Tuesday, 2 July 2019

It's cooler up north!


Tuesday 2 July 2019

Nido’s parked up at a municipal campsite on the shore of Lac d’Issarlès, in the top left corner of the Ardeche department, bordering the Haute-Loire department.  We booked in for a couple of nights to escape the heat of the south and to get some laundry done - both accomplished.

The heat of the south coast became too much for us.  Given the exceptional heatwave over the past week, the temperature hadn’t reduced that much and the forecast was for more of the same.  Poor old Nido’s metal skin and insides had heated up, such that everything inside him was redders - cupboards, drawers, bathroom, garage.  We just couldn’t keep cool and Cathy in particular was suffering from heat exhaustion, so we took the decision to move north and leave this area and The Camargue for another time; it’s not going anywhere.  Most times, we’re looking to leave cold, wet weather and find some warm sunshine, but this was the opposite. But that’s the beauty of travelling in a campervan - we can change our plans at the drop of a (very sweaty!) hat.

So this meant a fairly long run of three hours to our current destination. It was a hot journey, but we’d resorted to using the cab aircon to keep us cool.  We stopped at one of the outside laundrettes at a Le Clerc supermarket in Nimes, but it was broken (as were most of the roads for getting in and out of the city!).  We had another hold up not far from here, when a HGV piled high with hay bales realised it would not make it under a bridge.  It pulled over but had no way of turning back or around.  This coupled with roadworks on another bridge soon brought all traffic to a standstill.  There was nothing to do except switch off the engine and watch everyone getting out of their cars to gesticulate or try to unsuccessfully turnaround.  Anyway, the lorry must have found a way out because half an hour later we were on the move again and arrived at the campsite at about 1730.    Checked in, I sussed out the washing machines and we found a suitable pitch and set up camp.  With the first load in, we enjoyed the much cooler air, watching a thunder and lightning storm roll over the hills towards us, which led to some rain later in the night.

This morning I was up early to get the second load of washing in, ready for Cathy to collect and hang out later, before heading out for a bike ride.  The roads around here are excellent for cyclists, with long sweeping hills and some good hairpins.  I was soon puffing up the first of these, but enjoying the views of the rounded wooded hills and valleys and the wild flower meadows.  I rode through some lovely villages, before realising I’d gone about 17 miles and didn’t really know where I was.  The day had started off a bit misty, with some cloud on the hill tops where I was at around 1,000m above sea level, but this burned off to leave a hot sunny day with a nice breeze.  I really enjoyed pushing up the steep roads and then free-wheeling at speed down the hairpin bends.  By this time I was running a bit low on water and hadn’t found any shops to buy a cold drink, and if I had they’d have been shut for a few hours for lunch!  So Google Maps was employed to provide directions back to the campsite.  Mrs Google Maps, however, decided I wasn’t on a road bike and sent me on a short cut across the hills on what started as tarmac, then turned into the sort of white, dusty tracks seen in the Italian Strade Bianche professional races in Tuscany!  This turned into sharp lumps of cinder, so I had no choice but to dismount and walk across about 200m of this, carrying my bike on my shoulder, cycle-cross style, before rejoining a tarmac lane.  An hour later and I was back at the van, where my Soigneur sorted me out with a can of fanta and some food!

I was ready for a swim, so we walked the two minutes down to the lake edge, set up our stuff on the small, sandy beach and enjoyed a refreshing dip in this very large lake.  By now the thunder and lightning was building, and later a few spots of rain.  So back to the van, a long, hot shower in the campsite facilities then an omelette, patisserie and a cup of tea, I’m refreshed - and have probably put back in all the calories I expended on my bike!  A bit of research as to where to head for tomorrow and it looks like directly West, looking to mooch around the The Lot region for a bit.

Nice shady pitch

Up above a village I road through

You want me to cycle up there Mrs Google Maps!?

Nice lake beach

Thunder and lightning starting to build


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