23. May, 2022

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MONDAY 23-05-22

We had the thunderstorms last night at around midnight, though they weren't as bad as those we experienced back beside the river Dordogne. The Chef slept through most of it.

Today we took a look around Pauillac, which is just under a mile from the campsite. Although the rain had stopped more was forecast in the afternoon, and it was very difficult to know what to wear, so we took a bit of everything carried in my backpack. Thankfully today was considerably cooler which made walking so much more comfortable.

So a bit about Pauillac:

The town is situated on the famous "Route des châteaux" or road "D2" which runs through the centre of the prestigious wine appellations. It stretches from Blanquefort in the South (close to Bordeaux) to the northern tip of the Médoc.

The town is mainly known for its vineyards that produce some of the best wines in Bordeaux. The Tourist Office and Wine House (French: Maison du Tourisme et du Vin) is a very informative resource for all things wine related in the area. There are wine tastings, video screenings, wine sales and seminars.

Some castles offer art exhibitions (Château Pédesclaux for example) or a museum (Mouton Rothschild castle and its museum of wine in Art).

The Village de Bages, a small renovated village next to the Château Lynch-Bages, is dedicated to the wines and tastes of the Pauillac region. It offers a bistro, fine bakery and grocery store, shops and bike workshop arranged around the central square. Cellar tours but also many events are held throughout the year. Cruises operate from the port of Pauillac along the estuary of the Gironde.

The Saint Martin’s church is situated in the heart of Pauillac on Marshal Joffre Square. In November 1824 were laid the foundations before it would be delivered to worship in May 1828 and completed in 1829. The church was partly built out of the materials from the former church which had become too small. The western façade is topped by a huge pediment which supports an octagonal tower made of two superimposed towers. The first tower houses three bells. Two of them date from 1784 and come from a former church. The third bell, cracked by too brisk and cheerful ringing during the Liberation in 1945, was melted again, baptized and named Edouard-Jeanne-Victoire in 1946. This church also has an ex-voto: a small replication of the warship Saint Clement, hanging from the vault in the centre of the nave. It was offered in 1836 by the pilots and coastal pilots of Pauillac: "To honour the memory of Pope Saint Clement, the patron saint of Pauillac naval station sailors, pilots, coastal pilots and aspirants, all Catholics." The model was restored in 1996.

First we came cross the Maison du Tourisme et du Vin, where they had on display many items associated with wine aimed at the tourists who pass through. Most interesting, was the large display they had of wines from many different chateau's vineyards in the Medoc region, together with the price. We thought we'd pop in again on the way back to the campsite.

We picked up their leaflet for a walking tour of the town. Sadly, the leaflet was shinier, and glossier than the town itself. It really was scruffy, and there was hardly anybody about. I guess most of the residents must be agricultural labourers working in the vineyards. So many of the shops were closed, like in gone bust during the pandemic, as opposed to closed until the start of the holiday season. It made our Fenland towns back home look positively posh in comparison.

In no time, those shops that were open were then closed for their two hour lunch break (12:00-14:00). Anywhere else would have had restaurants with outside dining areas where locals and visitors could have lunch, but we didn't see any. So having walked all the way round Saint Martin's church trying to get in without success, we decided to have lunch as we so often do - from a supermarket.

Now I hope The Chef won't mind me sharing the fact that she has very pretty, slim feet. The down side to this is that she finds it difficult to find comfortable footwear to fit her, so many shoes these days seem to be 'wide' fit, given that we are becoming a nation of Sumo wrestlers.

Back at the motorhome on our shopping list was written 'Insoles?', and 'flip-flops'. The insoles would be used to repair a very worn, comfortable pair of sandals she has, and the flip-flops were to replace the ones she has been using. I was horrified at just how smooth and shiny they were on the bottoms when I looked at them yesterday. No wonder they were causing her to slip a bit on our large outside nylon mat. I was determined to find her some replacement flip-flops the next time we went shopping, as I feared she could slip over in a shower cubicle and injure herself.

So in to the supermarket we went for our sandwiches and drinks, only to discover they sold both flip-flops and insoles. What a result, Rosina found a pair to fit her and they have since been test driven and she's pleased with them.

After lunch sat on a bench beside the estuary, we tried again to get in to the church, but without success. Maybe the Catholic Church have longer wine breaks than everybody else.

And the highlight of our day? Nothing less than watching a mobile wine bottling plant in action. We'd come across it while the operators were on their wine break, and I said to Rosina I'd like to come back at 14:00 when it's back in action for a look.

The unit came in two parts, the main one being the bottling unit, and the second carried a large generator to provide the power for the unit, and the means to transport the supporting fork lift truck.

I have to say it was fascinating to watch. I made a short video of it. The guy in white on the right hand side may look a bit aprehensive, but rest assured I did go and clear it with him before I began filming. I just think that is the proper and curteous thing to do.

I guess the lorry goes around the various chateau's and bottles their wine for a price per bottle.

That was enough excitement for the day, and having bought our wine we made our way back to the campsite.

Luckily the weather forecast was wrong and we managed to get back in time to fold our large mat and put it away before it got wet.

The Chef's insoles have since been cut to size, and glued in to place in her sandals, and she's good to go for another 100,000 miles.

And go we will tomorrow. We'll take a look at the plan and maps this evening, but I think it likely we'll go for a ride north for a tour along the wine route before either having a day or so on another campsite or get off the peninsular by way of a ferry across the estuary, or the long way round by road.