Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Over the Central Massif and into Spain

Sunday 10 March
We set off on our journey to Lodeve (our night halt) at approx. 09:30, on a beautiful sunny spring day. We headed south towards Vichy, then west towards the motorway. We passed through small villages where the locals were out buying their bread from the local patisseries, which were open on Sunday. Eventually, we picked up the motorway and began our journey south.
We pulled in at an Aire to sample the croissants and coffee only to find that it was just rest area. We made our own coffee and settled for a biscuit instead, and then hit the road south.
The traffic was becoming busier, so we decided to stop again at a services, for the coffee and croissants; unfortunately this was a very busy services more akin to the M6 with various shops and lots of people including coach loads of children and teenagers. The coffee and croissants were poor standard, so we moved on feeling a tad peeved.
The amount of traffic continued to increase and the road climbed up and up over the Central Massif reaching an altitude of over 1200 metres. We encountered 2 serious accidents, each involving several cars, with one car on its roof, probably a typical weekend on French motorways.
We stopped at a quiet Aire with views for lunch, and continued towards the Sir Norman Foster Bridge across the Gorges Du Tarn, where we stopped at a rest area to admire the view and take some photographs. The bridge is very graceful, magnificent and beautiful, and fits in perfectly with the surrounding dramatic landscape. The Millau Viaduct is a cable-stayed bridge that spans the river Tarn near Millau in Southern France. Length 2460 m, Height 343 m.

It was now moving towards 18:00 hrs. so we pushed on, arriving at our campsite at Lodeve by 18:30. We quickly got set up, had a meal and retired to bed by 21:00, tired but pleased with our efforts to reach a campsite that is within striking distance of Spain.
We were on the road by 09:30 in warm sunshine, with 150 miles to go to our camping at L’estartit on the Mediterranean coast.
As we approached the Pyrenees the weather went off, with foreboding black clouds and a drop in temperature, leading eventually to some very heavy rain, which combined with narrow lanes at motorway improvement works, the driving was somewhat challenging.
Eventually we crossed the border, and as we descended into Spain, the weather gradually improved, until we were driving along in lovely warm sunshine. We reached our destination, of Camping les Medes, near L’estartit by 15:30 hours.
The staff were very welcoming and efficient, and we had soon chosen our pitch, set the caravan up and sat down for a very late lunch of bacon and eggs with french bread and tea.

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