Wednesday was my birthday, so we get to celebrate another anniversary on the road. Our travel plans for next year evolved yesterday and we are now excitedly looking at the logistics of skiing with two dogs and a motorhome on the way to Morocco. Therefore my birthday starts with a drive north so that we can start making our way to the Channel Tunnel, how er we do not want to spend all day driving. The route to Île d’Oléron involved quite a few small D-roads, so we decide to just get the other side of those to a small town called Saint Jean d’Angély, we like the idea of an ordinary non-tourist town for the night. It also has a vegan / veggie restaurant I have planned for lunch 🙂
Today was my turn to drive and I am now pretty comfortable with driving the big 9.2m long motorhome, which is just as well as we wind through some pretty small villages. I did manage to take out a traffic cone when we came to some road works in the middle of a cross roads where the cone lane had been set diagonally across the cross road on a narrow road and there just was not the swing room to avoid all of them. The workers helped to move a couple of other cones and we were soon parking up at the Aire beside a lovely lake / pond in a park in the town. It was a privately run Aire by a company called Camping-Car Park which we have used quite a lot, they all have facilities and are well maintained, generally are big enough for our big motorhome and you can even book a space in advance, handy for popular locations. This one was €11.10 for the night and included free electric and water and you can also dispose of waste. If you are used to campsite prices in the UK, a pretty good deal. Although access works generally on a pre-pay card, the services are freely accessible, sometime you have to swipe the card to get the electric etc. Here you did not, so consequently there were two motorhomes parked outside the Aire who overnight we stopped hooked up the the electric of the Aire. Cheeky and just the sort of thing that causes future issues for the people that follow.
We had spent a bit of time looking at when we might get the the tunnel and where we could find a vet to administer the required tapeworm treatment for Lizzy and Lola to be allowed back in the UK, more than 24 hours before and less than 120 hours before crossing. I had tried to find an appointment in Calais and Rouen where we planned to go next unsuccessfully. Therefore after my birthday lunch, we were now heading to the vets! I had successfully managed another call to the vets and got us a slot for 3pm.
We headed into the town centre of Jean d’Angély not knowing quite what we would find, it being a small unknown town. We were pleasantly surprised to find a lovely bridge over the river Boutonne, half timbered houses and a beautiful Abbey built by Pépin d’Aquitaine, the grandson of Charlemagne. What remains of the abbey church is now listed as a UNESCO heritage site. It is a very curious looking building as it was never finished, it has a facade and two towers and then in between there is another building. We were not sure of the story as we wondered by, whether it was bomb damage from the war of some other cause. It seems though construction was halted due to the French Revolution.
Our lunch is in one of the lovely half timber building in the Old Quarter, in a restaurant called Carottes et Gingembre. Our host was the very friendly and laid back owner / chef and waitress. There were only a few in for this quiet Wednesday lunchtime and she just took her time to serve us all. One of the other couples were retired UK ex-pats who live in the town and are obviously regulars. Lunch was treat for me as the French are not really on onboard with veganism and options have been limited. So a very leisurely French style lunch was enjoyed.
Next we wondered down the road to the vets. Only after some confusion to find (all in French) that this was not in fact the vets I had called to make the appointment with that morning 🤭 It was now too late to make the walk to the other vets 25mins away. Luckily they were able to help us with the relatively simple procedure of feeding our two dogs a tablet each, which they happily gobbled down with some dog food off the vets hand. The tablets given we already give to our dogs on a monthly basis. For this and filling in two lines on a form we had to pay €50. And before anyone says this is a Brexit issue, you had to do this before Brexit too.
We spent the afternoon having a wonder round the town. It has a couple of lovely squares and an old style market hall which had sadly packed up for the day. We really liked the town, it just has an air of somewhere you could imagine living more than the touristy places we have been. We then heading back to plan our trip north and see what COVID hoops we have to jump through to return! After all that we had to return to town after dark to see it in lit up the evening and to visit the lovely looking Bacchus Wine Bar to complete our tour of the town and finish my celebrations in style 🙂