England & France
Commenced 1st September 2015

This is not a travel log where the events of every day are detailed. Instead, I have presented some of the highlights, lowlights, unusual, humorous and embarrassing events of the trip along with relevant photos and some opinions.

Others may have seen things differently but this is the way I saw things. Anything I say about anyone or anything is purely in fun. Some information and photos I obtained from others on the trip. I may have enhanced some of the information I gathered. Anything that is blatantly incorrect please let me know. All photos used have been converted to a smaller size for faster downloading.

Words, photos or video can never convey the visual impact and "feeling" of some of the places we visited. You have to be there.

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Trip Summary
Travelled by car from Hook Norton (England) via tunnel into France to Douchapt which is about 100kms inland from Bordeaux. Stayed in Douchapt for 3 weeks and returned to Hook Norton. Twelve hours driving and 1100kms each way. On the way & back we stayed overnight at B&B's. Three days in Paddington staying at the Hyde Park Radnor Hotel (expensive but very convenient), London before returning home.

Rick (the writer)
Kerrie (my niece)
John (my nieces husband)

Most Interesting Place
Guedelon castle, in France. It was near a B&B we stayed overnight at on the way to Douchapt. A castle in the making built using traditional Middle Ages methods. About half built and expected to be finished in 2025. It was fascinating.

Other Places We Visited
In France, every second or third day, we visited a local sight. Sometimes driving over 2 hours to get there.

  • In a village called Druyes-les-Belles-Fontaines, we visited the Romanesque church of Saint-Romain built in the 12th century. Very old church but with some unique features. In the same town we then drove to the top of the hill overlooking the town and visited the castle with a mediaeval village inside.

  • Visited a church in Veselay. Lovely architecture, carvings & a crypt supposedly containing the bones of ?.

  • The "Chapelle Des Tempiers". The only church in the world that has detailed drawings of the crusader escapades on the walls. The drawings show the crusaders fighting the Saracens. Extremely interesting. See this description of the church.

  • In Saint-Meard-de-Drone, near Douchapt, we visited the town church. It had interesting paintings on the ceiling and walls. The paintings had been covered up in past years but they are slowly being uncovered.

  • In Douchapt, John & I walked the circuit of 12 fountains. The first fountain was just near the farmhouse. Took about 3 hours. Each fountain has a theme (eg love) and a small structure. Would have been used centuries ago for religious purposes but now just a tourist attraction. A few signs missing so took a while to find some fountains. Ann & I also did the circuit.

  • Scenic town called Bramtone. Large Abby there and limestone caves. Walked around and in the Abby. Could not find the entrance to the caves. Walked around the village.

  • Village of Saint-Jean-de-Cole with its 11 century church and medieval bridge over the river.

  • Market in Riberac. Not bad. Ann bought lots of clothes. Went back there the following week but most of the good clothes stalls had gone.

  • Cemetery in Douchapt. Most cemeteries in rural France are walled and the graves are decorated with ornaments.

  • Caves at Rouffignac. A small train takes you about 1 kilometre underground through the caves. Interesting and professionally organised.

  • The Chateau de Bourdeaux castle. Did the full tour and it was interesting.

  • Mediaeval town of Sarlat. On the way stopped and looked at houses nestled under rock overhangs in the town of ?. At Sarlat, wandered around the town. Visited the "Monoire de Gission" which was full of antiques. Viewed one of the largest wooden doors I have ever seen. Bought a few items.

  • Stone church at Aubetere. Actually, a church hollowed out of rock. Very impressive. Walked around the town. Had beer in market square.

  • The "Chateau de la Mercerie". This was a delight to visit. A massive chateau being restored.

  • Chateaux near the above.

  • Roman amphitheatre at Saintes. Very interesting. Also visited the church in the town. On the way back passed through the huge vineyards associated with the town of Cognac.

  • Roman museum in Pergeaux. Very interesting.

  • The walled town of Richelieu. Had lunch there.

  • Chambord Chateaux. The largest in France. Only had a view from the outside due to time constraints. Could see it was impressive.

Things About France
Mainly applies to rural France.

  • We drove and rode our bikes through hundreds of villages. Most were deserted. We used to play “spot the person”.

  • On the main road through the villages, there is a name sign before you enter the village and a name sign (with a cross through it) when you leave. There are usually speed humps on the road.

  • Recycle and rubbish bins are communal and located in a common area for about 3-4 houses. Items placed in the recycle bin are first placed in a plastic bag (why?). Glass is taken to large bin in a common area.

  • Power points have no on/off switch.

  • The wine area in a supermarket is huge. Wine is cheap. Beer is in the drinks section. Some wine does not have the type written on them, just the region it came from. You have to know which wines come from which region.

