We left the UK in the middle of March on the Newhaven – Dieppe ferry and followed the Chemin Verte most of the way to Paris. It took us about 3.5 days to travel south to the French capital and we were blessed with dry weather.
In Paris we stayed with our good friend Aurélia and her two delightful kids, Louisa and Adel.
This gave us plenty of time to catch up on our rusty French and to play camping with them in the garden. We were also fortunate enough to rendezvous one afternoon with some Scottish friends, Dianne and Billy who were over for a week in the city. As they were staying just opposite Pere Lachaise cemetery, we took a tour around to see some famous people’s graves and the holocaust memorials.
From Paris we whizzed south for five days chased by a tail wind, taking in Chartres, Tours and Poitiers. We got to camp in a woodland where wild boar woke us in the early hours with their snuffly feeding and alongside two peacefully flowing rivers. At Tours, being officially recognised Saint Jacques pilgrims, we stayed at a hostel run by ten nuns living by the Basilique. The nuns were very welcoming, had beautiful voices and spoke very little English so we employed our pigeon French.
For the last five weeks we have been staying with friends, Rosi and Wilf, about 60km south of Poitiers. I met Rosi about three years ago on a plastering course in Stockport. She was getting ready to move out to France and renovate their new home. It’s turned out to be a mammoth task and we were there to help them along.
We’ve been hanging plasterboard ceilings, papering and painting, putting sides on the bath and shower, constructing a kitchen workstation with gas hob, helping to deconstruct the tumbledown barn, pointing the stone walls and building an extension to the patio. Rosi was a fab host and fantastic cook, so now we need to cycle to lose some kilos. The surprise for us, in staying here in the South Vienne were the number of British immigrants. Rosi’s hamlet of eight houses is three quarters British. In fact, only one house is French owned, the other non-british household being Romanian.
We left Les Laurents this morning, generally heading south towards Bergerac and then the Pyrenees. Tonight we are sat in glorious sunshine on a campsite just north of Angoulême.