A Travellerspoint blog

Wednesday 16th December

Woke up to freezing cold and the inside windows of the cab frozen! We decided to head further up into the mountains and check out the three ski resorts and see which one we wanted to learn skiing and spend Christmas at. We headed first for Cauterets, which entailed our first mountain roads as we went higher up, the scenery was beautiful and the roads very bendy. We reached in Cauterets our first bit of snow and a €8 a day Aire, the snow we liked the price of Aire we didn’t like so much! This is apparently one of the bigger ski resorts in the Pyrenees, although we only saw the town and decided wasn’t quite what we were looking for, we wanted something smaller, as we didn’t really have the money anyway for eating and drinking out.

So we carried on to Bareges, round more bends with drops off the roads and climbing higher into the mountains. Bareges is a lovely little spa town and half of another ski resort in another town across the Col du Tourmalet, which is a high mountain pass famous for the Tour de France, which is now closed for the winter as apparently they ski over it. The town was nice with lovely mountains all around, we even drove higher up still to the ski resort, which seemed good. We stopped the night in the town car park and wrote our Christmas Postcards while it snowed outside.

Hymer_at_B..Station.jpg

Posted by marklorna 11:45 Comments (0)

Tuesday 15th December

Tuesday 15th December

Today we headed for Pau in search of the lesser-spotted cheaper snow chains for our tyre size! These are required by law in the mountain roads and as we would find out later very useful. So again after searching for our size in lots of supermarkets were resolved to the fact we would have to spend €125 on the cheapest ones we could find, oh the joy. So with them now purchased we were finally set to carry on our journey up into the mountains. But as we were also low on water we wouldn’t be getting that far into them today. So we stopped at an Aire in Pierrefitte Nestalas, 480m above sea level, to fill up and get a nights sleep. We weren’t high up yet but the mountains we could see close all around us.

Aire_at_Pi..estalas.jpg

Posted by marklorna 11:44 Comments (0)

Monday 14th December

Today was a doing day! Up early in the morning and down to the post office to get €10 worth of stamps for Christmas postcards. Then off to fill up on fuel and get our gas bottle. Which turned out quite easy, a few phrases muddled together and we managed to get the woman to understand we wanted a new bottle and not one for exchange and she managed to get me to understand I needed to fill out a form. So 15 minutes later and we had a new gas bottle sitting in our locker, not yet connected mind. Only problem was we couldn’t fit our calor gas bottle in their as well and I wasn’t able to say or get her to understand if we could dispose of it, so it remained inside for us to somehow dispose of safely.

We now went onto the task of going to find ski trousers and some snow chains for the motorhome. We carried on a bit further and ended up in Lourdes, got ourselves some ski trousers and discovered that unlike what we had thought now chains are not cheaper nearer the Pyrenees! Well I say that but there were lots in supermarkets for only €30, but we were discovering that for our size of tyre and vehicle we would need a specialist snow chain and we could only find one and that was €160! But we would try again tomorrow, looking through loads more in Supermarkets hopeful to come across our size for cheap.

So we parked up on a car park in Lourdes next to the river and overlooking the mountains, and I soon discovered our next problem. Our new gas bottle had no connection piece, so we couldn’t fit our gas pipe to it and if we could of it missed the piece to turn the gas on and off. Now we didn’t know the correct name for the piece we were missing but from the paperwork discovered we should have been offered this when we bought it. As we were no longer in the same town we purchased it from we couldn’t go back to where we bought it, but we found the same supermarket and it seemed other bottles had these pieces. So I tried to explain that I needed this connection piece in a couple of French words while showing the form, but as she couldn’t speak English and I couldn’t speak French didn’t get anywhere apart from a no. So after a few supermarkets later, we went back to the same one for Lorna to try and she came back with the connection piece. So off back to the car park to now connect the bottle, which we did and no gas came out, so tried several times and still nothing, so decided it must be defective and went to a supermarket round the corner where I managed to get it swapped and back down to try to connect it again, and yet again the same result! Then Lorna had a go, and yet again she was successful, it seemed I had not pushed it properly down onto the bottle. So now we were back to being able to have heat etc.

We then decided to head round the town and over to Le Grotte. Lourdes is a very famous place for Pilgrims to come to, as in 1858 a woman saw a vision several times of Mary in a grotto and then said a church should be built over it. So now stands a huge magnificent church and chapels over a grotto that remains, where thousands come every year to pray and touch the rock where the woman had seen these visions. It is not only the church that does well from such visions but the town is now gripped in Religious fever with shop after shop and hotel after hotel profiting from the devoted thousands who flock upon this holy place. The power of religion is pretty astonishing.

Posted by marklorna 11:43 Comments (0)

Sunday 13th December

Woke up cold, so heater went straight on as did kettle for a hot cuppa. But before Hymer got warm and the water had chance to boil, our one and only gas bottle decided to give up the ghost! So out came the camping stove from the roof box and at least a cup of tea was had. Now Sunday is not a good day to run out of anything in France, as unlike England everything is closed. So we decided to start heading south, find somewhere to get a gas bottle and stay there till Monday morning when we could get a full one. Now the problem is it was never going to be as easy as that, as we had a Calor gas bottle and that was great for exchanging in the UK but not in Europe. As every country has different market leaders and apparently there aren’t any bottles you can exchange over different countries, so if our bottle only lasted just over a month this could be an expensive trip! We could have had fitted a refillable system before we went but that was over £500 and we didn’t have that to spend. Anyway I’m going on, we had found that a supermarket chain called Carrefour is in several different countries, and as most supermarket chains we had seen in France have their own brand of gas bottles. So we decided that we could get one their bottles and then be able to exchange it in other countries, problem solved we thought. So as we pulled up in Auch and looked at our third Carrefour forecourt, we found that they had an own brand bottle but only Butane, which would be no good for us as it freezes at below minus 4 and up in the Pyrenees it would get colder than that. So we carried on to Tarbes, near the foot of the Pyrenees, and a MacDonald’s car park for some internet research and found a brand that we could get in France that also is stocked in Spain. So all we now had to do was wait till morning and buy a brand new bottle, which with our French and a phrasebook that doesn’t cover such things was going to be fun.

We then went about for somewhere to park up for the night. Which after a drive up a dead end road, which meant turning the motorhome around in someone’s drive as all the family came out to shoo us off, found a spot in a square. Only to discover that we were right under the bell tower of the church which kept going off every hour, but luckily it stopped at 11pm and started back up at 7am, so not as bad as we initially thought.

Posted by marklorna 11:41 Comments (0)

Saturday 12th December

Stayed in Cahors last night by the river right near the centre. Today we had a wonder round the town and over a 14th century Valentre bridge built with three fortified towers, one of only three still standing.

Bridge_at_Cahors.jpg

We then headed further down south towards an aire in Valence, but it turned out to be roadside parking place so we carried on and ended up in a white gated aire up in the hills in the small village of Bardigues

Posted by marklorna 11:39 Comments (0)

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