One Road Trip When I Didn’t Unwind

There was one infamous occasion when our desire to see a lot of places (and consequently not doing them justice) in one day, proved winding rather than unwinding.

The day started well. We had camped in Millau, France not far from the Millau Viaduct over the Tarn River valley that we wanted to see. We rose early, hopped onto the E11

Millau Viaduct

Millau Viaduct

La Meridienne motorway and traveled south towards the bridge. Before we got onto the bridge itself there was a viewing platform from which we could take some photos. The bridge is both beautiful and spectacular. I had always wanted to see it “in the flesh” after having watched a documentary on its construction. It was well worth the trip.



From here we wanted to travel to the lavender region in Provence.  Our first stop was Arles.  We flew past signposts to many other famous places such as Avignon which we would have loved to visit. But a coffee in a van Goghesque cafe seemed the way to go. We visited the Roman  amphitheatre and then headed to Sault in the middle of the lavender district. By the time we got here it was well into the afternoon. We were starving but at least there were quiches in a local shop. How French! Except we weren’t in Lorraine.

But there was still one long leg to go on today’s’ journey.  We needed to get our daughter to a train station in Geneva via Grenoble – a mere final sprint of 324 Kms. The route was beautiful but becoming increasingly mountainous. With the mountains came dark ominous clouds.  At one very high point we were encased in cloud when it got worse. A blizzard started unexpectedly. We saw a number of accidents occur around us with cars sliding on the suddenly icy roads. We could see only a few metres ahead but there was nowhere to pull off the road and stop.  Stopping wasn’t an option because there was traffic, somewhere, behind me. My daughter said comfortingly that Grenoble, if she remembered right, was in a valley, and as we were going

The lavender fields near Sault

The lavender fields near Sault

down in altitude we might get out of the clouds. After, what seemed like an interminably long time,  thankfully she was right.  By this stage my whole body was taut with the tension of the drive. However we needed to press on.

Geneva was still a couple of hours away. When we got to the outskirts of Geneva, being a tightwad, I didn’t want to use the motorway because of the very expensive vignette (tax/toll) so we took the backroads.  We dropped off our daughter at the station and started looking for our camping place – which we couldn’t find.  We had remembered a hotel in a large shopping centre on the French side of the border – so drove back in that direction. By this stage I was exhausted.  When we got to the hotel they said a room was 150 Euros per night but there was a minimum stay of three nights. 450 Euros = $A650.

The incoming clouds

The incoming clouds

So we went to the Scottish restaurant, ate their food, used their ablution facilities and slept, once again, in the car, in the carpark at the front of the hotel. Exhausted! Tomorrow would be another day.

Categories: Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “One Road Trip When I Didn’t Unwind

  1. Kees

    Well, that was much too ambitious, wasn’t it! We spent a whole day on the Millau Bridge, crossing it from both ends, and passing underneath from both ends of the valley, and staying the night in the old chateau. So glad we did. Mind you, having ‘done’ Friedrichshaven in Germany, via Switzerland to Lake Annercy, then the following day to Mannosque in Provence your trip sounds eerily familiar.
    It would have been delightful if we had taken one more day to cover this route. Next time.

    • That the good thing – planning for the next time – even if it never happens! The anticipation is half the fun.

  2. I’ve made a few of these kind of trips too. Only thing to say about them is that they are sometimes more memorable than the “good” times.

  3. I’ve taken a few such trips myself. The only thing to say about them is that they often end up being more memorable than the “good” times.

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