Posts From France


Starting our Paris tour (Paris, France)

Journal entry for Thursday 6th Feb, 2014 (day 309, miles 20704)

Today we departed Antwerp and caught a train to Paris. There is not much to say about that, trains after all are pretty mundane. This one not so much though as it traveled the 300 km into Paris in 2 hours. Outside towns and cities I estimate is was traveling at well over 200 km/hr.

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Sightseeing in Paris (Paris, France)

Journal entry for Friday 14th Feb, 2014 (day 317, miles 20704)

Now we have had 9 wonderful days of, living in, and seeing Paris. Most of those days were full as we wanted to cover all the highlights. However towards the end of our stay I developed a cold or something and so was a bit of a lead weight for the last couple of days. I dont intend to try and describe in any detail the things we saw. Paris is sufficiently well known that most readers will recognize the famous sights in the pictures below. Just let me say that I was impressed by Paris, it is truely a spectacular city. But that thought gets tarnished a bit when one contemplates the egos and megolamania of the men that caused all of the fabulous buildings to be built. Other than that I will let the images speak for us.

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Aires and Alternators (Chalon sur Saone, France)

Journal entry for Wednesday 22nd Mar, 2017 (day 8, miles 70163)

We have been hearing about Aires for years from people and publications about motorhome travel in Europe (but more specifically France). We have been told, and read widely, that these are like overnight parking places for RVs that typically are not suitable for trucks, are specifically set aside for RVs in or on the edge of towns, and usually provide a sani-dump, fresh water (and even sometimes) electrical facilities. But in truth in our last two seasons in Europe we have not actually used one. We have often had conversations with non Europeans about the word Aires and its meaning. Google translate will tell you it means something like area, or zone. But that does not really explain the terminology Aires

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Just plain alternators, and a Volvo dealer (Aire de Portes Les Valence, France)

Journal entry for Thursday 23rd Mar, 2017 (day 9, miles 70322)

As I mentioned in yesterdays entry I was somewhat nervous that today we would find that the guys in Eindhoven had replaced the previously faulty alternator with some European part that was not up to the job. This concern was driven in part by the understanding that in Europe the U500 Unimog is a full 24 volt truck whereas the US version has a 12 volt alternator and 12-24 volt dc-dc converter to boost the voltage for all the control units.

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The rain in (almost) Spain (Le Boulou, France)

Journal entry for Friday 24th Mar, 2017 (day 10, miles 70550)

It rained heavily throughout the day as we travelled down the A7 and then the A9 motorways towards the Spanish border. These sections of motorway seem to be managed by a different company and in general the road, and facilities were in poorer condition than those of the first few days.

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France (St Jean Pied de Port, France)

Journal entry for Thursday 4th May, 2017 (day 51, miles 73392)

Yesterday in San Sebastian was really the last day of "touring" as today we started the long trek North to the Belgium Port town of Zeebrugge where we will drop our vehicle for shipping back to North America. But even so we could not pass up the opportunity to drop into the French town of St Jean Pied de Port which is a major stop for pilgrims (and walkers) on the The Camino de Santiago. While St J.d.P.P is a small village I was surprised that it catered for our (and other) large motorhome well. Right in the town it had a large parking lot that was an aires for motorhomes and the main streets were comfortably wide. Interestingly this parking lot was right next door to a Jai alai stadium. More generally the town was a jumbled mix of French, Spanish and Basque. We had a nice afternoon there enjoying the tourist bustle and a beer in a local bar.

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France (North of Bordeaux, France)

Journal entry for Friday 5th May, 2017 (day 52, miles 73562)

Today the trek started in earnest, tedious day on motorways paying hefty tolls. The two photos are of a segment of the Camino that Nina walked before we got underway. Finished the day a little North of Bordeax.

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France (North of Tours, France)

Journal entry for Saturday 6th May, 2017 (day 53, miles 73765)

The trek continued today, more motorways and rain

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France (South of Arras, France)

Journal entry for Sunday 7th May, 2017 (day 54, miles 73985)

The roads were a little quieter today as France, like many European countries, prohibits cargo trucks from driving on the highways on Sundays. As a consequence traffic was lighter on the roads but the roadside rest areas were packed with parked trucks and bored drivers; what a waste. We had to skirt Paris this afternoon got a taste of Paris car drivers. I must say it was a bit of a challenge as many of the drivers preferred to occupy part of two lanes presumably on the assumption that it gave them more flexibility in that they could dart into either depending on future traffic conditions.

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Monet's Garden (Beauvais, France)

Journal entry for Tuesday 23rd May, 2017 (day 70, miles 74366)

This morning we collected a rental car from Charleroi airport and will spend a couple of days with it exploring a little bit of France. First stop was href="http://giverny.org/gardens/fcm/visitgb.htm">Monet's Garden in the little town of Giverny. The drive from Charleroi initially was mostly motorway, fast and relatively crowded. But eventually it turned into a nice sunny meander through beautiful countryside. It was a good thing we enjoyed the drive and the countryside generally because to be honest Monet's Garden itself was a bit of a disappointment with the experience being further diminished by the crowds and the general feeling of tourist exploitation (Euro 4.0 for a coke). But the good news is that we have ticked that box for Nina.

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French Coast (Saint Inglevert, France)

Journal entry for Wednesday 24th May, 2017 (day 71, miles 74366)

First stop today was Rouen where we visited the grave of Nina's paternal grandfather - Donald McDonald - who died late in World War I and like very many colonials now rests in one of the many large cemeteries in the area. Thanks to previous visits by Nina's sisters we had no trouble finding the grave. The experience was surprisingly moving, for Nina because of the thoughts about what it must have been like for her father (Frank) who never met his father Donald, and for both of us getting a glimpse of the huge scope of the loss that the world wars inflicted on peoples from all parts of the world.

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