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Traveldiary chapter 7 [October 2002 - October 2003]
(Nudist Year: Naturist life in France and Spain)
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|Photos: Spain Publications|
Naturist winter 2002/03 in Spain: vida desnudo y natural
We reached Spain on October 23, 2002 by driving up to the automnal pyrenees moutains, almost till Andorra. In the evening, we reached the idyllic village of Peñiscola, where we stayed for 2 nights. We knew this village already from our visit two years ago and Brigitte still knew exactly, where we had eaten good fillets here.
Although Peniscola's coast is lined by enormous hotel complexes, the old part of town, which nestles neatly on a peninsula, hasn't lost anything of it's charm.
We rented a somewhat special caravan on a nearby campground. It was hughe and had a bathroom, as well as a bedroom annex added in bricks. The kitchen had a marble-cover and the sofa in the 18 square meters living-room was u-shaped all around the room.
Already, it was a few noticeable degrees warmer here and we could have our breakfast outside again. After spending so much time on Naturist-sites only, we sometimes forgot, that we should always wear something. Upon return from the bakery on the first morning, Heinz discovered Brigitte preparing breakky in her birthday-suit with all windows and doors open. On the 2nd morning, sleepy Heinz went outside to check the weather, suddenly running back in, but not because it was raining… So, we realized, we couldn’t cope with textile sites anymore!
After continuing our travel for a day on the motorway, we reached the camping of El Portus near Cartagena, where we didn’t need to worry about wearing clothes anymore.
At first, we had intended to pitch up our tent here, but after finding a good offer for an on-site mobile-home, when checking the internet, we changed our plans in favour of luxury. The funny thing was, that this deal was only available for bookings via computer, which we were told when phoning to make a reservation. Well, that meant, we had to drive back to the cybercafe ! What a modern country Spain is.
El Portus lies in a bay clinging up pretty high and very barren mountains. A dry scenery of red-brown rocks is surrounding it and of this point of view, we started to see and appreciate the beauty of this area. The reason why almost nothing is growing, must certainly be, because it gets very hot and dry here. Even now, end of October, it was still pleasantly warm. Often, we could sit outside till midnight. We spent a lot of time swimming in the sea or walking in the mountains, discovering many rock formations of wondrous shapes. Scratching our legs on prickly bushes - the only thing that grows willingly in this rubble - could not be avoided.
As in a small village, the cottages of the permanently staying campers lined the bottom of the hill. Taking a closer look, we found that many of these houses actually consisted of 2-3 mobile-homes or caravans, that were clung together like puzzles, connected with a sun-room and plastic-walls under one roof, so they appeared to be one big house.
From the highest lane, we had a beautiful view of the clearwater-bay and the surrounding area.
The week went by almost too quickly, as we liked it very much there. On the other hand, time was just right, as there were not so many sunshine hours now. Just before we left, it was the end of daylight-saving time and because of the narrow valley, the sun only came in quite late in the morning and went behind the mountains pretty early in the afternoon.
We made friends with Erika and Jochen, who toured Spain for 5 weeks in their new camper-van. Once, they asked us, how much we paid for our mobile-home, a question they soon regretted to have asked ... Thanks to our special offer, we paid 28 Euros, which was only 2 less than they paid for only a site with electricity. Next thing, they came to have a look at our lodging.
So this was jet another place where the calculation for the campers didn't pay out financially, it must be purely philosophy of life. Already in Port Leucate, we've seen many camper-vans parked on the beach or along the street. After they've invested between Euros 50'000 - 500'000 in their vehicle, the money now wouldn't allow them staying on a campground.
We personally, don't see, that travelling like that, would be more comfortable or more reasonable and we prefer to choose between Youth Hostels and luxury Holidayflats, as we prefer to have a proper kitchen and bathroom. We figure out, that even if somebody was to go every summer in high season, for one month into the most luxurious Bungalow on any campground, a camper-van for 70'000 Euro wouldn't pay out in 70 years !!!
Not even considering the higher costs arising for petrol, road-toll, bridge- or ferry passage, nor additional insurance, interest of the invested funds or maintenance and write-off.
