We have spent the last week or two travelling the Charante region. The variety of villages and landscapes has been wonderful. From motorways to tiny little alleyways, we have gone forward in our motor home where others fear to travel! This has led to some challenging driving, as the GPS is programmed to our dimensions, but doesn't take into account such things as parked cars or roadworks!
We were delighted by the town of Limoges and spent several days there. Grubie enjoyed this tourism as we did the "owl walk", a self-guided walking tour. For history and architecture buffs this is a great way to experience a town. We are still trying to come to terms with the age of the places we visit.
We also went to the Museum of the Resistance. That was fascinating, especially to understand how much cultural heritage was destroyed or lost. The other amazing thing we learnt was the fractured and highly politicised nature of the Resistance. Nothing like the war movies or Hogan's Heroes!!
Every town has a 'covered market' which we visit every couple of days to buy fish, 'boef', cheese and vegetables. At the moment fat, white asparagus are in season and they go really well with Michael's BBQ cooking. When we eat at restaurants we usually indulge in innovative ways of preparing iconic French dishes. In Cognac Michael enjoyed fricassee of escargot, while the oysters and moules in La Rochelle were superb.
The French also love their HUGE supermarkets and we have used them mostly for staples and to buy all the necessary gear to set up our motor home.
The Maison de l'Ecluse, Thomas's house, has the most beautiful setting in Jarnac. The Charante River flows all around it and the park opposite is full of gorgeous Spring flowers. We are checking the letterbox regularly, waiting for the registration papers to be delivered.
Jarnac is a very pretty town, beautifully maintained. It isn't set up for tourism and the distillery of Coirvoisier only offerstours two mornings a week. We met up with
The Spring weather tempted us to visit the Atlantic coast, researching places we may like to stay in summer. Las Rochelle has a rich nautical history and a flourishing modern maritime industry, including schools devoted to all things maritime.The marina has over 3,500 boats moored. We free-camped with 40 or 50 other motorhomes in the marina carpark, because most camping grounds aren't open this early in the season. Most of the other travellers seem to be French people so we haven't had a chance to chat to many people yet.
Travelling further south down the Atlantic coast of France we stumbled across a little town called La Fouras. The beach was very tidal, but incredibly beautiful. The town had a fortress and lots of little private fishing jetties, with litlle shacks on the end. As you would expect, the fish in the market were plentiful and cheap. We walked for hours, got hopelessly lost (twice!) and fell in love with the place. We'll definitely be spending time here over summer.
While still waiting in Jarnac we decided to spend the weekend in Cognac. Rather than free-camp again, we stayed out of the town at a cognac-producing small chateaux. We were the only guests and it was incredibly quiet and beautiful.