Sunday, March 4, 2012

A Free Weekend in Mid France

Well, following on from the campervan's meltdown, I've been staying in a sweet little hotel in the tiny town of Saint-Savin. It was chosen by my insurance company, presumably a decision made by cost, so this weekend has really been about making the most of my time here.

L'Hotel de France

It's lovely but I'm so, so uncomfortable here! I'm the only guest out of 30-odd rooms, since holiday season has not yet begun and there are no special events happening in the area. So it's kind of like having my own private staff without paying them. And that's just embarassing. I have to go down for breakfast at a previously-agreed time, sneak up and down the stairs for fear of bumping into one of them, and hide in my room with the 'do not disturb' sign on my door to keep them from cleaning what is already a perfectly clean room. I'm sitting here now listening to someone clomping up and down stairs with a hoover, my bum cheeks tense with anticipation!

Yes I do realise how bizarre it sounds to feel uncomfortable in the face of luxury, but what can I say? I really am a girl who's happiest in the back of a van. I don't even need a full-sized bed in the back of the van, I'm quite snug curled up on top of the engine bay. I can eat dry biscuits and occasionally cook myself up some noodles and sauce, and I can wash myself with a microfibre flannel in the sink. That's not just 'coping', that's what I want to do!

Ah well, it's not all bad. The shower is stunningly good and I have taken full advantage of the hotel WiFi, reloading the iPod and catching up on my blogs. Perhaps these 'breaks' are necessary.


It's everything you'd expect from a small French town. It has a patisserie, a pharmacy, a restaurant / bar and a post office. It has a train line but no station, and a bus stop which is utilised by three buses a day (except Sundays bien sur). The Intermarche is a 500m walk up the road and then you're into open countryside.

However it does also feature a quite extraordinary Abbaye which I explored:

It's in the process of being restored back to its medeival glory, including huge murals painted al fresco on the walls and ceilings.


I'm only 40-odd miles from Futuroscope, which I visited with my family as a child and of which I have very fond memories. My Grandfather lived in mid France at the time, so my sister and I were taken to this theme park with very little idea of what it was about. In fact we loved it, but my appreciation has grown more and more as I've looked back on those memories with an adult's perspective. We really did experience cinematic technologies that no-one else had access to. So many times in more recent years I've heard in the media of a 'new technology' that I had in fact already seen showcased in Futuroscope, whether it's a particular type of advanced 3D imaging or extra sensory experience (puffs of air and a moving / jolting cinema seat).

So why haven't I gone back this weekend? Well, it may be only 40 miles away but sadly that's about 3 hours in one direction and 15 hours back to the hotel again by public transport. It would be almost as quick on average to walk there. So at least my memories will be preserved and I'll have no illusions shattered. Not to mention a few pennies saved...

Time to go?

Well today I leave the hotel to again visit my campervan in its hospital - fingers crossed the news will be good and I can get back on my merry way. Watch this space!

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