Further, we noticed, that many owners of such mobiles, in fact don't seem to feel quite so mobile once they‘ve installed themselves. Therefore, the richest of them arrived with trailers, on which they brought along 1-2 motorbikes, maybe a Smart-car or to look like somebody poor: an old rattly small car. Like that, they have better possibilities to visit narrow city-centres, without running the risk of wedging in the entrace to the parkhouse or leaving it to attentive thieves.
Surely, for many, it is a profund philosophy of live, expressed in the way how they have changed and adapted the vehicles or it's accessories with a lot of devotion. The funniest, we've come across, were a bird-cage of 3 metres hight for the Ara parrot, brought along or the giant a mobile-home that housed the people in the front part of the vehicle and a horse in the rear.
On November 1st, we took our car back on the road again and directed it into the famous Sierra Nevada. However, we didn't find this mountain-range quite so spectacular and were more amazed by the small and winding road that followed after passing Granada and Ronda. Here it became quite steep and the drive took longer. On the other hand, we were rewarded with beautiful views of the white washed Andalusian villages in the last red sunlight of the day. The prettiest of them were:
Soon, the sea came in sight, with the remarkable landmark of the rock of Gibraltar and the first mountainrange of Maroc, all in blue and pink sunset colours.
At 7 o'clock, we arrived at Costa Natura, where we wanted to stay for the 4th winter. As in the last two years, we were given Appartment 105. Brigitte was first a bit disappointed. This flat has got a sunny and quite good location, on the other hand, the furniture is rather old and the kitchen was not that well equipped. We had hoped to get a newly renovated appartment with ALL and everything...
After we had greeted all the people we knew in this holiday village, it was almost as if our wish had come true and we were given even 2 small baking ovens, of people that didn't need the one that was in their flat, because they had carried along their own. And after having had a look into various other appartments, some of which even have been renovated and still didn't appeal to us any more than "our own" we now realized that we wouldn't want to change.
As we were installing ourselves for 5 months, we thought it was worthwhile to buy also a new tablecloth and Brigitte sewed it to size with a sewing machine we could also borrow from some nice people living in the resort. After we had changed various things according to our taste, for example, we went out to buy a new lightshade to replace the old dark one. Further, we got approval from the reception to exchange the old decaid earthenware against a brandnew set of crockery - according to our taste of course, but on the expense of the owner...
After all that, we felt absolutely happy here and we enjoy ourselves very much.
Upon arrival, many more flowers were in blossom in Costa Natura's beautiful gardens, than we've been used to from our previous stages that always had started only in December. Even though these gardens are an oasis year round, cared for by 4 gardeners, in winter they are still less flowery.
Already after a few days, we went out to eat with others from the compound. First to a chinese, then japanese and lately to an indian restaurant.
Erika & Jochen, the couple we had met in El Portus, arrived a few days after us. They had parked their campervan and rented a nice studio, after having heared about the price that was almost the same as for camping.
One afternoon, Ali and Andy, the young English couple, who are now the Managers of Lissart Naturist Resort in France, gave us a surprise-visit. They got a holiday for their wedding anniversary and travelled to Spain for the first time. As they had followed the coastal route only, they were rather disappointed about Spain’s overdevelopped tourist industry. But we could recommend them many nice places inland, where the real Spain still can be found. When they asked beeing guided around Costa Natura, Ali & Andy examined every little thing properly, in order to compare how things are beeing managed here and to verify standards or find room for improvement at Lissart.
Beginning of December, we got the first spontaneous visitor; Dave whom we have met three years ago, on our trip through Finland. He stayed for 2 ½ weeks and enjoyed this holiday and Christmas in the sun very much after another summer in the north. He loved to sit in the jacuzzi or sauna and mixed quickly with the other guests. He was very sporty, participated in volleyball, played ping-pong or beach-ball with us. Also he joined some evening entertainments in the restaurant, which we didn't. On the other hand, he didn't feel like going out of Costa Natura for sightseeing at all, and so he has only been to Estepona and one of it’s cybercafés.
