Monday 14th September 2015
Well, after last weekend at Bourges with a Parade, Turkish band, Sunghoon Choi the Tenor, Choir, dancing displays and an Abba tribute band and everything else to do with a Cosmopoilitanes Festival, today had to be a rest day. After all, Allan is not getting younger. Poor old Allan ahh!!
Starting the day we were pleased to find that Kevin L has found us and our blog pages. We hope he and all Allan's previous work colleagues are all well and doing OK.
The weather during last night was a bit windy with heavy showers of rain. During the morning and into the early afternoon this has given way to intermittent sunshine and showers but still windy.
l'automne feuilles sont jonchent la Rue Jean Bouin
All morning was spent finishing writing the blog and sorting out the photos and in the afternoon, after a phone call to James and his girlfriend Frankie, we had to do the washing up and then to complete our relaxing day (!) we had to drive off to do the shopping. Unfortunately although they do have wifi in the Carrefour supermarket it is, again, restricted with a firewall preventing file transfers and so the Blog for two weeks now, is STILL not uploaded. :(
Allan is getting more and more frustrated with "wifi gratuit" that won't let you transfer files to the blog. A trip to town, to sit outside the Tourist Office or Library in the dark to log into the wifi is not a pleasant way to spend an evening . Here in France the main phone companies SFR, Orange and the like, need a lot of money for a phone and contract. 65 Euros (£47.24) BUT, they also require you to have an address in France with utility bills to prove it's where you live, also a French bank account and an identity card. Without these you are stuffed!! All this makes things difficult for us - we need a French bank account but we can't get a French bank account without a French address!!! We didn't mention this before but we couldn't buy a piece of plastic for the motorhome (a window blind clip) without a French address! and it only cost €3 !!! Also the replacement door lock and two chairs that we bought in La Fleche were on condition that we lived in France. (We just gave a false address) Do they really not want the sale!!!
When we return to England one of the first things that we need to sort out is a good internet connection from the continent. A good internet package that we can use in Europe to keep our Blog going.
Happily during the evening, Allan managed to break into the wifi at the Tourist Office from the Aire with our "wifi booster" and together with a new bit of software that had caused adware problems before, managed to upload the Blog for the last two weeks, after a lot of hassle. After corrections and a very late night Allan went to bed a happy man. That is why you are now able to read the Blog for the last two weeks.
The weather is not good today so we did "not a lot" except the accounts, posted on facebook that the blog was uploaded and we worked on our diary for when we return to Newhaven, looking at how we can fit in all the things that we need to do, and all the people that we need to see, in such a short time.
We also looked at ferry prices for when we return to England for Christmas, New Year and January..
Today we visited the Museum of the Resistance. This area of France was on the border between occupied and free France for a long time during the Second World War. There were many resistance people and groups operating in the area; many were caught and transported to certain death. Along with the local Jews and Gipsies of whom there are many memorials. This museum dealt with the chronology of the war and how it affected the local people and it was very interesting to see how the war affected such a small part of France. Unfortunately all of the displays were in the French language and all without translation. But we coped as best we could and found the whole experience very moving. Particularly reading about one of the women who was deported, then seeing the rough cloth "shirt" she returned wearing. And then, extremely poignant was a video recording of her in later life where she was obviously talking of her experiences.
Next door was another display showing how in the past corn was milled with a watermill and made into flour and then baked into pain. (pronounced pahh meaning bread)
There are 6 museums here in Bourges and the price of entry to them all is the same as the Museum of the Resistance, Free !!!
Not wanting to leave before we had seen some more of the lower part town we went out again but further into the far end of the main street and the medieval quarter of Bourges. About midday Dorothy declared the she wanted to sit down for a rest. So we found a nice little place to stop. We decided that as the food looked good and as we had not spent any money just recently, oh well why not, we should push the boat out a little as they say and La Scala looked like a very good Italian Restaurant. The portions were huge. Allan had Spaghetti Bolognaise at only £5.82 a portion and Dorothy had a penne pasta with shallots, crushed tomatoes, peppers, courgettes & green pesto. All as cheap as chips - but we had pasta!
On the way back we came across a Scottish Bar and couldn't resist a peek in! Apart from advertising Whisky we didn't find anything Scottish about the place! However, we did get talking to (as Dorothy put it) "a rather dishy hunk" who turned out to be Eamon Lane the Irish Rugby player. We had a good chat about his career and where he had toured and learned he is currently playing for the Bourges Team.
Then we went into old part of the town
How could anyone do THIS to such a lovely old building?
