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The Dream And Other Things.

France - En Passant

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Sun

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The end of a glorious summer and a long, long road.

Four feet and six wheels, all standing on French soil as we disembarked from Cherbourg. The sun was shining and all was well with the world as we headed down the peninsula for the heart of France and it's beautiful scenery. We avoided all the big commercial camp sites, crowded with holiday makers at this time of the year, and always stayed on the small municipal places that every small town seemed to have. We hadn't realised that the French were so keen on the outdoor life and many of them pick on a particular site that they enjoy and leave their caravan there all the time. This does away with the towing and all they have to do is pull the caravan out when they get there. Good idea. Bastille Day found us on a very pleasant site outside a small village and we were invited to join the local celebrations, where people were most generous to us, including the mayor, to whom we were introduced. We met all kinds and nationalities, other English, German, Dutch, Belgians, Scandinavians, and the French of course. Some really, really nice people. Outdoor meals were great, usually in the shade of the trees as the sun was getting warmer and warmer as we headed further south. Plenty of fresh fruit and veg to go with our chosen meat or fish, glorious cheeses and wines too numerous to count.
Day by day I would draw our progress on a large scale map we carried and day by day we drew nearer to the Mediterranean, which was to be our first taste of sun and sand and where we knew that the same waters would be lapping the coast of Spain. By the time we entered Provence the thermometer was registering 100 deg.F  and the poor old Saab was always struggling with engine temperatures as it manfully heaved two tons of caravan and domestic appliances around rural France.
Suddenly, there it was, the Mediterranean, just as blue as the postcards portrayed it and equally as inviting. We were now on the Cote D'Azur and the 'posh' people. San Tropez, with it's multi million pound yachts, Monte Carlo and the magic of the Casino. Magnificent tea-rooms that echoed to the sound of tinkling silver. Ah, this was the life, very nice, but not for us. Our pleasures were to be found at a much simpler, and perforce much cheaper, level. It was while we were camping in this area that we got trapped on our campsite by the dreadful forest fires of that summer. The roads outside the site were closed and the police and firemen were fairly confident that they would act as a fire break. Never the less we were advised to be ready to walk out into the sea if the fire should reach the caravans. Fortunately the firebreak won the day and we were fine. Shortly after that incident as October dawned and the camp sites began to empty with the holiday season coming to an end we headed south once more for Spain. Our glorious summer introduction to beautiful France had been a marvellous experience but it was time to move on. We had a long way to go to reach the south coast of Spain and autumn was with us.

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