Towards the end of the year, with the exception of New Years holiday-time, not only Costa Natura, but the entire Costa del Sol turns into Europe’s largest “old people’s home”, for all those escaping winter in the north (and some apparently were still claiming heating-allowance in their home country).
Even though it’s true, that the winter down there was certainly milder than where people are used to snow and ice, it doesn’t mean, it’s always warm and nice. Granada’s ski-resorts are less than an hour away from Malaga’s beaches. Sometimes it can also rain for 2 weeks in a row and as the inland has pretty high mountains, we could regularly see snow, even while sunbathing in the nude. On clear winter days, we just looked across the strait of Gibraltar, where we could see the famous rock on one and Africa on the other side, which made us feel warmer.
It was quite interesting to meet with the other people who stayed here, not all of whom were grey yet, as there were some other drop-out’s or early retired too. As many other guests, we felt as if we were in a little village at Costa Natura. After a while, we knew the wags, the grumblers, the lamenters, the ones with loads of problems and the healt-freaks. Getting to know some people really well, made us realize, that a few of them, weren’t quite as free, as we had thought. The problem they made, or had, followed them, wherever they went. But we also got to know, whom we can ask, if we needed help with the Spanish language, with cooking, repairing, healing or shopping. We found out, who knows what and so, often things were much easier than if we had to find out everything by ourselves.
Without prior arrangement or planned schedule, we were quite often invited for a drink by someone, as we walked past their house. We met people outside, when everybody enjoyed a game in the sun and chatted with all different nationalities, be it around the pool, jacuzzi or sauna.
Getting to know some people really well, made us realize, that a few of them, weren’t quite as free, as we had thought. The problem they made, or had, followed them, wherever they went.
Generously, some people borrowed us their little baking ovens, sewing-machine, laptop or some tools. We were shown how to make organge-jam (not the bitter english type) or even garved Salmon or fish in salt-crust. In return, we baked some bread for others or solved their computer problems. We gained many friends, with whom we met again and again - with some even during the year somewhere else.
We had a some more visitiors in in March. Edith & Kari (Heinz’ sister and brother-in-law) were lucky to choose the week that had sofar been the nicest and warmest of the year. Aside from some sweet lazing in the sun, we took them round to Estepona, Casares and Ronda for sight-seeing. At night, of course, we led them to some places, that didn’t mainly delight the eye, but moreover, the palate.
After we had returned them to the airport in Malaga on March 9th, we drove on for 70 km to La Herradura, where we were welcomed by Magy & Ruedi in their new Restaurant El Gallinero, which specialises in poultry dishes. Brigitte’s former office-colleague and her new partner, have set up this establishment with original ideas, to have a new task and passtime. They spoil their guests and before you even enter the restaurant, you hear a rooster crow, where else is that so?
In and out of the “chicken-shed” there is a lot of decoration with artificial poultry. The airy lounge with seaview, looks very nice, but the most special thing, is the Gent’s room. Above the urinal, the wall is made of glass, behind which, more chicken can be seen, plus a TV. If a man starts to pee, a gentle waterfall pours down over the glass-wall, cleaning it off.
And as Magy assured, also the Ladies loo has something special. At least she tells her guests, that there would be a video-camera, transmitting all that’s going on here, to the men’s toilet…
Ruedi, who cooks with devotion, in his very well equipped new kitchen, chose lot’s of little things from his Menue, and he didn’t mind to start up most of his equipment, so he could give us a variety of different things to taste.
We spent two nights with this joyful couple and thanks to the fact, that they keep the restaurant closed on Mondays, “por descansado” as they call it nicely in Spanish. Margarita y Rudolfo, as they are already well known here, had time to show us part of their new home area, plus the little naturist beach in La Herradura, where they often spend their day, as the restaurant is open only in the evening.
This winter, generally speaking, has been spoiling us with good weather. Even though it got colder twice, than any other winter we had spent here, we still had a lot of sunshine on the Costa de sol. Beginning of November and in the Christmas-week, it’s been very warm. Between, there were some rainy days, but that’s winter in Andalusia. In February, we witnessed as a very special event, a heavy hailstorm. Up until 3 p.m. we’ve been out in the sun, but one hour later, suddenly tons of ice poured down from a now black sky. The spectacle went on for over an hour, after which the area around Costa Natura was covered in white.
