14th August 2018
Saint Fort sur le Ne, South of Cognac, France
Last night’s location in our little green lane cutting through a small forest just south of Brizambourg was another good choice. Just one very friendly local on his bike peddled by in the early evening and at dusk a scowling local in his shiny white Renault saloon passed slowly by but didn’t stop. Other than that it was just us, the sultry night and the mozzies! I’m guessing there is some standing water not far away from where we were, although I didn’t see any.
Amy had a great morning walk and was pretty knackered after a couple of hours of chasing big strong brown french rabbits and fleet footed deer. Lots of faune sauvage about which was really good to see. Actually, it was a very lush area in all natural respects - a sort archetypal garden of Eden, but on steroids!
From there a short drive into the rather wonderful old town of Cognac. I am finally learning to ignore all the Autres and Touts Directions signs which always want to keep vehicles out of town centres - often, in some of the quainter (and consequently very narrow) places, with bloody good reason I have to say! Cognac in the early morning before the choking traffic gets itself organised was just marvellous to behold. It felt like the revolution happened there just last week, so richly redolent is the place with French antiquity.
it also has an excellent Lidl store, on the outskirts, with a pack of kenneled hounds in an adjacent industrial lot - there specifically, I presume, to keep Amy highly entertained whilst I bought two days worth of grub - tomorrow being a public ‘oliday in France.
From there a short hop down the road to the very quaint little village of Angeac-Champagne. A grape growing area it may not surprise you to learn(!) and another very lovely area. We took some time out nearby for an utterly silent walk along deserted tracks and hectares of vines discovering in their midst a wonderful old stone barn complete with a good pan tile roof and round tower. The tower, although still standing, is no longer used for any obvious purpose but the barn itself is, I can well imagine, pressed into service at grape harvest time. My word, it would make a super place to live if you happen to like beautiful old French architecture and a bit of real peace and quiet.
In fact, the whole place was a bit like that. Any houses that are about are timeless old isolated rustic properties built, with an ageless grace, enduringly of stone and pan tile and although in fine fettle have not had the hideous hand of gentrification defile them. Which is also the case in many of the towns and villages I have come across recently - lovely old architecture in good working order but unmolested by the ‘tastes’ of the vulgar nouveau riche bourgeois.
We sauntered down quiet roads a few more km in the Jeep until we came to a grassed area next to a stream with a sign proclaiming it to be ‘reserved for hunter’s parking’. So, I presumed it being closed season for hunting that there wouldn’t be many customers today - and I was right. We had a few hours there whilst I applied for vendangeurs vacancies online(!!) one of which immediately sent me quite a busy French language form to fill in and return. Which I eventually managed - however, whether it’s actually the info they want or not I can only hope……
Although a nice spot the road it was on connects two tiny villages and was surprisingly busy. Not nose-to-tail traffic, or anything like that, but enough ‘swooshes’ of passing cars to motivate me to go and look for somewhere auto free.
And we have found it too, in the guise of a rather good, yet somehow forgotten, little public rest area on the edge of Saint fort sur le Ne - a commune, apparently, of some 400 souls that nestles in the Chartente Department within Nouvelle-Aquitaine.
It’s set well off a quiet road and has a high quality centrally located timber building consisting of toilets and showers, etc but it’s all locked up. The building has an integral covered area against too much sun or rain and the entire thing looks pretty new. There are a couple of solid wood tables with combined benches for people to eat at and both are amidst a large grassed area that looks as if it may not have been cut for several weeks. The grass is not rampant or anything but it’s certainly not manicured either. The whole place has an abandoned feel to it, which suits us just fine and (to explore next) it’s adjacent to a small forest area that google maps seems to think has a stream running through it.
Amy will be pleased!
And for folk who like maps, here’s where it is:
Latitude : 45.57382 (45° 34′ 25.76″ N)
Longitude : -0.30425 (0° 18′ 15.3″ W)
accuracy of signal : 4 m
Towards Cognac France under fire