This morning I woke in Dijon to the sound of the river rushing by outside Iggy’s cosy walls. I adore this sound. It lulls me in my sleep and brings me smiling back into the day. That’s if you can call 04:30 day! After months of night shifts my body is struggling to return to a normal sleeping pattern. I’m gradually edging closer, but when my eyes ping open at 4 am, and I remember I’m parked by a riverbank in Dijon with a blog to write! Well it’s hard not to get up and get on it!
Today is Saturday. I had to check the calendar to be sure before I wrote that! Thursday then, was the day we were in Troyes. We woke up refreshed on Thursday morning after our lazy Wednesday in Sedan. Refreshed and looking forward to getting out of Sedan! No offense Sedan. You are probably a lovely town really, and we would have adored you on a sunny day in June. Just not a slate grey one in November! Troyes had looked gorgeous on Google images. All medieval half-timbered houses and Gothic churches. We like that kind of stuff! It was also a longer drive than we’ve been doing so far. Three hours. So we were keen to hit the road. Especially as the forecast was threatening snow.
The drive was easy and uneventful. Before Iggy, we mainly used the toll roads in France. It seemed easier. And safer too I guess. I had visions of the non toll roads being packed with speeding hordes of hostile, gesticulating, crazy French drivers. Terrifying me with mad antics. Swearing loudly as they screeched past our little Yaris with us shaking and a-quaking inside. Like, you know? In the South East of England?
Not so in France! Like most fears this one was completely unfounded. Main roads in France are generally quiet and of reasonable quality. For sure they do take longer. But that’s because they keep passing through the most adorable and picturesque French villages and countryside. And all for free. No contest really.
Three hours of the usual oohing and aahing at passing scenery later we arrived in Troyes and headed straight to Carrefour Drive. We were having a bit of a chore day and had already filled up with LPG for our heating at Total in Sedan. Some garages refuse to let motorhomes fill up with LPG. This is mainly because some people refill cylinders that are not designed to use the LPG filling system. This can, and has, caused explosions at fuel stations. Understandably then some attendants are a little nervous! Our Gaslow system is purpose built for the job though, and with the constant below freezing temperatures we were very thankful to fill up with no problems.
Next on the chore list was snowchains. We’d heard you can buy them at French supermarkets and were keen to get some as soon as possible. There was a really good selection, but unfortunately not in our size. Never mind. Next time! Stocking up with far more than our fair share of French cakes we walked out into…You guessed it! Snow! The constantly threatening snow had arrived while we were dismally failing to get snowchains. Though we had stocked up on antifreeze so not a complete loss!
Not too worried as the forecast wasn’t for anything likely to cause driving problems, we headed for our parking spot behind the sports centre, and finally headed in to explore Troyes.
The town was everything we’d been led to expect from Google images. And more! It definitely gets a thumbs up from us. We happily wandered it’s beautiful centre for hours. Soaking up the wonderful Gothic churches. (If ever a church was Gothic it was a Troyes church.) These dudes should audition for Gotham! The fading splendour of gorgeously coloured 16th Century houses. Made all the more wonderful by how lived in everything was. This was no show town like the overpriced resort of Honfleur on the Atlantic coast. Here some of the houses were a little, well, shabby. This place was lived in. I wondered what it was like to live here? To be born and grow up in this medieval centre? Surrounded by such history? Such beauty?
Eventually, fingers frozen from gloveless picture taking, and legs worn out, we stumbled wearily back to the haven of our Iggy. Warmth. Comfort. Red wine and French cake. And sleep not far behind.
The next morning we woke to a world transformed by snow. That perfect snow that dusts the landscape but leaves the road clean as a whistle. Today was another three hour drive – to Dijon this time. With all our chores done the day before we quickly tidied Iggy and got underway.
Oh how I wish I could take you with me on that drive! It would be beautiful at any time of year. But with the snow painting Christmas card perfection on every village and wooded slope…It was simply stunning! Breathtaking! The empty road rolled and folded, up and done through the twisting Seine valley, until it finally deposited two happy travellers by a riverbank in the magical city of Dijon.
Our home for the night was beside a park. An easy 20 minute walk along the river into the centre. The city is charming with a nice feel to it. Still plenty of tourists around despite the freezing temperatures. It was nice to be somewhere a little more crowded for a change. So far this week everywhere has been very quiet and the presence of a few more bodies was welcome. We bought our first present for the folks back home. A cute little giraffe for our granddaughter Hope. All presents have to fulfill four criteria, and this one fit the bill nicely.
- Cheap. We only have the money we’ve saved and are on a really tight budget.
- Small. We live in a motorhome! Space is a premium.
- Lightweight. As above. Weight is our most important factor for everything.
- Unusual. I love to find things for people that I’ve never seen at home.
Dijon is a lovely city. The only thing to spoil it for me were the beggars. Down on the ground on all fours. Forehead to the floor. It is a painful looking pose. Mentally as well as physically. I wonder how they maintain it? How many hours a day do they spend in that tortuous position? Are their bodies wracked with pain? I doubt if I could endure it for long. Having worked with homeless people, and beggars, for many years I would like to know the answers. To work with people here on the continent. Learn their stories. What brought them here. What they would do with their time if they could. If they didn’t have to spend their days kowtowed on a frozen street to earn what they need.
We could have spent longer in Dijon. The cold, although just as biting, didn’t seem to bother us as much today. Our feet were not yet weary. Our spirits still high from a very enjoyable day. Still it was time to go home. The forecast is showing the Mistral due to be blowing down in Provence over the next few days. Driving in winds of over 50 miles an hour in a three metre high van does not sound appealing. So back to the maps. To looking at motorhome stopover places on park4night. To “Hmmmm”-ing on Google images.
Today has been lovely, but Sicily seems further away tonight.