Tuesday saw us leaving our Chateau aire at Sully and driving a little bit further (well maybe twice the distance!) than we had cycled the day before. The aire at St Brisson sur Loire is noted as having a free electricity point and it was time to charge up. One other van was just leaving as we arrived. The aire was nicely set out for 4 vans and in a small but perfectly formed village. Boulangerie, grocer and a Tavern serving food. We were soon hooked up and had bought our baguette, bought a few items from the grocers and checked out that the Tavern would be open for food at lunchtime. We were just having a late breakfast of croissants and coffee when a French van rolled up and we saw the couple having a debate re electric point. Info in the aire’s book had said not to share more than twice, so we went over to ask if they had the connector to do this, an interesting conversation as my French isn’t inclusive of technical terms, but yes, of course they did, silly question! French vans are prepared for such situations! In no time the main line was connected to his van and with a sharing connector adapter, our line was plugged in to his. As you can gather, my English doesn’t do technical terms either! Only one problem, our electrical connection in the van showed we were now L/N reversed. How do I explain that! No problem to John! He drew a diagram and as soon as the French guy saw it he understood and John fitted our adaptor that we have for such situations. The auld alliance alive and well with sign language and a few language skills.
We headed off for lunch at the Tavern. Once the blackboard with plat du jour had been deciphered (more a case of interpreting the writing than the language!) we enjoyed a plate of charcuterie followed by chicken in a lemon sauce and accompanied by half a carafe of vin rouge and we ended with floating islands, tea and coffee. 13 euros each for food and 5 for the wine. We were full up for the rest of the day and a siesta was needed!
Before we disconnected for the night we had a blether with our French neighbours, we were heading to Rogny Sept Ecluses the next day, they were planning a bike run to Briare about 7 km away they said. Apparently the bridge over the canal or river was designed by Eiffel. I confess to not completely understanding the conversation I was imagining a mini Eiffel tower at Briare, until I googled!
We said our aux revoirs the next morning and bon route and Buddie and us moved on wondering who owned the dog who had been left outdoors to bark at regular intervals through the night, le pauvre chien!
Toodling along in a motorhome is as much about seeing the variety in our surroundings as it is about our destination. Hence I also take photos enroute as a reminder of our journeys. Sat nav directed us down a back road out of the village, a route John had cycled the previous day and so he could tell me about the fennel growing in a field, photo opp! As we continued a little further along and crossed La Loire, we had a nice view of Briare and in the distance the cooling towers we both had cycled to when staying further up river at Sully. Then we came to a wonderful tunnel of trees with the sun burning brightly and creating an amazing aura.
We arrived at Rogny Sept Ecluses, ecluse being the French word for a canal lock. Straight away John said, ‘we’ve been here’. There was a certain familiarity about one of the three motorhome parking areas, but scarily I had no recollection of walking along and up by the 7 locks! What’s more we hadn’t marked it up in our Aire’s book or we would have avoided it for an overnight stop, a bit noisy.
However, we parked up in a spacious area opposite the locks and after a walk and discovering one boulangerie closes on Wednesdays and the other is closed completely, we settled down to siesta in the shade of the van awning. This was maybe one our hottest days so far with temperatures around 27 degrees. We were roused from our lounging by a canal cruiser we had spotted earlier getting prepped for a private cruise, staff all smartly turned out and flower pots freshened up. It was amazing watching this boat go through a lock. It fitted incredibly tight into the deep, dark, depths before slowly rising with the water level back into the bright sunshine. One of the crew walked around the boat cleaning windows for the fortunate passengers who were sitting inside for their lunch whilst all this was happening.
After taking a few photos we jumped on our bikes (I don’t quite jump on as easily as John, I more clamber still!) and cycled along the path as far as we could before the path got too rough.
Back at the van, the car park got fairly busy with walkers coming and going and one local man came over for a chat. Before he left we had been given the rundown on his medical history; bad heart resulting in an op and he has lost a huge amount of weight, no longer smokes or drinks alcohol! He of course wanted to know about us too! Ages, drinking and smoking habits….. he was 68 years old by the way and had a full head of hair and really didn’t look his age, but boy, could he blether! My struggles at understanding parts of the conversation didn’t deter him in the least, in fact it seemed to spur him on! But, it’s good to chat!
We had decided that this was not going to be a quiet stopover, so out came the aires book and map and just 15 minutes away was a relatively new village aire at St Prive which had spaces for 4 vans. Good decision! Overlooking a tranquil lake on the outskirts of a very pretty village which apparently was home to the artist, Henri Harpignies. We had never heard of him but he seemed to paint rural scenes and was obviously well thought of in the village as artists easels displaying his work were in every street, placed there in his memory by ‘friends of the artist’ and his former rather grand residence overlooking the church had a plaque commemorating him.
The only two other vans at the Aire were Brits and so John had a good blether comparing journeys, aires and experiences. Two young lads from the village on bikes tried to play ‘knock door, run’ on our door. I must have been too quick to answer it and one lad fell off his bike trying to hide and stood up with nothing more than hurt pride and a few bruises. He said his friend was scared and had ran off. As we chatted the friend re-appeared and joined in the chat when he saw I was not annoyed with them.
As dusk fell, the still water and the distant church spire created a very tranquil scene. We had a very peaceful night’s sleep if we ignore the fact that our neighbouring van accidentally tooted his horn when he was locking up for the night!