16. A roof over our heads!! St. Emilion to Pons, Charente Maritime

Wednesday September 16th

The Yelloh campsite at St Emilion was excellent and we got all our chores done before leaving and driving West,  through Libourne and out along the Dordogne estuary to Bourg. From there we followed the Gironde corniche road to Villeneuve and on to Blaye. It was narrow in places but very quiet, and it was interesting to see the houses built here, with their gardens down to the water.

At Blaye the Dordogne river has merged with the Garonne river to form the huge Gironde estuary. Blaye was first defended by the Romans. Subsequently a significant 12th century castle was built when the area was under English rule, but today what can be seen is a huge citadel built in 1685.

Boris at the citadel at Blaye.
Boris at the citadel at Blaye.

King Louis XIV wanted to defend the estuary and he commissioned Sebastian Le Prestre Vaubon to devise a plan. The estuary was wider than the range of cannon fire, so Vaubon devised a plan to bolt the estuary shut. He built the citadel at Blaye, Fort Medoc on the opposite bank and a small fort on a reclaimed sandbank in the middle. These were not subjected to attack until 1814!

We explored the citadel, dodging a few spots of rain. There is ample free parking  for campers just outside the gates, and it is a nice overnight stop as well. There is also a municipal campsite inside the citadel!!

It was then time to head for a supermarket to stock up on some essentials… wine, Normandy cider, confit de canard…. before taking the excellent D137 north to Pons to avoid the motorway tolls. Every other vehicle seemed to be a campervan heading south. British, German,  French and Netherlands. It made us sad to be heading home, but first we were heading to our friends in Villars-en-Pons for a few days.

We had a lovely afternoon and evening catching up on news and enjoying a scrumptious Fruits de mer supper. I’ve never seen so many Oysters and Prawns, and the Crab was wonderful.20150916_181815

Now to sleep in a bed for the first time in a long while.

Thursday September 17th

We heard on the news about terrible rainstorms to the south of us which had resulted in 2 deaths, and then saw that there had also been torrential rain in the UK with flooding in Bournemouth and Boscombe at home. We were obviously very lucky to have missed most of it!

Today we headed out to Talmont, a lovely village on a promontory founded by King Edward I. The old church is lovely – very simple, and looking out over the estuary as it has done for nearly 1000 years. The town is quite a tourist trap but still very pleasant. The streets are lined with flowers and there are some excellent artisan shops and eateries.

Fishing was a major industry here, and the adjoining cliffs have traditional carrelets or fishing huts.20150917_150131

We had excellent and very reasonable  galettes for lunch at La Talmontaise, and then drove to Palmyre  for a blustery walk along the cliffs, again looking out to the estuary, but much nearer the open Atlantic now. There is a beautiful sandy beach here which is dotted with the remains of Nazi blockhouses from their Atlantic Wall defences in WW2.20150917_142922

Following the walk we headed back to Jenny and Tim ‘ s via a garden centre where we spotted the latest must have accessory to enable you to take your dog or cat for a walk…20150917_165742..the doggy pushchair!

Then back to Jenny and Tim’s for another excellent supper and then a very giggly evening of cards!

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