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Felix in Europe Summer 2019

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SimonMc

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Messages
109
Location
Tyne and Wear
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 150
Day 15 - CERN

Two weeks ago I managed to book places on the CERN tour for this afternoon. So, the four of us had a lazy morning at the campsite swimming in the lake again and enjoying the view. We headed to CERN on the bus and tram arriving at 12.00.
We rushed a recce through the Microcosm which has been updated since I was last here, then joined the 1pm tour. I’m very familiar with most things CERN, so I acted as “educator” for my three plus we met up with my cousin Jill and her husband and kids. I hope I didn’t confuse anybody.
The tour took in the ATLAS control room and (first time for me) the retired synchrotron from back in the day which they’ve preserved and turned into a great multimedia staged presentation.

It was a hot day so it was a relief to get into the globe to chill. I was excited as I always am to see Tim Berners-Lee’s old NeXt computer which ran the first www server code with the handwritten “Do not switch off” sticker on it :)

After CERN we wandered through a bit of the old town then headed to the supermarket to buy bits for BBQ later. Campsite beach was buzzing, and we enjoyed the atmosphere as the sun went down.


Simon & Angela


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S

SimonMc

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Messages
109
Location
Tyne and Wear
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 150
Day 16 - Family Time

After breakfast the girls had a swim and of course ogled the ducklings, but this time in the water for a change


Today was a chance to visit the Old Town in Geneva. It was quietly beautiful, and we stayed for lunch before heading to Jet d’Eau
then towards the train station en route to the airport. We fell into Les Brasseurs to bookend the weekend, and then the girls shot off to the airport leaving me with this to finish.
Thanks, but it took me over an hour. Sad to see them all go, and tonight marks the start of two weeks where I really have not planned where I’m going. I booked an extra night at this campsite so I can plan my next stop. Fun and a hassle at the same time. Girls, I promise I’ll never have as much fun as the last two weeks. Xxx
Simon, Angela, Katherine and Rachel




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S

SimonMc

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Messages
109
Location
Tyne and Wear
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T6 Ocean 150
Day 17 Doubs and Jura

This was my first morning with no plans ahead. I pondered for way too long then settled on the small lake region in Jura, northwest of Geneva and over in France. I left the campsite knowing I’ll be back again, then headed through the city and along the western shore. Soon I was heading away and uphill into the long Jura Mountains. The views back were stunning, though a little hazy.
Geneva is on the right hand side of the lake and you can see the Jet d’Eau shooting upwards if you zoom in. On to Pontarlier in the Doubs region to buy a picnic and a visit to Decathlon to buy a stand up paddle board. We’ve seen so many people using them in France and Switzerland and they’re increasingly popular at home on the North Sea coast so I spent 45 minutes speaking French (I hope) to the lad in the shop and came away with a nice beginners setup. Now turned west and after a picnic en route I arrived at Camping Le Grand Lac de Clairvaux-les-Lacs on the outskirts of Clairvaux-les-Lacs. I hadn’t prebooked and was lucky to get the very last pitch. Only €20 for the night including electric hook up and direct lake access. So, in 29°C heat I pumped up the SUP, got my gear on then tried it out. Naturally, I’m rubbish and failed on my first two attempts but eventually got some kind of rhythm going. There were hundreds of potential onlookers which didn’t help my nerves. Fun though! This is a great campsite for young families with a nuts diving board.
which they were still using at 9.30pm!

Simon.


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S

SimonMc

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Messages
109
Location
Tyne and Wear
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T6 Ocean 150
Day 18 - Westwards to Burgundy

Woke up to a humid heat and the threat of thunderstorms, so packed up and headed off from this lovey campsite. The guide book pointed me to Château-Chalon and I parked up and spent an hour taking a look around. It’s a village with a long history and the most awesome views. Perhaps a place to stay in the future for a few days??
. Today was a hot one, reaching 32.5°C so decided to head across to the Morvan National Park in Burgundy - I’d spotted it on the AA Road Atlas as potentially bonny . I pulled over for lunch on the way by a beautiful river and ate the most tasty quiche de legumes ever.
. I popped into Autun briefly then drove the last leg to Lac des Settons and found a campsite at my second attempt. It’s great - the guy who runs gives you a map on a board and tells you to come back and tell him your pitch number. The problem is the choice! I settled on #68 then ordered croissant and baguette for the morning. The owner is a lovely old guy who takes things at his own pace. The campsite is dated, but very peaceful and no WiFi. Surrounded by trees I switched off :). Met a lovely couple from near Lake Konstanz in Germany who’ve just bought a Coast and wanted to see what I’d bought and how I pack etc. They were most interested in the Cadac Safari Chef 2 that so many of us have, and my dull but useful VW seat covers.
Settled into reading “Beneath a Scarlet Sky” late into the evening and fell asleep upstairs to a constant gentle flashing of distant lightning. Missing home though.

