4th April 2017. Verdelais, France.

Today we are leaving Spain.  Considering we had preconceived ideas before we came here and weren’t sure we’d enjoy it we have just realised that we’ve been touring round Spain for FIVE months and we’ve barely scratched the surface.

We’ve had so many wonderful experiences since we’ve been here, we’ve seen lots of beautiful art in the most unexpected places and enjoyed looking at the unique, and often quirky, architecture.  We’ve met lots of friendly and helpful people during our trip through Spain now we’re heading into France.

As usual we have a long journey and once again we’ve left late, what short memories we’ve got, we swore 2 days ago that we’d never do this again!!!

We’re heading for an area near Bordeaux.  We hastily cobbled together a plan this morning by Googling  ‘Pretty, small towns in France’  hopefully the route I’ve made will be an interesting one, I’ve managed to include the Millau Viaduct in there too, which Darren fancied seeing.

The first part of our journey went well, we found a petrol station en route that sold gas so we were able to fill the almost empty tanks and then continue on our way.

Unfortunately we’d forgotten our past experience of travelling on toll roads and decided it would be much quicker if we travelled that way to our first stop.

We changed our minds pretty quickly after we paid a toll in Spain then shortly afterwards paid another toll charge in France which became 1 Euro dearer when a coin bounced out of the collection bucket, there was a group of police standing by the exit from the booth and they didn’t make it easy to drive between them.   In a very short space of time (or so it seemed) we came to yet another toll booth that was when we decided to make another plan.  We pulled into a service station re-programmed the SAT NAV to avoid toll roads!   We took the opportunity to have lunch and Darren went and bought a couple of baguettes and 2 coffees, definitely not as cheap as Spain, they cost 13.95 Euros, it would have been half the price in Spain.

Well, well, well after 10 minutes travelling on the toll road we took the junction off and came to ANOTHER toll booth where we had to pay to LEAVE the road!  We hadn’t got very far considering it cost us 16.60 Euros for the privilege.  I’m starting to appreciate our motorways a lot more!

The journey once we were off the motorway was so much prettier and more enjoyable.  Unsurprisingly as we headed up towards the Bordeaux area we saw more and more vineyards. in some places the vines were all cut down to a couple of stems, there were lengths of wire strung between posts, for the vines to grow across as they got bigger.

As it was getting late we decided to stop a bit sooner than Rions, we took a short detour to a chateau only it was closed so we carried on to Langdon to look at the Intermache car park but that was small and noisy so we drove to a little village called Verdelais where Park4Night said there was a car park to stay in.

It was a lovely surprise when we arrived at the village we had no idea it would be as pretty as it was, we found the car park easily and found a place to stop then went out to stretch our legs.

We walked through to the town square where there was a church with an enormous spire with a golden statue of Christ on the top.  It was worth walking around jt just to see that but Verdelais had more surprises up its sleeve!

There was a map in the square which showed that there was a view point up the hill and a windmill at the top (I had no idea that moulin was the French word for windmill up until that moment).   There was a very pretty house along the pathway up the hill, the owners had placed some planters along the front of their house which were filled with lots of brightly coloured tulip.  A little further up the hill there was a gate into the grave yard and a sign which directed us to the grave of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec!  The grave yard was full of very fancy graves but it was easy to spot his it was obviously well looked after and the stone was as white as the day it was made.

Once we’d visited his grave we continued our climb up the hill, passing along the side of a little chapel along the way and as we turned the corner on the brow of the hill there was the windmill.  That also looked in very good condition, there were fields of vines around it and down into the valley where in the distance we could see the viaduct we’d passed on the way in.

While we were wandering around by the windmill Darren noticed a fancy looking building poking above the hedge and then I noticed what looked like a statue of 3 figures being crucified.  We walked round to have a look and there on a grassy hill was a life size statue of Christ being crucified between the two thieves, on either side of the steps up to the statue were two Angels.  It was a beautiful piece of art and so unexpected.

Unfortunately it seems we came in the back entrance, when we got back down to the little chapel we came to some big iron gates which we discovered was the entrance to the garden, from there all the way up the hill there were large shrines placed at intervals on either side of the path with intricate stone carvings showing the story of Christ before and during the time he carried his cross to his crucifixion.  It had taken us a while to realise that they ran in sequence because we were looking at them from the end first, nevertheless they were amazing to see.

We had hoped to find a cafe or restaurant open for a drink and food but everywhere was closed so we went back to the van, had dinner. It had been a long day.

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