France/Italy Part 3: Pont D’Arc – The Alps (La Breole) – Italy(!) Lake Orta

Bluebell the motorhome is parked up on a wonderful free Italian Sosta, overlooking the beautiful Lake Orta. The sun is shining, it’s very hot, and we are having a wonderful time!

We had a great nights sleep at our France Passion site in Vallion Pont D’Arc and awoke feeling relaxed and excited that our journey was about to take us into the Alps! It was a longish journey (4 hrs) but spectacular, driving past fields lined with Cotes de Rhone vines, through amazing gorges that make us feel like we were in the Wild West, and then up into the most fantastic Alpine countryside, that was green and spectacular and inspired us to sing songs from The Sound of Music, well nearly!

We arrived at our aire for the night, a free aire, with free services ( we actually haven’t had to pay for accommodation yet, thanks France!) and cycled the 2 km down hill to a beautiful and larger than expected lake. It was buzzing with boats, wind surfers, swimmers, and had the dramatic and spectacular backdrop of the Alps. We had a dip, tried again to encourage Jazz to swim, and then tackled the 2 km back up hill! Back on site, we enjoyed a chill and made friends with both our neighbours, a French couple and a Dutch couple. Unfortunately despite a lovely relaxed evening, we had a terrible night sleep- the aire was next to the football pitch which had youths on playing noisy football til at least 3 am!!!

We got up early the next morning feeling bleary eyed and tired, but nevertheless excited about our impending trip further into the Alps, and then into Italy! It was a spectacular journey, and Bluebell handled it amazingly- the temperature light only came on the once and then the fan soon cooled us down!

We were heading for Cherasco, just near to Bra and Asti, but once we arrived, we didn’t fancy it, and so carried on for our next stop, Lake Orta. It is stunning here, we have fallen in love with it here. We are staying on another free aire (or sosta as they are known here in Italy). Our first impressions on motorhoming in Italy are good, as long as you are organised (which we are). Our book, Camperstops Europe, has proved so far to be invaluable, and as a result we have yet to pay a penny for overnight working, and only 3 lots of 2 euro for services. Tonight is our 8th night! So it’s 6 euros for accommodation in 8 nights. The solar panel is working a treat, so we are able to use everything in the van as though we had electric, and saving all this money on accommodation costs has meant more money for enjoying ourselves! Which we did last night, by indulging in a litre of beer each overlooking the lake, a pizza each, some wine and an ice cream! Britain- wake up!!

Today we are staying at Orta San Giulo, as we can stay here 2 nights for free, which gives us a chance to completely relax, explore and enjoy! It’s a beautiful romantic town with tiny streets and lanes to explore, and we love it here. Will post pics next time- tomorrow we move an hour down the road to Lake Maggiore.

Until then, arrivaderci!

Lx

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France/Italy Part 2: Florac (Gorge du Tarn) – Pont D’Arc (Ardeche)

Bluebell the motorhome is parked up with 5 other vans on a beautiful France Passion vineyard in the heart of the Ardeche valley. We absolutely love it here!!! We had a great drive from Florac this morning through the town of Ales, and then up north slightly into the Ardeche region, and into Vallons Pont D’Arc. We’d noticed in our French passion book that there was vineyard right in the town centre, so naturally went to check it out. It turned out to be lovely, and when we arrived at 1239 we couldn’t believe that we were the only ones here! We got set up and were just cooking up some lunch when another van turned up- it only turned out to be the same British van that we parked next to last night at Florac! We had a chat with our neighbours and were totally envious when they told us they were 2 months into a 3 month tour! One day! 😉

After lunch we went for a spot of wine tasting! Our pitch is surrounded by vines, and we were interested to learn that the grapes directly behind us were the Sauvignon grapes, and to our side are the merlot grapes. We tried both, along with the Syrah which are looted at the front of the shop. The wine was really smooth and tasty, and we bought a coupe of bottles- a Sauvignon and a Syrah. We’ve just drunk the Sauvignon with tea, and it was great drinking it whilst sitting literally 2 foot from the vines!

After our tasting (which were generous portions may I add…hic!) we unloaded the bikes and basket and cycled the 5 km to the Pont D’Arc. Despite it being the largest natural arch in France, its size was still quite overwhelming, and we were lucky to bag a spot right next to it to sit, chill and swim for a coupe of hours. Jazz had his first official swimming lesson- he’s still got some way to go! and Keith and I both enjoyed the swim under the arch. It’s a fantastic spot, and would definitely recommend seeing it if you are ever this way.

After our cycle back, we arrived back to our van to see lots more vans had joined us- I can hardly blame them, this is a fabulously located site, and to think we are staying here for free (well the price of a couple of bottles of wine – which we needed anyway!) we’ve definitely got the best pitch though, our side door opens to the vines and we’ve got the an as privacy, so in effect we have our own private pitch, to which we’ve celebrated by cooking al fresco again tonight and enjoying the last rays sunshine. Keith’s just seen a shooting star so we are going to crack open the next bottle of red and spend the evening star gazing. Perfect.

Until next time – which may be Italy!

Bonna Noche
Lx

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