We enjoyed a couple of days at Les-Eyzies-Sur-Tayac-du-Soleil staying at the excellent aire on the banks of the River Vezère. Surprisingly, the aire had plenty of space considering it was a weekend in July. Les Eyzies is a small town in the Vezère Valley sitting beneath a vast limestone crag.
As you can see from the pictures a considerable number of houses have been built into the rock, as is typical of most of the area in the valley.
We embarked on another walk from Lez Eyzies on Friday 22nd July 2016 which took us out in an easterly direction on the north side of the river. Even though, for the first couple of miles, the path followed the road, being on foot gave us the time to really appreciate the limestone cliffs with a good view of the remains of troglodytic dwellings.
We’d gone prepared for a dip in the water as I wanted to find a wild swimming spot further up the river which was recommended in Daniel Start’s book but when we got to the end of a narrow lane the path leading down to the river was taped off with a Property Privée sign across it so we had to retrace our steps. Not to be deterred, I suggested to Tim that we try a little ‘micro-adventure’. I first heard about microadventures when I was trawling the internet on a wet January day looking for some sort of inspiration for a weekend trip with a couple of friends later in the year. Alistair Humphreys is an author, having written nine books, and a National Geographic Adventurer of the Year. He spent four and a half years cycling around the world on a shoestring budget, at times living on £1 per day. I have read a couple of his books in the comfort of an armchair which is a much more civilised way to vicariously travel around the world! I do recommend his books though if you are into that sort of thing. Anyway, Alistair Humphreys came up with the idea of microadventures as a way for ‘normal’ people, who perhaps don’t have much time, and work 9-5, to make the most of the 5-9 with a microadventure. Basically, it’s to leave work in the evening and walk/bike/canoe/horse-ride/skate/swim/skip/whatever somewhere and maybe climb a hill with a view and camp overnight, eat al fresco and then get up with the sunrise and return to work the next morning screeching into your seat just before your usual start time (probably feeling grubby and tired but hopefully very happy!) It doesn’t have to cost much, is a great way to get away from technology and re-acquaint yourself with the the simple pleasures of a natural environment outside of your work and home. I think it’s a great one for children too as a bit of timeout from technology. A micro adventure can also just be doing something different for a couple of hours in the great outdoors that you wouldn’t normally do or haven’t done for a long time. So anyway, again, going back to the original story, I suggested to Tim that we could have a little micro adventure by swimming/paddling/floating back the 3km to the aire. We could put all our stuff in drybags in our rucksacks and just make our way down the river. I’m full of suggestions like this which normally get the thumbs down from Tim or just the ‘look’ which says ‘if you want to do it that’s fine but don’t expect me to do it’. However, for the second time in the last week, Tim surprised me by agreeing! Mon dieu. That had me floored! It’s ok for me as I’m confident in the water but Tim isn’t, so it was a big challenge for him.
I couldn’t get any photos whilst in the water as the camera was tucked away in the dry bags but we made it back to the campsite and Tim even conceded he enjoyed some of it – mostly the bits where he wasn’t out of his depth.
He even said he would be up for another trip. Fantastic, Niagara Falls, in a barrel, here we come! After all that excitement we had a quiet evening and tried cooking a lasagne on the Cobb.
I think it came out better than if we’d put it in the oven. So a big thumbs up for the Cobb on that one.
We had a stroll into the village in the evening to see the limestone crag lit up.
We left Les Eysies on Saturday 23rd July 2016 and trundled a few miles down the Vezère valley to the little town of Limeuil at the confluence of the Dordogne and Vezère rivers.
It’s a great place to have a swim or paddle with a campsite on one side of the river and the village built into the hillside on the other. We had hoped to stay at one of two aires here but one had closed and the other was chock a block with cars.
There was a pottery market on in the town for the weekend which maybe explained the number of cars and people around or it may just be that it is always that busy here, I don’t know.
