Wednesday 7 March 2018 - Day 3
We slept well. I tapped in the co-ordinates for Niort, to give us somewhere to aim for and we left in cold rain. Today was about getting much further south to reach the kinder weather, although I think it might take a few days to get to it. So it was a fairly uneventful journey, stopping off on the way for some lunch, opposite a roadside restaurant and watching the French 'white van' men pile in for the 'menu du jour'. Being British, we of course had ham butties with a packet of crisps and a cup of tea!
We covered more ground than expected, so south of Le Mans I pulled over to see where we could spend the night. Just south of Angers and in the region of the town of Saumur, there were a few aires dotted along the river Seine. I picked one - Dampierre sur Loire - and we drove to it, but it looked a little unloved, surrounded by wheelie bins. So on to the next one about 3km along the river - Parnay - but a similar feel. With it being out of season, many of the aires have the water and electricity (if provided) switched off, so they do look a bit unkempt. I decided to head for an aire we'd stayed on before outside the castle walls of Thouars, which was about an hour away. Not long after moving off, we looked over and saw a number of cave houses built into the hillside. They seemed an interesting place to explore, so I turned into the village - Turquant - and pulled over to find somewhere to park....right in the aire! We were the only ones here initially, although now there are five vans packed in to a fairly small place. The Camperstops book says it can take 20 vans - that would be very cosy. I watched a van pull up and fill with fresh water (many aires have the water switched off in the cold months), so I walked over to the local bar across the road to get a jeton (token) for the water meter. After dinner we had a walk around the village, nosying at some of the lovely modern houses built into the caves. This is a wine region - Anjou bordering on Touraine - so a number of local wine makers were advertising from their cave homes. We enjoyed the leg stretch and some evening sunshine with birdsong. It feels much more like Spring here. We just made it back to the van before the rain. Tomorrow we'll make the short hop to Niort, so we can spend most of the day exploring its medieval streets.
|No dry cheese butties for these French workmen!|
Some thoughts on finding places to stay. Data roaming has been really useful, allowing me to check where we are on Google maps. I've been using the Camperstops book to spot possible aires from their map in the book, then going online to use the Campercontact app to check it out and read the reviews. The app data is naturally more up to date than the book and the reviews of those who have visited before have been especially useful. I also have most of the aires loaded as POI on my Garmin satnav, along with wild camping spots provided by Our Tour and Our Bumble - thanks guys. I've also referred to the 'All the Aires France' books. However, they're now in two large A4 publications and take up a lot of space, so I don't think I'll buy those again. Camperstops is my book of choice (they also have an app), combined with the Campercontact and Park4Night apps. With it being out of season most of the aires are quiet, although this one is busy tonight.
|Windmill in Turquant, vines in foreground|