A corniche, a Scottish writer & his donkey = St Jean du Gard

We’re here: N44.10174 E3.88434

The weather: it was sunny for a while, now it’s showers again

Yesterday was the first round of the presidential election here in France and the headlines told the story today.

The papers report on the election

Can Sarkozy pull it back? Well if the election was measured by un-graffitied party posters he doesn’t stand a chance, I’ve lost count how many different ways his face has been tinkered with to become the devil.

After massive spending last week on Dave’s repairs, we’re aiming for a cheap week. So far, since Friday we’ve spent €4.30, we’re on a good run of free aires to stop in. Tonight we’re in another free one, but more on that in a bit. We’ve done quite a few miles since we left Narbonne (exactly how many remains to be seen as the speedo is still on the blink), so we’re getting through fuel and will need to top that up, but otherwise I think we should be on for a cheap one – the joys of keeping away from the Mediterranean Coast.

imageWe made it out of the narrow streets of Florac in one piece and drove along the Corniche des Cevennes this morning, yesterday gorge, today corniche – it’s a good job Dave’s clutch is sorted. As we tootled along admiring the scenery we spotted a sign for a Resistance memorial. We pulled over and had a look. I was surprised that it had more German names on it than French, and a few Spanish and Russian! I always thought it was simple – French fought German, but from what we could tell it read as if there were French and German on both sides. Here we were stood looking over a beautiful serene valley looking at the names of men and women who fought over it, it was so hard to imagine what it must have been like.

imageWe carried on our journey to the town of St Jean du Gard, which was mysteriously circled on our map. We parked up and had a walk around only to find a) an aire not in any of our guides b) that Robert Louis Stevenson and his donkey are the town’s claim to fame – there’s a memorial to him and his image is on the fountain.

imageThe famous Scottish writer walked 232km from Le Monastier-sur-Gazelle to here in 1878 with his donkey, Modestine, for company (and to carry his stuff). After such faithful service Modestine was sold, Stevenson wept, but then wrote a book about his journey – Travels with a donkey in the Cevennes. We do come across some strange tales!

imageWe moved Dave over to the aire and as J and Charlie were exploring the nearby woods the local police turned up to say we can stop for up to 72 hours, winner. It’s market day tomorrow, so we’ll have a mooch around that, then head off somewhere else. Lovely though this place is, it’s out of season so the tourist train, station, and aquarium are pretty much closed.

imageWith the rain over the last few days we’ve been writing stuff for the site. J’s been busy adding some of the books we’ve read which have inspired us travel, along with some of the guides we use. We’re still reading loads of stuff now, but to keep the weight down it’s all on our Kindle (a leaving present from my lovely workmates). It’s not quite the same as having a real book, and for guidebooks we prefer the real thing so you can flick around, but if we had all the books in Dave that are stored on it, there’d be no room for Charlie – and he wouldn’t be happy about that!

Charlie spreading out so we can’t fit any more books in Dave

Ju x


    • Just read that chapter to find out what a goad is! Now I know, and I am a better man for the knowledge. Also, I’ve decided I need a goad for Dave.

      “Blessed be the man who invented goads! Blessed the innkeeper of Bouchet St. Nicolas, who introduced me to their use! This plain wand, with an eighth of an inch of pin, was indeed a sceptre when he put it in my hands. Thenceforward Modestine was my slave. A prick, and she passed the most inviting stable door. A prick, and she broke forth into a gallant little trotlet that devoured the miles. It was not a remarkable speed, when all was said; and we took four hours to cover ten miles at the best of it. But what a heavenly change since yesterday! No more wielding of the ugly cudgel; no more flailing with an aching arm; no more broadsword exercise, but a discreet and gentlemanly fence. And what although now and then a drop of blood should appear on Modestine’s mouse-coloured wedge-like rump? I should have preferred it otherwise, indeed; but yesterday’s exploits had purged my heart of all humanity. The perverse little devil, since she would not be taken with kindness, must even go with pricking.”

      The whole book’s here, how cool is that?


      Cheers! Jay

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