France/Andorra and Spain, with some added Shauna

Big drive, but great part of the world.  Fortnight abroad May/June 2017

First step, drive to Portsmouth and have a walk along the front.

Sunday lunch in Bourges

Next stop - Camping Les Chanterelles, a lovely campite in the hills near Thiers in Saint-Remy-sur-Durolle, Puy-de-Dome.  We had set out for Limoges, but managed to end up 300km to the East (deliberately).  So the first 648 kms in France done!

This was the nearby lake, which was very popular with the locals, though not quite so much by the tourists!

So Saturday to Portsmouth, Sunday to Thiers.  Monday was sightseeing - just 70km to Puy de Dome - an extinct volcano with a Roman Temple at the top.  At least it was a bit cooler up here.  And we got a train up.  

More extinct volcanos in central France.

And here is the Temple of Mercury, under reconstruction.

On the way back to camp we had a quick visit to Thiers, the world capital of knife manufacturing, with about one hundred companies and a museum of the cutlery industry (it was unfortunately shut!).

And relax.

On the Wednesday we had to get heading South for our arranged meetup with Shauna.  Stopped in a pretty little villageby the name of  Marvejols with medieval bits on the way.

Then Sharon directed us down the impressive A75 - these French know how to build a road down a gorge.  Next stop was a real medieval village - very quaint and all that.

Well taken with the Knights Templar graveyard (I think it as them?).

More impressive French road engineering, and spectacular gorges.

Forgot to take a picture with the tent up in Narbonne.  But we had our own private toilet and shower (pictured), a nice meal on site, and got bitten by mosquitoes, so good and bad.
 Another 420km done.

On Thursday we headed west via poppy fields and vines.  Another 200 odd kms nearer to the turnaround point!

On the way we stopped at Villerouge Termenes where the last Cathar was burned.  We know how to party.

Villerouge Termenes was a nice we village, apart from the tourists!

 This kind chap told us all about Guillaume Bélibaste, said to be the last Cathar “parfait” in Languedoc, who was burned at the stake here, in 1321.  He actually sounded more like a rogue, but there you go. To find out more try this link.  For more Cathar stuff you could check here, or ask us and we will make stuff up.  Educational holidays.

After the tour, a quick walk round the roof before we hit the road.

The catering in this area was a little hard to find, so lunch in the layby.  Some windy, twisty road in France.

When the Cathars were more prominent (13th century) they hung around in places like this very impressive castle on top of a mountain.  Château de Quéribus.  Even managed to persuade Sharon to take the walk up to it.

Not a bad view from your castle

Must have been fun to build these?

Yep, another of these castles on the hill.  Impressive.

After the castles we had to make tracks, but due to roadworks before Bugarach we ended up heading south down the Gorge de Galamus.  A tense drive!

We made it to Camping Bernede in Rennes-les-Bains with no further challenges.   

I am told this was Thursday so I have messed the days up above.  And we did virtually nothing for once.  A stroll down the village to look at the hot springs which were popular with the hippy community.

Some of them took it all very seriously.

Final nights dinner here, before Andorra and Shauna.

Starting the ascent into the Pyrenees, above Quillan

These were very pleasant smelling plants.

Stopped at the Chateau De Camurac for lunch - lovely spot if very quiet indeed.  Out of season I guess?

The Pyrenees.

Andorra - out of the city.  Lovely campsite at Xixerella Park in Erts.  Didn't stop to take a snap of the multitude of petrol stations at the border (at the top of the ski-tow!)

And our own Shauna, surveying the accomodation.

Our coldest, wettest night.

Views were glimpsed, very dramatic if a bit wet!
A very wet Andorra la Vella, and we were out of there!

We headed into Spain to try and find some warmer and drier weather, and ended up at Campsite El Bergueda in Guardiola de Bergueda.  Lovely site, and Shauna put her Spanish
skills to good use with the campsite owner.

The next day we headed up the hill behind - opted for the 10km one.  

Great spot for lunch.

We even found some wild herbs for the dinner.

The descent at Grau Del Jou was a little steeper than we had imagined, but the chains helped keep us safe.

Didn't we do well?

Nice to have a photographer with us for a change.

But sadly all too soon it was time to move on, and get Shauna to somewhere she could get home from (as we weren't going back to Andorra).

The Gisclard bridge is also called the Cassagne bridge. It is the only railway suspension bridge still in service in France.  And it is very impressive too.

More French roads.

Stopped for lunch at Villefranche-de-Conflent, an old fort guarding the pass, and a nice place.

That night we stayed at Campsite Mun. Les Rives du Lac just south of Perpignan.  Lovely spot.

One of the two lakes, right outside the campsite.

Around the other lake we found a handy beach bar to get us out of the sun.  Cracking.

Even had real wildlife in the lakes.

As well as all night fishing - who knew that was a thing?

Morning chore time, then off to Perpignan

View from the top of the Castillet.

Then just time for a cathedral and a long hard run for the 2pm bus to Barcelona which Shauna just caught in no more!

We headed back North.  Made 400km to Huttopia Camping on the outskirts of Sarlat-la-Caneda.  

Because modern history has largely passed it by, Sarlat has remained preserved and is one of the towns most representative of 14th century France. And we had a nice relaxing day in it.

They still have typical French markets though.

Sharon is always pleased to find a church and some old gravestones.

I made a new friend

The next day we packed up and headed 20 minutes west in search of ancient cave paintings.  I think we came up trumps getting in here -Font-de-Gaume is the only site in France with polychrome cave paintings that is still open to the public. They only allow 52 visitors a day. And the tour was in English. And excellent.

After our visit we headed North towards Limoge and decided to stop at Saint-Germain-les-Belles, a nice wee site in the middle of nowhere. 

Had a walk into the village the next day.

Sharon liked the 2CV

I on the other hand liked the pub.  Quelle surprise!

Then back to the site for our final camping tea.

Then we had a walk round the lake.

A final dodgie selfie.
And we don't seem to have any pictures after that.  The next day was wet, we got caught in horrible traffic in Caen, ate at Ouistreham, and came home.

Back to front page