The route home

Back to the point where I was asking for help, from the last post, a little unsure which route we wanted to take to get home. The (bloody) sat-nav suggested shooting straight through Switzerland, I didn’t fancy that. So I have 2 options, hook left (west) into France, dodging the toll roads and pootling  north to Calais, or go right, clipping Austria and seeking the out the free, fast, auto-bahns of Germany. After asking for advice, Catherine (of Lobster fame) suggested the French route would be more pleasant. Pop through the Alps just below Lyon and mosey on up towards the Loire valley, dodge the tolls and take in a bit of France we’ve not seen before.

The Italian side of the Alps, just before we disappear into deep tunnel under them.

The E70 slowly climbs out of Turin, into the Italian side of the Alps, then ploughs into them through a 12.8km tunnel, Traforo del Frjus, probably the longest tunnel I’ve driven through. The other end of it pops out into France, no passport control, no border police, no fanfare, just a ticket office to relieve you of €58 for your passage through our tunnel.

The Traforo Tunnel entrance

The French toll roads start as soon as you exit the mountain, checking the map, it looked just as easy to drop onto the toll-free road which seems to run almost parallel to the motorway.

Lake-side tranquillity at Annonay, France. n45.3087, e4.63819

Way back in Sept/15 our TV satellite system decided to we shouldn’t be wasting our time watching UK TV, so every time we sent it up to ‘go find the satellite’, it decided to just whizz round and round until it got fed up and went back to sleep. A couple of times during our travels we’ve attempted to have it repaired, but the satellite remained elusively lost in space and we live TV ‘less. As luck would have it, the satellite system distributer (Antarion) is just south of Lyon, southern France, which is on-route home, so as soon as we pop out of the French side of the tunnel, we can call in & see the experts. After 3 hours, a new dish (apparently ours was bent) a new L&B and new cable (and the loss of €270) we can now automatically  locate satellite ‘Astra 28’ and listen to ‘BBC radio 2’s Pop-Master’ where-ever we are, maybe a bit of live Rugby too.

Bourges Cathedral

Statues…of who, I’ve no idea

The journey north continued, next stop Sully-sur-Loire, little did we know the town was in full swing with  a “festival of combat  [wars through the years]”. There were soldiers portrayed and camps from many countries, USA, GB, Canada and France, covering all era’s and all of it eerily real. Of course this being France it was also all free, including a fantastic 15 minuet fireworks show, if this was the UK there would have certainly been a charge to get in. The Aire was also gratis, close by & quiet.

Re-enactment on the field of battle.

The French version of the 101st Airborne.

All the camps were authentic too.

Shall we dance “cha-cha-cha”

In front of Sully-sur-Loire Château

Time to think about getting back to blighty, Chunnel booked for mid-week, nothing for it but to head up towards the Aire at Wissant.

All tightly packed in at Wissant.

Lovely beach at Wissant

That sort of concludes our 11.5 month tour of mainland Europe. We set off proper on 11/6/16 south, and on through France, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, (Russia, doesn’t count because we sailed) Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Greece, (Australia, also doesn’t count because we flew), Italy and then back to France. A huge driving circle of 14,700 miles. If you want to see every place we stopped (most with pictures) see the menu bar for Google Maps.

Other Charlie-like creatures boarding the sad train to the UK

Driving down the train

Sleeping spots:-
St Just Chaleyssin, Aire,colse to the satellite repair shop. n45.58875 e4.95330 All services FREE
St. Marcele-les-Annonay, edge of large lake. No services. FREE (Top spot)
Lapalisse, n46.25016 e3.63538. Nr nice town. All services. FREE
Camping de la Croix St Martin, France. ACSI €13 n46.10754, e3.43703. Heated pool, nice site 5 nights.
Issoudun Aire by a lake, disused campsite car park. Water & waste. FREE n46.9997 e2.09875
Sully-sur-Loire, Aire. Water & Waste. n47.77110 e2.38407. FREE
Camping I’lsle des Moulins. ACSI €17.40 Nice shower block. n47.86900 e2.11448. 1 night
Le Treport, Aire, €6.40 Toilet & Water waste free. Charge for Water & EHU. n50.05790 e1.36212 (Windy)
Wissant, Aire. Water & waste FREE. Perfect for Chunnel/Ferry. n50.88722 e1.67067.
Canterbury, P&R £6 free shuttle into town, Water & waste.n51.26154, e1.09988.
Margate, behind the winter gardens. No services. n51.39260 e1.39045. FREE.
Caister-on-sea, Never Turn Back PH. Water. (Beer & food excellent)n52.64969, e1.73327 FREE.

In a reflective mood in Treport

Breakfast in Folkstone, No…that’s not my beer, it must have been left on the table by another customer.

The ‘Jolly-boys’ outing to Margit !

If you read this blog and enjoyed it, that makes us feel good, if it helps fellow travellers find a sleeping spot, if it fires an idea or inspires you to go somewhere we’ve been, then every minute I’ve spent preparing it, has been worth it. THANK YOU to all those who have commented, your words of encouragement have been truly welcome.
We’ve both got things we need to do now, back home in Norwich, lose ends to tie, walls to paint & carpets to lay. With any luck we will be attempting the NC500 around Scotland later in the year, so I will keep you posted. Ta tar for now, enjoy the summer.

And finally…Fish & Chips in Margate…welcome home.