OK, so this weeks silly idea is to go for a walk around the wine region of Central France and then drop into some friends on the way home. We will drive to Bergerac France through Chateauroux and L’Absie France. Drive to Bergerac, France. October 2019
Gites La Colombiere is situated at 24500 Sainte-Innocence, France.
The Gite is a distance of about 900 kms (about a 9 hour drive with no stops) from Calais Ferry port.
Obviously the first thing we need to do is book the ferry. The trick here is to go on a comparison website, find the ferry we want and then book directly through the ferry company (Supposing of course that the price is the same!). The rationale for this is that by booking direct if there are any subsequent problems you can go directly to the company and not get ‘passed back’ to the comparison site in the event of a problem. On some occasions you will get enhanced loyalty points.
We searched through Aferry.com https://www.aferry.com/ and found the cheapest to be with DFDS Ferries. https://www.dfds.com/ and booked DFDS, for £90 return, one car 2 adults. The ferry left Dover at 5.50am for the 90 minutes crossing.
Navigating your way through France can be ‘fun’ at the best of times. We used both Google maps https://www.google.co.uk/maps and Sygic maps https://www.sygic.com. Whilst google maps gives up to date traffic news the requirement is to be ‘signed into’ the internet all the time for the traffic news. Sometimes this is not possible. However over the years I have used Sygic in non internet areas and been able to navigate all the way to The Gambia, through Mauritania and other remote areas. Sygic costs around £27 or 29 Euros for a lifetime package.
You really need to decide if it is cheaper to fly down to Bergerac and not have a car, or hire of course, or drive. In total we drove about 2,000 Kms and the fuel was about £150 and Motorway Tolls over £100. That is before wear and tear, food on route, hotels etc.
Sue and I have not really explored too much of France so we booked to stop overnight on route in a small town named Chateauroux, about 600 kms from Calais, about 6 hours. We took a route through the ring road of Paris. Whilst not a disaster, it was slow around Paris. We came back a different route, which is discussed later.
So far we are enjoying a great drive to Bergerac France through Chateauroux and L’Absie France
So our first stop was at Chateauroux, France, on route. We stayed at Hotel Restaurant Maurice, ‘Chez Maurice’ 7, Rue Ampere, 36000, Chateauroux, Tele Number +33 2 54 22 02 53. https://chezmaurice-chateauroux.fr This cost 55 Euros, without breakfast for one night. Booked through Booking.com https://www.booking.com.
Lets be honest you pay for what you get, but the Hotel Maurice is a family hotel. There is secure parking on the complex. The rooms are clean and tidy and the hotel is based within a very short walk of town. A short walk from the hotel is a Carrefour supermarket http://www.carrefour.com where you can buy essential supplies such as beer and wine for the room, oh and also breakfast can be got at Carrefour. Would we stay there again? Yes!
Although Chateauroux is a large town, in keeping with a lot of France it closes quite early. We found ourselves walking along a very quiet main road at about 10pm, when we thought it could be around 3am, such was the deserted street.
We walked into the town centre, near the large church, Église Saint-André. Situated between the church and the railway station are several restaurants. We chose a
A great place. If you like trying the local beers then have a few in here. I had one that was a honey beer, about 7%.
Gites La Colombiere
Following day we set off to the Gites La Colombiere, a distance of about 350 Kms, roughly 3.5 hours.
We were aware that as we left the motorway and approached the Gite through small villages the traffic was a lot slower. It appears that you must obey the speed limits in the rural areas as the cameras or police will capture you. Far more use is made of ‘average speed cameras.’
As you drive up the long driveway the Gite La Colombiere https://giteslacolombiere.com opens in front of you. Wow, what a place is the first impression, this is an old building lovingly restored and now run by an English couple from Manchester, Eileen and Richard.
The walking club we were with had hired the entire building for the weekend. Most had flown in on the RyanAir flight into Bergerac Airport, a short 20 minute journey. They were collected in a couple of minibuses which, with drivers, were at our disposal all weekend.
The gite can hold up to a party of 20. All the rooms appear different with a ‘French Countryside’ feel. Some are en suite, some not.
We were being catered for all weekend. Food was substantial, and the wine flowed.
The first evening we were taken to the local supermarket for essential supplies of beer and wine.
The next morning we were taken on a great road walk to Eymet Town (1.5 hr walk).
This is an historic town full of charm, and also ‘Trotters Independent Traders.’ You can see there is a British Ex Pat influence!
In the afternoon we drove for about 20 minutes to the local Chateau Duras. http://uk.chateau-de-duras.com. We are not into history but it is worth the few Euros to go in. ‘The whispering wall’ is fun. A great view from the top of the tower, which fortunately has recently been renovated.
Returning to the Gite, in the evening we made use of the indoor cinema, where there is a huge collection of films to watch. Just remember to save some beer and popcorn for the show!
The following day was a minibus transfer to Monestier (15 minute transfer) for a trek through the vineyards and some road walking in a circular route back to the town centre, where we took lunch in Le Relais de Monestier. Le Bourg, 24240 Monestier, Aquitaine, France +33 5 53 58 13 90. A great ‘mystery food’ lunch with cuts of meat from not sure where, but tasted great. A few drinks and all for around 25 Euros per person. Which set us up for the afternoon of wine tasting at a local winery, Chateau Lestevenie http://www.chateau-lestevenie.com in their very pleasant garden and surroundings.
We left the Gite the following day and drove to the small village of L’Absie, about 300 Kms 3 hours, from the Gite. We stayed at Hotel L’Etoile, 17, Rue de la Republique, 79240, L’Absie. +33 5 49 95 80 27. In all cheapish hotels you get what you pay for, however it was very tidy, the staff were friendly. This hotel is family run, and the hotel is located above a bar, however the bar was closed when we got back from visiting friends nearby.
The room cost 62 Euros, without breakfast. There is a Carrefour nearby for ‘supplies.’ Booked through Booking.com https://www.booking.com
Next day we drove via Rouen, to Calais. A distance of about 650 Kms. 6.5 Hours. Try to avoid Paris by going the ‘Rouen’ route which is easier and more pleasant.
A great drive to Bergerac France through Chateauroux and L’Absie France