Some of the best village ramparts in France
The rain eased off last night and we slept quite well. Sadly it was just regrouping for another attack! It has rained quite a bit today and I could wax quite lyrical about the joys of wet French roads but I am passed wanting to dwell on the subject of the wet stuff. It is raining even as I write this.
We took the opportunity to get the laundry done at the Intermarché this morning. Today is a public holiday in France and the supermarket was very busy indeed. We managed to squeeze in to a parking place close to the laverie and put a full load through the washer and the dryer. Whilst we waited I popped in to the supermarket for fresh bread and some viennoisserie (generic term for things like croissants, pain au chocolate etc) to have with our coffee. Washing done and dry by 11:50 it was time to head south and brave those lovely wet roads. In the event the heavy rain was quite short lived and past Nevers it gave way to patchy drizzle. After Nevers great excitement as we crossed the Loire which even this far up stream is a substantial river.
Most of the day we followed the N7 which was one of France’s great trunk roads. These days much of the traffic goes down the nearby A7 motorway and this road retains many of the features of a classic. The miles of plane trees beside the road would have been spectacular in sunshine as the colours are changing. These trees are quite large now and must be quite old as they tower so high above the vehicles.
A special moment that I had not expected was that about 10miles before our destination we found ourselves driving through Billy. This little medieval town has a terrific ruined castle which we visited last in 2018. Surrounding the castle is a maze of tiny streets and we loved it. This is the first time that we have crossed our 2018 route since our first day in France near Bergues.
Our aire tonight is in Creuzier le Vieux just north of Vichy. It is a tiny little village on the top of a hill (409m at the top) with super views all around. The aire itself is beside the Marie (town hall) and has room for at least 8 vans and best of all it has free services! See previous comments on that subject! We were the only van for a while and then a French van arrived about 4pm and now a Dutch one has just turned up as I write.
The rain had stopped when we arrived and infact the roads were dry. At soon as we parked and despite the fact we had had no lunch we grabbed the chance of a little walk. It was only a short walk as most routes started to go down hill and you know that if you go downhill too far you only have to come back up again. We did meet one very friendly local who enjoyed a stroke and having his nose rubbed! All around are extensive views but looking west we can see the mountains on the Auvergne. We drove through those mountains last year although heavy mist spoilt the views a bit.
Big day tomorrow! We are planning to visit the ceramics museum at Lezoux. We drove past that museum last year and we’re tempted to stop but it was not and late in the day so we did not. We have come this route through France specifically to visit it this time. The point is that the museum has a major feature on the local Roman ceramics (samian ware) that are so often dug up at excavations on Roman sites in UK.