Traffic broke down immediately, and within minutes, only some northern Europeans were able to navigate the roads, as they are used to drive in snow. Heinz, who was on his way to the cybercafe, quickly decided to return back, when he reached the Estepona roundabout and saw the chaos of cars and hail on the hill further ahead.
The ice was so thick, it remained on the grass during most of the night, even in 15 degrees Celsius. On the next day, the sun was out again and soon the first nudists came, placing their sunbeds next to the last iceheaps.
In the second half of March, we've seen, how two cyclones (in one week) produced waves, higher than we have ever seen them here. They caused quite severe damage and the water claimed a lot of sand from the beaches and some gardens, that were close to the waterfront. Also at Costa Natura, a part of the lawn collapsed and the waves took everything into the sea, even big rocks.
Meanwhile, we were also busy, arranging for our next travels. Initially, we thought of stopping only briefly on our way through France. But after Brigitte insisted, that we should find out about the best travel-time for our next destination, Asia, we found out, that if we want to go to Indochina, we needn’t arrive before, say, November. If that’s so, we didn’t need to hurry, and just take advantage of France’s delights and once again “vivre nu, et manger bien”. This time, we wanted to let the ‘basic-luxury’ of tenting aside, and only hire accommodation. After studying the holiday brochures, which we ordered to be sent to Costa Natura, we booked lot’s of nice deals with chalets or apartments in campgrounds or holiday resorts.
What was very nice this way, we got the opportunity to meet friends along the way, on several occasions. Our tour shall bring us first to Provence in April, then to the Ardeche area, afterwards to the Mediterranean and then to the Atlantic sea. To “cure” ourselves of the delicious food, we wanted to terminate the visit in the paradise of castles and top-restaurants, in the Dordogne-area. Most probably, after that, we thought we would finally make our way back to Switzerland in August and then, maybe two months later, even to Asia.
After 5 months at Costa Natura, that had passed by quickly, we finally put all our belongings into our Renault Twingo and went off on 30.03.03. Just before leaving, we decided to drive towards Gibraltar and then to take the inland road direction Cadiz.
We were quite astonished, that, as soon as we left the coast, all the trees were sprouting fresh green leaves. Along the sea, you find mostly trees that don't loose their leaves in winter.
After less than an hour's drive, we spotted some interesting rock-formations, and so we stopped. Continuing our way passing by Seville and Merida, we reached a narrow valley in the evening, west of Madrid. We stayed in a little hotel in the countryside, as the only guests.
So we had done an incredible 700 km (for our standard) on our first day, and who knows us well, knows, that we didn't start early in the morning... In fact, it was midday. We had progressed so quickly, because we could use quite a few stretches of freeway, which had not even been marked as construction-site, on our 1 year-old Michellin road-map. It seems, that the Spaniards can build streets faster than the French can print maps!
We shouldn't be too astonished about that. During our stay at Costa Natura, we saw with our own eyes, that 4-line Autobahn-tunnels and bridges were being built and handed over to traffic, within only 4 months.
On our next day, we had to cross over 2 pass-roads first, which reminded us quite a bit of Switzerland, because of the landscape and the fog. Soon thereafter, we were back in a purely Spanish environment. Underneath Oak- and Olivetrees, lively black pigs were (still) roaming around, certainly not knowing their destiny, which was to end up as the famous "Serrano Ham".
On our way, we briefly stopped at the fortrified walled town of Avila, The citywalls with it's 88 towers gave it a fairytale impression. On the other hand, it's inner city, we found, was rather unspectacular.
Only 70 km's away, we visited another jewel from the world heritage list: Segovia. This town, which is walled as well, was charming in any aspect. It's especially famous for it's castle Alcazar, which was copied at Disney World, and for it's impressing high and 894 Metres long Aqueduct.
