On the Ramps at Mortagne-sur-Gironde

Dave the motorhome’s still in the aire at Mortagne-sur-Gironde, shuffled a few feet to one side this morning at the request of the local aire manager in order to get more motorhomes in here (N45.47505 W0.79667). It’s €7.50 a night, which includes electricity (there are loads of hook-up points so no fighting for one), water and, to our surprise, decent WiFi, hurray! We’ve also popped his big yellow ramps under the back wheels, as we felt like we were falling out of bed all last night.

Dave's new spot in Mortagne-sur-Gironde. We shuffled over here after Julie and Neil left this morning, not until Julie had given me an brand new jar of Branston Pickle, what an angel!
Dave’s new spot in Mortagne-sur-Gironde. We shuffled over here after Julie and Neil left this morning, waving from the window as they rolled away.

As you can see in the piccy above, our chairs and table are out. This is a weird oddity about these official motorhome parking places – aires, sostas, stellplatz, whatever they’re called in each country. You’re only (normally) supposed to be parked up and not camping. The distinction is this: if you get anything out like chairs, awning or a table, you’re seen as camping, and that’s not on. In practice though, we’ve found that in many places the locals ignore the rules. We adopt a ‘when in Rome’ approach – if everyone else has chairs out, and it’s hot, then we get ours out. Here it appears to be completely acceptable so we’ve soaked up some sunshine on the grass outside: as Bernard Matthews would say, bootiful.

Charlie's adopted a relaxed approach today.
Charlie, even more relaxed than the two of us.

Anyway, back to the story! This morning the chap arrived to collect our dosh at about 9am, giving me chance to practice my French on him, which for once didn’t earn me a squinting face ‘huh, what’s that you’re doing with my beautiful language?’. He tapped our reg into a little hand-held wireless device and from his waist printed off a little receipt which said, among other things, there’s WiFi here. Rules, prices and services for the aires in France are all set at a community level, being signed off by the mayor, so they all vary in standards from fabulous places like this, all the way down to grubby car parks on the outskirts of town. All the Aires France now lists 2710 aires across the country, so there’s plenty of choice.

Oops, I’m getting distracted again. Once the fella had been and gone, we had a chat with Julie and Neil before they left for their next stop (not before Julie gave me a jar of Branston Pickle – oh, my, lordy lord how I love this stuff and it’s only available in the UK). We made a quick decision to chill out here (yep, there are different levels of chilling out, and we’re pretty much on the can only just be bothered to breathe level sometimes). Once shuffled in place, we took a walk in the wind and sunshine around the yacht marina and up the hill into town to a panoramic viewing platform the town’s built, looking out over the Gironde estuary.

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The sign says ‘help yourself’. The next window ledge also had free books and a sign which read ‘a present for you’.
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Plenty motorhomes still here! French holidays officially end this weekend, so things might quieten up a bit. We’re finding as long as we arrive between 11am and say 3pm, we can get into the aires.
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I love that racing bubble thing – reminds me of the viewing areas you get in the glass tunnels under large, shark-filled aquariums.
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Ahhh, France, where motorhomes are so, so welcome in so many places.
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Soft carved stone doorways in Mortagne-sur-Gironde.
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I’m not sure quite what the story is here. It says these two men were called at this spot by bombs. Since this area was a strong point of German occupation post D-Day in WW2, and since the Allies bombed much of the surrounding towns to nothing, I’d guess British or US bombs were to blame – friendly fire…
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A couple on electric bikes flying past us on the hill up into the town.
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600 years ago this was all owned by the English! Before that it was on the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostella in north west Spain. Before that the Berbers had it – the ancestors of the Berbers of North Africa I guess. You can see all the motorhomes welcomed along the left edge of the water.

English voices rang out around the viewing platform, there are a few few of us Anglo-Saxons in these parts it would seem. Checking prices in the estate agent windows, they’re either well off or on holiday, or both. The local tourist info office is well geared up for us Anglais too, handing over leaflets in English for donkey rides and the like. We followed the advice on one of ’em for an easy mile amble through the boatyard to the estuary beyond, all mud and reeds.

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The only Welsh monument on French Territory. It commemorates the assassination of the Knight of the Red Hand!
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The local campsite has a fabulous location above the marina.
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Boats moored up outside the marina rest on mud. The town used to be an important port, exporting cognac, pineau and wine. Destroyers came up the channel to moor up until 1914.

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On the way out to the estuary we spotted a bloke asleep under one of the boats, zonked out. ‘Yes dear, working all day dear, no dear, didn’t have a drop dear’. That’s what we imagined the conversation with his wife might go like!

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The port here is unusual as, although it is tidal, it doesn’t have a lock, just a single gate. Boats on the marina side can leave and return for about 2 hours per day.

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Back in Dave, Ju started work on her CV again. Grim stuff! Neither of us are great at selling ourselves. We’ve oodles of experience and after nearly 2 years off we’ve bundles of energy and positivity too, but getting it all down on paper’s proving tricky. We’ve done it before of course, and we’ll do it again. Maybe tomorrow. We’ve used the WiFi to get in a few Skype calls too, great to see folks back home and soon enough we’ll be there to hug them in person.

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Tomorrow, we ride. Not sure where yet, watch this space!

Cheers, Jay

 

Two churches and super fuel for Dave; it's cheaper on a Sunday!
A Potentially Expensive Bang and Garlic-Laden Takeaway, Mortagne-sur-Gironde
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5 Comments

  1. So you have found our favourite aire in France. We have known this place for years, long before our motor homing days, as Mal’s oldest fried has a holiday hose nearby. We have followed your progress since the time we met in the Belgian car park. And bought your Morocco book, we may be spending some of the winter in Morocco thanks to your recommendations. Good luck with life back in the UK!

    • Blimey, there’s a blast from the past – that car park must have been almost a year ago! Hope you’ve got your wifi connection all sorted now for your future trips, although in Morocco a local SIM card is so cheap it would be silly not to buy one! I really hope you make it over to Morocco and enjoy it as much as we did, please keep in touch and let us know how you get on. We’ll still be doing updates and checking this site once we’re back in the UK – or you can email us at julieandjason@ourtour.co.uk

      Keep truckin’

      Julie

      • Again, we followed your advice, bought an unlocked mifi and a Europsim from Adam & Sophie. We buy a local sim for long term use, Croatia, 1gb a day for just over £1, Europasim was great in Italy, but dealt on Aldi for Germany. Understand from another couple we met that Moroccan sims are very cheap, so will have some of that. Possibly, going to stay a while on a good site we found at Conil de la Frontera, excellent facilities and free wifi, so all good. Yes, we will keep in touch, good to ‘talk’ to you.

  2. Message from Bob in Carmarthen re the Welsh memorial

    You know he was killed by a Scotsman , John Lamb who was paid £20 for the assassination?

    Bob

  3. Lovely blog as usual. The aire sounds fantastic. We are heading that way in Suzy the motorhome next week and after reading this being Welsh we have to go and have a look at the monument in the town.

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