Dunes Rest Area to Blaye ~~~ Friday 17th of June

Talulah was protesting a lot, so we stopped on the autoroute for quite a few miles  – the more speed, the less she cut out.  sadly, as soon as we left the autoroute and hit the D10 (where our route was taking us), the problems started again.  cutting out at every junction and traffic island.  😦

we were now deep into the Bordeaux wine region,

look, i'm sorry, i couldn't help giggling....

and there were vineyards and chateaus everywhere.  we decided to stop in Cadillac (well bugger me – i never knew there was actually a place called Cadillac! 0_0 ) to have a look around.  as it turned out, we picked the wrong time, since it was the middle of the day, and everywhere was shut until four o’clock.  meh, whatever.  we had a look around the town, anyway.  another medieval walled town, another beautiful church, and it was extremely French.  think of every sleepy little ancient French town you’ve seen on the tellybox, and you will recognise Cadillac.  the local drunk even bummed a cigarette off me. 🙂

back on the road, things were beginning to get unpleasant.  due to the wind howling across the flat land, we couldn’t open the windows, and the petrol fumes were beginning to fill the interior and give us both a headache.  and then the weather closed in.  the terrain around there is almost like Norfolk.  very flat, lots of drainage ditches, and you can see the weather coming for miles.

so there we were.  driving through a howling gale, it’s lashing with rain, our heads are aching, we’re low on food, and we’re both in somewhat low spirits.  north of Bordeaux, now, we decide to make a slight detour to a little place on the river called Blaye.  a better decision than we coould have possibly anticipated, as it turned out.

Blaye is a very pretty town with, as we were still amazed to discover (despite our very positive experiences of French attitudes to travellers), ample free parking in a beautifully kept tree-and-flower-lined carpark.  across the road from here were une boucherie (pour le fromage et quelque chose avec les pommes-de-terre, le fromage, et le poisson), un boulanger-patisserie (qui vende grand cannelle!!! oh, joix! 😀 ), et un cave de vin.  perfect!  alors, nous acheter la norriture, et retourner a Talulah avec les sourires hereux…

*cough*  je suis desolee…

so we bought the food and returned to Talulah with happy smiles.  and then our attention was caught by, at the far end of the carpark, a large gathering of campervans.  upon investigation, we forund a second carpark.  this one, as my shaky translation of the sign informed us, was for the exclusive, and free, use of camping-cars who wished to park up in the town, for a night or two.

after we picked up our jaws from the floor, we availed ourselves of the facilities with some alacrity.  behind the carpark (which, by the way, was smack-bang next to the river) there was Le Citadelle.

le citadelle from the air

this was a truly massive 18th century river fort – so vast that it comfortably contained its own minature vineyard, shops, and the Blaye Camping Municipale!  we had a lovely time wandering around this for an hour or so, even taking in an art exhibition in the powder store.  back in Talulah, we had a delicious meal, which included the food we had bought in Blaye, and some fruit and veg we’d bought from a roadside stall on the way.  a smashing end to a the day.

Talulah and her friends

the next morning, we were in for a delightful surprise…