Lest We Forget



Paris to Provins

Provins to Dijon

Dijon to Montbeliard

Montbeliard to Obernai

Obernai to Pont-A-Mousson

Pont-A-Mousson to Epernay

Epernay to Armentieres

Armentieres to Ieper

Ieper to Paris


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Amboise to Angers

Angers to Mont St Michel

Mont St Michel to Arromanches

Arromanches to Brezolles

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Pruzilly to Chamonix

Chamonix to Cueno, Italy

Cueno to Antibe

Antibe to Cuges Des Pins

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Pont Du Guard to Mende

Mende to Paris

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Avis, ParisArc de triompheMoulin Rouge WindmillProvins Gate

Day 1 - Paris to Provins 5/10/2007

Charles de Gaulle AirportThis was the first time I had flown into Charles de Gaulle airport and just like Heathrow I am stunned that nobody wanted to question my intentions, search my bags for drugs and weapons, or check for disease carrying goods. They did however note my arrival with a quick flick of the passport and a comment “your name eez French”; I noted their warm welcome as a policewoman walked passed with an automatic rifle. Rather than catch a taxi we decided to make our own way to Avis on the outskirts of Paris. Two trains, one bus and a small walk later we arrived.

It was also our first taste of the pleasant people of France where three people (the train station attendant, bus station attendant and bus driver) came out from behind their booths to help give directions. I think they found it easier to walk and point with us than verbally communicate. The Avis people were great in that they flew NZ flags, spoke perfect English, spelt New Zealand the Kiwi way, have a policy of not asking woman their age and patronise you “your name is French”; he must have been related to the airport customs man. The driving away experience was not as pleasurable because in a short time the Council had dug up the front of Avis’ property and no vehicles could get out. There was a lot of head scratching, yelling and smoking (everybody smokes in Paris) and then finally we got out. Due to no GPS and a poor map reader we did a giant lap around Paris including the Arc de Triomphe and headed south to Provins. Actually we were heading to Troyes but due to the tiki tour through Montmartre (yes, that is north Paris) we were running a bit behind schedule. We could have sped things up a bit by going on the toll road but as they charge by the kilometre and don’t provide a scenic perspective of France we got off it fast.

At Provins we discovered provincial France and Municipal camping. Our holiday home on wheels needed fuel and we had already read it was cheaper to buy it from the supermarket stations and not the motorway. Provins had a Medieval Castle at Provinssupermarket service station which like all others we came across had a one way multi lane bowser entrance leading to a one lane exit. You drive your vehicle to the exit booth and if French pay by cheque and cause a queue. The French appear to have no problem with waiting. The cheque or voucher system was also in use at the supermarket; it appears cash, eftpos or credit card hasn’t reached small town France. At Provins we also stocked up on food, drink and motor home essentials. It took a while to find the milk and thought it strange they only had four bottles. In the next aisle they had hundreds of containers of unchilled UHT milk in cartons, mystery solved.

Our groceries consisted of what would become our staple diet; baguette, cheese, pate, chocolate croissants for her, red wine for him, and cereal. Cereal didn’t last long on the menu when I discovered how awful UHT French milk tasted. We then went in search of a campsite. Avis gave us a French map with campsites marked with different colour campervans. Initially the colours meant nothing because the key chart was in French, but we soon figured it out by trial and error.

To discourage people camping in unsafe places and public parks etc and also to discourage dumping of waste in public places the Municipal (Councils) have set up a network of motor home facilities “Les Aires”. Some are places where you can fill your motor home with water and dump your waste, others are places you can do all that and park for the night and still others where you just park. Most aires are set up in a public car park near a sports ground, town hall or more often than not, a church. Most are free but some work on a small fee or donation. Either way it was a great system, well maintained, well used and you definitely felt much safer in numbers than free camping on the side of the road. After much searching the Provins Information Centre directed us to the car park, nice rural setting, good solid clean pebble base and 100 hormone racing teenagers waiting for buses. Enough blurb, lets get to the photos….

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Gate to the old city, ProvinsOld City Entrance Provins
Moulin Rouge, MontmatreMoulin Rouge, Montmatre
Arc de Triomphe, ParisArc de Triomphe
Avis, ParisAvis, Rueil-Malmaison