We wiled away a couple of hours in Limueil before moving on to Tremolat further down the valley. We parked up at a small aire in the village which happened to be by the village hall. A birthday party was going on at the village hall with lots of people coming and going. The organiser came out to let us know there would be quite a bit of noise later but we said that was fine and it wouldn’t bother us. We were having a very pleasant evening enjoying our favourite sport of people watching when a car reversed into us! Ah merde, not again! I’m not sure what it is, the van isn’t exactly small and discrete, but that’s the second person who hasn’t seen it and reversed straight into us. The driver was probably in his early twenties and very apologetic. He went off to get his dad who turned out to be the mayor of the village!
We invited them in to complete a ‘constat amiable d’accident automobile’ which is a jointly agreed statement for insurance purposes as ‘Ollie’ will need a new corner bumper. Ah well, c’est la vie and all that. After all that was done we went to bed at about 11.30pm thinking that the party was drawing to a close and how quiet it had all been. Mmmm, not so. That was before the disco started at midnight! By 4.00am, having heard enough Michael Jackson, Queen, The Eurythmics and some other French ‘disco’ music of indeterminate origin, I was beginning to think it would never end. They finally wrapped it all up at about 4.30am and I managed to get some sleep. Needless to say, Tim slept through it all! We woke up to a beautiful sunny morning and re-surveyed the damage to the van in the cold light of day.
It’s not serious, it’s just hassle!
We headed towards Bergerac as that is the most likely place we’ll find a garage to repair the van. We stopped off at Cingle de Tremolat for a magnificent view over the river back to Tremolat and towards Bergerac.
As the viewpoint was a ten minute walk from the small car park and not sign posted we had the place to ourselves for half an hour or so. We sat perched on the rock looking through the binoculars at the kites……….or was it falcons…………..or buzzards soaring above and below us? I’m not sure. Let’s just say they were birds of prey.
Little snapshots of time like that make me think of how fortunate we are to be doing what we are.
We stopped at Lalinde for the night which is a reasonable sized town where we’d be able to get some free wifi to start our search for motorhome repairers.
We were the only ones on the aire there until a French van arrived. Even though we’ve been doing our own French learning we haven’t, as yet, braved talking to any of our neighbours at the aires beyond the odd ‘Bonjour’ and ‘Il fait beau’ so I was delighted when the lady came out and asked if we speak French. When we said ‘a little’ she encouraged us to have a chat. Once started there was no stopping me! They have travelled extensively all over the world so are probably used to plenty of miming. Marcel Marceau has got nothing on us! They ended up giving us their address and inviting us to stay with them and park our van up on their terrace. They are probably serial killers but a free night is a free night! It was great though as we proved to ourselves that we can string a few words together and be understood. It was good practice anyway for our next challenge of organising the repair to the van. We also now need a repair done to the habitation door of the van as a plastic bit has fallen off within the mechanism and we can only open the door from the outside! To cut a long story short (I’m boring myself now), we are awaiting two quotes for the work.
The aire is 3km outside Bergerac with a country park adjacent sporting a lake for swimming. Très bon!
It’s a 30 minute walk or 10 minute cycle into Bergerac through the park so is an ideal location to base ourselves until the quotes come through and the insurance company has had time to peruse them.
We’ve spent our time over the last few days exploring Bergerac, admin, laundry, shopping and swimming.
Our next plan, once we have a quote approved, is to get the van booked in for the repair which is likely to be in two weeks time at the earliest. We are planning a cycle adventure with the tent and bikes whilst the van is being repaired as it’s likely to take 3-4 days to do.
They say all things come in threes which seems to be the case this week as I also broke a tooth whilst eating a peanut this week. On enquiring at the Tourist Information in Bergerac about a list of dentists I was left with the impression that I’d never, in a month of Sundays, be able to see a dentist as they will all be either too busy or on holiday. I struck lucky though with the first one I tried. I walked in and explained the problem and he saw me straight away, filed down the jagged edge which was shredding my tongue and has booked me in to see him next week for a proper repair. Pas de problem!
Un bon weekend, toute le monde:)