Au revoir Switzerland!
Leaving Bivouac behind we skirted around the top of Lake Geneva, heading for Montreaux. Once past Martigny you start to climb towards the world famous ski resort of Chamonix. The weather was perfect and the snow peaked alps were almost dream-like. Originally we were going to dip into Italy but decided to head straight back into France due to time constraints.
We stopped briefly at the summit of Col de la Forclaz to buy some essentials (Swiss chocolate) before crossing into France. No doubt the chalet laden villages would look familiar from countless movie scenes but it just doesn’t compare to actually being there.
Bienvenue en France
Our next stop was the town of Clermont-Ferrand, France the only reason being it was a good half way point to Oradour; our destination the next day. After settling into the hotel, we decided to take a stroll and find something to eat.
After exploring the city centre we decided on Restaurant L’Odevie. It had a really funky modern feel; great food; friendly staff and some pretty interesting artwork.
After a comfortable night’s sleep, we awoke to another glorious sunny morning and set off for Oradour-Sur-Glane. The village was the scene of a brutal massacre by German SS troops en-route to the Normandy beaches in June 1944.
642 men, women and children were murdered and the village razed to the ground in a few hours in what was claimed to be a reprisal for increased partisan activity in the area. On the orders of French President Charles de Gaulle it remains a permanent memorial.
It’s hard to describe the feeling you get walking around the village; imaging the people that lived and died there. It’s something I will never forget.
As the temperature was approaching 30 degrees C, we decided to take a walk into new Oradour for some lunch then onto our next destination, Confolens.
We had pre-booked Camping des Ribières through Pitchup and couldn’t have been more pleased. Riverside camping, free fishing & canoeing and a 5 minute walk into town, all for under €20 per night!
After a quick canoe trip up river (and a bottle of Prosecco – sipped riverside on our inflatable sofa) we decided to walk into Confolens to explore.
Unfortunately, we missed the Festival de Folklore but town was very pretty and serene with lots to see and do.
We would loved to have stayed in Confolens for longer but our ferry was booked for early Saturday morning (a mere 700 miles from Confolens!).
All in all, an amazing (if rather expensive) week of touring. Sleeping in a van has it’s challenges but it’s all part of the adventure. We’ve already started thinking of our next road trip – Germany, Poland or maybe even Denmark – but one thing is for sure we’re going to retire the van and get a proper camper.
The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.