Simon.


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S

SimonMc

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Messages
109
Location
Tyne and Wear
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 150
Day 19 - Burgundian Sights

Right, I’ll keels this one short as I did too much driving and too little looking at stuff. I made the mistake of planning to stay at the same campsite for a 2nd night...
sadly this meant double the driving, and the Morvan forest is winding roads which take time. Anyway, visited a couple of lovey villages along the way (Vézelay and Noyers). 5/10 for the first and 9/10 for the second.
. Eventually made it back to the site. Picked a new pitch without a tree dropping stuff onto the awning. Omelette for tea for a change then early bed.
Simon


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S

SimonMc

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Messages
109
Location
Tyne and Wear
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 150
Day 20 - Always do what the wife suggests...

In an attempt to get some stand up paddle board (SUP) practice, I started heading towards the lake I was at on Monday. However Angela sent me a link http://travellingeagles.co.uk/blog/our-top-3-inland-sup-destinations-europe which made me turn south. Decided to overnight in Grenoble and to save time I went on the Peage. It really chewed up the miles fast, the cruise control was sat happily at 81mph ,and it was great to be heading back towards the Alps. Wives just know what’s good for us...thanks Ange x. It was pretty tricky at each toll booth on my own sliding across to do the payments etc then jump back across into the drivers seat, stupidly fearing the barrier will drop. Is there a technique to this??
Anyway, arrived in the late afternoon heat to a campsite close to town. Very odd place but only €14. Had a pool which I didn’t use, and immediate access to the industrial estate! Ubered into town, had a stroll and a couple of beeers, visited the museum to see an 11,000 yr old human skull, the oldest found in the Alps.
Had onglet steak for dinner then taxi home for a much needed shower.
Didn’t sleep well in the heat. Grenoble’s in a beautiful location by the river Isère but I’ve been spoilt recently and it’s certainly no Annecy or Strasbourg. Or Geneva for that matter.
Regards, Simon.


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westfalia

westfalia

Messages
2,374
Location
Germany.
Vehicle
T5 SE 174
Day 20 - Always do what the wife suggests...

In an attempt to get some stand up paddle board (SUP) practice, I started heading towards the lake I was at on Monday. However Angela sent me a link http://travellingeagles.co.uk/blog/our-top-3-inland-sup-destinations-europe which made me turn south. Decided to overnight in Grenoble and to save time I went on the Peage. It really chewed up the miles fast, the cruise control was sat happily at 81mph ,and it was great to be heading back towards the Alps. Wives just know what’s good for us...thanks Ange x. It was pretty tricky at each toll booth on my own sliding across to do the payments etc then jump back across into the drivers seat, stupidly fearing the barrier will drop. Is there a technique to this??
Anyway, arrived in the late afternoon heat to a campsite close to town. Very odd place but only €14. Had a pool which I didn’t use, and immediate access to the industrial estate! Ubered into town, had a stroll and a couple of beeers, visited the museum to see an 11,000 yr old human skull, the oldest found in the Alps.
Had onglet steak for dinner then taxi home for a much needed shower.
Didn’t sleep well in the heat. Grenoble’s in a beautiful location by the river Isère but I’ve been spoilt recently and it’s certainly no Annecy or Strasbourg. Or Geneva for that matter.
Regards, Simon.


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That food looks great, i like to wrap a chip
in some lettuce for a chip and salad combo :)
 
S

SimonMc

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Messages
109
Location
Tyne and Wear
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 150
Day 21 - even further south to Provence

My destination for today is the beautiful Lac de Sainte Croix at the exit of the Verdon Gorge. Although yesterday went really well on the Autoroutes I decided today to go back to basics and stick to the quiet roads. I was not disappointed in fact it turned out to be one of the best drives of the whole holiday. Not long after leaving Geneva I was passing through a village called Vif and they had their Friday market on so naturally I pulled over into the car park and did a little bit of shopping. It was great just had to get out some shopping bags and buy some local produce.
Stocked up for the next couple of days and carried on the journey. I was heading south on the D1075 and it was just stunning all the way down. I think it could be even better driving from south to north. Popped into a local Decathalon to swap my manual pump for an electric pump. Believe me you don’t wanna be pumping things up in 35° of heat, and the lad in Pontarlier on Monday didn’t even mention that they do sell electric pumps. Took a couple of snaps on the way down to the lake
and then drove down some beautiful hairpin bends to reach the lake level. Pulled into the campsite it was extremely busy and the staff were very slow. Anyway eventually I found a pitch at the very highest and most northern part of the campsite which is hell to get up to in this heat but the plus side is and has gorgeous views of the end of the Verdon Gorge and down to that part of the lake.
Settled in for the evening, cooked tea,
took photographs and a bit of droning.
Planning to stay for a couple of nights. Early (cooler) start tomorrow on SUP

