France An Amateur Cyclist on the Combe Laval, Vercors Published 4 months ago on 8th June 2018 By email@example.com This post was originally published on this site That’s the first corner, looking backwards. The Combe Laval (described here) is one of France’s incredible balcony roads, routes which it must have taken some serious bravado and one too many ales down le pub to even conceive of back in the 19th century. This particular example’s located on the western edge of the Vercors Massif, just to the south-west of Grenoble in south-east France (a map might have been better at this point…). Being down here in our 3.5 tonne, 3m high, 2.2, wide motorhome, I’d already discounted the idea of driving across the Combe Laval as, although we’re within the limits set for the road, I’d rather cling onto whatever sanity I have for just a wee while longer. It’s a bit tight up there! The Combe Laval Balcony Road, Vercors, France The road hugs the heights of a cliff face alongside the top of a monumental gorge, the mouth of which gapes open above St-Jean-en-Royans, where we happily parked up for the night. While there, Ju nipped into tourist info, and came back laden with cycling routes. Route No 28 – Les Grands Cols de Vercours – included the Combe Laval, but was 62km long, estimated at 4 hours, and with 1571m of climbing (a bit less than a vertical mile…). Route #28. I took the highlighted shortcut. The leaflet stated it was intended for a cyclotouriste habitué, which I am not, having used our £45 second-hand mountain bike all of twice. Fortunately Ju passed my ineptitude on to the tourist info lady, and she marked out a much shorted circular route of maybe 22 miles. I ask you, do I look like a ‘cyclotouriste habitué’? No, no I do not! This morning I set off, loaded down with a few litres of water, map, tools, phone, figs to scoff and a long-sleeved top, in case it got chilly (it’s June, it did get a bit chilly on the way down, but not enough to bother with it). The Combe Laval, for me and for most folks I guess, is about the spectacular section right at the gorge mouth, the highest, stupidest, tunneliest, most death-defying bit. If you only want to see that bit, you’ve got about a 6 mile climb, which took me about 70 minutes (not much faster than running it?). Coming from St-Jean-en-Royans, this is the first view of the cliff road you get. Jaw-dropping stuff. I say ‘about’ as I completely forgot to look at my watch when the road finally emerged from the trees and the first tunnel framed the open sky off to my left. Jeeze. How, how, how, even with a skinful of beer and several blood-firing face-slaps, did anyone think they could build a road HERE? They did though, some intrepid, dauntless folks thought it up and people tougher than I can even imagine hacked it from the cliff face. Just around the corner are the height and weight limits. There should be a small sign to say “sigh, look, if you’re anywhere near these limits, best write an impromptu will before continuing”… During the night before I’d woken and imagined going off the cliff face, forced over the low wall by leaning back too far for a stupid selfie-shot, or being rammed into the abyss by an enraged white van man. I’ve not much fear of heights (unless it’s Ju near the edge…), but once up there I have to say I was careful! There was very little traffic to worry about, and plenty of space to lean the bike against the cliff and gawp around the 500m-or-so section of really intense road. Having ridden/walked up and back I got the nerve up to ride along and shoot a video, which I’ll upload here when we get some WiFi. From here the road carried on upwards, through more small tunnels before popping out at an eaterie at the Col de la Machine. There’s a good viewpoint here looking out over the forest and cliffs in the gorge, a sticker-splatted sign for the gorge, and weirdly an old ‘many thefts here, don’t leave anything in your car’ sign, right in the middle of nowhere. After a few figs I plodded off up the road, wondering why it was still going upwards from the other side of a ‘col’, which is usually the highest point on a mountain pass. Looking back from Col de la Machine From here the road heads through Alpine forests and farmlands towards the village of Lente. At one point, a small monument stood out above the grass in a field, announcing the killing of resistance fighters in 1944. Just before D-Day, an uprising took place in the Vercors, with encouragement from London. Russian and Ukrainian volunteers in the German army were quickly shipped in to quell it, and the resistance fighters crushed. The monument listed a number of names, and at the bottom: ‘two unknown’, poor bloody fellas. After Lente the road climbed up to my shortcut turnoff towards Bouvante le Bas. In all about 10 miles of climbing, which to some of the 0% body fat fellas cycling these parts will obviously be nothing, but for me it was enough. The ride back home from that point was almost entirely