It was with a quiet sense of tired sadness that we finally said goodbye to Italy and headed through the Mont Blanc tunnel on our journey home. Although we still had a full three days of travel in front of us, we all felt that the trip was pretty much over – we began to talk about home and plans for the rest of the year, rather then our plans for tomorrow – or simply sitting back and not really thinking much of anything as our brains began to absorb the assault on the senses it had experienced over the last three weeks. Venice seemed so long ago, the hot empty sunshine of Ugento a distant land.
But as we came into France the alps once again claimed our attention – who can drive the Route Blanche (RN205) without gazing open-mouthed at the mountains scratching the sky as high as your head can tip back and see? Our first stop in France was the same place we stopped on the way out – Camping Le Giffre in Samoëns. We weren’t overly excited, having found it a bit nondescript on the outward bound drive when we had arrived at the end of a long day’s driving.
We found the site a lot quieter than when we passed the other way, and arriving earlier in the day there was time to set up and stretch our legs with a wlecome walk by the lake. And see exactly what we missed when we were here before.
Just look at this place…
Watching the early evening sun bathe the high peaks around us in scarlet light was an accidentally magnificent moment. I only stepped out of Margot to go to the tap, and simply stopped and gazed as they glowed fire-red through embers-orange and then slowly faded to a dusky cold grey. The setting sun was hidden behind the trees and peaks behind us, but it didn’t matter – the mountains were giving us a show all their own.
And the view from Margot’s kitchen window the following morning wasn’t a bad way to wait for the kettle to boil, either…
You can tell it’s a busy site in summer, with a massive range of activities and exploring adventures (we’re itching to go back and try some of them). I imagine it’s also busy during ski season, as it’s such a great base with brilliant facilities. But in the autumn, between those two? It was perfect for us – friendly, quiet, peaceful, and utterly beautiful.
(the 80’s mix playing through the night in the showers and toilets was an odd experience, mind. Who knew I remembered all the words to Blondie AND Level 42?)
Sadly it was a just a stopover though – we headed inexorably onwards, stopping next at Camping du Bois Guillaume in Burgundy; an odd little site which is open all year round, tucked away down empty back lane after empty back lane. We saw nothing but tiny hamlets for miles, and when we turned into the gate and switched Margot off she seemed to sigh heavily into the enveloping silence of the forest. And so did we.
Once again we managed to camp in a forest – a thick deciduous forest full of familiar-feeling beech and oak trees. We quickly set up (after almost a month of constant touring we were a slick speedy dream team of masterful efficiency. Not for us overflowing toilets and baffling gas connections. Oh no.), the children headed off to enjoy the swings, play tennis and explore the woods, the husband grabbed his camera as he saw the golden sunlight starting to throw its last slanting rays through the trees, and me?
I sat down with a cup of coffee… and stopped.
And breathed in the damp soft air of the forest, felt the warmth on my face from the afternoon sun…
Dinner was an end-of-cupboard mystery meal of odds which everyone seemed to enjoy, and we all realised as we settled in to bed that this was it. Our very last night in Margot. This time tomorrow we’d be back in our own beds, in our own rooms. Which would be hugely warm and comfortable and familiar… and just a little bit dull.
I’ll admit I wouldn’t miss having to make up my bed from bench seats every night, and pack it away again before we could have breakfast every morning. I wouldn’t miss the lack of privacy, the lack of constant running hot water, or finding it easier to put my shoes on to go to the loo than to use the one inside and then have to empty it the next day. I wouldn’t miss having to dole out the whole families clothes every morning any more than I would miss cooking in a kitchen built for one which makes any assistance more of a hindrance than a help.
But as I lay there in bed that last night in a French forest, somehow I just knew I was going to miss the gentle sway of Margot in the breeze and the whispering rattle of leaves on the roof overhead. I would definitely miss the nightly family chorus of sleepy goodnights, the soft snuffling breath of my nearest and dearest so close to me in the darkness, and the glorious fun-filled days of nothing but talking and laughing and being and doing with my family. Oh my yes – I would miss those Very Much Indeed.
Margot is an Approach Autograph 765, and was provided by Bailey of Bristol for the trip.
We were staying at Camping Le Giffre in Samoens (near Mont Blanc) and then Camping le Bois Guillaume in Burgundy; all campsites on our road trip were arranged by the magnificent AlanRogers.com