Saturday, 26 July 2008

Le Petit Sauzay

We were relieved, after 3 nights' B&B, to stop for the next week. Le Petit Sauzay proved to be a lovely home - in fact, much larger than the photos made it appear. We were given a friendly welcome by the owners' friend, Sheila, who owns a cottage two villages away.

I quickly identified the suitability of the village for a running circuit - just under 1.2 miles - and at least I managed two runs during the week (one, on an obscenely hot evening, just one circuit; on the second occasion I managed two.)

We were also entertained by some scops owls, who seemed to have a very precise timetable that meant they sent out their plaintive cries every evening between 10 and 11 pm; by a tawny owl; and by two spectacular thunderstorms (we encountered several days of what the French call la grande chaleur during this week).

Here are some photographs of our home for the week...
France 2008: Le Petit Sauzay

Friday, 25 July 2008

Into the Champagne region

Now we travelled down to Clamanges, in the Champagne-Ardennes region. Here we found ourselves staying with the delightful Valerie & Didier Coulmier in their beautiful farmhouse; the room was without doubt one of the most comfortable and relaxing we've ever stayed in.

Our fellow guests shared the delicious evening meal with us, and we enjoyed the company of Mike & Joanna (who, it turns out, are hotelliers themselves in Manchester) and their three great kids. The conversations were an interesting mixture of French and English, accommodating the linguistic knowledge (or lack of it) around the table! Finally, our hearts were captured by the amazing Ramedame (we think we've spelt it correctly) - a Berger de Brie, a great soppy bear of a dog. The photo below links to a few photos taken on the morning we left.
France 2008: Au Pre du Moulin
Finally, on driving away from Au Pre du Moulin, we were treated to one of those beautiful moments. The French seem to be making a habit of planting fields to wild flowers - we saw many such during our holiday - but this was by far the most beautiful.
France 2008: wild flower field

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Nobody on the Chunnel?

Yes, this really was the view that greeted us in the car park for the Channel Tunnel. The comparison with the chaos and crowds of last year was astonishing.

However, I suppose we need to point out that last year we were travelling on the August bank holiday weekend; and this year, it turned out that a major accident on the M20 (north of our B&B the previous evening) was preventing many travellers from getting there...

We arrived safely in Calais, and trotted off towards our first pre-booked gite, about half-an-hour from the port. After a bit of trouble finding the place, we arrived to discover a note on the door to tell us that our hostess had had to go away because of a family emergency; but she had booked us an alternative B&B at the wonderful La Motte Obin. (Oddly enough, this had been our next choice of accommodation when we were booking anyway...)

Mme Breton and her farmhouse were a real pleasure, as was the simple room, the delicious food (the best tarte au citron in the world, the rest of which was given to us to take away the following day!) and the calm surrounding countryside.