L’Ile des Papes – Popes Island!!!

We left Camping Botanic on the morning of the 28th May 2018, it was funny how we had arrived and pitched up to that campsite in the pouring rain, followed by 2 beautiful weeks of sunshine and then left again during the pouring rain!!! We’d stayed at Botanic for longer than we’d intended due to needing a new gas regulator which was posted to us by gaslow but due to postal delays with it being French bank holiday etc it had taken longer to arrive than planned so we just decided to stay until the following Monday…

It was my birthday during our stay there and we’d cycled down to the supermarket for fresh food supplies during our second weeks stay, Pete had said that there may be something there I might want to get as a birthday gift… but somehow Pete arrived home with a new hair shaving kit and a new pair of open toe sandals for himself, but to be fair there wasn’t really anything of interest to me there… so I ended up with just a chocolate eclair cream bun to celebrate my birthday with… although Pete did then cook me my favourite meal… steak with peppercorn sauce for a birthday dinner!!!

After driving for two and a half hours to cover just 100km we arrived at 2pm on the 28th May to a site called Camping L’Ile des Papes (Popes Island) again we arrived in the pouring rain… the French lunch times vary from region to region but they generally lunch for 2-3 hours during the heat of the midday sun, from around 12 noon sometimes till as late as 4pm, so we happily and patiently sat outside and waited in the arrivals parking lot and made ourselves coffee had a spot of lunch and refreshed ourselves from our journey while waiting for the staff to open camp reception and to book us in and allow us to pitch up… we were grateful to them that they allowed us in early to find a pitch for ourselves at 2.30pm and told us to come back around 3.30pm to book ourselves in and sort out paperwork with reception…

The rain had started to ease by late afternoon and the grey skies started to clear… sunshine had prevailed once again, and our spirits started to lift… it’s amazing how everything always looks so much better in the sunshine!!! It was time to enjoy the little things in life… taking the time to enjoy the pretty flowers that were just starting to appear from their buds and spot the wildlife down at the riverside that were around dutifully going about their daily lives…

 

The camp L’Ile des Papes is situated and nestled on a small Island in the middle of the River Rhone with lots of great walks along the riverside and just 5 miles outside of Avignon, the day after we arrived we thought we would take a look at walking to Avignon, but the heat was already getting to poor Toffi not long into the walk, we actually hadn’t even got outside the campsite and she was already showing signs of it being far too hot for her to be out during the midday sun, there was no way we were going to force a long 10 mile hike on her in temperatures of 29°+ so we walked her back to the Motorhome opened all the skylights and a few windows to allow the breeze in, supplied her with plenty of cold water and her favourite food then placed her in front of the endless Breeze fan to keep her comfortable and cool with her favourite music playing in the background for entertainment… nothing like a bit of pampering for the pooches!!!

We then got on our bikes and began our own trek to Avignon leaving Toffi in the coolness and comfort of the motorhome… Being so close to the famous city and world heritage site and not getting to see some of it for at least an hour would have been devastating… It took us 25 minutes at a leisurely pace to cycle to the old part of town… We found a bike park up which luckily had a couple of spots free secured our bikes and headed off to explore the streets of Avignon… we wandered down a few of the old streets, we were surrounded by wonderful old buildings with lovely shuttered windows…

 

We then headed towards the world heritage site of “Palais des Papes” (The Pope’s Palace to you and I) this being the Popes old residence which was opened in 1364 and where he had probably lived very happily in since the early 1300’s, that is until… due to unforeseen circumstances… he decided he wanted to live back in Rome again in 1377… but what a magnificent building… the church’s hierarchy sure do know how to live in sheer luxury!!! Apparently the building cost most of the papacy’s income!!!

 

Walking the streets of Avignon I’d spotted a gorgeous dress in a shop window and Pete offered to buy it as a late birthday present but when I looked at the price tag of €190 I decided I could probably do without it!!! especially at that price… I did however buy myself a pair of earrings for €5 instead… We didn’t hang around the town for long as we really didn’t like to leave Toffi on her own for too long, so we grabbed a take away lunch of a ham and chicken baguette and a soft drink each took a quick tour before we then cycled home to reunite with Toffi… with one last photo taken of the famous Pont D’Avignon in the distance as we passed over the bridge on our way home…

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We arrived home to find Toffi perfectly content back at the motorhome… which had stayed lovely and cool inside!!!  (I repeat… it was such a great buy that Endless Breeze 12v fan!!!)

