We left the cabin on 31st August, setting off for Lyon where we had some fruit picking work lined up for the following week. We had around 5 days to drive from southern Spain to mid France, roughly 1000 miles.
We decided to drive directly through central Spain, a rarely visited vast area of plains, mountains, canyons and forgotten castles all contributed to an amazing drive full of interesting scenery. The land became greener and wetter the further north we went and we even noticed the temperature dropping. On our first night back on the road, we actually felt cold, not expecting the temperature to drop so rapidly we slept with only a sheet. This doesn’t sound great but being Brits and having endured 2 months of 40 degree Celsius temperatures, this was bliss!!
The next day we drove on arriving in the Andorra by sunset. Having experienced the chill of the Pyrenees mountains before, we were prepared with duvets and several woolen blankets. We slept with the doors open to benefit from the mountain breeze while snuggled up in bed.
We awoke as we went to sleep, immersed completely in clouds.
We spent the whole next day in Andorra unexpectedly held up by (no complaints here) the Vuelta Espana bike race: Spain’s biggest cycling event. We were pulled over by some police stopping miles of traffic behind us with no explanation. A few hours later crowds had accumulated and suddenly the entire race was whizzing by.
We were extraordinarily lucky to have been at the front of the queing traffic. We turned off the engine, had some lunch in the back and joined the crowd to cheer on the racers. An hour later they returned after having done a loop around the mountains. A lot of them were chewing energy bars on their way back through.
It was all very exciting.
After being held up for 5 hours we were aloud to go only to find that all antrances to france had been closed off. We were held hostage once more, after circling Andorra la vela (the capital) twice we dicided to try our luck following another camper which had a french lisence plate They’l know what to do w said, and an hour later after following them up and down windy roads we had arrived via a mounains pass in france. Voila!
We drove on a further two hours through quaint mountain villages and decided to call it a night, still high in the Pyrennees and still above the clouds we could barely makeout where we pulled over. We were surrounded on either side by pitch black forest, we slept to the bellowing sound of a wild thunderstorm.
We enjoyed a leisurely walk the next day, exploring the edges of the forest shrouded in mist, we found many types of mushroom. We spent the remainder of the day driving through many towns and large stretches o countryside. We saw the most amazing castles and historical sights on our journey, the most exciting of which were in Carcassonne and Beziers.
We drove on and on until we were too tired to drive any further. We took the exit off the main road and headed for a large lake we spotted on the map.
Lak du Sagaloo. We spent the night at the shore of the lake surrounded by many other campers and were serenaded to sleep by a neighboring guitarist and singer.
The next morning was a sunny and beautiful one, We had breakfast before a quick tidy of the van, then off on our bikes to explore the lake. It was very different from the clear blue waters we had become accustomed to in Spain. We set off for another day of driving.
We past through ever more country side villages and small towns and through the pretty town of St Flour.
We also passed thrugh Le Puy en Velay.
The land became more rural and we passed in and out of natual parks.
We finally arrived in St Ettiene where we stocked up on some supplies and headed off into the nearby Parc Natural Region du Pilat. We found a fantastic spot to spend the next two nights as we were close enough to lyon and our final destination to enjoy a days rest before starting work. We spent our day off cycling , and realising how unfit we had become…and later exploring parts of the surrounding forest on foot. We picked berries and foraged for mushrooms.
We also picked ample amounts of Good King Henry. An excellent wild herb more rich in iron and vitamins than cabbage or broccoli. We added a handful to our evening meal of spaghetti bolognaise.
When we awoke the next day, the time had come for us to set off to the farm for our grape picking job.
We were both excited and apprehensive wondering what the next 8 days would have in store for us.
We had managd to cover 1000 miles in 4 days and saw parts of Spain and France rarely visited. It was an excellent opportunity to see some beautiful historical sights and old lands of forgotten times.