Continuing on our way, going past the Palais Jacques-Coeur we met a group of English motorhomers who had just arrived in Bourges. We suggested that they should do the evening walk "Nuits Lumière" as we had enjoyed it immensely last week.
We returned to the motorhome for a light meal, after all it had to be light after our feast at "La Scala" but later in the evening we went out to do the "Nuits Lumière" again ourselves. This time as the evening was colder and we had already seen the show and perhaps being a little more critical, it was not quite as impressive as before.
Today we left Bourges. Have we really been here for over a week? Before leaving we took one last photo of the autumn trees and the Aire.....
We then left the town heading south. We have an important destination today as we are going to Breure Allichamps. This village may not sound fantastic or special but this was until 1984 the centre of France, not in the centre, but the actual centre of mainland France. Since then with the addition of an island or two and better geographical measuring methods this may not be where the designated middle is and there there are now six other towns and villages that claim to be furthest away from the edge of France. But how many centres can you have, unless its a box of chocolates of course. Perhaps on another journey we could visit all of the centres of France. Only to find that with the addition of a sandbank out at sea, or something else, that the centre has moved yet again. This little column at the crossroads is where the middle of France is, according to the Tourist Information Office and I am sure that they wouldn't tell lies just to bring people into their area -- Would they?
So, when we arrived at this little village, well to be honest it's a ramshackle little place with not a lot going for it, all there is, is a little column in the middle of a small uninspiring little crossroads. The people here are not making the most of what could be quite an important tourist destination.
We parked along side of the road knowing that when we pass the crossroads we are no longer heading into France. This is the middle, the centre, the innermost part of France, equidistant from the border, there is no more going into France, from here on we will be going out of France, leaving...
We walked to the middle, the point furthest from anywhere else that is not actually French. The centre, or as they say in French, CENTRE, notice the change in the spelling just to make it sound more French and what do you think we did?
Of course as anyone else would do, we searched for, and found the Geocache
At this midway point of France we spotted a sign that said Viewpoint panoramic 100 metres and so decided that we should do that too. About 200 metres along the road we saw another little sign that said Viewpoint panoramic 100 metres. Even further along the road was yet another little sign? After a little more walking Dorothy said that this is too flat and that there couldn't be a viewpoint around here and then the hill climb started. About half a mile further on we did actually find something of a viewpoint across a little valley and then it started to rain.
We returned to the middle of the village, middle and centre are important words today, and we decided to walk around the whole of central, or the centre of France. There was a bar/ tabac/ presse, a bistro, a boulangerie, a hair dressers,a pharmacy, and a crumbling dilapidated building. That just about sums up the whole of the villages in the rest France. The only shops missing were the opticians and an "institute of beauty" of which there are many in each town.
Returning to the motorhome Allan noticed another motorhome that had come down the street and circled right around the column and went back. This looked like something that just had to be done and so guess what we did next! When we left the village we drove around the middle of France, not drove in the middle of France but completely, all around the middle.
A video of the trip all around France is here
Approaching passing and back round
After all this frivolity we continued to Amand Montrond, where we have found a little Aire in the road alongside the canal. Is that in the road, or on the road, or beside the road. Or is that just as silly as this mornings Blog.
After a visit to the tourist Office to confirm that Breure Allichamps is the midpoint of France we went looking for a case or holder for our phone that would attach to the handlebars of Allan's folding cycle as we were about to go geocaching on our cycles again..
Then we headed off across town to a new Aire that has been set up beside the lake at Lac de Virlay which was one of the best Aires that we have stayed at recently. The water was free and out of town shopping was just across the field.
We wanted to do a geocache circuit that we had found here with lots of caches around the lake which we should be able to do easily on our bikes.
A bonus cache is when there is an
extra cache to do and the co-ordinates are to be found from numbers hidden in
the caches from a series. So this morning we went to find that one too. When
we arrived at the tree where the cache was supposed to be Allan looked all around
the huge tree without finding it. Dorothy looked up and spotted a bird box high
in the branches without a hole for a bird to go in. So now the cache is found
it only remains for the log book to be signed. Dorothy said " Allan, you
are not going up there, you forget how old you are."
Well - look at the photos.................
oops only one thing for it!!!
Log book signed and only problem was "how do get down"!!
Safely on terra ferma again we took a last look at the lovely lake that we had cycled all around yesterday (4K) .............
Later in the day we made our way to the canal at Sancoins and after having lunch we sat out in the afternoon sunshine hoping to top up our suntans before returning to England.
After our evening meal we set off for a nice walk along the canal
to return as the sun set, giving beautiful reflections and colour
Yet another week has gone by and scarily, only another 18 days before we need to be in Dieppe for the early morning ferry to Newhaven. EEEK!!!
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