Vienne and Vinsorbes
First Day in France
Moving South
Vienne and Vinsorbes
Dutch Campground
First Days in Italy
Montelcino Antonio
First Days-South Italy
First Days-Giovinazzo
Living in Giovinazzo
Picking Olives
Outings and School
Rosa's show
Hols & New Yr
Back to School
Croatia-Plitvika, Krk, Cres
St. Pierre
Camping on the Med
Eli's Diary
Rosa's Diary


7-8 November 2004: Morning in St Martin d'Estreaux, Vienne, finding camp in Vinsorbes

Picnicing in St Martin de Estreaux



Real tea. Sunglasses optional

Sammy and Finn love all the little french dogs

Picnic with the Mistral living up to its reputation

Trees grown under the influence of the Mistral



St Martin d'Estreaux

In the morning it was cool but sunny patches and warm enough to eat breakfast outside, and for me to wear my prescription sunglasses, giving my eyes a break from the contacts. We attracted the curiosity of an old French man who came along wheeling a wonderful old fashioned wooden wheelbarrow, and asking the name of our dog. He told us he knew all the dogs in the village, and wondered were we German, because, before he retired, he had two German directors in his company.  He thought they were wonderful. He chatted away pleasantly, then offered us vegetables from his garden nearby, so I went along with the children who were delighted with his rock collection (including some fossils) from all over the world, just sitting about on the paths and low tables in the garden. He brought me tons of carrots and leeks and a turnip, and gave me a knife and a bucket of freezing water to wash them off in. At this point he started giving me instructions, and we dubbed him the French Grandad. He also had a tiny row of vines with a few grapes left that he was determined to give us, despite many of them beginning to rot and covered with mould. We begged some leau chaud for our tea, and as with the previous time, it was barely boiling from the hot tap in his boiler room! He assured me it was hot enough for tea. Mike and I are keen to find a little bottle of gaz for our small cooker or a plug in 12v electric kettle so we can have a proper cup of tea without unloading the large cooker.

The children were still hungry, as we were running low on supplies for breakfast. So I asked our new friend was the patisserie close by? He assured me there was one with wonderful patisseries, but I definitely shouldn't eat their bread, as it was terrible. Instead I should look for one nearer the church, where the bread was marveaux. On investigation, however, both were shut so I foolishly took 4 starving children instead a small French supermarket. They wanted everything in sight. As soon as I put one small box of sweet cereal from a child's hands, another had grasped a packet of sweets or popcorn. No doubt the assistant was grateful when I finally herded them out with croissants, baguettes and things for lunch,

During the evening drives, Mike and I have taken to munching olives and cheese with bread as apertives, but have to resist the temptation to open a bottle of wine with it.

We set off again around noon to look for something for the children to do for the afternoon. Complicated interchange accidentally put us on a highway, though signposted Valence, actually headed first towards Lyon.


We decided to stay on as far as Vienne, a nice city on the Rhone. We found a nice playground and later a cafe with pizza and yummy patisseries. But the bit that Mike & I were most excited by, was the steaming hot tea.

By this point, we were more than thrilled with how well the children had been doing in the van. They played games with soft toys and teddies, tiny finger puppet donkey starred as the actor from Shrek, they played tapes, read books, Rosa put on shows for Finn if he showed signs of failing, using his bear. They drew pictures and remained in amazingly good form throughout. At each stop, they made up games outside using nothing at all or once, a spare tyre from Mike's bike. It was like an old fashioned hoop, and entertained them for ages. However, Mike and I were started to fray at the edges. So we picked up a camping brochure for the area and picked out an area where there were several open year-round and headed that way. Mike dove.


Things did not go according to plan. The first campsite had a lovely view, of a nuclear power station! It seemed early enough in the evening to press on to the next in Vinsorbes, but unfortunately, on arrival, the gates were shut - earlier than it said on the sign. We had telephoned but missed reception and there was no one in sight. We headed to a municipal campground that also was supposed to be open. It wasn't, so we parked outside its gate and spent the coldest night so far in the camper, breaking out all the extra blankets.

The morning wasn't too bad until the wind picked up, and then I realised which wind. Of course it was the infamous mistral, and it froze us to a fast exit. We decided, since the edges were a little more frayed, to pay paege. The landscape leaving that region of Drone, made us keen to return in the spring, when the vineyards should have new buds and the mistral would hopefully have stopped blowing through the medieval villages.


St Martin d'Estreaux

Newbie was stalling and backfiring on the road, so in the morning I checked Newbie's valves and found that 3 and 4 were tight, so adjusted them.  Cal helped us to meet a nice 83 year old man with old wooden wheelbarrow.  We had a little picnic and the kids played for a long while while we repacked. 


Got on the road and ended up not where we expected, in Vienne.  Happily it had a nice playground for the kids, and we went off and had lunch with really hot tea, our first nice French pastries from a patisserie and some pizza.


Based on some information given to us at the tourist office, we made for a campground where dogs were okay.  We laughed as we got closer when we saw the 3 towers of a nuclear power station, saying it would be funny if the campground was there.  Well it was!  I just couldn't stomach that, so we continued on, which with hindsight was a mistake, as the kids were frazzled and just needed to stop somewhere. 

We finally did get to Vinsorbes but unfortunately the municipal and private campgrounds both had their gates shut, so we just parked outside.  It was COLD!

Leaving Vinsorbes

When leaving past loads of vinyards with their broad flat fields with neat rows of low vines.


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This site was last updated 03/26/05