Au revoir Montreuil, bonjour Nonancourt
The rain does not stop overnight:-( It is a nice cosy feeling to make a cup of tea three feet from your bed then climb back in with it while the rain patters on the skylight. But it does not encourage getting up and running around outside the van to carry out the filling/emptying/charging etc. The service point is in the coach park adjacent and would mean parking there for 55 minutes to charge up the battery. In fact the batteries look fine according to the figures on the solar panel display. We have enough water to last us a day or so and the next aire promises all the facilities, including one free electric point. If we get there first we can nab it!
Not only is there a rumoured fuel shortage (which we have seen no sign of) but we are now hearing more on the news about flooding across many parts of northern France, including where we are going. We are definitely being tested by man and nature but, without detailed information, we decide to plough on as planned and play it by ear.
In our satnav-free years we tangled unhappily many times with the extensive marshalling yards in Rouen. Often in the middle of the night. This time Stella plays a blinder and we sail through! (Not my own photo.) At one point Neil thinks he sees a flash in the side mirror and we may have been caught driving in a lane banned to vehicles our size for a couple of hundred yards. Not altogether obvious that is was restricted, nor clear why, but we got out of it promptly. Now hoping that the French road-fining system does not tie up with DVLA:-( For the rest of the 2-3 hour journey it is an easy, if not very interesting drive: despite having gone “toll free”, and expecting side roads, there seems to be a good network of free motorways in this area. We break it with a stop for bread and cheese in a motorway aire and somehow end up parked among the lorries rather than the cars: feel small as we sit at our table staring at the tops of huge wheel arches manoeuvering alongside.
Stella takes us seamlessly to the aire in Nonancourt. Wow! Even nicer than Montreuil:
down a side lane to a green and leafy area near the Mairie adjacent to a meandering river. The pitches are a bit narrow and result in a slight difference of opinion about the giving and receiving of reversing instructions. Resolved! The one free electric socket has been nabbed by the one van already there – boo. But we filled with fresh water for free so can’t complain. There is no toilet at this aire so the time for unfettered use of the toilet has arrived!
The friendly English couple (Pat and Dave) in the other van wander over for a chat. They are heading north and from them we learn about the seriousness of the flooding of the Loire further south around Orleans and discover the road we need to take tomorrow had been closed. There had been a very, very long queue of lorries going north outside Rouen. It seems all the bridges further south over the Loire were closed yesterday and they had all had to park up for the night further south – including our neighbours who had wild camped in a wood. The traffic jam seemed to indicate that the bridges were now open and the queue was the result of 24 hours-worth of lorries piling up against the tunnel under Rouen. Pat’s son lives just south of Orleans and she offered to find out the current position. No offer of a share of the electricity was forthcoming however, and we were too polite to ask. I guess we would have if we had been desperate but the drive down had charged up the batteries nicely.
Nonancourt is lovely, historic small town with half timbered houses along a small river, traiteurs, boulangères and ramparts (we didn’t see the latter). Again, the weather, although not actually raining, did not encourage wandering around.
We ate the totally delicious lasagne bought yesterday with a tomato salad and bread. Lasagne can be sliced and successfully reheated slowly in a frying pan with a heat diffuser. Microwave would have been easier but….not without 240v electricity:-( I had almost asked Pat for an hour of electricity when she came round with news from her son. But I chickened out. The news was good though – all bridges and roads now open. Well – the ones we were interested in anyway!
We strolled briefly in the lovely landscaped park alongside the river behind the Mairie before the rain came then went to bed. What a privilege!
- a heat diffuser is a good idea.
- should we be more assertive about asking to share free resources? Early the next morning we nabbed the socket when Dave and Pat left. Ten minutes later the French camper next to us asked when our time was up, assuming we had paid. I explained it was free and we would hand it over in 45 minutes, a normal period of time for charging. He did not seem bothered and they left before we had finished. Felt a bit mean.
- the solar panel works a bit even in dull weather.
- agree reversing gestures and objective in advance. Don’t be touchy about taking an instruction. Be polite when issuing an instruction. To someone touchy.