of the back roads in the town of Millau itself. Quite impressive - though not, Neil thinks, as good as the Forth Bridges or the Golden Gate Bridge.
We went for a coffee in the town of Millau to a café right by the main roundabout - so a reasonable sort of place. But, the loos - well, there was just one door into a communal room that had a washbasin at either end, two continental loos in cubicles (one marked for women and one for men) and in between these, two urinals set into the wall (exposed to the whole room). So, any women either waiting to go to the loo, or washing their hands, or doing their hair/makeup, looked onto any guy having a piss! That to me is taking informality a little too far. Though it does mean that if you timed things right, you'd be on more than speaking terms with any girl you fancied!!
After this entertaining episode we drove to a little village and had a most agreeable lunch in a charming bistro attached to a hotel - all for 26 Euros - not Spanish prices it is true - but the food was better - and the Roquefort cheese was something else - Neil was tasting it ALL afternoon.
Still windy in the morning but dry none the less. And we are off by 10.30am - no point in getting up early is there?
Nice drive to start the journey to the Alps, but soon we were with the lorry traffic and it was more like the M6 than we care to remember. Still without incident!!
At Albertville, we did not see the signs for Beaufort and ended up at another campsite on the road to Moutiers. Pleasant, friendly owners, but a dinky site with clean loos and adequate showers.
1st April 2005
Bright blue sky in the French Alps - oh, joy!!
So, off we go to Meribel (scene of a couple of ski hols back in the 90's - we think 92 and 93, but could be wrong). And it's still nice, lots of new apartments and chalets but all pretty tasteful.
We go to Mottarret and have a drink on the terrace of the "Croc" bar - scene of many drinks during the hols. And then have a very pleasant lunch in the sun on a hotel terrace just by the slopes - oh, the good life.
Then we drive on to Courchevel (1300, 1550, 1650 and lastly 1850). OK but not we think as nice as Meribel - and for ski purposes, Courchevel is at one end of the three valleys, whereas Meribel is in the centre.
Back at the caravan we sit in the sun for a while - most pleasant.
Note: From Albertville it's about 25 mins to Moutiers and the same again up the hill to Meribel - of course that's on roads with no snow!!
During our day trip we have asked at various estate agencies about the possibility of long term rental - 6 months - but none were particularly forthcoming with regards to availability or costs.
Another sunny day so we stay put and Neil tries to mend things!!
Later we take the bikes into Albertville and it's very pleasant - not just the town one passes by on the road to the ski slopes - worth a wee stop over if you have the time!!
The forecast is for rain but it's sunny - nevertheless we set off on this quiet Sunday for Switzerland - the first hour is really slow going - scenic but slow, 31 miles only.
But once onto the Swiss motorways (charge for car and caravan 30 euros each, and any individual tolls - ouch!) things progress smoothly, and we reach Interlaken mid afternoon to find the site reception closed till 3.00pm.
So we follow the printed instructions and find a suitable pitch (close by the lake) and by this time it's after 3.00pm so all's well.
Really nice site and good pitches - but then it's off season at the moment and we get a 40% discount on the usual price.
To the mountains - off we go to the Schilthorn - most of you "peasants" will know of it as the spectacular mountain "hide-away" setting for the James Bond movie "On Her Majesty's Secret Service", starring George Lazenby, Diana Rigg and Terry "who loves ya baby" Savalas.
Really quite a place, perched on a mountain top at 10,000ft - yes that's right three and a bit Munros piled on top of each other - bloody high!! And for you metric people that's 2971 meters. And there's a revolving restaurant so that the "damn Germans" can't bag the best seats for the best views!
We take the cable car down to Murren and then have a very pleasant walk through the snow and pine forest to the funicular back to Lauterbrunnen and then walk up the valley to the car - good stuff for the old lungs.
So, sunny but colder today - therefore we are off to countries new (well almost, Liechtenstein at least).
Easy drive through Switzerland, and fabulous scenery, yes the Swiss Alps are the business (even for a sailor!)
Thatś all for now folks!