The south of France has no shortage of canals and rivers that join together before meandering into the Mediterranean but we decide to leave the Canal du Midi behind and turn inland towards the alps. Before long we are following the most gorgeous wine route beside the picturesque Rhône River. At times we find ourselves on elevated roads, where the vines cling to the slopes, on either side of us. Passing lots of the villages some are full of history whilst others are just aesthetically pleasing.
The town of Anduze is the first stop for us. Situated in the Gard department and next to the river Gardon d’Anduze, Anduze is a picturesque town, with narrow streets lined with medieval houses opening onto open squares.
The clocktower, dating from 1320 and part of the original defensive ramparts of the town can still be seen as can the original grain hall dating from the 15th century.
We park opposite the steam train for the night along with other fellow motor-homers and the travelling community.
Surrounded by vineyards and on top of a rounded hill with slight slopes is the twelfth-century village of Saint-Alexandre. Visible as we leave the main road this village counts around 1200 inhabitants and by day it will charm its visitors with its picturesque character and tranquillity but come late evening it comes to life, and along with our German neighbours we weren’t in the mood to shake, rattle and roll tonight.
Once a traditional fishing village, La Roche De Glun is now an islet with traditional fishermen’s stone cottages and listed monuments, it has many memorable historical sites in the old village. In the last few days, we haven’t ventured out for a walk until early evening because the summer heat has once again been strong and with the mercury, nudging 36 most days the gathering storm clouds in the distance are a welcome site as we walk back to the aire and it isn’t long before the rain starts.
Saint-Etienne-de-Crossey is a quiet village with just a handful of shops. We stay at the aire just a short walk from the village.
The next morning we head for Chambery however the reviews for the aire here aren’t great but we decide to take a look for ourselves. Driving in we can instantly see the reviews are correct and we definitely wouldn’t be safe staying here. Most of the vans seemed to be occupied by men who were playing a game of Pétanque with rocks and with some just wearing their underpants, we drive straight back out.
The alpine town of Annecy is commonly referred to as “Venice of the Alps” because of the river and canal that pass through its old town, with beautiful pastel-coloured painted houses and cobbled narrow streets, it’s a pleasant place for a walk.
The Lake is considered to be the cleanest lake in Europe, with its crystal clear water, surrounded by snow-peaked mountains and a constant flow of paragliders dotting the sky.
We spend a few days in this area hoping on and off the bus, walking and swimming in the lake.
Heading further into the Alpes we stop off on route to pick up Fresh bread, water and diesel before starting the 850 metres up to Saint-Gervais-Les-Bains. At times it’s a tight road and when we come face to face with a coach we are guided through by a helpful local.
Surrounded by 4,000-metre peaks including Mont Blanc, Dome de Gouter and Aiguille de Bionnassay, it’s a pretty village with a definite alpine feel. In the 19th century, it was a spa town until it evolved into a ski resort so now it’s a popular destination for paragliding, walkers and snowboarders.
Each day brings a new view or another peak and at times today I thought we were bonkers as we try to wind our way up the mountain with coaches and lorries heading down towards us, so it’s been an interesting trip so far into the Alpes with snow-capped mountains and alpine lakes.
Coordinates for Aries in France
N 44° 3′ 1
E 3° 59′ 5
N 44° 13′ 40
E 4° 37′ 22
N 45° 0′ 34
E 4° 50′ 45
N 45° 22′ 50
E 5° 38′ 28
N 45° 47′ 40
E 6° 12′ 29
N 45° 53′ 16
E 6° 42′ 47