A Sprint through France to Spain

We’re hitting the road to get to Spain, but who can resist France in springtime? So a few detours are in order. Our first stop is Nantes, a city surrounded by rivers – the Erdre and the Loire, in the Loire-Atlantique area.

Walk into Centre from Nantes Camping

The only reason we choose it is because Nantes Camping is open as so many campsites only dream of opening until May. I’m a little disappointed as I was lusting after a rural retreat in French countryside, which I’ve always loved. But what a city it is – it surprises me, with its green lung of woods and wide river running from the campsite to the centre of town, a 40 minutes stroll along dedicated walking and cycle tracks.

We pass yellow marsh marigolds and watch herons flying over the water. We pass runners and cyclists and strollers and picnickers – and do not see one car en route to the centre.

Graffiti near Nantes University Rowing Club

The university rowing teams are out in force. In the centre, we stroll around the ecologically planted island midstream before heading towards the cathedral which dominates the skyline.

Cathedral – Nantes
Boats on the Erdre River in Central Nantes

The statue of Deliverance is a must-see. Controversial in its time, a bronze, naked woman holds her sword aloft – beautiful in her Amazonian stance.

Sculpted just after WW1, she was placed on her plinth in 1927 to much disgusted outrage, even once being pulled down. But to me she is a symbol of strength and I like to think of a female deliverance from the devastation of war.

The war memorial with its long list of those lost is so sad, and at the present day, so poignant – Ukraine not being far from either of our minds.

Cathedral and Ancient Entrance to City

To cheer us up we dive into a tiny, typically French bar, the toilets out down a narrow alley between buildings, locals enjoying an aperitif and I enjoy my first cheeky Kir of the tour. At night, surprisingly, all we hear is an agitated owl and its haunting hoot.

Our next stop is about as far from city living as can be, Camping Solanilla, is in sleepy Lelin-Lapujolle in the Midi-Pyrenees.

Lelin-LaPujolle in the Midi-Pyrenees

A little scruffy, but here’s my rural idyll, a boisterous cockerel waking us up, zero sounds of traffic, chaffinches, chickens, goats on the roof of their shelter and two jumping kids, not long born.

Kids on Solanilla Campsite

Wild flowers line the undulating lanes which take us between vines which look crucified on their wires.

Sweet pea vetch
Crucified Vines in Lelin-LaPujolle

The new vine leaves are just unfurling, which brings on a fit of the bard in me, as its Good Friday, twenty-five years since the Good Friday agreement.

Peaceful Lake in Lelin-LaPujolle

If you want to read my rushed and far from perfect efforts, with the snappy title, Good Friday in Lelin-LaPujolle 2023, click on this link: Good Friday

From the campsite the jagged, snow-topped Pyrenees make us impatient to get there. We head for the Somport Tunnel into Spain, by the jade green Gave d’Aspe river, driving through gorges and always with those snow-topped peaks on the horizon.

Aire du Viaduc d’Escot – Pyrenees

Even a parking spot here is majestic as we watch vultures wheel high above our heads.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s