On our ride into the city we found there was an aire just on the outskirts and also a couple of other campsites nearby that would have been closer for visiting the city but to be fair they did look kind of drab, dreary and a little bit bleak…

We chatted with a friendly camp warden on site on the first day we arrived and he asked what breed type of dog Toffi was and we told him she was a Staffordshire bull terrier, he asked did we know what class she would come under? and to be honest I wasn’t too sure myself what class/category in France she came under as we had been to so many places and different countries by then I had forgotten and we had already been through France once before for a month or so with no issues, but I had forgotten to brush up again… so instinctively I said oh… um… I think maybe “class 2” he then went on to say that there are restrictions for class 1 and 2 dogs usually… but because the camp is pretty empty it should be fine for “this time”!!!  Well to be honest it was the first time in our entire 9 months travel that it may have been an issue or that we had even ever been asked and so once we pitched up I thought I had better check up again on France’s laws to see if she was actually restricted and I am thankful to state that in France since a repeal in 2001 the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is no longer deemed a dangerous dog in the country and was previously class 2 but now does not come under any class… Phew… for a minute I thought we may have had an issue on continuing to travel through France with Toffi!!!  Below is a link with info and an excerpt copied from it with the words and confirmation from consulate General to prove so…

https://uk.ambafrance.org/Frequently-asked-questions,17660

Consulate General of France in London

 

-  Staffordshire bull terriers are not on the list of dangerous dogs in France. An answer to a Parliamentary question put to the Ministère de l’Intérieur (Home Office), published in the Official Journal dated 5 February 2001 (page 774), confirms the amendment to the list published in the decree of 27 April 1999, and excludes Staffordshire bull terriers from the said list.

We thought we would try the campsites restaurant here as the days excursions had left us hungry and far too tired to cook, we were not disappointed the food was great and I again got to enjoy a decent steak and peppercorn sauce (and to be honest it was the best steak we had been served while eating out in the whole 9 months of travelling!!!) In fact it was that good I insisted we went back the next evening for me to enjoy yet another steak!!!

The weather during our last day here was thundery with a lot of heavy rain which started late during the night and lasted way into late afternoon, there is a dam situated just outside the campsites gates with automated sluice gates that open when the water level gets too high… the water is so powerful and strong at the dam that it causes rip currents and whirlpools for quite some distance downstream… there are warning signs all along the riverside even inside the camp that warn of the strong current and of extremely fast fluctuations of water levels, I was a little nervous at one point with the amount of rain we were getting that the site may flood but it was fine and other than some very soggy and saturated pitches it remained safe… the rain started to ease again late afternoon and so we took the chance to get out and take Toffi for a leisurely stroll down along the riverside where we saw 3 fishermen each in tiny individual rubber dingy type boats, I have never seen boats like it before!!

Well we shall be moving on again in the morning (31st May 2018) a further 80 km northwards so we will update from where ever we settle next… We have come across a slight hitch in our plans as although we talked about getting a French Crit’air sticker for the motorhome before we started our travels we never ended up getting one, as we just figured we would avoid any cities that needed it for the year, (France has a Crit’air regulation now, not that different to London’s congestion charge, the sticker itself is fairly cheap to obtain but the fines for not having one are horrendous… when we set off last year it involved just the 3 major cities of Paris, Lyon and Grenoble but has since expanded to include other areas) but we also now have the opportunity to catch up with one of Pete’s lovely daughters Liane and her husband Steve who are currently also on a working traveling tour as a hospitality couple at various prestigious venues, Steve is a 2 AA Rosette accredited chef, (please forgive me Steve and Liane if I have failed or worded this wrongly or in anyway under credited yourselves… as I have no idea about these Michelin foodie award things… but will gladly edit/recredit if needed… all I know is I get to enjoy the wonders of eating all the fabulously tasty culinary feasts you wonderful chefs prepare, cook and slave over for us ignorant eaters!!!) we are currently just a few hundred kms away from them at present, but this means we will now be heading straight towards those cities we vowed we wouldn’t go near, let’s just hope I set the sat nav correctly on the day when we get closer… In the meantime Pete has been busy on the internet trying to get us registered and purchase us a Crit’air sticker (or at least have the the receipt for one) pronto otherwise we may face massive fines!!! It’s all part of the fun and surely it’s better late than never to get the sticker itself…

Take Care for now…

Donna x

 

Le Botanic GPS N43°32’28” E3°44’50”  Total spend for 14 nights camping €229

L’Ile des Papes GPS N43°59’36” E4°49’4″   Total spend for 3 nights camping €56.16