Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Heading North

In our last blog we were enjoying our long stay in St. Aygulf, we really loved the beach there and went almost everyday to soak up the sun and swim in the sea- we even saw some fish- which was a nice surprise to just sand, sand, sand!
Daniel Craig, eat your heart out
In the sea

We left here on the Monday and started heading North and ended up in Chateroux Les Alps , which took about three hours as it was all windy and mountain roads and through the French Army training ground- we didnt see any soldiers or tanks though so either they are having a holiday OR are doing their job very well...
The campsite we arrived at only had one more day left of low season- ACSI price at a lovely 14 euros for the night. And the place was beautiful as it was surrounded by mountains and streams, as well as offering free wifi and practically a toilet block per campervan! The toilet facilities were very modern and cleaned everyday and the showers were the best that we have had since being away as they were power showers that stay on allll the time! HEAVEN! However, we did only stay here for one night due to cost, deadlines and there didn't seem to be that much to do but it was a nice stopover.
In the morning we left early and started to make our two hour journey to a campsite near Grenoble... the first hour drive was very tight, very narrow and very steep mountain roads so we were very happy once we cleared that part of the journey. with this in mind, I hope you can imagine our dismay and dread when we were sat at some traffic lights and Steven announces that he has left our priceless ACSI discount card with the owners at the previous campsite!! (This happened because the campsites ask for the discount card as a deposit until the morning we leave)
So, we did a quick U-turn and made our way back through the very tight, very narrow and very steep mountain roads in Bert the Merc, to the campsite to get our ACSI discount card back. And then back we went for the third time of the day, up the very tight, very narrow and very steep mountain roads back to the traffic lights but instead of turning back, we actually got to see something new and different once we had been in Bert the Merc for over three hours, with just over an hour left to go until we reached the next campsite. Luckily, the views had been brilliant and we got loads of photos which is one of the many perks of not going on the toll roads!
When we eventually arrived at the campsite near Grenoble we were exhausted and were looking forward to spending a few nights on the campsite which had a swimming pool and a pebble beach into a stream, so we hooked up and went for an explore! Quite quickly we new that this was not the one for us as the toilet facilities looked like they hadn't been cleaned in...well... a disturbingly long time. We are talking clouds of flies in the toilet cubicle, and the pebble beach was pretty but was more of a rock beach so you couldn't lie down or even go in without breaking your foot, so we chilled for the evening and then left the following morning. We must add that a positive to staying here, albeit briefly, was that when we went to pay we were charged 14 euros without tourist tax, whereas we thought it was going to be at least 16 euros. Every penny counts!
We knew that there was a five star campsite about an hour and a half away that was still accepting ACSI discount so we headed there, praying for better luck. And my, oh my, we got it!

Lake Annecy
This five star campsite is located in Doussard, which is just off from Lake Annecy, and has a pool and bar and restaurant- and has been the friendliest campsite we have been to so far. Absolutely loved it! We only wished we had come here sooner as only stayed three nights- we have even said that we would go back again for a holiday in the future. The facilities were lovely and we got our baguettes from the little cafe in the morning, and we even treated ourselves to the home-made pizzas from the restaurant on the second night! we were also given a map of the cycle routes that went around the lake and to surrounding areas. Out first bike ride was on our first day and lasted a couple of hours as we got to half way around the lake and then had an ice cream at one of the cafes on the lakeside. The cycle route was brilliant, and there were pro cyclists everywhere but also families so was very welcoming and easy going as long as you stayed aware. When we came back from our bike ride we were chatting to one of our neighbours who mentioned a waterfall that can be cycled to- they had driven there but we fancied the cycle.
Cascade D' Angon
 This route was a different one to the day before which was ideal but we did still get to see the lake, it was about 6km to the bottom of our ascent to the Cascade D'Angon. The climb to the waterfall- Cascade D'Angon took about an hour to walk, and was totally worth it! Beautiful view and something that we probably would never have heard of or seen if we hadn't spoken to the couple next to us. After an explore, had some leftover pizza for lunch and took some piccies we headed back to Bert the Merc and collapsed in a heap by the pool :)
              Cascade D' Angon

