8th April 2017. Saint-Florentin, France.

It was SO peaceful here last night so I was rather surprised to open the blind on the door and see that a small market had popped up since we went to bed!  How did they do that so quietly.

We had decided to do a long journey today so while I was making coffee Darren popped over to the boulangerie (400 metres from us) for some bread.  We don’t have bread very often but it was essential to get some from the baker.  Darren bought a loaf called pain antique which was very nice especially with marmalade on it.  What a treat.

We were a little worried about whether we’d be able to get out before the market finished as more cars turned up but people seemed to come and go very quickly and we got out without any problem at all.

We drove through lots of very beautiful countryside for about 2 and a half hours but started to feel a twinge of worry when about 5 miles out of the town, La Charité-sur-Loire, where we had intended stopping for lunch, we started to see signs saying there was a 3 metre height restriction and our van is 3.2 metres high.  Whoopie doo!

We assumed there would be a diversion sign when we got nearer but there wasn’t.  In fact, we got as far as the bridge that we needed to cross in order to get to the island in the middle of the river where the aire was situated.  We then decided that we weren’t going to chance it and we stopped in a little car park beside the road instead where we had lunch while Darren mapped another route by-passing the town this time.  You wouldn’t believe that would be difficult, but it was.

He eventually found a way around the town which involved crossing the canal twice and then we were back on our original route.  Phew!  It’s a shame because the town looked very interesting.

We stopped at a petrol station on the other side of the town where Darren noticed that the roads into the town from that end had 3.5 tonne limits so we were VERY glad we didn’t try to go in there.  No doubt that would have involved ANOTHER police escort out and one of those in a lifetime was more than enough for all concerned!

We noticed from the signs we’ve been passing that we’re in the Loire, the countryside and the little towns are so beautiful.  We’re going to have to come back on another occasion and visit the areas that we’ve hurtled through this time so that we can explore them at a more sedate pace.

I’m never very good at remembering the name of places I’ve found for us to stay once Darren’s programmed them in the SAT NAV, equally I rarely remember why I chose it so it’s always a surprise when we arrive at our overnight stops.

This stop was a wonderful surprise,  it had taken us five hours to get here but it was well and truly worth it.  We parked just outside the small town of Saint-Florentin opposite a small marina, beside the canal.  It was a beautiful position.  There were already two motorhomes parked there but the parking area was HUGE so we all had a lot of space around us.

We parked up, got the chairs out and sat with our cups of coffee under a tree covered in blossom and smothered with busy bees who were frantically buzzing in and out of the flowers.  Every so often a fish would jump out of the water and plop back in.  We even saw an Olympic standard fish going for gold with his jump.  He flung himself out of the water on three consecutive times which made him look like a skimming stone, I hope the other fish were as impressed as we were.

We soaked up the view for a while and then had a little wander along the tow path to look at the lock.  It was very interesting standing on the bridge looking back at the lock and the marina and we decided that we needed to stay at this stop for two nights so that we could cycle along the towpath and have a look around the town before we left.

By the lock, situated on either side of the canal, were two old buildings.  They would make wonderful houses but they looked like they were empty.  A little further along the lane we could see a very unusual house, it was very tall and thin and the front was quite ornate.

When we got back to our van two other vans had parked further along the canal nearer the lock.

In the evening we watched the sun setting behind the tower and large church which dominated the skyline up on the hill in the old town and in the fading light a group of French motorhomers played Pétanque.

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