Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Vacation report 11 - Crossing half of France on August 1 - 2009

I'm Back - can post photos again
- Hurray - let's continue our Vacation in France

You can even click on the Photos and you will see details you never had thought of - LOL)

The weekend around August 1 is the most busy in the year at French Roads.
This year August 1 was on a Saturday.

Why is it so busy?
Because in France people have vacation normally in Jul
y or still most common in August.
For a whole calendar Month.
On August all people that went down to southern France or
to Spain, they went back up North.
Most of them through the Rhone Valley.

And even more went down south the same Valley on the same Day.

On the Radio on the Morning, when we still were with our dear old friends, Claude and Paulette in the middle of France, we listen to the Radio to find out the best choice of highways to go down to the Riviera. Estimated normal driving time is about 7 hrs 30 minutes.

On the Radio we heard it was 5 million Cars heading south in the Rhone Valley.
Average speed 6-10 miles pr hour.

Can you believe the difference from that fact to what you here see. When we did visit our dear Friends Neighbour, the old, charming lady. Really Calm.

But this Saturday:
We had a visting agreement for Saturday Evening. Close to Nice.
So what to do?

Well, only a very few years ago it was opened a new Motorway across the Central Massif.
Very scenic and an impressive contruction from A to Z.

Please join us on the Tour.

The start was pleasant. We just crossed miles after miles in highway speed.

Suddenly: What is this. Above the Road:
A Warning. Two to twelve kilometers ahead: Bouchon
- Queue - Stop - Bump

We needed some food for Lunch, but we were not alone
From the Central Massif in France. Not very well known for foreigners. But this is the "real" old France - the land of the real French which has been more or less freed from invaders during centuries and wars. The landscape and cultures are among the richest and also the oldest in Europe. Here you will find the oldest Cave Paintings in Europe among others. The most deliciouse cheeses - you might have heard about Roquefort?

Down here you see the River Tarn. In the background the Town of Millau. Nearby the amazing Gorges de Tarn. One of the most exeptional river valleys in Europe.

Seems to bee a nice place for a rest and a beautiful view. The Volcanic Parc in Auvergne, France

Some circulation you see? But Papa allways keeps a safe distance.

We did cross the Millau Viaduct.
More than 20 years ago we went the same route, long before this Motorway even was planned. Then we had to go down from the Hills (1100 meters above sea level - about 3500 feet) and down to the charming Town of Millau (alltitude 360 meters) and then up again to about 1100 hundred meters. Took hours, then. But if you have time: Do visit it. At least for a great Lunch. Much better than served along the Autoroute.

Just a closer look at the Bridge - See the Trafic? It is 2,5 km long.

After crossing this impressive construction, we were only 1/4 of the Road down to our destination. And thought:
- We will make it in due time.
BUT: It took much longer than expected. We were not alone.
Not at all. For the next 5 hours it was bump- bump - bump. Nothing to share but trafic, so no photos. Luckely we did not see any severe accidents.
I would like to drive this Autoroute on a normal day. The nature is beautiful and the road construction impressively take care of the Nature.

After passing by le Mount de Saint Victoire - just east of Aix-en-Provence - famous from among others painters like Paul Cezanne.

We did not reach our old Friend in Vence, as planned. Had to call from the car around 8:30 pm:
- we are still 100 km away from you.
- The Road information systems signals an average speed of 22 km. Which means still more than 4 hours. Have been driving for 12 hours. Don't think we we take the chance for another 4-5 hours.
- We agreed upon that fact.

And stopped over night in Saint Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume. In fact, we had been there before, about 18 years ago.

Some short Facts:
The town's basilica dedicated to Mary Magdalene was the site where Mary Magdalene was rehabilitated in the 13th century and remade as the sinning figure of perfect penitence and the co-patron, with the Virgin Mary, of the Dominican Order.

We stayed overnight here: Hotel le Covent Royal. Originally founded in the 13th century by The Dominicans.

