Our first main target is the Marais Poitevin, ~30m/50km inland from La Rochelle halfway down the French west coast, where we have friends living. It would be a trip of ~330m/550km trip from Neufchâtel-en-Bray which, though perfectly possible dragging Guillaume, is not exactly desirable, especially as we are in no hurry. 🙂 We decided to split the journey around Le Mans and have a couple of nights on Le Loir in a quaint little village called Luché-Pringé. About five years ago, this had been the site of our only travelling breakdown so our fingers were firmly crossed for better fortune this time.
Enter Sally satnav who, just to add to the atmosphere, was switched into giving instructions in French and distances in kilometres. What we had not done was tell her to avoid tolls, so, being set to find the fastest route, it came as no surprise when she wanted us to hit the autoroute just after Rouen. We’d been expecting this, ignored her instructions and followed Navigation Officer Francine’s route. “Calcule encore”, said Sally, as she searched for the next junction that would get us back to her autoroute and increased her ETA. This pattern was repeated as Evreux and Dreux fell behind us: “calcule encore”, repeated Sally as she increased her ETA yet further and tried to convince us to hit the autoroute. Even as we were nearing Le Mans with our destination lying to the south east of the town, she kept trying to get us on the autoroute to the north and west of Le Mans. By now, her ETA had increased by about 30 minutes.
“Well, you did ask for the quickest route”, I hear you say, and you’d be quite right. However, here’s my surprise. As we got even closer to Le Mans, Sally finally got the point and abandoned her autoroute fixation; she picked a sensible cross-country route whereupon her ETA now fell by 20 minutes. I’m quite sure that, at several of her previous “calcule encores”, a cross-country route would have been quicker than her beloved autoroute.
We arrived at our campsite beside Le Loir and were greeted by a Beautiful Demoiselle flitting across our chosen pitch. “That’s promising”, I thought.
You really can’t beat a Navigation Officer.