In the early evening, we hit the road again. Dayligh-savingtime had just been introduced and so it remained light until 9 p.m. We finally stayed overnight in Burgos, which is situated on a dry plateau at high altitude. Visiting this town on the next morning, we noticed as the most remarkable feature, the glassed-in balconies, which decorate old and new buildings alike. As anywhere else in Spain, the people like to live close together in cities. Not in the lonelyness of a suburb. For this town, with it's 160'000 inhabitants, this meant mainly high appartment-buildings, narrow roads with loads of traffic-jams and nothing, before the sign "Burgos"!
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|Photos: France Publications|
Naturist summer 2003 in France: vivre nu et manger bien
Soon thereafter, we drove into the Spanish Basque country, and along the north-coast. The style of houses changed quickly, some looked quite a bit like the chalets in the Alps.
Passing by several quite ugly industrial towns, we finally made it back to France on April 1st, no joke!
Via Biarritz and Mont-de-Marsan, we continued to Montauban. Here, unfortunately, all the cheap hotels were booked out. But with some fortune, we found something in the middle classe range, just next to the railway-station. What pleased us more than the high room rate, was the Gourmet-Restaurant, which was linked to that place. So, on our first night in France, we had a good reception with the "goodies" we had hoped for!
On the next morning, we were wandering through this neat town with it's many bridges. We felt, the difference to Spain was quite obvious. There was an abundance of Bakeries, a long time not seen. But also shops selling fish and meat were represented more often. The market was mainly offering food at good quality, which is here much more important, than in it's neighbouring country. Of course, everything has it's price. Although to us it seemed, quality was cheaper available in France, but when it came to quantity, Spain was often the better bet.
Later, we visited Ali and Andy at Lissart near Cordes-sur-Ciel, where we had spent two weeks last year. This couple has been able to realize their ideology, by taking on the job as Managers and Care-Taker's of this naturist camp-ground. The whole afternoon, we chatted about their and our lives, before we went on, towards the "Massif Central". At Saint Jean de Breuil, where we stayed overnight, it was just 4 °C (warm?). Even worse, our dream to get a cheap room and excellent feed at a Gault Millau rewarded Hotel, didn't come true. It was still closed for the season - 10 days longer only.
With some fortune, we found a private room, but at 20:30 h, there was no way to find an open Restaurant within a radius of 10 km. We were still spoilt from Spain, where it's no problem at all, to find a Restaurant almost until midnight.
On the next day, we continued through the mountains, of the Cevennes, still facing a very cold wind. When we reached the flatlands again, spring was on it's full bloom.
After a shopping stop at Alès, we reached the Domaine de Bélézy en Provence on April 3rd. The next day, the wind eventually faded, and soon it was warm enough, to enjoy the sun "au naturel" again, the thick layers of clothing weren't necessary anymore!
On Monday, we joined the communal BBQ, wondering whether we would meet some nice people there. We got a surprise by seeing Suzanne & Gilles from Paris, whom we had met here one year ago. We had written to them by e-mail about 10 days ago, that we were going to Belezy soon and we had just received their answer on that very day, in which they were announcing, that they might join us soon... but not so soon. Now we spent a few nice evening-meals together, before they left 5 days later. By coincidence, one night we found Sue Piper and her husband seated next to us at Bélézy’s restaurant. We also had met them here, one year ago. She is the Editor of the Magazine “Naturist Life” and had prepared our Travel-Story of last summer, to be published in the June 2003 edition.
We never met anybody by the pool that week, since they were unlucky to pick the odd cold days, which brought snow back to the top of Mt. Ventoux (1990m) just behind the camp.
More lucky, however, were the crowds of people, that arrived afterwards and filled the accommodations and campground within only 2 days from "near empty" to "near full"! It was Easter-time, and soon the sun-seakers outnumbered the deck-chairs by far. All ages were well represented, little children and a surprising large number of teenagers, who all found entertainment in various animations offered by the camping.
We appreciated the many possibilities for walks, directly starting by the camp. Various tracks lead out to the forests, up the mountain or out into the fields, presently decorated with blossom everywhere. Also, the pretty village of Bedoin is only 1 kilometer away.