Simon


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Swiss Cheese

Swiss Cheese

Messages
31
Location
Switzerland
Vehicle
T6 Beach 4Motion
Hey Simon, glad you made it down there. This area was our absolute favourite a couple of weeks ago on our first long trip out in the van. We stayed 4 nights at Camping St Jean in Moustiers. It's not at the lake but just a short walk from the town of Moustiers. Site was really clean, quiet, and does great pizza. There is also an Aire around there too.
 
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SimonMc

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Messages
109
Location
Tyne and Wear
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 150
Day 22 - Lac de Saint Croix in the heat

The forecast for today was hot hot hot so I got up early and drove out of the campsite to the free parking down closer to the lake. Grabbed a quick brekkie from the epicerie opposite then took out the SUP. The electric pump makes life a lot easier but it’s noisy. Thankfully I was only one of two cars there at 8.15! Had a slow paddle for about an hour and a half, still not very confident and within the first hour everyone had descended on the lake. It was great seeing so many people out on canoes, kayaks, pedalos and solar (I think) boats. I avoided going up to the Verdon Gorge itself as a) v busy and b) assumed my paddle power would not get me very far. Wish I’d brought my hat, and had a couple of swims too, some unplanned. I next need to practice getting on and off the SUP I’m deep water. Was back in the campervan by 11.00 and had a drink and a snooze. By now the car park was full! Opened some windows and closed some blinds then played the ukulele Apologies to everyone.

Headed back to the campsite and did the second laundry of the trip (Angela did the first one) and it all dried in about 20 minutes. Good job as it was spoiling the view of the canyon.

The 34°C heat was way too much for me and I lay on the mat in the shade admiring the view. There was a cold shower nearby which I kept popping back to in my trunks. Evening came and it stayed well in the 30’s. Delicious starter of champignons à l’ail et bière blanche soaked up by the obligatory baguette (mushrooms from the market yesterday)
and some very intestinal sausages after. Hmmm. Beautiful sunset though and the colours on the Gorge were lovely.

Oh and I don’t remember if I posted a pic of the Gorge from the drone, so...

Tomorrow, I need to escape the heat. Englishman abroad!
Simon.


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SimonMc

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109
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Tyne and Wear
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T6 Ocean 150
Day 23 - Westwards via the Med to Tarn

I checked the weather map and saw that the central region of France was set to be cooler so I came up with a plan to visit Millau which is not too far south of there. Used a mix of autoroutes and local roads but avoided tolls and the seat jumping it needs (front seat well is messy, can’t be bothered to tidy it). Went west past Aix and the northern part of the Camargue and had a few glimpses of the Mediterranean Sea but didn’t stop for a toe dip. Had the most beautiful drive up the autoroute north into Millau, then nabbed a lovely spot at the Camping Les Erables across the river from the town. It’s my kind of campsite. Lovely lady running it, small café and pool, shade and grass, goes down to the River Tarn, and WiFi. My data is very low now so the WiFi is a real boon. No pictures from the drive up, just my bbq dinner.

I’ve planned ahead a little and booked a campsite on the western edge of Paris for Saturday and Sunday nights when Angela arrives. Looking forward to this!
I’m probably driven too much again...I’ll never learn.
Simon.


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SailSki

SailSki

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Messages
257
Location
Surrey & Switz
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 204 4Motion
Hi Simon, thanks for the running commentary - great descriptions and good to see you enjoyed around Annecy/Geneva etc where I am based much of the time.
For western side of Paris you may want to take a look at St. Germain en Laye - great view over to Paris from the grounds of the Chateau in St. Germain (especially at the end of the afternoon as the sun highlights the towers of La Defense). Nice walks / biking in the woods around the town too. Le Vesinet where I lived for a couple of years is also a lovely town - lots of little lakes and leafy avenues on the north side of the town and a quick train into Paris on the RER.
Enjoy the rest of your trip!
 
