Summer holiday 2002
Charente, France






Friday, 10th August
Day 1


Our departure is planned quite early in the night (03:30), because during this time of the day the traffic will be far less dense then by day. When we set out on our drive down south, the weather is in our advantage. It is fortunately not raining tonight. We drive to Rotterdam and Etten-Leur and from there into the direction of Vlissingen where we take the exit, and follow directions to Antwerp. We take the Liefkens tunnel (Toll: Euro 3,50) into Belgium and then head for Kortrijk.

Here we have a short brake to take in fuel and a cup of coffee. After about half an hour we set out again into the direction of Lille. Shortly after we have passed Lille we reach the entrance of the turn-pike road. From here we go to Paris, Tours and then Mansle. Having reached Mansle we leave the turn-pike road and take the more scenic route into the direction of Montbron. In total we pay for about Euro 40,00 toll in France.

Having left the freeway we now drive over one-lane roads, which curl through the landscape, following the contours of the hills and valleys, going up and down. At first it is kind of scary driving here, in particular when going upwards through the many hairpin bends. I get used to this new situation quite quickly though.

The motorists in France I have to say, or at least in Charente, are relaxed and polite drivers (with an exception to the rule), who clearly signal when they plan to overtake you. Which is more then I can say for my fellow countrymen. Let's leave it at that.

The road that we follow cuts through forests, circles around meadows and sloping hills covered with grapevines. Occasionally we have an impressive view for many miles around. Eventually we reach the city of Montbron. From here it is only about 10 minutes to the resort le-Chat.

Having arrived at le-Chat, we go to the information desk were we check in. We receive an information brochure about the park and pay the required guaranty (will be refunded two weeks after leaving) and cleaning charges for afterwards.

We then find our way to the small cottage, were we meet some friends of us who have been here the previous two weeks. They point out to us where we can go for shopping, snacks, restaurants etc.. In the evening we all go for diner to a restaurant close by called CHADORLI. The proprietor is Dutch and serves an excellent sate. By the way, if you wonder about the name (we did), it is a contraction of the first three letters of the three provinces that meet here - Charente, Dordogne and Limousin.










Saterday, 11th August
Day 2



Early this morning we wave our friends goodbye, because today they leave for home. The weather is clouded but the temperature is quite agreeable. Every now and then the sun even shows itself. Since we did not bring enough groceries with us to last the entire vacation, we go for some shopping. The best place to go to around here, we were told, is the large "Intermarche" supermarket in Montbron.

In front of the supermarket and alongside it, are large parking grounds. Next to the large parking alongside the building is an "Intermarche" tank station. The price of fuel here is generally a little lower then elsewhere. Something to keep in mind! This supermarket does not only sell the regular groceries, but also clothing, books, periodicals, household stuff, stationary and a lot more. They have fresh rolls and French bread every day.

I pass by a large counter with fresh sea-food, then a large counter with French cheese follows and one with al sorts of meat. Having done the groceries we headed back to the car. I start the engine (read: tried) but do not get any further then a weak nagging sound. The Wednesday before we left I had the car checked because of the same problem. At the time I thought that the battery was the source of the problem. It proved to be not the battery, that part was in tip-top condition. As far as my knowledge goes about cars, it then just had to be the starter engine.

During our travel south we stopped here and there, and each time I started the car again, I could here the strength of the starter engine reduce more and more. It worried me a great deal, but I kept it to myself (seemed better at the time). I am quiet relieved that it has finally broken down here and now. Here, on the place of destination with automobile workshops around and not halfway our destination somewhere in the middle of France.

I had noticed a customer service desk in the supermarket where we just came from and I go back there to ask if there is a garage in the neighbourhood. The young man behind the counter is quite helpful and picks up the phone. Within 10 minutes someone comes to assist. He takes a look at the car and concludes the same as I have done before him. The starter engine has broken down. We arrange to have the car brought in on a Monday, since parts are not available right now. We then get the car started by pushing it, and drive back to le Chat to rest a little. At least, I will! I am still quite tired from all that travelling during the previous day.











and welcome!






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A view across the lake at dusk.

A view across the lake at dusk.



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A view through the trees.

A view through the trees.



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A view from the soccer field.

A view from the soccer field.



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Montbron, parking in front of the Intermarche.

Montbron, parking in front
of the Intermarche.



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The back of the cottage we rented.

The back of the cottage we rented.



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The front of the cottage.

The front of the cottage.