This inland path is meandering from river to river, through the Loire, Vienne, Creuse, Dronne, and Charente valleys. While there hasn’t been a plan or even a guide book, we have a basic map of snaking blue rivers with their most beautiful banks highlighted in green. The simplicity of this and the element of surprise around every corner has been a lot of fun.
The landscape and the villages change as we go south. From the green oak woods and strong currents of the Loire to the clear deep pools of the Dronne. From a chorus of toads each night to the cries of owls. From small gardens of organic greens to acres of vines as far as the eye can see.
Being here off peak and going inland has allowed us to experience a more quiet and peaceful side of France. (Coming from rural life in Ireland, crowds, big cities and traffic are not my idea of fun!) The back roads, rural villages and foxglove lanes of France have been a revelation. It’s the land that Starbucks and the internet forgot, so finding wifi that works here is always a challenge…..
It’s slow. There is no rush, no agenda, no destination. For two days we sit on a river bank enthralled by azure blue dragon flies in 30 degree temperatures; we swim in a swirling river pool, have breakfast under an ancient oak tree. Some days we roam deserted village streets, ramparts and flowering castle gardens. On others we pause, eat patisserie and browse French hardware shops (fascinating btw!).
I enjoyed the bit of teasing about posting a photo of myself and the camper van. (You know who you are and you know I don’t really like to do this, but OK just this once then!!) It’s a converted 5 year old VW Transporter with a pop up roof (our third camper). We had our first one in the 1970’s when we drove around Europe busking and making pavement art to fund the trip, but this one is wired and plumbed!!
While it is tiny compared with the enormous camper vans here, it allows us to travel up and down boreens that those monsters couldn’t attempt. To give you some idea, one of the biggest campers we have seen had a sliding door at the back revealing it’s very own little smart car for running around when the giant camper got too much!!!
Back on planet river bank these few weeks feel like a deep breath in the middle of the road of life. Or maybe a kind of extended date with Himself? And now I find myself wondering if this escape could go on just a little bit longer……….