Week 35: The Islands and the West Coast of France

We left the Île d’Oléron and headed to the Île de Ré. We headed back across the bridge to Royan and then up the coast through La Rochelle and Rochefort before heading over the toll bridge. I’ve wanted to come to the Île de Ré, since I read a book based here as a child, and it didn’t disappoint. The island appears to be mainly closed up, but it gives the impression of being lovely in the warmer weather and in season.

We drove up the Island to the top and then over to the Lighthouse (Phare) before heading back to the campsite. We passed some horses, we thought were cows to begin with and then on second look they appear to be big long haired donkeys! As we settled in on the campsite the weather app indicated that there was an amber warning for flood in the area where we were (and the north coast). We apologise sincerely for sending sun photos back to the UK!

The following morning, we hadn’t floated away, nor did we see a lot of water, in fact the sun was shining! There was another weather warning in place though this time a yellow wind warning! From the Île de Ré we headed back across the bridge (the toll covers both crossings), the wind didn’t appear to bad here – perhaps it hadn’t read the warning, but further up the road it did get gusty – the landscape changed to flat open fields and the wind was able to just blow across. We left the Charente Maritime and entered the Vendee. We stayed at a very nice little campsite in La Grisse, near Le Givre.

Moving on from La Grisse, we headed to Nantes, via the Island of Noirmoutier and the “dangerous road”, the D948 – Le Passage du Gois. The Passage du Gois is submerged after low tide, so we duly checked the tide times and low tide for Wednesday was at 12:37. The road is passable 90 minutes before actual low tide and either 60 or 90 minutes after – depending on which web page you read! We chose to keep our timings on the definite and arrived at 13:00(ish). The road is marked with safety towers and as we passed there were a number of vehicles parked and people farming cockles.

Once safely across, we stopped for lunch before heading to Nantes, where we had found a campsite on the edge of the city. There is also an aire next door belonging to the campsite. Having sorted ourselves out we thought we’d go into the city the following day, but in typical fashion the following day it rained, and rained! France has been hit by almost continuous storms since October, some named and some not! We took a short walk around the local area and the campsite, before getting back to the lovely warmth and dryness of Nortia. One of the attractions we wanted to see in Nantes was the Machines d’Ile, some robotic giant animals but they don’t always perform when there is rain and strong wind – we had both!

Friday, we headed off into the storm warnings for today and tomorrow – Storm Jorge has gracing us with his presence! We drove up over the Loire River (twice) once at Nantes and again at the mouth of the river in Saint Nazaire, heading to the picturesque village of Piriac-sur-Mer. We had our wing mirror hit by a delivery driver en-route and had to go back up the road to find the blindspot mirror which had pinged out in the hit. Luckily, before we left England at the start of the adventure we bought Milenco Wing Mirror Protectors and they have now saved us the expense of replacing the whole unit (we believe) on at least two occasions. We parked up on the campsite in what looked like a lovely spot, but when the wind picked up at 03:00 as Jorge arrived, all we could think about was the large tree opposite!

Saturday, we survived the night! The facilities at the campsite are very basic but for 10 Euros with electric, you kind of know what you’re getting! The wind today was due to be gusting over 47 Km/h! We headed up the coast back to Carnac, where we have both stayed before and past the stones, which neither of us had seen before! We were going to the Island of Quiberon, but with the weather – wind and rain, it seemed a little pointless in a giant box! We stopped for the night in a campsite in Pont Scorff, another idyllic Breton village, where the rain was relentless!

Sunday, and we’re off again! This time we are heading, literally to the edge of the world – our stop for the night is at La Ferme du Bout de Monde – the Farm at the Edge of the World! We passed through the village of Gourin, which has a Statue of Liberty in its village square – of course as we got there it had been removed and was due back later in March! We did however stop at the Memorial to the Resistance Fighters of the Black Mountains, a memorial to 59 local people who were members of the Resistance and killed by the Nazis in 1944.

When we arrived at the campsite the farmhouse is a typical french looking building, complete with outdoor bell to summon the owner. We were greeted by two lovely Border Collies, who had our undivided attention playing fetch for a while! We had decided to park up on our Traction Tracks, as the ground was very wet and with more rain due didn’t want to get stuck again. We’ll let you know now, we didn’t get stuck – the tracks worked, although it took a while to clean all the mud off them!

We survived another week of storms, we’ve got our fingers crossed for good weather next week and hope you have some too. We’ll let you know next week what the weather did! As always thank you for reading…

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