Day 1 - Saturday 21st July 2007

Ropley to Gray

Well, the plan was to start by 10pm BST on Friday, which became 10pm GMT, and by the time we returned for Meld's driving licence it was 00:01 French time, so we'll call that Day 1.

We had an easy run to Dover, arriving soon after 01:00 BST, got the 02:10 ferry, found some seats and settled down. They announced over the tannoy that the new Harry Potter book (released at midnight) was on sale - Bridget rushed to get hers, and was soon oblivious to anything else.

Off the ferry at 04:30 (times French now), into the truck stop for diesel, then off down the A26. With a few driver changes and breakfast at services before Reims, we cruised easily enough through the French countryside to the A5/A31 junction at Langres. I had wanted to go into Langres, Meld wanted to go on, and we went on straight into a traffic jam! We exited at the next juction as planned, and had an intresting meander as Deirdre disagreed with the road signs. Still, the tiny roads gave us some sights of French country houses that were worthwhile.

We stopped at the small town of Champlitte, which has a museum of popular art (closed for lunch)...

...the girls were very taken with the (very realistic) giant wellies!

We pressed on a few more miles south to Gray, on the Saône, where we found the 3* Municipal Campsite, checked in, chose a pitch, and got started...

...and soon the structures were erected.

We had a fairly lazy afternoon, with cups of tea, reading, and an excursion to the Hyper Casino (that's a supermarket).

Before supper B and I walked into town, alongside the river...

We climbed up to the Basilica of Notre Dame, which we can see from the campsite (and hear, regularly, every quarter hour!) - an impressive late Gothic building.

Round the corner, in the main square, there was a grand arcaded building with the multi-coloured tiled roof typical of the Franche-Comté...

...and another roof nearby

B was taken by the staircase tacked onto the side of the Basilica

And so, back to camp, to supper - Steack Haché and Potato Balls - a bottle of wine - and rain: the sky had echoed the placename, and eventually turned into precipitation, which was really a relief as it became much less oppressive. Our camp was organised for the weather, with the gazebo adjacent to the tent and the car backed up under the end of the gazebo. We seem to have more cables than ever into the car - power to run 2 cold boxes, battery charger, MP3 player charger, laptop, electric kettle, and power out to light the tent.

Only problems to date: the inflator pump for the airbeds has failed (solder joined broken - didn't think to bring a soldering iron on holiday) and the airbeds are a bit leaky. Also as B and I packed the kitchen stuff this has revealed the things that Meld used to pack but never put on the list - peeler,trivets, etc. That'll teach her to adhere to the defined processes in future!