downhill, grabbing at the brakes, 30mph-for-free stuff, and I loved it! I was out for maybe 3 hours in the end, including breaks, so the 4hrs for the full loop would more likely have been 6 to 8 for me. That’s the last of the balcony roads for now, having run the Gorges du Nan a few days ago. We drove the Petits Goulets this afternoon, which ends in a large, modern tunnel now that the Grands Goulets is closed. If they ever re-open the Grands Goulets, I think I’d love to see that section too, as it looks pretty amazing, but for now the fences are pretty clear: off limits! Cheers, Jay Related Topics: Up Next From the Gorges de la Bourne to Lans-en-Vercors Don't Miss Wandering Around the Vercors Massif Continue Reading You may like Click to comment Leave a Reply Cancel reply Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment Name * Email * Website France Col de la Forclaz into Switzerland, Randa Published 2 months ago on 24th July 2018 By firstname.lastname@example.org This post was originally published on this site On the epic descent to Martigny Zagan the motorhome’s hemmed in by high furrowed cliffs, their ridges flowing with trees and sprouting waterfalls carrying glacial melt from the Swiss heights above us. We’re at Camping Attermenzen just north of the village of Randa, in a deep valley which carries a cog railway south through car-less Zermatt and eventually up to Gornergrat (N46.08571, E7.78168). It’s 1400m high here at our camping site, an altitude which is fine for us but wouldn’t have been possible for Charlie at the end of his life. It’s with a mixture of wonder and regret that I stare out at the oil painting world around us. The way here took us down through Les Houches near Chamomix, where we parked up for free by a small lake with some other vans (a couple of which had put down roots), and stood enchanted at the gleaming glaciers shoving their way down from the Mont Blanc massif (N45.89589, E6.78151). On the way there we’d stacked the cupboards and fridge at an Intermarche, to thumb our noses at Switzerland’s sky-high prices. A bit further along we pulled in for some cheap diesel at another supermarket, from there it went a tad wrong (Switzerland’s Revenge?), as we managed to wedge Zagan’s exhaust end pipe up against the locker on a high plinth in the petrol station, requiring the deployment of The Pursuader (hammer) to get us out. As Ju drove into the parking area so we could inspect the damage, the end of the exhaust parted company with the van, and was promptly run over by the wheels. Being solid stainless steel, and having ignored an adjacent motorist’s urging to ‘just keep driving’ (which would have crushed the locker), the damage was limited to a broken rubber and we patched it up to get rolling again. Free motorhome parking at Les Houches, near Chamonix On a wee jaunt into Les Houches we’d tracked down the Kandahar piste and had had a laugh at just how unwalk-able it had been in the winter when we came to watch the racing, bumping into the Ski Sunday guys on the way. These Charlie-less days are throwing weird opportunities our way. Simple stuff. Like the two of us being able to go for a walk together, putting the alarm on on the van. It’s becoming clear that while we loved our wee man deeply, and we regret not a single day of having him, he was an epic ten year project for us. Opportunities like being able to take a cable car into the mountains and spend a day walking were just not possible, and immediately put aside. Thoughts about being able to fly elsewhere in the world have been put on hold for the past few years, as we dare not risk getting him on a plane. It’s only been a week since he died, so we’re not exactly dancing around, but our thoughts are starting to lean towards where we go from here. Testing out the Kandahar run in the summer The world around Les Houches and Chamonix is just so, so beautiful. Over the past few days Phil and Jules have been tracking south east in Big Ben, their Mercedes Hymer, aiming for the very spot here in Switzerland we’re both currently camped at. We kept in touch, and the planets aligned for us to meet at a campsite in Raron, which sits in a broad valley running east-west across the Valais canton in Switzerland. Departing Les Houches. We knew the route there from France, as Tod and Mandy (a British Airways pilot living in Chamonix and his lovely wife) urged us that way on a previous tour, and remembered the epic descent down from the Col de la Forclaz to Martigny once past the border into Switzerland. Second gear was deployed to prevent boiling brake fluid and subsequent screaming, and with relief we finally reached the valley floor below. Crossing from France in Switzerland. No controls were visible, I even ignored the ‘STOP’ sign, although no-one else did. On the epic descent to Martigny We’re all here for two reasons: 1. It’s a lovely place to be and 2. Phil and I are off for a half marathon run up the valley side tomorrow. Once that’s