We are having a bit of a holiday at the moment! We arrived in Cognac on Friday 8th July 2016 and ended up staying until Monday afternoon.
We spent the Friday afternoon and evening wandering around the old town and relaxing listening to all the free fringe music going on around the annual Blues Festival.
Despite the Blues Festival Cognac town was pretty quiet.
Iggy Pop was playing on the main stage but at €50 a ticket for the evening set of concerts we gave it a miss. Instead we enjoyed these guys who were great fun playing all sorts from Blues to Jazz to Funk.
I’m sure Darah O’Briain was playing the Souzaphone? We then wandered up to the top of the town which was buzzing with people but the music was of the ‘you’ve heard one, you’ve heard the all’ kind so we didn’t stay long.
Saturday was a walking day both up and down the river.
Around the walking we had a lazy day catching up on admin.
We were able to pick up very fast free wifi from a restaurant across the river which was a bonus as I was able to upload the last blog post from there.
We took our chairs down to the riverside for breakfast, lunch and dinner! Très civilised!
The temperatures were in the top twenties on Saturday and Sunday which is significantly warmer than we have had so far. In view of the hot weather Tim donned his Speedo’s on Sunday and braved a swim in the river.
Not without his water wings though in the form of our Thermarest sleeping mats! Not a bad way to spend an afternoon with pleasant views of a chateau across the river.
We went to a local bar to watch France play in the final of Euro 2016.
We decided to hire a canoe on Monday and have a paddle down the Charente. We were dropped 17km further up the river at Jarnac, birthplace of Francois Mitterand, and had a very relaxing paddle back to Cognac.
On Monday we moved on further south into the Dordogne and have been staying at Brantome which is a very pretty town dominated by the Abbey on the banks of the river Dronne.
The aire is a five minute walk into the town and costs just over £5 per night.
Brantome is the most touristy town we’ve been to so far I think but considering it’s the middle of July when most of the French take their annual summer holiday it’s not too overbearing.
We had a walking day on Wednesday. I’d picked up a leaflet from the tourist information office of a 12km circular walk starting in Brantome. I’d paid 50c for the leaflet and had spent half an hour translating it so I was determined we were going to do it. It took us out of town following the flow of the river Dronne and into the surrounding countryside.
The map itself wasn’t too brilliant but we seemed to be making progress and arrived at a pretty viewpoint over the river after two hours which was perfect for a lunch stop.
After lunch things didn’t go according to plan as the map wasn’t particularly clear and the written instructions were a bit on the sparse side. We eventually arrived in the lovely village of Bordeilles which was in the opposite direction of where we wanted to be and an 11km walk back to Brantome. Doh!
I went into the tourist information to ask if there was a bus service to Brantome and she replied with ‘Je pense pas’ (I think not) but what her eyes and body language actually said was ‘do you really think there is going to be any public transport from such a small village as this in such a rural area of France? Are all you Anglaise so stoopide?’ Oh, ok, that’ll be a no then, we just thought we’d ask on the off chance like! There was only one thing for it but to bite the bullet and retrace our steps.
That was before Tim came up with his cunning plan. Cue drum roll. ‘Let’s see if we can hitch a lift’ he said! To his surprise I agreed but only on the condition that he used his own thumb and not mine. With that agreed, out went said thumb, and lo and behold the third car that passed us stopped to pick us up. Yay!
It was a middle aged French lady who’d taken pity on us. She was a game girl to stop as we could have been anyone and she didn’t know Tim was armed with a Swiss Army penknife! Mind you she probably thought she was quite safe when we insisted on buckling up our seat belts before she drove off though! My francais was tested to the limit telling her why the ‘stoopid anglais’s’ needed a lift. She wasn’t going into Brantome so we asked her if she could drop us back at the bridge where we’d had lunch and we would walk from there.
It saved us over an hour’s extra walk and was an experience but we still had a two hour walk back to the van. Ah well, it’s not like we had anything pressing to get back for! We eventually arrived back at the van over two hours later than planned – c’est la vie.
Later on in the evening we had a stroll into Brantome to watch some river jousting as part of the Bastille Celebrations.
In truth, it was a bit dull, to say the least, and we were bored after 15 minutes so didn’t stay for the further 1hr 45 minutes it was scheduled to go on for. We retired to the van to read our books! Très rock ‘n’ roll. We slept through the fireworks!
We played it safe on Thursday and went to the local lavomatique, a 5 minute stroll from the aire, to do our laundry (obviously)!
It’s the first time we’ve had to use a public laundrette as we’ve been able, until now, to do all our washing when either House sitting or Helpxing.
It’s lucky we’re not precious about our clothes – everything goes in together regardless of colour!
We haven’t been able to get any reliable free wifi where we are staying and the mifi in the van is really temperamental at the moment. I did have more to say in this post but, in view of the fact it has taken me an hour and a half sitting on a hard bench outside a hotel, using their very slow free wifi to upload the photos, I think I’ll quit while I’m ahead and get this uploaded!
A toute de suite!