But we went outside to the Town center for Dinner - Fish and Shellfish.
Very relaxing and local atmospere.

and Anna relaxed - in a combination of a Cafe and shop for local products

and even papa could relaxe for a moment. More than 12 hours driving is pretty tough in heavy traffic.

More to come...
(from a very special Lunch in Vence)

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Blogger Sandee said...

Wow, that was indeed a lot of traffic. Twelve hours worth is more than enough. The scenery is indeed beautiful though. I'll await your next installment.

Have a terrific day. Big hug to you and Anna. :)

October 21, 2009 2:58 am  
Blogger Vagabonde said...

I had forgotten how busy the roads are in France on the 1st August. Here in the US people take vacation in summer if they have kids or any time of the year if they don’t have any. The traffic here is the most hectic on the Thanksgiving holiday which is at the end of November (a 4 day holiday for some.) In France from the 30 July through August 2 they also have emergency health crews along the highway awaiting the accidents. Here workers usually have a 2 weeks paid vacation but not everyone as it is not a US law – actually the US is the only western country which has not passed a law to have businesses give paid vacations to their employees – some labour unions include it in their contracts though. The trains in France are very busy too – I remember going to Italy for my vacations in August and I had to reserve my seat a long time in advance as the trains were full.

October 21, 2009 6:03 am  
Blogger ShadowFalcon said...

I havne't been to many places in France, time to take some holiday and explore. Glad you had fun!

October 21, 2009 9:56 am  
Blogger Elin said...

Thanks for the tour :)

October 21, 2009 11:46 am  
Blogger Shadow said...

now that's the way to travel, leisurely and with plenty of time... thank you for the tour

October 21, 2009 12:03 pm  
Blogger Gattina said...

And now you make the road again, lol ! hope you don't get stuck with blogging !

October 21, 2009 5:27 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

beautiful places and wonderful report

October 21, 2009 6:50 pm  
Blogger Maribeth said...

Oh I hate heavy traffic. It looked hot too. Glad you stopped for some fine food and refreshment!

October 21, 2009 8:01 pm  
Anonymous Lifecruiser said...

Oh, I would love to take that road some other time. The Millau wonder is wonderful!!!! When not in traffic jam there is of course....

But phew... what a drive you had!

October 21, 2009 9:22 pm  
Blogger adama said...

What a drive! u`r pictures are wonderful. I have never been in France but my husband is truckdriver, he talks a lot about France.....

October 21, 2009 11:34 pm  
Blogger OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

That is a real trek, Tor...So many hours of driving---I don't think I could do it anymore...Beautiful country and that Bridge is fantastic! And the pictures really give one the feeling of the countryside. You and Anna do not look any the worse for wear, my dear, at your special dinner....I look forward to Vence!

October 22, 2009 6:28 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My god that looks kinda hectic and I can actually feel the exhaustion some travelers might have experienced.

That's why I tend to travel when it is not vacay season. Anyway the photos ae awesome!

October 22, 2009 10:20 am  
Blogger sologbolig said...

Kjekt å lesa reisebeskrivelse. Og pyton med mye trafikk og køkjøring. Nå nærma du deg meir kjente områder for min del, ser fram til lunch i Vence (der har vi vært 3 ganger, seinest for et par år siden). Ha ein fortsatt fin dag.

October 22, 2009 4:32 pm  
Blogger Mar said...

I photographed that wonderful bridge this summer too!! vacation traffic is not fun!!

I have used up 15% of my allowed blogger capacity, which is not bad for 4 years of blogging but I have always resized my pics for quicker upload. With the side effect of less capacity used. I will open a new gmail account and blog when the current one is full. I can always copy and paste to the old one!

October 22, 2009 5:22 pm  
Blogger Veronita said...

Hermoso viaje, y por supuesto, luego de tanto conducir, es muy bueno relajarse y tomar algo rico y fresco.

November 04, 2009 7:56 pm  

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