complete, our thinking is we’ll make a run back to France. Why? Partly cost: we’re using the ACSI discount scheme to get camping for a reasonable rate, and the sites are all ending their low seasons around about now. Also the Tour de France will be passing the eastern end of France so we could pop and see a stage. Whatever the reason, we didn’t want to pay the full yearly vignette for a few hours use of the motorway, so we’ve both followed the blue (non-toll) signs to get here. The campsite we used at Raron is in the main valley (N46.30196, E7.80212), which is itself a mixture of farmland, shopping centres, businesses, the Rhone river, airports and railways lines, with the sides a patchwork of postcard vineyards. A series of tanks greeted us at one point on the way, all sat haughty on the back of a train. Fighter jets flew overhead. A diversion took us through what appeared to be an army base. Switzerland might be neutral, but it’s also armed to the teeth! DO NOT MESS WITH US, they announced very effectively as we entered the country. Once we’d met up with our mates, the main entertainment (other than Phil and Jules’ magnificent tales of adventures) was the rubbish. This area of Switzerland, it would appear, dispenses orange plastic bags for non-recyclable stuff. These bags must cost plenty of money, as the receptionist was very reluctant to hand ’em out, questioning why you might need another after a couple of days. At one point Jules was admonished for having placed some of her rubbish in another, partly empty plastic bag, as the owner of that bag (which was in the bin) had spotted her and complained. This made us all wonder. The campsite at Raron, Switzerland The Felsenkirche, an underground church in a blasted -out cavern below a higher, much older church in Raron Jules running the Switzerland Orange Rubbish Bag Gauntlet This morning we coughed up the various taxes which Switzerland appends to everything (three breaths of air? that’ll be 3 CHF sir – that’s how it stays so beautiful), and rolled off east, then along the valley, through mile-long tunnels and rolling around a few hairpins on the way. Phil and Jules have been here before, so we followed ’em to Saint Niklaus where we grabbed our race numbers (and picked up a bargain rucksack, brand new but from the 2015 race – there were stacks of cheap quality running tops too, but I’ve got enough). And here we are! The site’s filling up a little with motorhomes, vans and tents, ready for the weekend. A couple of thousand runners will be up here tomorrow for the various races; the half, the full marathon, and and a ‘ultra’ which adds a crazy climb to the usual 26.2 miles. The atmosphere should be good, and I’m excited to not be running alone as I have been these past couple of months. Ju and Jules have tickets for the cog train, so can get up and down the valley tomorrow to watch us and visit the various villages and viewpoints. There’s a 5 litre barrel of beer imported from Blighty cooling under the van, and I’m informed a beer might be handed out at the finish, which will last about 2 nano-seconds of me passing the Finish line. England play Sweden in the World Cup to top the afternoon off; it’s gonna be an interesting day. Cheers, Jay Continue Reading France Abondance and the Fantasticable of Châtel, Savoie, French Alps Published 2 months ago on 24th July 2018 By email@example.com This post was originally published on this site She’s Flying! Zagan the motorhome’s been doing too much stuff! Arghhhh! Right, OK, good, I can do this. I can sum this up without boring the hell out of everyone. Hmmmm… OK, we’re currently sat by a telecabin in the Alpine village of Abondance in France (N46.27627, E6.72100). The ski lift is out of use for the summer, and we’ve been asked to park here as the village’s official motorhome aire is being used for Bastille (National) Day celebrations this weekend. As a general rule, ski stations across Europe make great places to head for in summer, as they often have parking, no-one’s fussed by motorhomes being parked there, they’re in beautiful locations, and they’re quite often free. Many of ’em have low cost or free motorhome parking in winter too for that matter! Motorhome parking by the Essert telecabin station in Abondance The last blog post came to you from Switzerland, where we had a couple of fantastic nights overlooking the Valais valley and the pure white 4000m peaks beyond. The sensation of cooking tea or knocking up a brew, looking out of the door to my left and getting hit with the view of the monstrous Dent Blanche (the same mountain’s on the medal from the 2018 Zermatt Half Marathon), pumped my blood up and urged me out for another half marathon run up towards the Col de Sanetsch and back. I’ve got a taste for the running now, next up I’m aiming for a full marathon back in the UK then, finger’s crossed, an ultra-distance run or two after that. Watch this space. Ju knocked out a hill run too – respect! It was warm out there. The