Friday 6th July
Time to move on from our lovely blue lake. Such a lovely campsite. Reluctant to leave but there’s a whole France out there, waiting to be explored. Maybe some day we’ll return?We said our goodbyes to our camper van friends and exchanged contact details.
We did not have to be off site until midday so we had taken our time, but finally we were on the road. It was just a short hop to our next destination – Le Lac du Bourget, near Aix les Bains, a famous spa town. Our campsite was again at the southern end of the lake, in Le Bourget du Lac. Confusing!
It took just over an hour and we were soon pulling in to the site – L’Isle aux Cygnes. It had been a bit tricky to find and was not well (if at all?) signposted). Google Maps got us there, though. As it was lunch time, the Reception was resolutely closed for lunch. Luckily “joining papers” were provided in a little cabinet and we were able to access our lovely pitch. Another great spot. Booking early really pays off.
Once set up, never ones to hang around, we popped out for a bit of orientation and headed to Aix les Bains. Some amazing Belle Epoque style buildings but, sadly, an air of faded grandeur. Oddly – we seem to have not one photo of the town.
We did a bit of provisioning on the way back and – among other things – we picked up a couple of bavettes – reduced to €3.40 – a real bargain! We cooked them – with some mushrooms and new potatoes – on the Cadac and they were a couple of the nicest steaks we have had for a long time. Tasty, juicy and tender. And cooked to perfection.
Of course before the cooking we had a swim. Thank GOD for water shoes. Hellishly ugly but a godsend on those sharp stones. And no worries about what’s under foot. Ugh! How on earth did we manage as kids?
Saturday 7th July
Life seems to have dropped down a gear since we got here. I really do seem to have a problem with just relaxing. It takes me a while to get a point where I can just exist without rushing/planning/over-thinking/anticipating/worrying. But today? I think I’ve cracked it! We had a lie-in, got up and spent the day swimming, reading, dozing and generally just kicking back. I know that this doesn’t make interesting reading but last week was pretty full on and it felt really good to do nothing.
There is another cycle-path around this lake, which goes from Aix les Bains to Chambéry and which passes the campsite. We had forgotten to order bread/Viennoiserie for our breakfast so Paul hopped on to the bike and cycled into the small town (which boasts 2 patisseries) and picked up some fresh stuff while I prepped the fruit for our breakfast. It was a hot ride so he had to have a quick swim before food.
We had a visit from the Patrouille several times and also on Sunday. Tricky to capture – no sooner had you heard them then they were upon you. I absolutely love that “crackling” sound a jet engine emits. SO exciting. Apparently they were appearing at the Grenoble air show – my dear friend Tim told me. The power of Facebook and Google eh? It’s only 80 kms to Grenoble from here (or about 5 mins in a Northrop F-5E Tiger II!!!) We did get a few puffs of the Tricolor!
We both went for a cycle along the cycle path in the early evening, before we settled down to wait for the main event of the day – the fireworks. Right on the town beach which was next door to the campsite.
It has been a long time since I have been able to purely enjoy a good firework display. I have always adored them but poor Archie hated them. Seeing what he went through kind of took the shine off for me, but I was quite excited for the display. And we were not disappointed. They started on the dot of 11pm – it’s not really dark enough for them until then, bearing in mind that France is an hour ahead of the UK at the moment. We seem to have a plethora of pictures but a sample of them follows. Beautiful. and LOUD!!!
Sunday 8th July
We both cycled into town for the bread this morning. A beautiful sunny day (Again) and a real pleasure. I love the French way of life – they got so many thnigs right. Why on earth did we adopt the Chorleywood way when we could have had baguettes/flutes/ficelles/pain au levain/pain complet or just plain old pain – to name but a few. We really missed a trick there. And that’s without mentioning the joy of a Nutella Brioche! Delightful! The Chorleywood model meant the death of decent bread and it spread all around the world. They have us to thank for tasteless pappy, bread. Thank goodness proper bread has made a come back in recent years. Sourdough (Pain au Levain) being a personal favourite. Until I wrote this article, I didn’t realise what a bread snob I am.
Anyway – back to the holiday. It was another reeelaaaaxing day although I got a bit restless in the late afternoon so we went for a drive up in the hills/mountains along the western bank of the Lac. The lac (very busy on a Sunday) is overlooked by the Dent du Chat mountain. You really can see why it is called that (although maybe not from the angle in this picture?) and it was towards this we set off.
Lots of serious cyclists looking for their PB on the climbs. And motorcyclists out for a Sunday afternoon randonnée. We got a good view of the camp site from a viewpoint on the way up. It was a heat haze kind of a day.
At the top of the lake (North) there is a short canal which leads from the Lac to the mighty Rhône. I say mighty because it is one of the major European rivers and at over 500 miles long, the fourth longest in France. It discharges into the Med at Arles at a rate of 1,710 cubic metres per second!!
The canal – the Canal de Savières (note that this link is translated from French so reads a bit oddly in places!) has just one lock which raises you onto the Rhône. As we had ended up near the that end of the lake (and even though we have a trip planned, of which more later) we thought we’d go and have a quick reconnoitre. And maybe come within a whisker of getting a parking ticket – after all – we were only stopping for a minute at the lock – right? Yeah.
The way home was vineyard central. I wonder if this where they grow the grapes for the Côtes du Rhône wine? although it’s a long river? Maybe that’s a little further South. But there are lots of “dégustation” (tasting) opportunities, which we eschewed.
We arrived home, had dinner and then re-inflated the boat and had a little trip out on it. A great end to the day.
Monday 8th July
I awoke early to a really beautiful morning. It was properly warm at 07:15 and I sat outside, reading and feeding my cute sparrow and duck chums until my Lord and Master (!!) awoke.
We both rode into town for bakery items and – over breakfast – decided that we would visit Mont Revard, a ski resort and another Tour de France climb. It overlooks the Eastern shore of the lake. It was a lovely Alpine drive and we were soon at the summit. Great views and a glass observation deck. Brilliant! We loved it. There was also another summer luge but sadly not open.
Mount Revard is home to Nordic Skiing and as we were driving back down, we came upon quite a few amazingly fit people with long roller blades on their feet and ski poles (which we presumed were summer versions of the Nordic ski?). They were “skiing” UP the mountain. UP it! In this heat! Amazing stamina and drive. I take my hat off to them.
As were near Aix-l-B, we decided to pop into town to check out where we need to pick up the boat for tomorrow’s planned trip and also where to park. That mission accomplished, we returned home for a lazy afternoon, reading. swimming and an evening boat trip. We went via the supermarket, to pick up more supplies of our new favourite soft drink. Volvic Touche de The – Peach flavour. So refreshing.
We had a pleasant evening and retired quite early after the (my) early start.