We were up in good time this morning as we hit the road again. Most of the vehicle had been prepared last night which saved us time. I was hoping to be off the campsite, Camping Provence Vallée www.provence-vallee.fr by 09:00, we didn't quite make it but we weren't too far off. We popped in to Reception to pay our fees, just €69.00 for five nights stay including electricity, and the use of the lovely pool area. It was amazing value, and such a nice site. The manager thanked me very much for the review I'd left last night on the website www.zoover.com/reviews, I didn't think he would have read it yet as the website said it could take up to two days to validate and put online. Just as well it was a glowing review, had it been horrible the meeting between us could have been a bit embarrassing.
We told him we would be back again God-willing sometime in the future and would stay for two weeks and hire a car for one of them that way we can tour the National Park's of Provence more easily.
First stop was the Hyper U supermarket on the edge of Manosque to stock up with provisions. We now have about enough part-baked baguettes to last us during our stay at Lauterbrunnen in Switzerland. We can (and do) carry quite a lot of food onboard but the two things that can catch us out is fresh bread and milk. By carrying quite a few packets of part baked baguettes the pressure is off us to continually having to go in to the village just for bread. The French are so lucky here having such a great selection of fresh crusty bread, the drawback is that it goes stale very quickly hence the pressure to buy it every day. It is so much better than the run-of-the-mill loaves of steamed white nothingness, wrapped in a plastic or waxed bag, and having about as much health benefit as a mouthful of cotton wool which we have back home.
Loaded up on what was a lovely hot summers morning we headed east towards the toll road which was to take us north, only instead of joining it we went under it and headed the few miles towards Valensole where we were hoping to get a look at lavender in bloom. When we passed along that road about four weeks ago it wasn't ready, and although we had a few miles to travel today it seemed a shame to be so near to it and not check it out.
Well it was nearly there, close enough to warrant a picture or two having pulled over at a Lavender Distillery to cheekily use their car park to take the pictures, but not go on their guided tours or buy from their gift shop.
On to the toll road then, heading north towards Lalley our destination.
In the past we have had very stressful moments when arriving at French toll road pay booths. Most of the time The Chef gets out and comes round to my side and sorts out the payment, mainly because my priority is to keep the vehicle away from the concrete walls of death on either side of the approach. This then leaves me a bit too far away from the booth to do the business, or I can't reach the ticket on entry because the bottom dispenser for cars is too low for me, and the dispenser for lorries is too high. But now we've cracked it. We now have an account with 'Liber t' the company managing the French toll roads. We get issued an electronic tag to go in the windscreen, and after that for each month that we use the tag we pay €5, whether we use the roads every day in that month, or just once it's a flat €5. After that we pass through the HGV booths (they're wider!) slowly to the barrier, "Ping", we've been recorded, the barrier goes up and we're away. We get a statement each month telling us how much we've spent and the money is taken from our account 15 days later. Absolutely great, no more hassle, no more fretting about having the right money, or how to use the credit card machines, just "Ping", the barrier goes up, and the jobs done. Granted it's like giving somebody permission to electronically open your wallet and take money out, but I do believe that in this system lies the future of mugging. Think about it...................
You'll just be approached by a smart looking geezer and be asked to raise your hands. Having done so a scanner will be passed over your wallet or handbag and your card details taken. Within minutes money will be removed from your account, plus of course a service charge of say, 10%. You'll then contact your insurance company online to inform them of the loss, and hey presto, robbed and reimbursed all within one hour and nobody gets hurt.
To increase business thieves could create cartoon characters of themselves, with their gang name, and produce sticky lapel badges, so when they've mugged somebody, the victim gets a lapel badge, a bit like you get from street collectors for charities. Imagine middle class mothers touring London in their 4x4's looking to be mugged by 'Ronnie the Roma' in order that Sebastian and Samantha can complete the full set of badges before their school friends. It's a winner. .................................... now where was I?
Lunch was in a rest area having left the toll road in very hot weather, by now it must have been approaching 30°C again, too hot to eat outside. Eventually we arrived in Lalley, though we weren't done yet. Having punched in the co-ordinates of the campsite from my typed-up 'Travel Script' We ended up going down a narrow, bumpy, farm track, only to be told 'You Have Arrived'. We were stuffed. I couldn't turn round as there was no room, there was no point in continuing further down the track and so I had to back down as far as I could before coming across an uphill area of hardcore to the side of the road. Now we currently travel a bit nose-up due to the weight in the back, and being a front wheel drive vehicle I really need my weight over the front drive wheels, so imagine the air turning seriously blue as I was trying to turn the vehicle around with serious wheel spin on the front as I tried to coax the vehicle uphill to complete a three point turn. Eventually with probably thousands of miles of rubber burned off the front tyres due to wheel spin we ended up facing the right direction. On reflection I should have reversed up the slope leaving the weight transferred to the front for the grip I needed. Will I ever learn?
Having pulled over to check the co-ordinates, with the smell of burning rubber in my nostrils I discovered I had written the co-ordinates for the campsite on the 'Travel Script' incorrectly. Oh silly me.
We arrived at the campsite, Camping Belle Roche (GPS: N44.755023 E5.679321) which was a few kilometres away from Farmer Francois' quad bike test track. We're here for just two nights, we'll go for a hike or walk or something tomorrow. In the meantime we are having to tolerate shed-loads of flies in and around the vehicle. I feel like Ghandi.
Tonight we are dining on Pizza and salad cooked indoors for a change since the heavy rain showers forecast for all of today have only just arrived.