3rd July 2016 – 10th July 2016
After just one night at the Cavaleire we made tracks again heading in the direction of the Milau Viaduct and onwards towards the Gorges of Tarn. We had taken care beforehand and googled the route as we knew there were some low overhangs and tunnels cut into the rocks, the Michelin route planner will allow you to plan routes and gives you heights etc on route (www.viamichellin.co.uk) although on this occasion we were able to find the info out from an online forum discussion. Our plan originally was to drive the route through the gorge from one end to the other however after driving through what we both agreed was the best scenery of our trip so far we quickly adjusted our plans so that we could take advantage of tour stunning surroundings. Driving at the bottom of the gorge alongside the river tarn we were presented with magnificent views of the limestone cliffs all around. As is often the case our photographs just really don’t seem to do it justice and to experience it is the only way to be spoilt by its true beauty. Spotting an ACSI campsite with riverside camping we decided it was too good a spot to miss (camping Beldoire N44.287024 E3.234047 21 euros per night without electric). The weather was excessively hot and sticky that afternoon and although the site had a pool we decided to go for a swim in the clear waters of the tarn instead, a perfect place to cool off on a hot July afternoon. Unfortunately the area seemed to be plagued by flies so after our BBQ and dinner we headed indoors to avoid being bitten and harangued constantly.
The following day the hot weather had given way to a much needed storm to clear the humid air. Unfortunately it arrived just after we’d finished a load of washing and hung it out too dry. All was not lost though as the site had a tumble dryer and I learnt how to ask for a token for the washing machine and dryer in French (not something I’ve ever had to do before). After the rain storm and lunch we took to our bikes and cycled through the gorge so that Paul could fully appreciate the scenery from his bike rather than trying to half look whilst manoeuvring a very large vehicle through very narrow roads. After a couple of hours out on the bikes we had planned to hire a kayak when back at the campsite but when we tried they were already all booked (another time another place) instead we went for another dip in the river and allowed the current to take us along. This time though we didn’t stay in very long as the rain had cooled the water temperature considerably so 10 minutes was enough.
We drove along the rest of the gorge to Florac where we made a brief stop for lunch at a free aire next to the village (N44.323819 E3.88347).
We then took a very scenic route (not always the best plan in a large vehicle) round some incredibly tight hairpin bends to St Jean Du Gare (N44.10210 E3.594027), a small village which still has a steam train that runs periodically throughout the day to a neighbouring town. The weather was in the late 30’s and after a short explore around the village to establish where we could watch the Wales v Portugal Euro cup game later then straight back to Boris and a bit of shade. With the weather on our side and no flies to contend with out came the BBQ again – to be honest we’ve never needed much excuse to have a BBQ even at home so if the climate and the environment allows us too then it’s out. It also means that Paul’s in charge of cooking which gives me a bit of a break for a night! The bar we’d chosen for the Euro match was closed when we got there and so we scooted round to find somewhere else and found a brasserie with a huge screen outside. I ordered ½ carafe of rose wine and Paul ordered beer. When the bill came we found that drinking wine in France is much better value than drinking beer and Pauls 3 beers were 3 times the price of the wine! The result meant that it would be Portugal taking on France in the final and not Wales – next plan was to ensure we were somewhere to watch it and hopefully enjoy the celebrations afterwards.
After a stop off at Carrefour our next destination was Vallebregues (N43.858165 E4.625429) a small free aire next to a small fishing lake on the edge of a village. With the weather still in the late 30’s we managed to get a shaded spot under trees and so were able to sit out and read for the afternoon. Once it had cooled a little we had another boules challenge on very rough ground where wee could actually blame the ground and stones for our very poor play! The following day we decided to take a cycle ride and found a round route on line which was around 22kms. Just after staring iut though the route put us on a very uneven track and so we turned around and went in another direction along the roads instead, our cycle GPS was able to calculate another route and so off we went. The route took us through the vineyards and growing fields of the region, often taking what we thought we short cuts through what was probably private land. After 42 kms we finally ended up back at Boris – a little further than planned but boy did we feel exhilarated at the end of it!!
After a couple of nights near Pont Du Gard a huge 50 km Roman aquaduct built in the first century and with the football final looming the following day we move again to a small town on the canal called Beaucarie (N43.80624 E4.637307) another great little free parking spot right by the town centre. After a cyle to the supermarket to get more supplies we walked into town to find out where we could watch the final and just happened to stumble of the local market (our 1st in France), our timing was a little out though as it was all just packing away but we managed a quick scoot around and a couple of purchases of yummy looking dips and olives.
Having experienced Spain winning the Euros and the world cup whilst visiting relatives there previously we were very excited about the possibility of being in France for the final and seeing how they would celebrate a win – this time though we didn’t get to find out as the Portuguese won despite their star player Ronaldo having to go off injured.