Frodo on the Road

After a 12-hour overnight crossing from Portsmouth, Frodo disembarked in St. Malo at 08:00 on Sunday 11th. We’d chosen the route because we wanted to catch up with friends who live at Arçais in the Marais Poitevin, which is just inland from La Rochelle and about a 4-hour drive from the port. There was another reason in that we wanted nothing to do with P&O following their disgraceful behaviour with their staff.

Last year with Guillaume in tow, we had witnessed an awful queue disembarking the boat to get through Caen’s passport control. Our wonderful Brexiteers had slowed down the immigration process to France dramatically. Time was not pressing but I was afraid of what we might be confronted with at St. Malo. As luck would have it, we were almost in pole position disembarking and were 2nd in line for one of the passport booths. Frodo was soon getting used to the roads of France which, unsurprisingly are superior to those of England which are more of a pothole slalom. [Incidentally, the French have a wonderful phrase for pothole: nid de poule or chicken’s nest.]

I shepherded Frodo through the streets of St. Malo and we were soon on the open roads; the main roads. 🙂

There’s another stroke of Brexit brilliance in that you are not supposed to bring meat or dairy products into France from the UK. I’d made a veggie chilli (Chilli sans Carne) but we hadn’t got our usual 2 days worth of food in the fridge. Being a Sunday, most of the French shops would be shut. With time to waste, we bravely leapt off the main roads into a small town. There was an aire de camping car at the start of town but through we went to investigate. Francine spotted a boulanger open and, beside it, a boucherie. We found an all-but-empty car park and moored Frodo at a rakish angle so as not to block anything. We sauntered back.

House Martins were swooping in and out of nests fixed to the eaves of a single story building. Wee heeds popped out waiting to be fed. It was an enchanting sight as a dozen or so adults flew around us frenetically.

Back at the shops we found that we had really lucked out. The butcher was superb, offering interesting cheeses as well as meat and patés, etc. We got some rilletes d’oie [potted goose] and some Forme d’Ambert blue cheese, which looked nice and mature. Francine couldn’t resist a little goat cheese crotin [that translates as dung, being the size and shape of … but fear not it is just cheese]. The boulanger didn’t let us down, either, and we came away with a classic baton of beautifully chewy French bread. This is not going to be good for my type 2 diabetes diet, I can tell.

Complete with purchases, the journey progressed and we tested, successfully I might add, my placement of our electronic autoroute toll tag, which makes toll booths much easier. Approaching Arçais, we looked as though we’d be spot on 14:00, which was apparently our earliest entry time to the campsite. Then, following Sally Satnav, we ran into a Route Barée sign which had us winding around to find an alternative approach.

Frodo in FranceDom, the campsite guardian, opened the gates and let us in. Though our friends had made a reservation, it seemed to have evaporated into the ether but no matter, there were plenty of pitches available and we chose one with very nice shade and which seemed to suit Frodo.

Dom was a delight and didn’t seem fussed about paperwork until tomorrow so we busied ourselves setting up which, I must say, is a simpler affair than a caravan.

Reunions ensued with our friends, who we had not seen since 2015. Strewth!

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Posted in 2023-06 France

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