We changed to the Campground of La Sablière on April 24th. We have been there many times before, but now big parts along the river looked different. After a flood had brought the water level up by 15 metres last September. There was more sand on the beach now and many trees had been torn out and washed away or remained in an oblique positon. Now spring brought new life into them and nature started to cover the damage with new green everywhere. On the camping area, closest to the river, the silt up Chalets and Mobile-Homes, some of which had been "floated" out of position, had mainly been removed. Instead, suprising many new ones had been installed higher up the hill.
After a week, we picked up our Swiss friend "Echo" from the TGV Station in Avignon. She usually lazed in the deck-chair in front of our small Mobile-Home, while we walked up and down this big steep resort or sunbathed by the river or by the pool. In the evening, we drove out to eat well, or we cooked by our own.
On May 10th, we packed our things and left this green place in the Cèze valley. At first, we brought our friend to the train in Avignon and continued then for 2½ hours south to Oasis in Port Leucate on the Mediterranean near Perpignan.
Our next friends, Monika and Bruno, with whom we had arranged to meet here, arrived just 5 Minutes before us. Together, we picked up the keys to a very luxurious holidayhouse in which we enjoyed the next 3 weeks together. We just enjoyed it once again, to have all the luxury of washing-machine, baking-oven and even a dishwasher and on top of it, we didn't need to go far, to the shops and restaurants at Aphrodite village next door. Especially the charming little fish-restaurant became our favourite and we sampled almost all of its specialities.
Twice, we even got visitors. At first, we met Helen & Remy from Basel again (those with the Ananometer-story) who had come here to spend 10 "holi-days". They spoiled us with a big 2 kg bag of a homespeciality-cookie, called Basler Leckerli. Another time, Ali and Andy of Lissart stood unexpectedly in front of our door.
As the entire month before, good weather was with us here again and temperatures were usually around 25 degrees. already. We went sight-seeing along the coastal drive, till we reached Spain. As good Tourists are expected, we first fetched an ice-cream in Canet-Plage before heading for the road full of bends. Our next stop was to visit the pittoresque village of Collioure. Along the way, we paused many times again, to admire the views of the cliffs and the sea and to make sure, no-one got travel-sick...On our way back into France, we were just in time for yet another delicious Dinner.
The spreading of SARS in Asia, that had become quite serious in the beginning of 2003, made us hesitate to proceed with our travelling plans, as we had foreseen to go there after France. Therefore, we decided in May, to postpone this project until maybe October. Until then, we could 'hold out' a bit longer in France, hoping the situation would become clearer in 2 months time. By then, we would maybe see, whether we can go to Asia or whether we better look for some other destination.
Immediately, the trouble of booking bureaucracy started over and so we first reserved the same terracehouse, we were staying in, for September again. This was anyway the only one still available. We were still considering, where to spend the peak of the season - most probably putting up a tent somewhere. Even though our tent travelled ahead of us to Switzerland when Edith and Kari left us in Costa Natura, only 2 months ago... Fatefully, on our next trip to Lidl Superdiscounter, we found a similar tent as one of their weekly specials. So we 'had' to take this opportunity and felt glad, not being punished any harder....
On May 31st, our three weeks with Moni & Bruno were already over and we left Oasis in different directions. We drove 500 km to the Atlantic coast, breaking our journey in between for lunch at a truck-stop. Our destination was the naturist village of La Jenny not far from Bordeaux on the sea.
We immediately loved this resort, which we visited for the first time. We particularly liked the atmosphere with its 750 wooden houses in different shapes and sizes, dotted around the fragrant pine-forest. Some were real luxury-houses, others were in the classical chalet style as in the alps. Smaller ones were simple but pretty painted in all different colours, from yellow, purple to green, blue and pink. This put everyone into real holiday-mood. Further, there were 4 swimming-pools, shaped as a clover-leave, very inviting to spend some time in and around them, even though, there was real competition from the long sandy beach. There was golden fine sand and you could walk "au naturel" in both directions, further than your legs probably will take you. The spectacle, provided by the high waves and the change of the tides, was very fascinating and no comparison to the calm waters of the Mediterranean sea. If you were playing with the waves, you could immediately feel the power of the strong currents. It was just understandable, that bathing was only permitted in a narrow marked and supervised range of the beach, which was shifted several times a day, depending on the tide.
