Dodging the Mistral – A Lazy Weekend

I must admit I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to strong winds in a motorhome.  So checking weather forecasts back in Dijon on Friday I had a bit of a quake when I saw gusts up to 57 miles per hour forecast for Avignon until Wednesday.  The infamous Mistral was abroad in Provence!  Now I grew up on a croft, on a far flung Scottish Island.  We ate strong winds for breakfast there!  So why am I turning green at the thought of the Mistral?  I’m not sure to be honest.  In fact I’d quite like to experience it I think.  Probably so I can do my Highland’s shrug and drawl, “Och ye canny call that a wind!”  I’m just not sure I want to do it in my precious Hymer B544, aka Yggdrasil.  Fondly known as “Our Iggy”.  I love him to bits.  But I’m not entirely sure I want to do a sideways roll in him.  Especially not on the motorway.

Weekend driving in France. Right side up please Iggy!!

We were planning on arriving in Avignon on Monday.  Via Bourg-enBresse and Valence.  Back to the drawing board goes I and pulls out another stop.  Chalon – sur – Saone looks perfect.  Another pretty town, half way to B on B.  Keep an eye on the Mistral and hope it calms down enough for us to aim for a late arrival in Avignon on Tuesday evening.

Off we set for the drive to Chalon – sur Saone.  But it  proved to be a little more interesting than normal when we had a strange encounter on the road.  Here’s our Jay talking about it in this “End of Week One.” video.



The rest of the trip was very straightforward.  Good straight roads and at only an hour and a half we seemed to get there almost before we’d left!  Driving into Chalon it was clearly a good time town in the summer months.  The river is wide and calm at this point and pleasure craft lined the quays waiting for warmer weather to cruise the placid waters.  At a now familiar -1 degrees C, there wasn’t much pleasure cruising going on today.  That wasn’t stopping Chalon from having a good time however!

There’s a reason for having a Neptune fountain so far from sea. Right? Right?

I must confess I expected to be a little bit bored in Chalon.  How spoilt am I?  This was our third medieval, half-timbered houses, town in a row.  Troyes had kind of nailed that for me first time running.  When it comes to half-timbered, medieval it’s a hard act to follow.

Chalon however, was having none of it!  What a delight!  It’s one of those fabulous towns that seems to have a magical formula for getting things right.  On first arrival we stopped off at the free motorhome service point to empty our dirty water and take on some fresh.  Then pop round the corner to our free spot for the night by the park.

A quick spot of lunch to fortify us and we set off to explore.  I’m rather partial to a good park so we headed through it towards the town centre – all of ten minutes walk away.  It only took a couple of minutes walk before we came to the tiny, but enchanting, botanical garden.  Next door a small but lovely aviary filled the air with the song of brightly coloured finches, as a cockerel crowed and crowed and crowed in the mini farmyard.  Nonchalantly ignored by the two contented donkeys chewing hay from their manger.

“What’s this I found in the Botanic Garden Fi?” You’ve got me there Jay!

On into the town, and the general air was low key, easy going and up beat.  Like other places we’d stayed the preparations for the Christmas market and lights were still underway.  We’re guessing the festivities will begin next weekend.  The pretty streets twisted and wound, charmingly full of interesting shops selling beautiful things.  I fell in love with a particularly awesome hat shop.  I escaped with my wallet intact…Just!  But swore next year I am slaving to make an extra £1,000 to bring away with me.  Just for hats!

The locals clearly thought Jay was a bit mad for loving these giant seed pods. Bet they loved them when they were kids!

After a lovely day in the freshest of crisp, cold air we slept like logs.  Dead ones.  Our body clocks finally breaking the damage of six months of night shifts we slept eleven hours solid.  Not waking until nearly 9a.m.  Thank goodness it was Sunday!  Not that it makes any difference to us.  Other than this was day seven in Europe, and a week today since we said goodbye to Edinburgh and set off for the ferry.

It seems like so much longer than a week.  It seems like an eternity.  Although we’ve only been gone a short while I feel a slight tug of homesickness in my belly.  A standard week’s winter break and we’d be heading back today.  Instead we drive on into never, never land.  There is no return date.  Just a vague, “As long as the money holds out.  And nothing goes wrong.  Inshallah!”  I see my friends lives go on via Facebook and feel a surge of love for them all.  Stay safe crazy ones!

For now, for us, the drive goes on.  Today equals Bourg – en – Bresse.  Another half-timbered town, and this being France – one that’s closed for Sunday.  Everything shuts in France on a Sunday!  It’s one of the things I love about the country.  We wander Bourg – en B’s frozen, sleepy streets alone.  Remembering when Britain too, downed tools on a Sunday.  A day of rest whether you wanted it or not.

Giant cockerel on the road to Bourg-en-Bresse. As you do!

It’s hard to get a proper feel for Bourg -en B with everything closed.  It’s not so charming as Chalon, but I grow fond of it as we wander.  I find myself reading a sign on a half-timbered house that tells me Alexandre Dumas once stood in this very street.  I am transported one hundred and fifty years back in time.  Truly today, here in this silent, frosty lane, I walk in the footsteps of giants.  Bourg – en Bresse is not Chalon – sur -Saone.  It is not Dijon.  It is not Troyes.  But here, this cold, December Sunday, it is enough.

Fabulous hat shop in pretty Chalon-sur-Saone

Alexandre Dumas Was Here!!! Bet there was no Minion in the window then though.


Fi. x


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