Smurfy Semaine Une: France
July 2010, by Gini
Normandy & Brittany in France
We set off with London in the rear view mirror and Dover in sight for the start of our Smurfy European tour. We lined up little smurfy amongst the larger species of campers and started to feel very small until we spotted another smurf - which was more smurf like colored and got our first friendly fellow VW wave, which set our adrenalin mood for the crossing. The boat boarded and set sail to Calais, France.
An hour on the ferry and an hour lost in time, we arrived in France, switched on TomTom, or our Kiwi voice Tim and made our way to Amiens for our first Smurf night in France! The Smurf arrived with plenty of time for our first dinner a la pasta & salad by candle light. The morning started with coffee of course! and a cathedral Notre-Dame, the largest in France, just breath taking with the sun peeking in from the side and inside the vibrant colours it rained down on us from its rose windows.
It was only meant to be a fleeting visit so we were on the road again with destination Bayeaux, for the 1066 William the Conquer tapestry. We cycled into town from our new camping home and walked around the 70 metre story of how William conquered England nearly a millennium ago. The detail and techniques produced amazed the eyes and to think this was done nearly 1000 years ago and is still in one very long piece!
With a few supplies and tasty Smurf made baguettes in la sac the next day we took to our bikes once again to cycle 20km to Omaha beach, one of the four beaches the allied forces landed on in WWII over 60 years ago. It was a hilly ascent with bugs coming at us from every angle, now I know how Smurfy feels.
But we made it to Omaha beach and were greeted with an amazing turquoise blue sky and golden sand, not a war scar in sight. After our lunch and Tom's brief dip we took a stroll through the US Army cemetery, the largest outside the continent. With only a small understanding of what happened here, the crosses speak for themselves, row upon row, cross after cross with the odd Star of David, most are named, some aren't. They came from all over, New York, West Virginia, Massachusetts, Texas, Washington, the list could go on and on.
The bike home was a pleasant one with a salmon dinner to reward our efforts. We enjoyed Bayeaux one more night before departing. Mont St Michel surrounded with water sounded fascinating so we stayed a night at a 3 star campsite with a much needed pool as temperatures reached a high for us at 26 degrees! We took a leisurely 9km ride to the foot of the mont and wandered the medieval streets in search for ice cream. It reminded us of it's fairly close neighbour St Michel's Mount in Penzance, England - a connection for sure.
The small town of Dinard caught our eye on the map and when we arrived and camped up for the night right on the beach, we were already glad we had come. The bikes stayed at home and we took the coastal path around the shoreline and ogled up at the monstrous mansions which were all uniquely amazing in a spooky angular almost haunted kind of way - we want one! After a few coves, we came across loud rave like music being played across the beach, some sort of fireworks display was on tonight but the reason was nowhere in sight!
We passed the beach sheds and iconic blue and white striped bathing tents before finding a nice crepérie cafe for a light but more importantly our first dinner without Smurfy!
The morning called for Oysters, well our mouths did and Cansale was the place to have them so we popped back over the 90 degree opening bridge and shared a dozen pearls of the sea. A mid-afternoon snooze later a few smurf miles down the toll highway we reached Vitré and followed the camping signs to a cute, quiet campsite and turned out cheap too! It had a castle which we had to see on our way to pick up la pain for the day. After the show of bunnies following mummy bunny around the campsite we hopped back in the smurf destination Blois, a night before Anna & Perry were due to meet us so we could get our smurf pad looking as blue as possible.
It is great to be back in France, the road tolls took us by surprise, some being as high as 27 euro, but the ease of smooth highways in a blue tank paid off, well we will keep telling ourselves that! Tom did most of the driving and I did the last 3 hour stint to Blois, which was my first time in a left hand drive, 4 gear van! plus it was a blue smurf!