So, the guys at Montrichard camp site told me about an English friend of theirs in the Dordogne area, they said that if I had intentions of perhaps staying on in France, maybe even a future over here, then my original plans to go to Provence would most likely prove fruitless. They informed me that it's a very long way & there aren't many English people down there. So I thought “what the hell” I'll go down the Dordogne instead.
But first, I felt I needed to re-visit a small town called Chatillon-en-Bazois, near Nevers, in the Nievre area of the Bourgogne region. This is where my parents boat was moored until last year, when my dad & me bought it back to England (another long trip I should've blogged). There's an English boat owner down there who may be able to get me some free camping for a few nights. So that's where I headed.
On arrival, I found the boat-stop area on the canal, stopped there for about 20 mins to stretch my legs & get my head together (still feeling the ill effects of Montrichard). I failed to find the English boat owner & remembered he likes a drink as well, so decided to consult my copy of “Le Guide” to find a camp site. It informed me there was a small town called Montapas with a small municipal, just up the road (about 7km away).
When I got there I found a small, man made, lake with a kind of beach area (quite popular in France, for families & young adults with loud car stereos!). There was indeed camping facilities, some pitches up the top, separated by hedges, & an area down a small track on the lake-side, right down the other end of the lake. This looked very nice, there was already a couple of Dutch camper-vans down there, so I picked a nice shaded spot by the waters edge & set up camp. I really needed some supplies but figured I had enough for a couple of nights & would get all I needed en-route to my next destination.
I still wasn't up to eating much, & was beginning to wonder if I was actually ill, Bernard had said something about the water at Montrichard, & blamed it for him being ill every morning (“likely story” I thought), it had all left me feeling a bit depressed as well, & I felt a couple of days of peace & quiet would hopefully sort me out.
So, just as it was getting dark, 2 cars turned up, stereos blasting, & out got 2 lads & 2 girls (& a dog). They set up their tent & although a bit noisy, proved to be no trouble really. Then another 2 cars drew up, with 2 blokes, a young woman & her 2 or 3 little kids. They proceded to go into the woods, find as many logs as they could, get the bottles out, get the radio out, use the shower/toilet facilities & have a big campfire party until about 4:30am the next morning! During this time my air bed decided it would be a good time to spring a leak! Needless to say, I didn't get much sleep that night, when I really needed it most.
The next night wasn't so bad, I made an attempt to repair the bed with some Tenacious Tape (which kind of held, but didn't really have enough time to cure).
Then it was time to move on again, I found the small village in the Dordogne that the guys in Montrichard had told me about, it was over 400km away, so I managed to find somewhere in between, in a small village called Saint-Donat, that was my destination.
My journey, therefore, was on a Sunday, I left the site at Montapas, the manager wasn't there so I handed the boy (helper) an envelope with my pass-key & 10€ in it & told him I wasn't happy, it was too noisy & I wasn't prepared to wait for the manager. I have no idea if he ever got his 10€, the boy looked at me like I was a mad-man for leaving this envelope, I couldn't really care less, I had bigger things on my mind, like where was I going to get some tobacco & find a petrol station that was open (to take cash) on a sunday?
I found a bar-tabac in a small village I passed through & got my baccy, then I spotted a cheap petrol station which took cards. Now, in France, the card operated petrol pumps automatically take about 100€-120€ as a deposit from your account, I knew I had about 150€-200€ in that account, so only had one try. I did all the right things, it was all going well, I had asked for “sans-plomb 95” regular unleaded, it said to start filling, when I lifted the nozzle (light green with 95 written on it) an american voice told me I had picked up the wrong nozzle! The screen then flashed up “DECLINED” & it spat out a receipt for 0.00€! That was it, I was fucked! I tried again & it said declined before I even got to say which type of petrol I wanted.
I had about 60€ in cash on me, but on a sunday, in France that usually won't be any good. I got as far as Decize (a very pretty little town on the Loire river & also on a canal, I think it's the Canal De Nivernais). I found a petrol station, not as cheap as the other one, but it looked open. It was one of those old fashioned ones on the pavement, & it was on the wrong side of the road but I pulled in anyway. Out came a rather stocky biker type, who turned out to be Dutch, he spoke perfect English, loved my car & told me he was off to England (Birmingham) in 2 days for a biker rally. He also asked where I was going, I told him “the Dordogne, near Bergerac” & he said it's nice there & the food is very good.
Thankfully, the 40€ I put in the tank there took me to my next site, at St-Donat, & boy was I in for a shock there.....
These are a couple of choice shots of the picturesque lakeside site