distant 4357m Dent Blanche (White Tooth) Our aim the morning we left was to head back to France. Why so short a séjour in Suisse? Dunno. The low-cost ACSI rate on the campsites were all ending, so the cost for sites was roughly doubling, but there are a fair few places in Switzerland where they tolerate free camping, or even provide official aires. Our rubbish was starting to stack up though, and 60 litre bin bags were coming in at roughly £3 each in Lidl, as they have a special ‘bin bag tax’ on them. You can’t just chuck your black bin bag in the bins, oh no! A quick aside: Switzerland’s divided up into cantons, a bit like a small version of the US. The whole country pays a ‘federal’ level of income tax, but you also pay additional income tax which varies according to where you live, which canton your house sits in. So someone in an adjacent village on the same wage as you could easily be paying less income tax than you. If they’re married and you’re single, they’ll pay even less. Also, if you own your own home, you have to add a fictitious ‘rental income’ to your wage, and pay tax on that too. Not that all of this is necessarily a bad thing, as the state clearly looks after its citizens, it’s just interesting to me (more about Swiss taxation here). Where was I? Oh yeah, bin bags. So, until recently the Valais canton didn’t have special taxed bin bags, which weirdly introduced a sort of ‘rubbish tourism’ as surrounding cantons required the heavily taxed bags. Folks would drive into Valais, chuck their bags into the bins there, and head home, presumably laughing manically. Ha! Valais caught up in 2018 though and voted to introduce the bags, which explains why the campsite we stayed at with Phil and Jules were so shirty about handing ’em out. Anyway, we fancied heading back into France mostly as it’s just SOOOO EASSSYYY to motorhome around here. The Alps are just as beautiful, the food as delicious, the folks as easy-going and the sun as yellow and hot as Switzerland, so here we rolled, via Lidl, where we discovered mixed nuts, wine, rösti (shredded potatoes) and Swiss cheese were cheaper than France, and stocked up accordingly. Fancying a new route, we headed past the Col du Grand Bernard (which Phil and Jules had used to get into Italy) and the Col de la Forclaz, instead heading west over the smaller Pas de Morgins into the Portes du Soleil ski area and down past Châtel to Abondance for the night (N46.28017, E6.71507). In Switzerland, heading towards the Zorro-slash of the Col de la Forclaz above Martigny – Lake Geneva is off down the valley to the right of this photo A tight bridge on the Pas de Morgins, otherwise it was an easy pass to cross Abondance has an official motorhome aire, a free one at that, although the massive €3.50 charge for the service point irked a few of the commenters on our aires database (really? bring your motorhomes to Britain my friends, we’ll immediately fleece you rotten as soon as your wheels stop turning, and you’ll be loving paying €3.50 for a couple of night’s free parking and 100 litres of water back here in France, LOVING IT!!!). Ahem. The free aire in Abondance, complete with sat TV reception through a gap in the mountains Anyway, installed in the aire the satellite dish went straight up (don’t judge us, we could give the TV up at any time if we wanted to – honest), and we checked to make sure we could watch the England-Croatia game. TV says yes, so we waited out the afternoon walking around the village, watching sporadic rock falls on a nearby slope, watching a fellow motorhomer walk his kitten on a lead in the aire, craning our necks at a local bloke’s drone which he was using to measure the car park (and he had a chicken statue stuck to the front of his van), and generally being nervous. We all know what happened next, but the England lads did a fantastic job getting to the semi finals; we bow down before their nerve and skill. Onwards and upwards. Talking of nerve, during the long wait, Ju had spotted there’s a zip wire back up the valley at a place called Pré la Joux, near Châtel – wonderfully named Fantasticable! As part of dealing with Charlie dying, we’ve been working on what we want to do next in life, seeking out the positives, and one of Ju’s goal list items has long been the Zip World zip line in North Wales. Eyeballing photos of the Fantasticable we agreed: this looks even better, and headed the 30 mins back up the valley. It’s high (very high) above the hamlet of Plaine Dranse, and is in fact two zip lines which take you back and forth above the valley, over the trees, chair lifts, mountains bikers and lakes far below. €36 apiece includes two chair lifts to the start of the first wire, and gives you a decent sick-buzz as you look up and see tiny horizontal figures flying through the air far above. Whhoooooaaaa….. On the way up to Fantasticable. I was feeling a tad ill at this point. VTT (mountain bikers) at Pre la Joux, in full-face helmets and with full