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SimonMc

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Messages
109
Location
Tyne and Wear
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 150
Hi Simon, thanks for the running commentary - great descriptions and good to see you enjoyed around Annecy/Geneva etc where I am based much of the time.
For western side of Paris you may want to take a look at St. Germain en Laye - great view over to Paris from the grounds of the Chateau in St. Germain (especially at the end of the afternoon as the sun highlights the towers of La Defense). Nice walks / biking in the woods around the town too. Le Vesinet where I lived for a couple of years is also a lovely town - lots of little lakes and leafy avenues on the north side of the town and a quick train into Paris on the RER.
Enjoy the rest of your trip!
Thanks SailSki

Simon.


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S

SimonMc

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Messages
109
Location
Tyne and Wear
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T6 Ocean 150
Day 24 - Les Gorges du Tarn and Millau

Planned a loop taking in the Tarn Gorges north of Millau then round and back clockwise. Beautiful scenery all along the way. Took nearly all of the pictures on proper camera and haven’t downloaded them yet.

There were some beautiful climbs and descents out of and into the valleys and lots of hairpin bends which Felix took in his stride - it’s great having the automatic gearbox and the view from the high seat is always rewarding. Stroll through some absolutely beautiful little villages some of which seem to not have changed in hundreds of years. Came back to the campsite had a chill and a swim in the pool which was very relaxing and it was lovely that the temperatures did not climb too high today.

I wandered into Millau for dinner and was over the moon to see that there was some kind of festival on in the main square which included dozens of food places and music and entertainment. Great buzz and thousands out. I are well. Some kind of green herb pancake spongy thing called a Farçous I think, a stuffed half cabbage, some truffade (first time for me, sliced potatoes and lard and melted cheese) and some confit de canard which I can’t resist. I just kept doing laps of the square either getting a drink or a nibble each time.

There was a local brewer selling a delicious stout which is fortified with cognac and comes in at 9%. Reminds me of a stag do in Ireland where we made our own called Brandy Shandy!

The night was rounded off by a great band called Čao Laru who are playing in England later this year.


Simon


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SimonMc

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Messages
109
Location
Tyne and Wear
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T6 Ocean 150
Day 25 - Heading to Central France

I had a leisurely morning at the campsite then set off up the autoroute towards Clermont-Ferrand. Stopped for lunch on the way in a ville étape village whose name I can’t remember, then reached the train station to the Puy-de-Dôme volcano mid afternoon. I could and should have walked up but I decided to take the train since it was such a fun way to go up the mountains in Switzerland.
Not surprisingly the place was rammed with tourists. But it was easy to see why as I walk around the top of the crater. It’s a great place for photographing the other volcanoes in the chain
but what happened is I ended up photographing and videoing the paragliders for about two hours in the afternoon. I’ve never had the courage to try it but it looks so safe and so much fun.
There was one guy who was obviously the main man who was flying over and around people.
I only left because I was feeling so cold and needed to warm up somewhere. Then I took a short 10 minute drive to find a campsite and the one I chose has a lovely view of a couple of volcanoes in the distance.
Leftovers for tea and possibly the worst bottle of red wine I’ve ever bought!
Much more civilised temperatures here though :)

Simon


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SimonMc

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Messages
109
Location
Tyne and Wear
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T6 Ocean 150
Day 26 - Bourges

The Rough Guide to France has a glowing recommendation for Bourges cathedral in the south east Loire so that’s where I headed. Checked in first to the Camping Robinson near the city and wandered in after lunch to see the sights. City was very sleepy as so many French towns can be at this time of year as the locals have fled to the coast. First I visited the grand home built by M Jacques-Coeur, a wealthy minister from the 15th century.
For some reason I took a wrong turn at the start and did the whole tour in reverse order. Didn’t bother me, but the staff were very transfixed by this. Now that’s a fireplace!


The cathedral St Étienne in the centre of town was stunning, particularly the interior. Is has layer on layer of windows with some of the finest stained glass I’ve ever seen. Pictures can’t do it justice. But I’ll try...

Had a few beers then a pizza in town. A 50cl Blanche beer ranged from €4.50 to €8.00 within a couple of streets. On the way home I caught one of those “projects lights onto old building” shows.

Simon



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Jontymo

Jontymo

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Messages
54
Location
Snaith
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 150
Fantastic write up Simon, we get our new Ocean 1st September and stories like this make the wait seem even longer!!!
Keep at it.

Jon
 
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SimonMc

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Messages
109
Location
Tyne and Wear
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 150
Day 27 - North to Orléans

The title says it all. I drove to a campsite called Camping d’Oliviers, parked up and relaxed. No plans today, will visit the city tomorrow.

Simon.


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