Monday, February 9, 2015

Onwards to France

All went quiet and we got our peaceful night. By next morning the snow had cleared on the roads a little making progress much more enjoyable. Other than TomTom taking us into a residential area via a single track, meaning a reverse out of maybe a kilometre!

Once on the way the main roads were easy. The A15 towards San Sebastian is newish and free and stays far enough south of the mountains to keep fairly clear.

On entering France we headed to our old favourite stopover at Hendaye Plage only to find it had been redeveloped into a new barrier entry parking at a whopping 10€ a night for what amounts to a station carpark, services also no longer free and now require 4€. We pressed on to Biarritz. Also a new barrier entry to the Aire and now 12€ but that does include electricity and services and it IS Biarritz! 

Digger had a fabulous time running wild on the beach which seems tolerated at this time of year. So he was a very happy boy.

From Biarritz we decided to revisit some Aires enroute to our next nightstop. This gave me a chance to photograph and video them to add or update the information on Club Motorhome.

Aires visited we ended up a very quiet Capbreton, the Aire that is - the sea was roaring! After an invigorating walk on the beach we got tucked indoors with the heating on for the night.

We were thinking of staying 2 nights but with the thought of a deadline to get to the Eurotunnel we decided to press on, any spare days could be spent further North.

Several Aires photographed and videoed we pulled in at Roullet in the Poitou region. Bitterly cold and we had a brief chat with a Brit couple in their Bessacarr and again tucked ourselves back in the warm.

Temperatures rarely got above freezing as we carried on our way the next day. A fairly long stretch and arrival in darkness at Villedomer - it started snowing again...

Services turned off we needed a stopover for water soon and we also needed to start looking for a vet for Digger to get his passport stamped. We ended up at Brezolles, an Aire we've used several times and a familiar vet. Mind you they still charged 32€ for the privilege of their rubber stamp! And the water was turned off at the Aire......

We actually manage our water storage quite well in this motorhome. It doesn't appear to spill a drop whilst on the road  (unlike our Bel-Air which could lose a quarter of a full tank) so we got another day out of what we had onboard. We headed for an Aire with paid water supply for our next stop and sure enough the water wasn't turned off. The Aire was at Pont de l'Arch in the Normandy region and what a lovely spot it was too.

The small town beside the Aire was delightful and being a Sunday the market was in full swing. We explored a bit before setting off.

We have the rest of our route fairly well planned but made a slight detour to look at the recently constructed motorhome Aire at Neufchatel en Bray. We hadn't travelled very far but felt it would be nice to park up early and make use of the included electricity and wifi.

Comfort zone and then the opposite

Our next night was at a campsite we often use in the heart of Huesca. It's cheap in the winter due to a seasonal discount and we usually treat ourselves to a meal in their bar restaurant. The steaks are cooked over wood embers and are usually very good, sadly not this time though but never mind.

Our plan from here was to look at some Aires along our route towards the western end of the Pyrenees where we planned to cross into France.

This is where our comfort zone finished! As we left Huesca in freezing weather the skies soon changed from bright and sunny blue to heavy grey and all the roadside warnings were telling us the obvious - snow!

Well it wasn't long before the white stuff appeared and increased in strength. Our target was Jaca to some official parking by the fort. We got to Jaca, which was lovely in the snow, but there was no way we would have been able to access the parking with maybe a foot of snow on the side roads leading to it. So finding somewhere to turn around, no mean feat, we headed off towards Pamplona. This meant missing out on a couple or three Aires further into the Pyrenees - what had I been thinking of?

It was a really long slog all the way mainly in second and third gear due to the road conditions. We also had a two-and-a-half hour delay in a traffic jam!  By the time we got through it whatever it was had been cleared and we're none the wiser as to the cause. The delay did give us a chance to enjoy the winter wonderland scenery, eat lunch and drink tea, unlike the poor folks in their cars.

Arriving at Pamplona it was dark, snow still falling and a nightmare to navigate - and when we got to our parking area it was impossible to access (shows the value of proper inspected and reviewed stopovers!) so we pressed on until we reached a petrol forecourt that wasn't too badly snowed up. Checking my notes I put in the co-ords of the next nearest place and was delighted to find it was only a few kms away. We found the Aire and parked up with another van (British). Unfortunately the snow covering had brought out the boy racers so we had to put up with their skid practice for a while but apart from that we hoped for a quiet night.