The announcements were made that we would be able to disembark soon and to return to the vehicles. Phoebe was delighted to see me back, and reasonably interested in her new toy, though there was little time to spare. Strict Lady needed to be set so we were not floundering around holding everyone up, as being parked so far forward we would have the whole contingent of ferry passengers following us.
And…….I must remember to drive on the right.
The traffic in the town of Cherbourg was not as worrying as I feared it might be, and I had decided to head for somewhere nearby on the coast so it was not too trying a journey. The first roundabout I was determinedly reminding myself to turn to the right, which I did, but then almost forgot to look to the left to check for traffic.
The French traffic lights were slightly different, plus every time I saw a vehicle approaching a junction hoped that Prorite a Droit was no longer prevalent. But we made it out of the town and into the country, and I even had a chance to glance at the scenery, though of course I was mainly checking for lay-bys for Phoebe.
The sunlight was bright and clear and sharp, with that quality of light which reminded me of the Newlyn School of painters, who had in fact spent their formative years in Brittany, before resettling in Cornwall.
I saw French looking farmsteads, and small fields of blue-grey cabbages – then …. my first Normandy windmill, just glimpsed over the tops of some trees. Sadly there was nowhere to stop nearby, but later in the day I was to see another and much closer.
Before too long we found a nice layby and pulled in. The sun was still shining and I could leave the door open when I let Phoebe out – and by now she was desperate. It was so warm I half thought of changing my jumper for a T-shirt. A butterfly floated by and a lazy fly came in to join us. It seemed a different world. Hardly more than twenty four hours ago I was wondering if the sleet would begin to settle. Now I could barely believe my luck.
It was still not late in the day so using the satellite connection I checked for suitable aires perhaps nearby the sea, and found one, close to the main road which looked ideal. And so it proved.
For those not used to driving a motorhome, or not used to driving a motorhome on the continent, in France they have a system of Aires (areas) where it is permitted, and even encouraged for motorhomes to park and stay overnight or even for a day or two. Some are free, and some make a small charge. Some are simply parking spots, and some have facilities provided, water, electricity hook-ups, and waste disposal facilities, Sometimes toilets, showers, and laundry facilities. I am a novice at this so time will tell.
This one had no facilities such as electric or water, but it was free of charge to park.
The approach looked worrying after we left the main road, but I decided to risk it and in fact the entrance to the aire was only just around the first bend. And what a wonderful view. The sun still shone, and reflected off the sea in the bay before us, with the rooves of the town of Saint Jean De La Rivière between. Phoebe could have a run around off her lead on the acre of so of grass included within the hedges of the aire. There was a good area of flat hard-standing and several picnic benches, and best of all, I felt welcome. The UK tourist industry could learn a thing or two. The contrast to how I had felt whilst touring on the south coast of my own country was striking.
Entrance to Saint Jean De La Rivière with Windmill in the backgroundView out over the countryside to the sea beyondSome of the picnic tables, and plenty of space for Phoebe to run aroundThebus looking handsome
After we had eaten I used the evening researching what I might like to see nearby. It appeared that the town of Gouville-sur-Mer a little further along the coast had large oyster and mussel beds, so I was looking forward to exploring and maybe tasting, but sadly next day the weather had changed, and though nowhere near as wet or cold or windy as it had been in Britain, it was certainly not pleasant enough to wander about.
I must admit I had not risen early, having only had three hours sleep the night before, but once again it was a pleasure to feel relaxed enough to have a ‘lie-in’ And even if the weather was not of the best I used the day to catch up with my photographs and blog – so far I am liking this foreign travel.