Tuesday, 5 August 2014


  Life on the main routes in France is good, passing through beautiful countryside with no congestion and no troublesome little winding lanes through the villages, plenty of resting places with decent refreshments and good clear signs for turn-offs and nearby cities.     The sad part is that you miss the local architecture of rural villages,  the lovely churches and chateaux and the chance of stopping at an interesting cafe or Brocante!There are no longer any old chairs put out on the pavement, with an elderly gent sitting there with his pipe and cronies, ready to show his mixed collection in a shabby old shed;  he has gone, because there is no longer any passing trade and the next generation has set up their business in big old barns on secondary roads near the bigger towns with big signs and bigger prices!
    Staying on the journey in a hotel is simple if you are not expecting great luxury or gourmet meals.  The chain, Logis de France, is very reliable for clean rooms, good beds and a very reasonable home-cooked meal, and there is usually one in every proper town.  You can collect a very useful guide to all the Logis, free, with good pictures and descriptions. For a good menu, allow 28 Euros plus wine.
    Diesel, as always, is cheaper at the nearest super-marche, which can also offer a cheap snack meal, but at meal times can be noisy and full.  Most petrol stations accept master cards but if you are buying antiques or from small shops, 'liquide' (cash) is essential.  Hotels and restaurants seem quite ready to accept credit cards but sometimes they have trouble with their machines and it can take quite a time to sort things out!   There are plenty of AMTs around in the towns.  We have always used the above Rough Guide, and found it very reliable for all levels of accommodation and the descriptions are lively and pretty accurate.
     A stop for tea and coffee is quite expensive and the cups are often small- but we find the small betting shops with bars (the P.M.U.s)are the best and you do see a bit of local life as the regulars come in for a gossip and a bet.  Croissants are delicious and cheaper in the bakers shops and carried in to the bar.  Sandwiches are usually large, long baguettes with generous fillings and freshly made to order in any combination you like, quick and filling!  available in most bars and some bakeries.  Keep bottled water in your car, especially when the weather is hot - refreshing drinks in bars are quite expensive and stopping and parking can be boring!  On the other hand, some of the motorway cafes have pleasant patios for eating and drinking outside when you need a break and to rest your eyes;  and the shops also sell all basic stuff for a simple picnic.  

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