For many of La Jenny's guests, the top attraction was the small golfcourse inside the naturist compound.
We enjoyed how big this resort was and thanks to the fact that not so many people drove their cars inside the resort, we could walk relaxed and freely. This aim was rather reached by building measurements, than by prohibitions. The few parking lots were smartly placed away from shops and pool. From the beach, it was even 1 km away, so people rather took a bycicle or walked.
We liked the whole resort and so we arranged to come back here again, already in August, as we still had to place 4 weeks.
This gave us even another big advantage, as the Swiss Embassy has required us to have an address nearby, when we now applied for new passports in Bordeaux. That way, we should be back at La Jenny, just at the same time as our new passports should be issued.
The city of Bordeaux didn't appeal too much to us, except that we appreciated a stroll in it's shopping malls, an ethnic restaurant and a cybercafe.
Another nice sight-seeing trip was down to the Arcachon-Bassin, that get's quite empty at low tide and therefore all the boats in it's harbours lye on dry ground. From Cap Ferret, we had a fantastic view over to the sanddune of Pyla on the other shore of the opening of the inlet.
Our next home (away from home) was at Centre Heliomarin Monatlivet ( CHM-Montalivet ), where we rented a flat with Mezzanine. This hughe Center was the birth place of naturism in France. It has camping, mobile-homes and chalets plus almost 30 shops and restaurants with a truly french atmosphere, pleasing its mainly french guests but also many foreigners. They enjoy to associate with the country of their destination and don't need to have everything as at home.
In July and August, uncounted "Animations" were offered for young and old, at night they had an open-air cinema and sometimes even a big circus performing.
We arrived on a sizzling hot day of almost 40°C degrees and therefore, we didn't mind to give some more of our sweat to fix first a sunshade above our patio.
Rigth after that, Valerie and Alan, whom we know from Costa Natura, passed by. They belong to the few English owners of a mobile-home, among all the French permanent residents. Several times we went out with them and they showed us some excellent restaurants or invited us to their place, even to his birthday party, where we got to know many of their friends at CHM.
After a week, we picked our Austrian friend Gusti up from the airport. She joined us for the next 6 weeks to enjoy the sun, sea and gourmandizing. She promised herself to get a diet of slimm-feasting, according to what we always talked about. She wanted to find out, whether it works for herself as well as for us, to eat so many serveral-course menue's, without putting on weight...
One afternoon, when we came back from the beach, we found a note on our door, that suprised us with the announcement of the arrival of Jo & Mark. This was the energetic lady in the wheelchair and her husband, for whom there's no distance too short to take the bike, that had been our tent-neighbours last year at Lissart. They purposly came to CHM for one night to see us and we were delighted about this honour.
As Gusti likes socialising as well, we spontaneously went out for dinner all five of us and had some funny and interesting discussions. On the next morning, we invited them for breakfast, before they left to some new naturist adventure. Just after they had put down their wet tent, the rain, that had started during the night, stopped, as it follows them everywhere, they said.
Another day, Valerie and Alan showed Gusti and us round in their car. First driving us to the market at St. Vivien and then around the area along the Gironde inlet.
As CHM is also right on the Atlantic coast and Gusti was fascinated as we were, by the high waves, we often walked for kilometers along the wide sandy beach and within the hughe campground. Unfortunately, in the beginning of July, some oil-clots were washed onto the beach, which had to be closed in consequence for 2 days cleaning, but which was done very efficiently.
On July 12th, we left CHM towards the Dordogne, crossing the Gironde with the Ferry, that takes 20 Min. from Lamarque to Blaye, which was a very pleasant ride. On the inlets' other side, the scenery changed quite a bit, becoming more scenic. After driving along the Dordogne river, we finally reached the naturist site Cro Magnon, 20 km west of Sarlat la Canéda: We love this site, as it's superbly situated on a hill overlooking the Dordogne vally, just in the centre of historical, cultural and culinary highlights. We stayed in a chalet which was basic, but well equipped and we enjoyed the campings French and international atmosphere.
