Tag Archives: France

Summer Camper Trip – Bessines-sur-Gartempe

Some days are driving days! Yesterday was one of those … not unlike a big day in transit I guess. Except I’m the trolley dolly and Greg’s the pilot. It’s a different reality to most of the cars on the road … at lunch time I found myself sitting at the cabin table filling the baguettes with jamon and such tasty things while Greg was driving (flying) the bus.

Of course there’s the added bonus of being able to stop off when needed! I lucked upon this gorgeous French deli where all the producers are on the wall map. I lingered a little longer in this shop perusing the produce … dreaming. I picked up a couple of pieces of smoked trout for Greg and I for dinner and some salad and veggies. We still have to shop at the Carrefour (French supermarket) – there’s no way we could feed our brood in a deli with deli prices. But at least I’m France and the supermarkets also have excellent options for regional produce.

France is a country of vanlifer’s and as such finding a place to camp and ‘park up’ is easy. We’re on our way towards the Pyrenees for a couple of stages of Le Tour De France so we’re moving towards the south. Again we are using the camper contact app to find our accommodation. We always have a destination in mind but nothing is pre booked. Unlike the dorm situation on the camino … I know my roomies each night they don’t snore so I don’t need private a private room ;).

The long nights of summer allow us to bask in the golden hours well into the late evening. The is a risk of course in arriving late … there may not be spots but luck was with us and we didn’t need to drive on to the next town. We camped in a free Aire de Camping-Car (with power and water) between Belgians and Spaniards. The kids played and we sorted dinner. Last trip (the 5 mth one) we didn’t quite have our organisation down pat. Maybe it was because we needed that break to ‘not think’ for a while after moving away from Sydney. This time around it feels more organised or maybe were just building on our last experience and improving … becoming ‘van lifers’! Whatever it is a little next level from last time.

The cool thing about arriving late is discovering just how French story book the village is in the morning. Fancy our surprise at finding a small market open on a Sunday! We’ve learnt the hard way not to expect to shop on a Sunday. Imagine trying to feed your family from a service station – we’ve done that a few times. After all the morning jobs; breakfasting, showering, the bread, afternoon cheese and sausage purchased from the market, as well as the camper bits sorted i.e. dirty water out, clean water in and the facilities emptied (it’s not all pretty) … we drove on. Onwards towards new adventures on the road.

We stopped in the small town of Solignac a medieval village and what was once a major stop on the way to Santiago! Always on the camino I am :). The kids played under a Roman Bridge in the muddy river which naturally led to squeals of delight as they sunk in to their knees … any lingering car grumpiness was stomped out!

We also made a stop at Uzerche, one of Limousin’s hilltop villages. Again I was breathing in the beauty of post card France. There are 1,000’s of these quintessentially French storybook villages in France, all with their own preserved history and feel.

Oh the French and their art de vivre (art of living)… I’m hooked. Or perhaps it’s the traveling life. I did say to Greg I feel more like a European family on tour this trip. Last time I felt more like an Aussie family. In all honesty I think perhaps this European style of living has filtered in to how we are choosing to live our life. Even despite the challenges and questioning that comes with uprooting your life and moving across the world (and there have been some monster ones) – this was the right choice for us.

Kids are so awesomely in the pleasure of the moment of each season of life … ‘are we going home now – the camper home’ Louie asked me today after town exploring.

And now for camper tips:

Be organised with food! Here I was feeding the brood (in a car park ;)) while Greg was at the Carrefour shopping for the next three days. Aside from the baguettes, we buy them daily. Long rides with kids and being able to park up and relax into the next feed and adventure is so much more pleasurable when the food has already been thought through! I make a list with Greg as we drive. We’ll start a new one today to cover the next shop. A stop where I’ll also be washing clothes – supermarkets have launderettes attached to them. Now that’s multi-stacking!

So yes in order to relax into each moment being organised makes it all that much more pleasurable and travel flow’ey. It reminds me of the sparkly eyed Roman who taught me to seek the pleasure … remember him?

Thanks for coming along, I hope if you’re an aspiring #vanlife ‘er it inspires you. Feel free to ask me questions.

Buen camino friends there are fields of sunflowers out my window calling me to notice them. Or is it the kids in the back asking ‘how long till we’re there?’ ‘Soon’ I say, yet again. ;)

Fran xx