Riding through a tunnel
Cascade D' Angon
Trek to Cascade D' Angon

Our three nights quickly whizzed by, we left Doussard on Saturday morning and headed to Chalet Sophie, which is in Morzine, in the French Alps, to meet up with Stevens family! This drive was full of more mountain roads and cool views as we saw snow on the tops of the mountains more and more frequently, and the roads were packed with motorbikes, especially Harley Davidsons (we later found our that there was a convention in Morzine, that a few years ago had seen Status Quo play for free!). Meeting up with Stevens Mum and her partner-Dave, Uncle Tony and Aunt Ginny and Nanny Jan was great! The chalet is amazing with a hot tub! We got some rather quizzical looks when we declined the two beds in the chalet for our bed in Bert the Merc- but he is our home and we wouldn't dream of sleeping anywhere else when our own bed is so close!
After doing a quick food shop and unpacking, we all sat outside in the sun and had a very good catch up- it is surprising how nice and refreshing it is to have other people to talk to instead of just the two of us! We also got given some goodies from home which included a kindle for Steven, Modern Family, The big bang theory and Breaking bad box sets, lots of spearmint polos, a book for me :) some English biccies and other home comforts :)
We chilled for the rest of the day, nattering and sunbathing and reading in the hot tub- absolute heaven! It has been a holiday from out holiday! Oven cooked meals and loads of variety, constant wifi and no cooking for me! Me and Steven are going to cook for everyone tonight as a thank you as it has been brilliant, and its not over yet as they don't leave until Saturday and its Wednesday today!

On Monday we had a day trip to Les Gets and got the gondola up Mount Chery- it was weird to see that the ski and snowboard holders had been taken off and been replaced with mountain bike holders. But that is what the mountains are used for in the summer and it was packed with mountain bikers in all their gear! Once we got off of the gondola me, Steve, Tony and Ginny went on the chair lift a little further up to have a better view! We even saw Mont Blanc and I saw it first!! YAY! The blind one wins again- thanks for the contact lenses Mum :)
On the gondola with Nanny Jan and Jo

On the chair lift

Monument of mountains
On top of Mont Chery

Chair lift!

Up the top was brilliant and there was a monument at the top which showed what mountains you could see as you walked around the monument- was very cool and handy! We then got the chair lift back down, which was another first, and had some lunch while looking at Mont Blanc. We then went back down the gondola and explored Les Gets which was a really nice town and had a nice ice cream!

Back at Chalet Sophie we all started to plan our 'Three countries in One Day' trip for the following day.
Which started by having breakfast in France and then travel through the Mont Blanc tunnel into Italy- which as exciting as it sounds, is just a 11.6km tunnel and cost 40 euros...
In Italy we were faced with tunnel after tunnel after tunnel until we finally got to see the Italian Alps! We drove to Aosta for our Italian lunch and ate in true Italian style with pizzas! We walked around Aosta centre which looked very Italian and pretty, and we found some very cheap but delicious ice creams down a back alley- six ice creams for 9 euros!
Back in the cars we followed Nanny Jans satnav which was programmed to take us into Switzerland, over St Bernards Pass. On route to our destination the satnav thought it would be fun to take us through a housing estate and then up a narrow road... well I say road, what I mean is not a road for cars but maybe for a bike.. or a person.. we did manage to squeeeeze through, rubbing the wheels on the wall, but thankfully we were not in Bert but in normal cars!
Thank God we weren't in Bert!
After this we stayed on normal roads and started driving on St Bernards Pass which was the best road we have driven on- ever! We even saw snow and stopped on the side of the road to play in the snow on the side of the road! In flip flops and shorts! When we got back in the car and continued up the mountains until we saw snow next to a mountain stream and had to stop again :) We walked in the stream and were shocked to find that the stream was colder to a point of painful than playing in the snow! We even had a refreshing slurp which was tasty and relatively clean, if not a bit gritty!

Eventually we did get back on the road again and drove over the St Bernards Pass and carried on through Switzerland to our dinner time stopover- Le Bouveret. Which was on Lake Leman and very picturesque and very Swiss. We had our dinner at a lovely restaurant which overlooked the lake where Steven, Jo, Dave and Nanny Jan had Mussles, Tony had lasagne, Ginny had carbonara and I had pasta and prawns in an orange sauce! Yum yum yum. We then headed back into France which took about an hour and a half, but our three meals in three different country challenge was a success!
Our stops so far
Today we are having a chill and can hear the thunder on the mountains while we blog and look through all our photos! Tomorrow our plan is to go to Geneva as we want to visit the CERN facility and go get wet under the Jet D'Eau!

Much love and happy camping!

French Army Base

France's 'hole in the wall'

Just some of our routes!
Why wouldnt our satnav
take us down here?

Mont Blanc

Steven in Italy 

Playing in the snow in Italy

Playing in the snow in Italy

Playing in the snow in Italy

Playing in the snow in Italy

Playing in the snow in Italy

Mountain stream in Italy

Colder than we thought!


Ginny dipping her toe in

Slurp slurp- mountain water

Tony in Italy

Another hairpin

Italy :)

Flipflops in the snow

2238  metres

wall of snow in July!

St. Bernards Pass

Mussles in Switzerland

Bert's ski shop :)

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