This is a bit of a bumper photo edition, I got carried away, please accept my apologies!!
After our little trip to La Cotiniere, we popped over to a town/village called Chateau d’Oleron. I went into the tourist information office and picked up a map, the helpful lady asked me what in particular we wanted to see. I’ll admit, I hadn’t really done my homework, so I said “Oh the cabanes and the chateau” she gave me a strange look, not helped by the fact that she had a slight squint in one eye, (I wasn’t sure if she was looking at me or my parting!) “But Madame, we have no Chateau, we have a Citadelle!” Well that put me in my place didn’t it? She kindly handed me the map with an itinerary lined in red.
Off we go, the sky was blue and I was delighted to see the blossom making an appearance. Charlie not overly keen, was being dragged along by the Hubster. We walked around, we saw the fountain, the obligatory market place, church and ambled down some not overly pretty streets. Although the windows and shutters get me every time!
We ploughed on, walking along the ramparts of the town, unfortunately the tide was out (that seems to be a recurring theme on our walks!) We did the citadel, which for your information, is not a castle – it is a fort! There wasn’t much left of it, but with the blue sky and sunshine – it made for a lovely stroll.
We then went down to the quays, this area is renowned for oysters, this is where all the ‘goodies’ come from. Unfortunately I hate oysters so I’m afraid, I just make do enjoying looking at the boats!
In a very clever mood, by those who matter the quays are where there are a collection of the most lovely ramshackle colourful beach huts. These are rented out to artists, sculptors, ironmongers, jewellery makers, stain glass window craftsmen, smithies, and the result is fantastic. Lots of little huts in brightly coloured shades all along the rickety little pontoons. Although there were only about 10 that were open, it really didn’t matter, for me, just seeing the huts was more than enough. I loved it.
We returned to Harry for a coffee and set off over the bridge and back to the mainland on our way to La Rochelle. Hitting the mainland after a couple of days on the island brought us back to reality with a jolt, cars, lorries, traffic!! What was going on? We’d been so blissfully unaware that life carried on, away from Ile d’Oleron. My opinion of Ile d’Oleron is a good one, would I return, most definitely. It is a beautiful spot and I think it’ll be hard to beat.
We had visited La Rochelle when we were both in our early twenties and yet neither of us could remember anything about it. The countryside we passed on the way was beautiful, long reeds and grasses, herons, storks, little oyster farms, it was just wonderful, something interesting to look at all the way.
We arrived at the entrance to La Rochelle, where there is a huge car park with 24 designated bays for motorhomes, in the corner of the car park a motorhome service point and it was free. Really? What more can you ask for? We squished Harry in-between two larger motorhomes, like them we reversed in and at the back of the van, had a wonderful view over a glorious park. We decided not to hang around and decided to head straight for the town. An easy stroll through the park, directly down to the port. Charlie, had already decided he wasn’t going to co-operate and so the buggy was pulled out from the locker and he lay like a little prince all the way. (Well, he had had a really long walk this morning around the citadel!)
La Rochelle is wonderful, it was busy even though we are only at the beginning of March. The port was buzzing, all the restaurants were open with tables and chairs spilling out on to the pavements. people sitting, enjoying the view and the sunshine and no doubt their lunch!
We wandered around the old town, which is really everything you would expect from an old French port. Beautiful building, churches, medieval arches, market places and cobbled streets. We thought it was a real gem and again said we would return one day. We decided to buy a couple of sandwiches and sat like the locals on the wall of the port, watching the boats coming and going and feeding Charlie the odd crumb, much to the annoyance of the seagulls.
Charlie, once again, caused quite a stir in his buggy, always a smile, at least 4 people came over to talk to us, to give him a stroke and say how spoiled he was! It is always quite funny when we come face to face with someone pushing a buggy with a child in it, it’s human nature to have a look at someone else’s baby, boy do they get a shock when they see Charlie!!! I’m always tempted to shout “Snap!” but I don’t think parents would be too chuffed to have their child categorised as a hairy mutt!!
With burning feet from all our walking, we set back for the park, where we spotted a goldfish (no doubt an unwanted fairground prize) in one of the streams with all the big bruisers!
We were ready for bed by 9pm, we settled in and it seemed cold but we were shattered, we snuggled down and no sooner had my head hit the pillow and my eyelids felt heavy …BOOM, BOOM, BOOM!! What the heck? A couple of cars had pulled in full of young men (I use the term as loosely as possible) what I meant to say was ‘boy racers’, We were serenaded with a bit of Rap, some Garage and quite a lot of Metallica for good measure. the icing on the cake was a couple of handbrake turns and squealing rubber, bless them!!! The result being we didn’t sleep very well, and on top of that it was probably the coldest night we’ve spent in the van, there was ice on his roof window this morning. And so there you have it! We are now on a campsite and we’re thinking a siesta is needed!!
I won’t tell you where we are just yet, as so far I think it’s one of the loveliest places we’ve visited…you’ll know in my next post when I have some photos for you to see.