After concluding that the Alfa also needed a summer holiday, we decided to drive to Segur, via the Dover-Callais ferry. Without guidebook, but with road atlas, we took the Atlantic coast route. We’d been warned that the northern French coast was devoid of the quaint villages Chris has come to adore and so headed for the seaside in the western Loire. With myself at the wheel, and steering from the right, I needed help with overtaking other cars as well as navigating.
We passed Nantes with the seaside in our sights and visions of diving into a cool blue ocean and camping near the beach. Around 15kms from the beach we came across no less than thirty signs for two and three star caravan parks and concluded we may need to adjust our expectations. Closer to the beach we met a load of traffic crawling along roads winding through three-story condominiums. To access the beach we had to hike through complexes of holiday apartments and golf courses all perched happily on the sand dunes. Confronted with the sight of hideous architecture, Chris was overcome and decided he’d had enough. He hated France and was returning to blighty pronto…..
Returning to London or not, we needed to find somewhere to sleep and agreed caravan parks were out of the question. Chris took the wheel and made a dash inland, determined not to stop the car until he saw something he liked. Luckily, about an hour due east we saw a gorgeous 16th century chateau. We found the owners out the front preparing for a wedding and asked about a room. Shocked at the sight of two clearly road weary and disagreeable travelers, they exclaimed “ce soir??”. Things were looking up. We decided on the Louis 15th room, because of the bath, not the man himself. Dinner was served in a brilliant restaurant next door and breakfast in the dining room of the chateau. We were feeling both classy and French until we heard a man mutter in English from a neighbouring table "oh gawd your tits look big in that dress". Horrified we both looked over to see a muttering 60 year old and the woman he was addressing, apparently his daughter. Mortified, she replied "but Dad you bought me this dress".
In the morning, a grateful Chris kissed the chateau owner and agreed to continue the road trip.
Next we visited Santes and a town with a very well preserved Roman amphitheatre and other ruins. On the way out of town we praised ourselves for navigating the narrow roads and then cursed ourselves loudly when we took the bottom out of the car going over a speed bump… poor poor Alfa. A night in a village campground left Chris miserable and with a new found love for the house in Segur and the (minimal) creature comforts of Avenue Jeanne d’Albret.