The young French couple next door sleeping in the tent-on-a-roof were a bit sluggish getting up this morning. Must have been all that noise from the bonking bullfrogs, toads or frogs, or whatever they are.
We had very much enjoyed our two short stays at Camping la Plage (N44.824453° E1.169497°), and by the end of today we appreciated what it had to offer even more.
We were on our way to Monpazier, which looked promising in the guide books. The trip was a bit tedious sending us along the usual narrow twisting up and down roads and through small communities where the speed limits were up and down like Yo-Yo's.
The Camperstop at Monpazier was small but functional, and as always, travellers like ourselves are grateful for the facilities provided for us usually at no cost. The GPS co-ordinates I had for it were slightly out and so I have corrected them on the Travelscript which will be added at the end of the trip.
So a bit about Monpazier:
Monpazier is a 13th-century bastide town founded in 1285 by King Edward I of England, who was also Duke of Gascony. It was created by an act of paréage, whereby the lord of Biron supplied the land, Edward the authority and permission, with any profits from taxes or commercial activity split between the two. Like other bastides, it was constructed using a grid pattern, with a square at its centre, one end of which contains an open market hall. One of the best preserved, it contains many original features.
The parish church of Monpazier is St. Dominique, built from the 13th through the 16th centuries. The church was built in a rectangular parcel and adjoins with a corner of the marketplace. The apse was added in the fifteenth century and the choir was believed to have been completed in 1506.
The town includes a four-star hotel named after its founder, the Hôtel Edward Premier.
During the summer months, Monpazier hosts a number of events of interest to tourists, including a cycle race around the bastide (usually at the start of August), a Medieval day ('fete medieval'), a kermesse and several specialist markets. Each July the Chorale of Monpazier gives a concert in the church.
It was just a short walk in to town. My, my, what a delightful place it was. Very touristy of course, but none the less very nice. We were surprised at just how many English there were walking about. It must be a 'must see' on the Brit tours. Even the gang of Lycramen who rode through town looking for a beer were all Brits.
It hadn't taken too long for us to knock it off (oh if only we were the kind of people who pay through the nose to eat a French lunch and people watch to kill time) and so we made our way back to the Camperstop, where we'd been joined by several other vehicles.
We decided to head on to Bergerac and have a late lunch there, so cue more narrow twisting roads.
We arrived at Camping La Pelouse (N44.848834° E0.476342°) on the side of the Dordogne river at about 13:15, only to find that Reception was shut until 15:30. We were the second vehicle to arrive, the first being a couple of Jocknese. Soon after an arrogant ar*ewipe driving a class A motorhome arrives and parks up right at the entrance barrier. He huffed and puffed and called up to the owners in the rooms above Reception to be admitted, but all they did was close the open window he was shouting through. Eventually he left in disgust, and I'm sure some embarrassment as we, the audience had observed that his 'Big Man' approach had come to nothing.
It looked a pretty rough site. There wasn't much grass on the ground and the washing facilities were pretty grotty. But that's how you can behave when you have no competitors.
I said to The Chef that there was no way we were going to sit outside in the heat for two more hours. Why don't we just leave the vehicle at the campsite entrance and walk in to town, which is what we did. Again it was hot, too hot for walking around, but what can you do?
So a bit about Bergerac then:
On 17 September 1577, amidst the French Wars of Religion, the Treaty of Bergerac, also known as the Peace of Bergerac, was signed between Henri III of France and Protestants to put a temporary end to the conflict. The treaty was negotiated by important figures on each side of the conflict.
Bergerac, which was a site where members of the French Resistance in Dordogne were incarcerated and interrogated during World War II, was freed from German occupation on 21 August 1944.
Bergerac is home to a population of British people who frequently identify as ‘expats’ rather than immigrants. This trend is not unique to Bergerac and is evident throughout the Dordogne. In part, this is driven by house prices which are very affordable when compared with either the French or British national averages. The increasing British presence has led to some integration initiatives such as the non-profit Université du Temps Libre which offers French language classes and a programme of cultural activities.
The town has a growing tourism industry. The region's association with wines is also a key motivating factor for much tourism with wine tours, chateau visits and a wine house by the river which features an exhibition on the history of wine growing. Nearby sites for tourists include the Arboretum de Podesat, Château de Monbazillac, the town museum, statue museum, and tobacco museum. The church of Notre Dame is located in the town centre. The Dordogne River is also a significant tourist attraction for river boat tours and kayak rental.
After we'd seen all we wanted, we headed back to the campsite. On our arrival there were several more motorhomes waiting. By then it was about 13:15, just time for me to punch in the next set of co-ordinates to get us to Saint Emilion.
Then the owner, armed with her clipboard approached my driver's door to ask if we were to stay at the campsite. I told her that we had intended to stay for three nights, but as we had sat out in the sun for over two hours and were very hot we were now leaving, and no, we would not be staying.
We could have gone to the Camperstop on the edge of town and sat and fried in the heat, but we decided to take a chance on our coming across a campsite along the way.
But no, 'IT' took us to the toll road, where of course, you tend not to pass local campsites. Then eventually we were approaching Saint Emilion. What a tourist honey pot that is. Cars and motorhomes were parked all along the grass verges in every direction for at least a quarter of a mile. We'd spotted a sign for a campsite and decided to follow it. Sadly we didn't see any more signs but came across one for Yelloh! Village, Saint Emilion www.camping-saint-emilion.com Oh dear Lord! It's like Centre-parks meets Butlins Holiday Camp, only not nearly as good. Please don't ask me for the GPS co-ordinates because according to Google Maps the place doesn't exist.
The Chef was in Reception absolutely ages trying to get us a booking for just one night. Three would have been nice, but having seen the place, and the prices we agreed on just one. They wanted to know everything bar our inside leg measurements. If as a result of the booking process I get their marketing emails they can be assured of honest customer feedback, and they ain't gonna like it.
So here we are on a pretty crappy pitch, having paid twenty-five Euros plus local taxes. Far more than the lovely campsite we left this morning which was vastly superior.
But the thing is, we didn't settle until gone 17:00 and we had needed to stop and rest and relax, and unfortunately this place came our way and we had to take it.
We could stay another night despite everything, but I imagine it will be awash with brat kids tomorrow, and so we'll look to move towards Pauillac, in the Medoc wine region where I plan to buy a few bottles of decent glug for friends.
Granted on our approach to Saint Emilion we saw lots of wine making establishments, but we couldn't stop to take photographs. The road was much too narrow and busy. They don't tell you that in the guide books.
Thank you for joining us today on Steve & Rosina's condensed high speed tour of the Dordogne.