body armour If you fancy, and if you and your partner’s weights fall within certain boundaries, you can buddy up and do the zip wires together. We were right on the weight limit (150Kg for both of us), but decided to do it separately anyway. Up at the top we found zero queue, stared down the valley for a minute, then were ushered in to get weighed and harnessed, helmeted and (for me with me specs) goggled up. Ju got ’em to relax the rules and let her hold our GoPro Hero4, so she grabbed the video below, saving us the additional (eye-watering) €13 each for the official photo. Ju: calm, happy, ready for Fantasticable action! Me: none of the above… The view down the valley the Fantasticable crosses at between 80 and 100 kph Ju was first up, as she was too slow in stepping backwards when we were called. Onto the ‘launch stage’ thing, they took the big metal pulley she’d been given and placed it on the wire, then hooked her on, got her to lay down suspended below the wire and push back with her feet onto a ‘stand’ which pulled the harness tight. They then called the station below on a radio, gave them the weight and name of the person ‘flying’, and attached a sort of triangular flag above her, which we guessed was to manage our speed. After asking if she was ready, a safety line was pulled and with what I’d describe as a ‘happy scream’, she was off, flying! Ready to fly on the Fantasticable! She’s Flying! I watched as she turned into a dot, and heard the line buzzing until finally there was a sort of thudding noise, and I was up. At this point the nerves disappeared and I can honestly say the whole experience from that point on was pure serenity. The flight didn’t feel too fast, and I just seemed to float along above the valley, looking down with a sort of detachment at the tiny stuff below, as the air pushed at my face. It really felt like flying, quite an experience! There was some adrenaline when I came into ‘land’ though, as everything suddenly seemed very fast! A kind of ‘aircraft carrier’ mechanism grabs you at the last second and slows you down with a HUMMPPHHH. Cool. Coming in to land! Ju was already being hooked up to the second cable above me, and I dragged the big metal pulley thing up there for a quick exchange (she was very happy!) before she was off again on the longer flight across the valley. I followed a few minutes later and after escaping the clutches of the photo-booth-flogger-bloke we giggled our way down the road to the chair lift where we retrieved Ju’s bag from a locker and headed back to the van, watching the gnarly mountain bikers below negotiating the steep burns and jumps of downhill tracks. [embedded content] Back at base, I had a wee run up to the Col de Bassachaux, about 8 or 9 miles, while Ju cut the above video together and uploaded it on the resorts free WiFi. A bite to eat and we headed off back down the valley again, popping into Intermarche to find its car park washing machines were permanently closed before tracking down a Libre Service launderette in La Chapelle d’Abondance. While the washing washed itself, I made a few forays trying to find the town’s service point, and failing. A second trip to the tourist information office sorted out where it was, and confirmed we could stay the night. La Chapelle d’Abondance Washing done we ignored the tourist office and satnav directions along an elbows-in roads through the chalets and shops, and using a map we’d picked up realised we could drive to the roundabout on the edge of the village and come around the back by the ski lifts – the long way so satnav would never choose it. Finally finding other motorhomes we parked up, filled our water bottles from a free fountain, and had a lovely quiet night (N46.292358, E6.783001). Free motorhome parking at La Chapelle d’Abondance. The service point’s over the bridge behind me, should you happen to be stood in the same place! This morning we headed back into Abondance, parked up here and walked a few miles up to the trout-filled Lac des Lagnes and back. As a reward we nipped into Le Mont Jorat riverside restaurant for a slap-up 4 course menu du jour, costing us a whole €16 each. We only had a carafe of water to drink, which seems to be fairly normal in France at lunchtime as no-one bats an eyelid, so can’t much complain: two baskets of bread, melon and ham, steak haché and egg-rice, a platter of local cheeses then an apple tart with cream. All delicious, and great service. Bob on – well worth a decent tip! Lac des Lagnes Ha, what a great bin-fence! Phew! Right, that’s it, up to date! I’m signing off folks! Take it easy, cheers, Jay Continue Reading France Bastille Day and a Little Football Match – Celebration Weekend in Le Reposoir Published 2 months ago on 24th July 2018 By firstname.lastname@example.org This post was originally published on this site Zagan the motorhome is squeeeeeezed into the aire in Le Reposoir (N46.00986, E6.53626), just below the Col de la Colombière, ready for Stage 