Our 5th week starts with our cruise drawing to a close. Our last port of call is Venice and the Silhouette will stay an extra day allowing us to enjoy Venice without relocating to a hotel. The weather doesn’t do us any favours but we have fun anyway. We wander the narrow streets and squares, take a gondola ride and spend the evening in St Marks Square. Another one off the bucket list. It has been a wonderful 12 days.
It’s an early flight and Easyjet has us in Paris (Orly) by 1130 and on our way to Avis to pick up our motorhomes for the next leg of our adventure. We arrive at 1230, lunchtime apparently. Sorry we are closed until 2 pm. What a way to run a business. Anyway the 4 off us set off in our two rented camper-cars, on the wrong side of the road in the Paris afternoon traffic. The traffic is heavy and we place our holiday in the hands of our garmin gps. Once out of the city the freeway is well marked and our anxiety levels have reduced. However I can tell we will not make the planned camping ground by closing. So we stop at a servo and I call the camping ground the manageress cannot understand me and I cannot understand her. Two and a bit hours later we arrive in Corbie, the campsite is locked up like Fort Knox. As we stand looking at the gate, a little man appears, in reasonable english he asks if we are the Australians and lets us in ! Corbie, a small town on the edge of the Somme in Northern France, it has the closest campsite to the Adelaide Cemetery.
The next morning we visit the Australian National Cemetery in Villers-Bretonneux. The morning is wet and cold but the Cemetery and it’s gardens are beautiful. The monument itself providing a wonderful view of the surrounding valley.
By late morning we are driving through the fields of northern France. That afternoon we cross into Belgium and make our way to Ypres. After a little confusion regarding a one way street we are safely settled in a council campsite.
That evening we attend the last post ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ypres. The service has been conducted every night for more that 80 years commemorating those allied serviceman killed in the Great War with no known resting place. I cannot recommend attending more highly and visiting Ypres itself which was a wonderful experience.
We say goodbye to Belgium and head south west into Normandy, staying overnight in Condette before continuing on to Honfluer for lunch. The Lonely Planet Guide describes Honfluer as one of the most beautiful seaside villages in France. Although we note many similar villages as we travel the Normandy Coast most with far less Japanese tourists.
We camp in Arromanches where we visit various sites along the D-Day beaches and the nearby museum. The remnants of Mulberry Harbour constructed in the days after the landing still clearly visible in the bay.
Moving away from the coast we head south-west for Bayeux. Its our first real experience in driving through the French countryside on the D roads. Through small villages open farmland and narrow roads. There is little traffic and we roll along in convoy. Arriving in Bayeux we find a carpark near the cathedral and museum and head of to explore.
Its another cold and windy day and getting inside is a pleasure.
We have all settled into the touring by camper-car life style. Driving for a couple of hours a day, then setting up camp, going for a walk. Drinks in a little bar or the campers and chatting about our day.