We’ve now left Paris and have started the next part of our journey – the road trip. We will be covering about 8000 km and seven countries in our brand new, manual drive, silver-coloured, diesel, Renault Clio. Sanford leased this car as opposed to renting. He did this because we will be using the car for a relatively long period, eight weeks, so it is more economical to lease and he wanted to drive a new car and this was one way to guarantee that.
We love our little car. It handles easily and is very easy on fuel, as a matter of fact, 40 litres (at about $1.75 cdn/L) will take us about 1000km. I especially like that the driver sits on the left and drives on the right side of the road, just like in Canada. I was expecting traffic to be insane everywhere you go but it is in fact similar to driving at home. The motorway speeds however are much higher with 130 being the speed limit. What has been a bit of a surprise to us is just how expensive the tolls are. Most of the major motorways in France have tolls and on our first day of driving we travelled 650 km and paid a total of $68cdn in tolls.
Since leaving Paris we have spent four days in the countryside. Two days in south central France in the town of Lablachère within the Ardèche region, and two days in southeastern France in the town of Grâne within the Drôme region. Each town was great for different reasons.
In Lablachère, we stayed with friends of Sanford, Christophe, his wife Celine and their two daughters, Bardane (10) and Noria (7). They live in a beautiful large house in the rolling countryside, surrounded by vinyards and fields; truly an idyllic setting. I particularly liked staying with this family because Christophe and Celine are really into healthy eating, a pleasant change from what we have encountered till now. Breakfast was eggs laid fresh from their two chickens, home-baked spelt bread, fruit and coffee, lunch was a fresh garden salad with a risotto dish, and dinner was rice with tofu/vegetables balls. All wonderful!
While in the Ardèche region we went to a wilderness park called Bois de Paiolive (Stone Forest). It was a wonderful park with a walking trail that first took us along spectacularly rugged cliff tops where we had magnificent views from the cliff edge down into the river valley below and then went back through the forest. Nature never disappoints!
From Lablachère we headed to Grâne where we stayed in an airbnb, a pleasant stone house in the countryside with equally pleasant hosts. The house sits amongst stony fields about a km out of the village of Grâne. The village has a population of under 2000 and is about a 15 minute stroll from our accommodation. We wandered around the centuries-old narrow streets and alleyways and tunnels; all wonderfully intriguing. We discovered a small grassy amphitheater and on the hilltop in the centre of town was a Calvary-type triage of steel crosses and the 14th century ruins of two stone towers – the Chateau des Poitiers.
The following day, we did an 8Km walk along the Drôme River. It was a pleasant walk but nothing spectacular. Of note however was that the river flowed remarkably fast, too swift, and deep to cross.
We enjoyed our days in the country, but now it is time to head back to the city. We are off to Dijon in the region of Burgundy.