Tuesday 18 June 2019

Wild Swimming in the Jura

Monday 17 June 2019

Nido’s wild camping next to the beautiful Lac d’Ilay in the Jura region.  We’re parked up with one other camper van in a parking area with a great view of the lake and the tree-fringed cliffs on the other side; I checked on the Park4Night app and many have stayed here in the past, so we should be fine.  It’s 2045, Cathy’s off taking photos of the flora in the water meadow, the sun’s lighting up the cliffs on the far side of the lake, reflecting back into the mirror-flat water and the cicadas are rubbing their little legs off!  I can also hear the bells around the necks of the cows in the nearby fields.

Today passed the butter test!  We keep the butter in the cutlery drawer in the van; the fridge is too cold and, in many cases when in the UK, the drawer is just as cold!  Generally the drawer is cooler than the cupboards but the temperature has increased over the past 24 hours, resulting in soft butter - perfect for spreading on yet another delicious baguette. The van was showing a temperature of 20’C outside, but it feels a lot warmer.  Because of this we’ve swapped from a duvet to a sheet and throw on the bed.

Our English neighbours on the aire in Gray left this morning, off to paraglide at Lake Annecy.  We’ve been watching the paragliders here at Lac d’Ilay, catching the thermals above the cliffs on the far side of the lake.  It was another two hour hop to this current stop.  Two hours is just right - it means we don’t need to rush away in the morning and can take our time, arriving at our next destination at lunch time, then giving us the rest of the day to relax and enjoy our surroundings.  I stopped off at the Intermarche in town to top up with food and water.  I’d forgotten this supermarket is one of the more expensive ones in France, so will look to find others in future.  Super U are good value, plus they often have motorhome service points and an outside launderette with large washing machines and tumble dryers.

Lac d’Ilay is one of many lakes in this area, surrounded by hills, trees and meadows brimming with wildflowers, insects and birdlife.  After lunch we walked down to the lake, enjoying a cool paddle and soaking up some hot sunshine.  Although there’s a ‘swimming forbidden’ sign in the car park, it seems the locals give this a stiff ignoring.  A few were swimming or kayaking, whilst keeping a respectful distance from the fishermen out on their boats.  While Cathy wandered off to explore the meadows, I repositioned the van with a better view and wound out the awning for some shade.  We spent the afternoon reading and snoozing, listening to the birds and insects.  With dinner prepared (Greek salad), it was about 1800 when we changed and walked down to the waters edge for a swim.  The lake is shallow at the edges and the bottom is gravel and rocks, so we also wore our swimming shoes.  The swim was lovely - the water was a comfortable temperature and very clear and calm; we had it to ourselves.  There’s nothing like wild swimming in a freshwater lake - if nothing else it washes off the dust of the day - no need for a shower tonight!  

Back and changed, we enjoyed the rest of the evening sun before sitting outside to eat our dinner with a small bottle of Grimbergen beer.  Cathy’s off photographing again, so the kettle’s boiled for a tea and coffee when she returns, to go with the cafe eclair I bought in the boulangerie - well we did only have salad for dinner!

We hope to spend a few days in this area, exploring the waterfalls and lakes and enjoying some more wild swimming.  The news covered the terrible storms in France to the south of Lyons, so really not very far away at all.  Many of the crops have been ruined by torrential rain and - so it was reported - hailstones as big as cricket balls, with many cars having their windows smashed and bodywork dented.  Nido would definitely not survive that.  So I’m keeping a close ‘weather eye’ on the forecast and, if needs be, we can shoot west to avoid the storms.    In the meantime, I might stay up until it’s proper dark, as I suspect the view of the stars will be amazing.

Lac d'Ilay

Cooling her feet!

Nice wild camping spot

First wild swim in the Jura region. Just cooling the feet wasn't enough!

This is how we keep our bread fresh - baguette sized cloth bread bag

View from the galley

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