Thursday, September 16, 2004


This year we spent our summer holiday in France, camping. For the last 5 years or so we have been down to Cornwall or Devon, which is probably my favourite part of the country. I love the rugged coastline, the waves crashing on the rocks, the surfing and the pasties + cream teas. However, it must be admitted, that the weather is somewhat changeable to say the least. So, in the hope of some sunshine, and for a bit of a change, we decided to head over to France.
After taking the ferry over to Calais, we took a 10 hour drive down to Royan, on the West Coast. The campsite we stayed at was really cool. We had a huge pitch, amongst the trees, and although it was definitely a family site, it wasn't too noisy.

It took me a while to wind down, and for the first few days I was in a totally foul mood (sorry su), but after a few cycle rides, some barbeques, some beach days and plenty of good French wine I was a bit more chilled. I loved the French attitude to food. Every meal is an occasion. At first it annoyed me that it was impossible even to get a simple lunch in under 2 hours, but when I got used to it, it was really nice to take time out and chat or just watch the world go by. In France, (at least where we were), everyone stops for lunch for at least 2 hours, even the lifeguards on the beach announced that they were off for lunch at 12, so could everyone be careful in the sea until 2.30! Once Su and I were cycling through a forest, in the middle of nowwhere, and we saw several couple and families sat eating lunch at the side of the path. They were sat up to tables with table cloths, full crockery and of course the obligatory bottle of wine.
I enjoyed cycling out in the mornings to get bread, croissants or pain chocolat with fresh orange juice for breakfast. Definitely a good way to start the day.

Cycling was fun. They're definitely more set up for it over there. Lots more cycle lanes, and the drivers are definitely more curteous towards cyclists than in England. To overtake they would often indicate and move out to the opposite lane. Several times when we were waiting at the side of the road, drivers slowed to a standstill to allow us to cross.

The other thing we did a lot of was wandering around old churches. From vast gothic cathedrals at Chartres and Orleans, to little 11th century Romanesque village churches and even one monolithic church entirely carved out of a rock by monks at a medieval town called St. Emilion. Fascinating stuff (well I thought so).

The surf wasn't up to much, so I'm still craving some waves, but other than that it was a great week. Lots of time to think and chat through the decision about college next year. Didn't actually decide until we got back, but that's for another blog.

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