  • Some supermarkets have seats inside. See this photo.

  • Most villages, even very small ones, have a church and some churches are huge.

  • There are bath house everywhere. Organised by Napoleon to keep the peasants clean.

  • There are some roads that have large shady trees lining them. Organised by Napoleon to shield the foot soldiers from the sun.

  • Some electricity meters are on the poles on the road.

  • Restaurants allow dogs inside and smoking.

  • At some service stations you can pay with a CC without seeing an attendant. Until you pay there is a barrier blocking your exit.

  • Dinner is taken very late.

  • Many businesses shut at lunchtime and on odd days.

  • Most villages have town halls which are rarely open.

  • Macca's signs are green with yellow logo.

  • Before you enter France by car from Britain you are warned that you have to carry a personal breathalyser, safety signs and high beam converters.

  • Tradesman vehicles are mostly panel vans. Not utes as is the case in Australia.

  • Paying for tollways is mostly CC or cash. Very archaic and slows the traffic.

  • Not many cars stop at pedestrian crossings (but they do in England).

  • People obey speed limits on tollways and freeways in France. In Britain, they speed excessively on freeways because it is not widely policed.

  • Freeways around Paris during peak period were clogged.

  • Casual pushbike riders don't wear helmets bet dedicated ones do.

  • Hunting is permitted in many areas that are signed. In past years, Sunday was hunting day and literally anything that moved was shot. These days, hunting has declined but I noted a lack of birdlife in many forests.

Only a few days of rain. One day, we rode our bikes for nearly 2 hours in the rain.

Bike Riding
There were a few bikes in the basement at the farmhouse. Rode the best one one day and decided I needed a better one. Local supermarket had reasonable new one for 200 Euros. With the help of a French speaking English person we explained what I needed.
John & I rode for about 2 hours every second day. Visited many villages. Stopped and looked in a few churches. Initially, I had trouble riding on the correct side of the road but John kept me aware.

Lost, Broken, Embarrassing, Mistakes & Unusual

  • Ann wanted an iced coffee at cafe in the village of Saint-Jean-de-Cole. Asked for "Cafe glacé" but got a glass of water, ice cubes and express coffee. See this photo. After discussion with waiter we should have asked for "Cafe au lait glacé".

  • In a cafe near the Chateau de Bordeaux we had coffee, chocolate & chips. The handle came off Kerrie's cup and spilled coffee all over her. Owner very apologetic and only charged for chips & cold drinks.

  • Ann in the middle of a field of sunflowers. See this photo.

  • Me being mistaken for Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the U.K. Labour Party at a coffee shop near the London Zoo.

  • John and I mowed the lawns at the farmhouse. See this photo of us wearing our berets.

Where We Stayed in France

  • On the first night on the way to Douchapt, we stayed in a B&B near Heudreville-Sur-Eure called "La Londe". Owner could speak some English. Had a psycho dog which they let inside and was a pest. We kicked it out a few times. Nice breakfast of croissants, bread, jam, fruit tea/coffee. I had to sleep in a fold up bed but it was OK. We stayed in the same B&B on the way back.

  • On the second night on the way to Douchapt, we stayed in a B&B near Auberge called "Tuilerie". Nicer than the previous evening. Run by a lady from New York who had been there 30 years. We had dinner there and was probably one of the best dinners. We were the only guests.

  • In Douchapt we stayed in an old farmhouse that had been partly upgraded. Some unusual old features of the house were retained. Built around 1780. No TV but slow internet.

Most Depressing Towns
No towns were depressing but a few did not have much going on.

London Zoo. Not much different to the Melbourne Zoo.

Places we had Dinner in France

  • In the village of La Croix St Leufroy at the La Cheval Blanc (the white horse) restaurant. Elaborate menu and nice food but very expensive. We went there on the way there and the way back.

  • In the town of Lusignac we had dinner with some friends of Kerrie & John. My meal was OK but there was a dog yapping inside the restaurant which was annoying. Kerrie, Ann & John's meat was cold and Kerrie asked for, and got, a new meal.

  • Near Aubeterre, the "Traiteur Le Domaine des Vignes". Overrated because the food was just OK. Ann's steak very fatty. Most expensive place we went to. Also went there a second time on Kerrie's birthday

Places We Visited in London

  • British museum. Viewed the Rosetta Stone.

  • British library. Viewed the Magna Carta.

  • The Camden Market. Not that exciting.

  • The Freemasons Hall. We came across this by chance. Walked in and there was a sign that said free tours so we took it. It was extremely interesting. The grandeur of the rooms is unbelievable.

  • Abbey road. Walked there from Paddington.

Final Word
Trip rating is 6/10.