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One unusual feature of this spot, was the bird-scaring charge we could hear that went off every 9 minutes during the daylight hours – not that I was timing it ;). This distant gunshot sound wasn’t too close to be intrusive by any means.
A quick check of the available free motorhome facilities for the rest of this North bank of the Gironde made me realise that it would be wise to double back several kilometres to the town of St Dizant du Gua, where we took advantage of their aire’s free emptying services.
Having inadvertently deleted the Port de Maubert from yesterday’s route, I now found that we’d retraced our steps sufficiently so that we could readily pop in. They only allow day-parking for motorhomes there, and we recalled bypassing this lovely little port a few years ago, and thought we should stop this time.
I soon realised that after a week of being back in France, Sophie was determined to get a meal in asap. Seeing the €14 set menu available at the modest L’Ecluse restaurant & hotel, we grabbed the last table on their outside terrace, overlooking the boats and water. It was a great location and we enjoyed a long lunch, although I did have to return to the van for coats, as the wind was chilly.
Up until this point, I’d thought that my understanding that today was a French public holiday, must be wrong, as all had been quiet and sleepy, as we like it. When we reached the lovely next port of Mortagne, this was definitely more busy. They only have one spot here where motorhomes are permitted, and that costs €9.30 whether you stay for 24 minutes or 24 hours, so not ideal for a quick visit, and an overnight spot packed in so tightly with your neighbours was quite inconceivable to us.
Next coastal village was Talmont, which is extremely picturesque and we’ve visited before. Today though, it was as if half the population of the departement (Charente-Maritime I’m advised by our part time researcher) had decided to come. So we took a view, and carried on.
After a little grocery shopping and a fuel top-up in Meschers sur Gironde at Super-U, which we located using the very helpful website https://www.prix-carburants.gouv.fr/mobile/itineraire/, we decided that the only way we’d find a quiet spot tonight would likely be inland. So after a quick check on Park4night I thought I’d wing it and head for an interesting looking obscure parking spot next to an old tower. Importantly, I could see a review by someone in a motorhome, so despite the likelihood of some narrow lanes, this wasn’t exclusive to small campervans.
We were almost there when a blocked road and diversion meant a detour, but this diversion sign had no further signs to follow, so I used the SatNav to take me the several kilometres required on sensible roads. The last couple of kilometres were on narrow roads, but they passed the Sophie test, and we arrived perfectly safely. On arrival, although she didn’t say anything, I sensed Sophie was wondering why I’d bought her all this way to stay in a small carpark in front of a simple interpretation centre, with someone’s house to the left and the ruins of a large wall to the right.
Resigning herself to the fact that we would be staying here tonight, Sophie advised me that the only single viable parking spot in the whole carpark would be in the far left corner facing the information office. You will not be surprised to hear that this provided her ladyship with the prime view of the tower, whilst I “got to know” the neighbours in the house across the field to my left instead.
As is often the case, in my experience, once we alighted the vehicle and used our legs for a few minutes, we were presented with incredible far-reaching views across the marsh from this vantage point. It was really stunning, and as a bonus, there was a stork’s nest close by on top of a pole, where a mother tended her three chicks. We’ve seen plenty of storks on this trip, but never their youngsters.
The tower, when seen from the front, was also impressive. At night it was illuminated, and just as I was preparing for bed I was ordered outside to take photos, because “you like being outside”. So I did my duty, and as we settled down to sleep, Sophie, who wasn’t initially impressed with my choice of parking spot, was excitedly watching the tower’s resident owl coming and going on his nocturnal hunting trips.
*** Just to mention that our blogs can be up to a few weeks behind reality, as we’re always in catch-up mode ***