Sunday as it should be
5th August 2018
Foret D'Ecouves, France
Still in the Foret D'Ecouves as its working out very well as a sanctuary from what will undoubtedly be widespread holiday-making mayhem elsewhere.
Not wishing to come to the attentions of the local police I have deliberately not gone off road to wild camp in the Jeep hereabouts - although there are many super looking potential spots to do so. Playing it safe, we are in a short, shady, dead end green lane just off and back from a quiet asphalt road. I have found all too often in the past when camping in the Jeep for more than one night in the same spot/area people do notice and often like to mention the fact to the local cops if one goes too far from the road into the forest/dunes/mountains/whatever. Notwithstanding all that, where we are is as quiet as the grave all night so it was a shock to be woken up at two am by a car pulling up on the adjacent road and two men approaching the Jeep. Not cops, as was my first thought, but a couple of local idiots in, I am guessing, their 30s who wondered if I had a cigarette I could spare! They were very unsteady on their feet and quite animated but I couldn't smell booze so I'm guessing narcotics. Thankfully, I think they got the idea that I would rather have not been disturbed at 2am for any reason and pushed off in fairly short order. Nice shiny new car they were driving, perhaps they 'work the door' at a supermarket somewhere nearby too?!
Today, being Sunday, France likes to get out in the morning en masse to run or cycle, so I was fully expecting to come across a fair bit of strenuous outdoor activity this morning. However, I am delighted to report that this forest seems immune from even the seemingly compulsory 'Sunday Tsunami' of outdoor French fitness fanaticism.
Perhaps its by virtue of the fact that everyone is at the coast that is keeping it so quiet here but whatever the reason is I wholeheartedly approve. Amy and I enjoyed a couple hours of walking through the forest in cool air at daybreak and then moved the Jeep a few km along the road to a rather attractive public rest area where we parked up and had a further two hour walk along a road designated for pedestrians and cyclists only.
It was a real joy to walk a road and to know there was not going to be an oblivious idiot in a car come flying round the next bend at some crazy speed with his or her stereo whoomping. The tarmac road had the benefit of lovely flat grass verges to walk on which led directly into the forest on either side. Lots of tracks and paths into the forest but in any event the road is unfenced so one can wander into the forest at any point should one feel so inclined. The scenery and woodland scents were wonderful as was the total absence of a single other other soul for the duration of the entire walk - despite it taking place at 9-11am.
Although the day was already starting to significantly warm up during the course of this our second walk of the day it was not a problem as the road afforded just the right balance of alternate sunshine and dappled shade. About 2/3rds the way along our route we came across a wonderful 'plunge' pool of crystal clear water on a rock bed - simply too good to miss so I took, accompanied by my water-rat companion Amy, a much needed douche. I made a calculated risk that nobody would come by (they didn't) but it would have been just too bad for them if they had. Out, air dried and dressed in under five mins feeling marvellously refreshed.
Back to the spacious and leafy public rest area for lunch and there were just two other cars parked there but their occupants were nowhere to be seen or heard. Its certainly been a Sunday as it should be - restful and relaxed!
Tomorrow we'll risk taking to the roads again though may not go that far. I'm currently inclined to head slightly southwest from Alencon, which is still an area of Parc Naturel, overnight somewhere thereabouts and thence to head due south in the general direction of La Fleche - a cunning plan, one hopes, which has the advantage of avoiding the busy and (to me) bewildering byways round Le Mans.
I have, anyway, seen them several times in the past already!
Silent Saturday Solace Here there be dragons