We were really excited to get back on the road again after our 3 weeks in Toulouse. I really liked having a base and I know that it will be what we’ll look for for any future travels without the van, but we were ready to explore further again.
Once we had managed to make it as far as Toulouse, the next big milestone to aim for was the Mediterranean sea so that was our plan. First we headed to the fairytale city of Carcassonne, arriving just as most of the tourists had left. The shops had just started to shut but we could wander round and see everything. I was thankful we weren’t there when it was so busy. Beautiful though.
An early start the next day saw us reaching that magic milestone of the Med! It was a beautiful day, gorgeous blue skies and we could paddle in the sea. And our ancient van took us there!
We had a small issue with our stop for the night as it was full, we thought we were ok where we had parked as others had done similar, but the police came along and moved us. We ended up in a small town called Marseillan Plage at a large aire. It wasn’t as close to the beach, but it had its ups such as free wifi in the town, shops and on the Sunday it was right next to a large flea market which was just really fun to walk round. Marcus spent ages looking for old french toy cars and Alex looked for Smurfs stuff. they learnt how to ask how much something is and just had a great time.
Our plan afterwards was to continue along the Med eventually making it to Italy. James was slightly worried about the van and we just had no idea if it could cope with the Alps on the return from Italy. We could have come back the way we came, but that end of the Med, on the Cote d’Azur is renowned for being busy and I guess we were a little worried about how it would be.
Our next stops saw us coming face to face with gypsies. We were miles from any other stop but since this town we were going to had two aires, with about 100 spots overall I wasn’t worried about finding a space. We arrived and realised that the gypsies had taken over one aire completely and so there was only the other one there. We made the decision to stay there, tried not to think badly of these people, but in reality felt quite uneasy there. We then read that they come to this town, Saintes Maries sur la Mer (I think!!), at this time for a festival and a parade, so hadn’t just descended and taken over, they must do it every year! I’m glad we headed down that way though, it was a really nice area, beach was lovely and we even saw wild flamingos flying by and feeding in the marshes.
With the busyness, the gypsies and our worries, when we headed north the next day to Pont du Gard we needed to make a decision about our route. James and the kids were quite happy to try and slowly head north, perhaps going into Germany. So the plan was made. No Italy It feels like it is such an elusive country!
Pont du Gard marked the last of the sunny weather for us. It was sweltering walking along and going round. It did make paddling in the water nice, but the rocks are so sharp I couldn’t do it as I was worrying about going over on my ankle. The area is so beautiful and we overnighted right next to the river where it was just perfect for stone skimming in the evening. The kids spent hours smashing rocks up and pretending they had a shop, so nice to see them still ‘playing’, it’s quite a rare sight these days!
The next few days saw us heading for Germany. Some long days and lots of rain. I absolutely loved the scenery once we headed into the Alsace region – it was stunning. I’d certainly like to explore more around there. Our final night was in a campsite on the border which had storks near which came into the grounds to gather nest materials. Kids loved it there, as did I, we’re a little bit birdy!!
France was wonderful, we’d had some great experiences there, but we were hungry for a new country and couldn’t wait to see what Germany would have for us.