10 of the Tour de France tomorrow. He got here a few days early, and it’s a good job he did. Most vehicles on the roads now are motorhomes and campervans looking for a space to park up along the route before the road closes tomorrow. The residents of Le Reposoir have been amazing, they have welcomed us camping-caristers with open arms, and even laid on entertainment. It’s so packed in the car park there was no point in taking a photo beside Zagan! When the crowd surged forward to storm the Bastille in 1789, they would have no idea over two hundred of years later their actions would still be commemorated with fireworks and parties. On the eve of Bastille Day (la Fête nationale in French) the village of Abondance held their celebrations, so they wouldn’t clash with Châtel a little way up the valley, where they were setting off fireworks on the 14th. The poster said to gather for a concert starting at 8.45, followed by fireworks at 9.30pm. We wandered over around 9.15pm to catch the end of the concert, but it was still quite light, too light for fireworks. The council at Abondance weren’t daft, the times were to get everyone out for the concert, which carried on until gone 10pm. The local band played everything from the Rocky theme tune to Angels by Robbie Williams, and rounded off with the La Marseillaise, the French national anthem for which the whole village joined in. We made our way outside past the bar and Barbe a Papa stall at which point Jay laughed. “What’s so funny?” I asked, ‘Barbe a Papa, is Dad’s Beard. Candyfloss is Dad’s beard.’ I was still confused as to me Barbeapapa is a pink splodge of a cartoon character from my childhood, I guess it was made in France and dubbed over for folks like me. Once outside there was a little confusion as to what was going to happen next, closely followed by a whooooosh. Then a boom. It was fireworks time. Up on the hill above the village a tiny torch could be seen moving in the trees to set off the display. My oooohs and ahhhhhs were mixed with a tear and sadness. This was our first ever Bastille Day celebration, if Charlie hadn’t passed away we would have stayed in Switzerland to avoid the fireworks. He hated fireworks and we did our best to avoid them for him. The last boom finished echoing around the mountains followed by a short burst of applause in appreciation. Then the music was cranked up and most folks made for their cars to head home. We strolled back to Zagan and settled in for a surprisingly quiet night. The follow morning just after 7am our alarm went off, hang on, we hadn’t set an alarm, and it’s Saturday. So what was the ringing noise? Our mountain alarm clock We had a vague plan about where to head to next, so we set our satnav for Le Grand Bornand which hosts a stage of the Tour de France in a few days time. They were also having a firework party tonight, so we figured we would nip to Le Reposoir to use the service point, then pop to Le Grand Bornand for a couple of nights, then back to Le Reposir service point again, before finding somewhere to park along the final ascent of the Tour stage on Monday. Of course, plans change. Arriving in Le Reposoir the aire was packed, it’s supposed to take 10 motorhomes but there were at least 25 in here. We parked up and waited to use the service point. As the motorhome using the services finished and moved off, another motorhome behind him started his engine. I waved at him and pointed out that we were next, then turned around to direct Jay over the grey water grate. The motorhome behind me started to move forward then beeped his horn at me, I jumped out of the way and he just missed me. Needless to say that by now we weren’t happy, as another motorhome had pulled up behind the one that had just tried to run me over. So instead of using the service point we decided to leave. Sadly when it’s an event or space is at a premium, we’ve seen how heated things can get so quickly. Already folks were putting tape across patches of land on the route to stop people parking next to them. In the aire a chap saw us looking for a space and manoeuvred his camping chairs out into the space next to him (like in Forrest Gump: “ya can’t sit here, seat’s taken”), which would never have fitted a motorhome in anyway. As we left the aire Jay calmly told the man in French that what he did was not good because he loves his wife and would not want to see her hurt – how much do I love my amazing husband. The ‘would-be Ju runner overer’ said he had forgotten to put his hand brake on and it was an accident, I guess we’ll never know. As we started to drive away there was another motorhome coming up the lane towards us, a stand off. Then a local man appeared and asked if we wanted to stay, we said we would but the aire was full, he said he would find us a space, and he did. So we’re now blocking in folks, and are ourselves blocked in, but we’re all here. The same man has been guiding loads of motorhomes into spaces around the village, which