Monday, July 2, 2012

France Road Trip

Final leg of the WINGAZ Euro trip!

Across France and back in 3 days!


This was the last part of our European adventure; we’d been travelling for almost 2 months and the end was almost near. In the morning we left San Sebastian on a train and travelled to Hendaye, a small French town just on the boarder between Spain and France. We then took another train to Bordeaux on the west side of France. At Hendaye we bought a road map of France, as we were going to hire a car in Bordeaux and drive around France for 3 days. When we arrived in Bordeaux we took the bus to the airport, as we were staying in a hotel close by and picking up our car from the airport the next morning.  

Staying in a hotel was like luxury to us, since we’d spent the good part of 2 months in hostels, large dorm rooms and single beds. The private room, fluffy pillows, queen size bed with its soft mattress and private bathroom were well deserved after roughing it for so long.

Yay, I was navigating!

That night we ordered pizza for dinner and prepared for our road trip across France. We decided to revisit St. Ferriol, Queen Sophie and Price Guilhem at the Chateau that we spent a month helping out at in January. We plotted a route from Bordeaux, avoiding toll roads; all the way to St. Ferriol.

The spaceship hire car
The next morning we picked up our car from the Bordeaux Airport. We’d booked a Berlingo for hire so we could fit our large backpacks in and also recline the seats to enjoy a few nights sleep in the car. But instead, there were no Berlingos so they upgraded us to a Citroen C3 Picasso. This car was like a space ship! It had a massive windscreen, high tech dashboard, all the gadgets, sun roof….. plus I think we were the second people to hire the car, so it was pretty much brand new.

Had to stop and get a photo!
We’d ordered an extra pizza the night before, so we could have it for lunch. We stopped in a town called Condom for a break and some food. (It was by chance that our road trip went via this town, not on purpose!) We found a nice little park to enjoy our break.

Gaffa enjoying pizza leftovers
5-6 hours later we arrived back at the Chateau. It was a glorious sunny day, total opposite to when we were here last – it was snowing! We walked around the grounds of the Chateau, reminiscing about our time there. Queen Sophie was not home yet, so we waited for her return. She arrived later with the dogs, Prince Guilhem and a new volunteer to help her out. That night we stayed for dinner, and Queen Sophie was also nice enough to let us stay in the St. Ferriol gite.


The next day Gaffa helped Queen Sophie and the new volunteer with rearranging the office upstairs, as he had planned it with Queen Sophie so many months ago. Heavy lifting and lots more de-hoarding!! While this was going on, I had the pleasure of babysitting Prince Guilhem. He’d developed a liking to Spider Man since I last saw him, and had made his own web around the dinning room table. Not a good idea, as he later tripped and hurt himself! We also helped with measuring the courtyard, as they were getting builders in to complete the job, so that it would be finished by summer. That night we were treated to a lovely dinner. I even got to read a story to Prince Guilhem before he went to bed. We slept in the car for the first time, reclining the front seats and getting out our sleeping bags. It wasn’t the most comfy nights sleep, but it was enough.

Sleeping in the car
We woke early the next morning to start our drive back to the west side of France. Our next destination was Hourtin, a small little beach town on the west coast of France, facing the Bay of Biscay. Gaffa had visited Hourtin when he was young with his family, so it was nice to enjoy a part of his past with him. 

Hourtin Beach
We stopped to buy supplies for lunch on the way, and found a nice secluded beach to enjoy a picnic and some sunbathing in the sand dunes. However we were disrupted by a man asking us if we could move off the beach as they were filming a movie. We asked in our broken French what the movie was about, and he said it was about a girl in a truck. We saw the truck, but not the girl…


the truck.....
We decided to pack up and continue our road trip. We drove up to the end of the peninsula, across the water from Royan. We found a nice marina and stopped for a visit, but nothing was open. We then headed back to Bordeaux as we were dropping the car off the next morning.

excited Gaffa, doesn't have to cook!
Back in Bordeaux we both had a craving for a cooked bbq chicken… we drove around Bordeaux for hours, trying to find a supermarket that sold a cooked chook. Unfortunately we didn’t find any. So for dinner we ate out at an American Ranch style restaurant, and treated ourselves to a burger and dessert.


That night we slept in the car again. This time we parked the car close to the airport as we had already filled up the petrol tank before we went searching all of Bordeaux for chicken, and we didn’t want the fuel tank indicator to drop before we returned the car in the morning.

We arrived early to the airport for our afternoon flight back to London. Luckily we did, as there was an air traffic control strike at Bordeaux Airport and there were a lot of cancelled flights. We had to wait a couple of hours to hear if our flight was cancelled or not, but thankfully it wasn’t - it was just delayed a few hours. We got back to London Gatwick without any further hitches, and caught the train to Havant.

last relaxing day in Europe.....
Our Euro Adventures were finally over. We’d made it back in one piece. We’d travelled for 58 days straight around 11 different countries…. It was the best experience ever, and we saw loads of amazing things that we’ll treasure forever.

Bye bye Europe, we enjoyed exploring you!

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