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