From San Remo, it was a wonderful Sunday morning journey along the French coast, but we hadn’t counted on the lateness of the French Mothers’ Day. The unexpected and comparatively expensive toll roads were very busy.
No matter, it was a joy to be back in the South of France, the scenes of our first journeys in Bertha and so many happy memories. It was a high blue-sky morning and the picturesque Esterel was lush green and dewy in the newly arrived late spring.
Our drive brought us once more to a favourite stop, Les Arcs, just within Provence. The 90 miles drive took more than three hours which put us slap-bang in the middle of the French Sunday lunch.
Arriving on any motorhome aire during the French lunch can present a problem for parking. It may be a stereotypical view, but the French do like their long, slow lunches – even in their motorhomes, usually followed by a nap before moving off. We found ourselves crossing fingers and toes as we turned the final corner into the co-operative vineyard, our planned overnight stop. Thankfully, we were gifted the final of the 14 or so spaces….and set about our own French lunch!
The hillside Knights Templar town of Les Arcs had completed the renovations we had previously seen in 2010 but had meanwhile suffered a massive sinkhole which revealed a 17th century road bridge on top of a Roman waterway. Barricaded off behind the square’s bandstand it was proving an unlikely attraction.
Our winding walk up to the pinnacle of the hillside town once again revealed a magical stone built setting, with innumerable basking cats under an increasingly hot sun.
The next day we meandered down the cobbled streets and then cycled up and out of town in search of Domaine Valette in whose busy vineyards looking back to the Templar towers we had the pleasure of meeting the estate’s daughter who happily showed us the cellars and the new varietals.
A little before noon and we had chosen a delicious Provencal Rose which we later matched against a touchingly funny wine tasting back at our aire, wine makers named Les Archers. The highly amused, small and industrious French lady hosteller enjoyed serving us various degustation whilst ignoring the po-faced and critical sampling Parisian chap alongside us. We left the cave with much bon homie!
After an enjoyable couple of days we moved onto Comps, a Rhone riverside town with a busy aire that is tucked behind the flood defence walls and reached through the town’s bullring – the first we have driven Bertha through!
Already half full when we arrived, the afternoon’s stormy showers flooded the sandy floor of the aire and brought more than 20 vans in seeking shelter. It was a complicated ballet of German ruthlessness, French resistance, Dutch leniency and English politeness as we all tried to leave the next morning…