has now probably more than doubled in population. Jay went for a run up to the Col and reported back that it was full, as were any obvious spaces along the side of the road. This was Saturday, the tour isn’t due until Tuesday. While Jay was out I wandered around the village and spotted posters for a disco and fireworks on Saturday night, a village fete on Sunday which included the World Cup Final (which France were playing in) and a giant BBQ on Monday. So it looks like we wouldn’t get bored waiting for the Tour. On Saturday night we watched our second set of Bastille Day fireworks, this time we didn’t venture out until around 10.15pm when it was dark enough, and the thunder and lightning had stopped. On Sunday we were up early to grab some bread for the local shop, just in case they hadn’t ordered in extra supplies for the newly swollen population. Walking through the main square our nostrils were filled with the most amazing smells. Madames were cooking crêpes, and a huge spit was cooking up hams – preparations for the village fête were in full swing. We walked back to the fête just before noon and ate our way around the stalls for lunch. We had beignet de tartifles, some sort of fried potato, garlic treat, ham from the spit and I managed a Nutella crêpe for desert. A brave bloke walked on a tightrope over the crowd to the church, while below him another chap carved a face into wood with a chainsaw as the local children did a dance in traditional dress. Thanks to Valerie for getting in touch on Facebook and letting us know that the man on the rope is Nathan Paulin who lives in Le Reposoir. He is a world record holder in slack line and his best record is crossing on a 1662 m long line at 300 m high! But the best was yet to come. A woodcutter competition. We got a space right next to the barriers as the contestants pulled on their chainmail socks. Then before we knew it they were chainsawing discs from the top of a pole before hacking down the same pole with a razor-sharp axe, all against the clock and racing each other. By the time it was done we were both covered in sawdust, but it was brilliant. Several more rounds followed, then other activities such as twin sawing a huge log, and axing ‘twigs’ off a pole. We loved it all, even when bits of wood were flying in our direction. The finale saw two competitors axe down a telegraph pole height, but double the width, pole – with ropes on so the organisers could control which way it fell, yes there was some health and safety, but not much. As the last pole fell, the church clock struck 5pm and the crowd dashed over the road to the local restaurant which had a big screen TV outside. World Cup time. We’d seen France play a Rugby World Cup Final a few years ago, where wine was supped and nibbles put on at half time. It seems that the football watchers are a slightly different breed, but the atmosphere was amazing. The national anthem was once again bellowed out, then nerves settled everyone into their seats, until the the first goal around 18 minutes in, then the whole place erupted. After that it was a bit of a blur, and I’m pretty sure 95% of those watching still don’t know Croatia scored two goals, they were all too busy celebrating. Beer to watch the match, wine to celebrate with. We got chatting to Paul and Ruth from Sheffield, it’s a small world, who have been living the motorhome life for around four months now. Sadly the conversation was interrupted by the match a lot, and we’ll hopefully catch up with them again in the next couple of days, but it was worth it. The noise increased as the minutes ticked down, ‘Allez les Bleus!’ were shouted and the singing began before the start of injury time, all helped along with the roar of a chainsaw that someone had brought into the pub with them – luckily minus the blade. At the final whistle the bar cleared, its occupants now jumping into cars and vans hand painted in red, white and blue carrying as many people as they could around the streets, horns beeping, crowds cheering and shouting. After half and hour or so, the parade made its way into the main square where a band was already playing as part of the fête. The bar was swamped, wine bottles were passed around and drunk out of, and the party carried on for quite a while. We retreated back to Zagan around 9pm, both totally tired out after an amazing day. Monday is a rest day for the Tour de France, and will probably be one for us too. Ju x Continue Reading Trending Blog6 months ago Globe Traveller Pathfinder Z camper van tour Between Trips7 months ago Hymer B544 Front Spring Replacement Between Trips7 months ago The boots are dead. Long live the boots! Dog6 months ago OurTour Motorhome Essentials Packing List Cordoba6 months ago Visiting Granada and Cordoba in a motorhome. Between Trips7 months ago 8 Working Hours Left to Go, Again Between Trips7 months ago Dreams, plans and goals for 2018 Eagle road Norway4 months ago Geiranger and the terrifying Trollstigen road.