En-Route to Salbris

Fortunately, the CV joint held up – and we reached the foothills of the Pyrenees intact. The views from the pass had been as good as expected, not least because of the dramatic change in vegetation as soon as we passed the abandoned border post.

Where the Spanish side had been a consistently parched beige, with only odd bits of scrub, the French side was lush and verdant. A picnic lunch by a small lake, surrounded by grass and trees was accomplished just before the reason for the scenery started to make itself clear. France’s July has apparently seen atrocious weather.

We stopped for the night at a farm campsite just north of Condom. After figuring our route by what sites were available through Spain and Portugal, it made a very pleasant change to return to figuring the route, then just tripping across accomodation en-route. The farmer was bemoaning the lack of business coming his way – it seems that the weather was proving utterly discouraging, and he was starting to hurt financially from it. We really must look out for more farm sites, and give them our business. Especially if they all offer wine degustations like this one…

None of this mucking about with a small sloosh into the bottom of a glass – full measure after full measure, including the local fortified aperitif, Floc de Gascogne. We slept well…

A local boulangerie did us very proud indeed for breakfast and lunch, despite it being Sunday morning, and we headed North again – van still clacking loudly, but still going.

At the small town of Châtelus-Malvaleix, south of La Châtre, we found a tiny municipal campsite next to a lake – but no sign of life at the reception. Oh, wait. The reception’s only open from 14.30 to 15.00 daily… So, come the morning, in to town to find the Mairie and pay there. We’d clearly been spotted, as we were greeted with “Ah, you’re the people in the red VW…?”

The town itself was lovely, in a faded and slightly crumbling way. Unfortunately, it also seemed to be dying on its feet – many houses were seemingly empty, and for sale signs were everywhere – similarly faded and crumbly. The estate agent’s in town was also apparently moribund, with the particulars in the window faded to almost illegibility.

Our final stop en-route was Bourges, just 40km south of Salbris, and a quick stock up at some of the out-of-town stores, before heading towards the meeting – the number of 2cvs in the area was still surprisingly low, but a lunchbreak in a layby saw a brief chat with a couple of French 2cvers interrupted by the arrival of a blue high-top T25, who’d seen us and done a U-turn for a natter…

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