9th August 2018
Northwest of Niort, France
It seems we got lucky with last night's random choice stopover venue as we saw nor heard anyone for the duration of our stay and had a very peaceful night there. Woke at my usual early hour to hear a few spots of rain on the roof of the Jeep, so it was the old question in such circs: turn over and grab another half hour of kip in the hope that its a passing shower and will have passed on by the time of reawakening or shake a leg and get on with it before it starts to piss down properly.
I took the latter decision this morning and very glad I did as it was exactly the right decision - I guess I had two chances really! All safely packed away and the Jeep in 'daytime' mode, sipping a reviving cup of strong black coffee we enjoyed a thunderstorm, complete with lightening and for about half an hour it really did rain.
Temp dropped right down to 15 degrees and felt distinctly chill after the recent hot spell. Got on the road as soon as it it was properly light and quickly passed through Montreuil Bellay, a nice town and beyond to Thouars where we had a walk round an industrial area whilst waiting for a very decent Lidl store to open.
I rather liked Thouars, not a 'pretty, pretty' place but a very honest serious scale artisan industry sort of place. It was very quiet at that time of the morning so Amy was able to joyously snuffle her way round yards and lots and even a few stubble fields as we were right on the edge of town. All the scents she was picking up were evidently vibrant being (presumably) freshly released from their arid captivity.
One industrial unit was securely surrounded by 'grillage' and closed gates seemingly there only to protect a huge white rabbit with ears to match who was deliberately' provoking' Amy by quietly grazing some short grass and paying no attention whatsoever to her frantic barking or futile frenzied attempts to get to the rabbit's side of the fence! I don't think I've seen a more nonchalant rabbit since Bugs Bunny, whom (now I come to think of it) he/she possessed a striking resemblance to!
Interestingly, the firms generally located there all still seem to actually make real things out of metal and fabulous hefty lengths of chestnut timber and were a reminder that a developed economy doesn't have to abandon its artisan skills and buy all its goods from China.
Opposite Lidl was the most impressive Leclerc store I have ever been in and I went in specifically to see if I could get Amy a couple of bones to chew, as Leclerc sometimes have them prepackaged and on display - which this store did, making Amy a very happy, albeit noisy, travelling companion for the next couple of hours! (gnaw, gnaw, crunch, crunch, wag,wag)
The town centre was a rambling sort of low rise place, a bit reminiscent of an old 1950s mid west USA town - it was possibly an inspiration for such places?! Certainly not a tourist 'must see' location and I liked it even more for that too.
Despite the place's very ordinary work-a-day and unpretentious appearance the quality and size of its food stores suggest its a quietly affluent town modestly enjoying the literal and metaphorical fruits of it's labour. I can certainly imagine worse places to live a life.
From Thouars we continued inexorably south towards Parthenay trying our luck at yet another lake along the way. I can't say I was totally astonished to find that it was, yet again, a quite dreadful tacky tourist trap and the only saving grace was the cool grey, damp morning keeping the hordes elsewhere. We had a nose about and a very brief walk by the lake, ignoring the 'no dogs' signs and the scowls of bankside fishermen but didn't linger.
Into, or rather round, Parthenay which seemed to be a bustling sort of place that once entered takes forever to find a way out of - and very glad I was too when we finally emerged out on the other side of town from the one we entered it (via all the other possibilities, seemingly!) and actually on the road we wanted. No mean feat with their fiendishly cunning system of signposting!
The 'plan' was to get ourselves slightly northwest of Niort into an area designated on google maps as a Parc Naturel and wildlife park by traversing minor D roads but it seemed a slow journey on badly maintained roads and I subsequently noticed my Michelin Atlas Routier makes no reference to a Parc Naturel or wildlife park but does, rather, indicate a large area of bog/marsh/swamp. Mozzie paradise I'm thinking!
So we abandoned that destination for today and it being about lunchtime randomly pulled into a large and rather pleasant rest area in a secluded crescent moon pull-in next to a quiet minor D road, which can be found here:
GPS precision : 3 m
The sun is shining again now, just a few fluffy clouds, the post storm air is wonderfully fresh, the location tranquil enough (not a Eurocamper in sight) and I suspect will become totally quiet after nightfall and I really can't be arsed to drive a metre further today - so, given it's quite an attractive little spot, here we are for tonight, hopefully.
Mozzie free too, as far as I can tell!
Autres directions And will there be geckos for tea?