The 4000 mile road trip! We started out from Nice on the 19th December after finding out we are expecting twins!!! What a surprising way to start our Christmas holiday. We were taking the Aston Martin DB9 back to the UK for its annual service and MOT. We left Nice Hospital just after 10am and started the grueling 12 hour drive to the port of Calais, as you can imagine the talk was centered on babies! Once or twice concentration lapsed and the speed increased alarmingly, well it is an Aston! For mile after mile we pounded the French AutoRoute’s and arrived in Calais around 10pm. fortunately the sea crossing was calm.
We stayed in a hotel on the seafront in Dover for that night as we both had more than enough of driving for the day.
The next morning we had a traditional full English breakfast, oh how we miss a cooked breakfast. Back on the road and this time to London where we dropped the Aston to the garage and collected the Mercedes S class which we had previously arranged to be there. After driving for 12 hours in the Aston the Mercedes is the ultimate in comfort. We spent that night at the RAC club in London with some of our old friends, it was great to catch up on all the gossip. The next day saw a round of visiting parents and friends with our news and as we were booked on the 2pm ferry back it was a real flying visit to all. We stayed that night in Dijon which was 6 hours into our return journey, another 6 hour autoroute bash the next day saw us arrive back in Cannes. The Mercedes had done us proud, no back aches at all, absolutely cream crackered though, sleep was instantaneous once our heads hit the pillow. Now the real holiday can start. We swapped to the Range Rover for the next leg of our Christmas holiday, why you might you might ask, continue reading and all will be revealed.
Monday morning and we set off in the Range Rover to the historic town of Pau, with the day starting bright if a little cold. We headed towards Toulouse in Western France, as we had explored our local area we decided to use the Autoroute! Déjà vu or what it was only 3 days ago we were on the same road heading towards Blighty. Once we were passed Arles it was all new ground for us, after 4 hours we arrived in Pau. We wanted to check out the area for the historic races that take part around the streets of Pau as we fully intend to visit when the races are on.
Next morning a quick breakfast saw us heading off for the main attraction, Christmas in Bordeaux. The day started with rain and looked to be set to stay with us all day. Our first real view of Bordeaux was fantastic, we followed the mighty river Garonne into Centre Ville and our hotel (The Grand) for the next 2 nights. Our welcome was first class and it just kept getting better, the room was magnificent with views over the main square and the Opera opposite. It was now around 2 o’clock and at last the rain had stopped and the sun came out to greet us.
We strolled around the beautiful city taking in all it had to offer, it was like a mini Paris however unlike Paris the people are warm and friendly! That evening we meet up with Sebastian an old friend from Cannes who had moved back to his home city, what better guide could we have to the city, unfortunately he could not join us for dinner but he booked us an amazing restaurant for Christmas Eve. The restaurant Sebastian chose for us was the La Tupina the atmosphere and the food was spectacular with all meats being cooked on open fires. http://www.latupina.com/en
Christmas day after a nice a lay in, it was down for breakfast and then the obligatory phone calls to family and friends, after which I found a small café near the hotel and sat down to watch people hurrying to their Christmas lunches. Two coffees later I returned to the hotel for a Christmas lunch special where the restaurant was full and buzzing and the food was absolutely delightful.
Boxing day saw us on a tram (yes I did say a tram) for a slow tour of the city we met with Sebastian for lunch in a traditional local restaurant, the wine flowed and we chatted for hours until finally we had to say our goodbyes to both Sebastian and his lovely city of Bordeaux, vowing to return for a longer stay to explore the region. We had never been to Biarritz so a new journey started and so did the rain. It was getting dark as we drove into Biarritz and soon we were settled into our room overlooking the bay. Possibly due to the rain it did not endear us to Biarritz, so the next morning we were off again and this time to Lourdes. This time the rain did not stop us enjoying this magnificent place simply stunning and very thought provoking.
We left Lourdes and headed towards Toulouse and then on into the Tarn valley to the tiny hamlet of Meyrueis. Now the reason for taking the Range Rover is revealed, we had visited the Tarn valley before in winter and true to form it started to snow. The old Range Rover came into its own, with gradients as steep as 1 in 3 and drops of a few hundred feet to the valley below it got a little scary to say the least but eventually we reached our goal. The Chateau d’ Avres a ‘time warp’ hotel charming in every way. Although cold outside it was snug and warm, a brilliant night’s sleep.
We set off the next morning in a near blizzard. To make the long climb out of the valley, some 30 miles before you get to a major road. We had to use low gear ratio down one particular hill as we thought we could end up going off the road!, whilst we both like tobogganing it was neither the time or the place to try it now. Our one and only fault with the Range Rover happened - the windscreen wiper broke and yes you’ve guessed it on the driver’s side. A quick pit stop to swap the passenger side one over to the driver’s side and we were off again towards the awesome Milieu Bridge.
We joined the Autoroute south towards Milieu the snow had stopped and the sun came out we stopped at a service area to both clean and replace the troublesome wiper blade so that our views of the bridge would be perfect. As the bridge came into view my mouth dropped! Wow it’s massive, stunning, brilliant, fantastic and any other words you can think off to describe this sight. As the experience was so good we went to the next junction turned around and did it all again, well it was on my bucket list. We then had the last push to get back to Cannes 4 hours later we were indoors.