It was a very quiet night followed by a lazy morning, which is often the norm on our unhurried travels.
We headed off around midday, and, with the help of Park4night, aimed for a small town en route, which had emptying facilities. Soon after this we were topping up our water from the sleepy small fishing port of L’Éguille.
When a local started coming over to me just after I’d finished with the tap, I assumed that he was going to give me a hard time about using the village’s water. This would have been particularly annoying given that I only managed to squeeze in about 3 litres. Clearly my water management lectures to Sophie must be getting through.
Actually he just wanted a chat, which was obviously going to be a challenge for both of us, as he didn’t speak any English at all, and my spoken French and comprehension skills are not great. Despite my attempt at language immersion by listening to plenty of French radio over recent months, I understood a very small percentage of what he was saying, which is exactly as it is with the radio.
I did tell him that I only spoke a small amount of French, but that was clearly too much encouragement, and off he went. There were the initial and unexpected “Why are you here? Are you lost?” questions, which I responded to by saying how pretty it was there, followed by the “Do you live near London?” question and me giving him the whole Jersey’s a small island close to France routine. This was the point I pretty much lost the thread, having to grasp at the occasional word I recognised & somehow get that into a question for him.
Mostly though I just nodded in agreement until he indicated that he was waiting for a response from me. Anyway, I know I need to do much more of this impromptu conversational stuff if I’m going to become conversational in French, and he did me a favour as it would have been unlikely for me to instigate such a conversation. He would have carried on all afternoon
I did notice that Sophie made herself scarce, walking past us twice and pretending she didn’t know me. In the end, I felt it was time to wrench myself away, so in my poor French I told him “I had to drive now”, followed by a very poor attempt at “It was a pleasure to meet you”. For some reason I used the word “reconnaissance” rather than “connaissance”, and forgot most of the rest of the phrase, but having checked later that word does imply gratitude, so maybe not a bad way to end the conversation. I’m sure he’d have had a chuckle at my pigeon French.
We then started along the North bank of the Gironde estuary. When we were last here we’d wanted to visit the lovely old town of Talmont sur Gironde, but that day it was completely mobbed. So today we thought we’d try again. Unfortunately for us skinflints, €6 to park a motorhome just to see the place was a bit steep. Fortunately we’ve been here years ago and had we intended on staying overnight, then we might have paid, but possibly not. Anyway, we both agreed and were off again.
We were reminiscing about how many of these places were free a few years ago, and we dropped by another couple of lovely little ports, where it’s €8 or €9 to park for 24 hours or 24 minutes. As it happened, I’d been heading to one of our favourite ever overnight stops at Saint Romain sur Gironde. We’d discovered this tiny carpark last year thanks to Park4night. It’s slightly elevated and is nestled in the middle of fields and vineyards with 360 degree views, and we can see the Gironde estuary and its South bank beyond.
As I write this, in early March, I’m sat outside with a drink as the sun starts to set. I’m sure we’ll be back.