During the next 3 weeks, we drove out to the surrounding neat villages, castles or prehistoric sites once more, as Sarlat la Canéda (KKL Architekt Jean Nouvel grew up here) , Domme , Beynac , La Roque Gageac , Les Eyzies or Castelnaud.
So we could satisfy Gusti's desire to see one of France's most beautiful regions and visit the Dordogne's many superb Restaurants to satisfy our addiction to fine French cuisine...
By chance, we met the French couple Magali & Jerome again. They had been our tent-neighbours when we stayed here 2 years ago. What was Magali's big belly then, is meanwhile running around and asking lots of questions.Through them, we got to know quite a bit more of french life, as we sat together a few times during the week they were there.
We often stayed in the shade because of the heat, went for walks, played some games or went for a swim in the pool. Gusti worked through almost all the librarybooks in English and German but besides, we often went sightseeing.
Additional to showing Gusti the pretty villages we had discovered already earlier, we went also out to explore two very beautiful caves nearby; the giant cavern of Proumeyssac and the grotto Maxange. Then, there was a tiny museum-village, Cabanes de Breuil, where we could see houses that had been built in ancient times, only with layers of flat stones, without use of any additional material - not even for the roof.
During our last week at Cro Magnon, we had arranged to meet Carolyne & Ian from England, yet another couple we know from last year at Chaudeau. As they were staying 4 days only, we let them sleep in our chalet, whilst we put up our brandnew tent next to it. They liked this place very much as well and all five of us had good fun together. The only pitty is, that the camping Cro Magnon has been sold and the new owners will run it as a textile site as of next year.
On the same day Carolyn & Ian left for their Kingdom, we only moved 80 km west, together with Gusti to Domaine de Chaudeau. Here we had rented an on-site Caravan.
Needless to say, we continued enjoying the great French cuisine and we believe, Gusti appreciates it now as well, although, she had to get used to it, as a nice several-course meal costs time, not only money. We still wait for her to tell us, whether she lost any weight...
This summer was spoiling us with good weather, almost non-stop as of April and quite a few times, temperatures rose above 35° C. But whilst we were in Chaudeau, we got almost too much of the blessing heat. For two weeks, temperatures were up to 40° and sometimes even a bit higher. So, this was just the perfect site, as it has lots of big shady trees and a large swimming pond with a beach. The large open fields with a pool in it's centre, remained deserted!
Although in this heat, our energy-level was pretty low, we took the opportunity to use the extensive naturist walks through the forest and around the fishing pond, that are all within the camp. Unfortunately, the flies were awaiting us in the woods, making us walk the waving way the Aussies do...
Gusti's six weeks with us were quickly over and we had to bring her to Bordeaux Airport on August 8th,at 4 o'clock in the morning.
For the following week, we pitched up our tiny tent and renounced to any luxury, except that we rented two very comfortable mattresses from the BoNatur-people, ensuring ourselves a good-nights sleep. The heat remained all week long but a thunderstorm brought rain on the morning we were packing up...
Thanks to beeing lucky many times again, we got news from La Jenny Holiday Village, that we could move up from the waiting list and get our studio a week earlier. This meant, that this week has been our one and only week camping for the whole summer!
So, in the middle of August, we moved back to La Jenny, surprised to find all other chalets had been let as well, even the most expensive ones, whereas the campground where we had stayed before, slowly but surely emptied out.
Upon check-in, again very efficiently, our new passports were handed over to us. They had arrived there a day earlier, which pleased us very much.
Although La Jenny was now full, there was still more than enough space for everybody, thanks to it's size. We appreciated the additional services, like oister-sales or longer shopping-hours of the foodstore.
The decision to tour around France's Naturist Places for another summer, was really worthwhile and we enjoyed it a lot. On top, we were pleasantly surprised, how many people we knew from last year's tour, we met again. The ones, we had exchanged e-mail addresses with, contacted us often spontaneously and asked, where we could meet again. Many more, we just met by coincidence again. Here in La Jenny, this once happened even twice in only one hour.
First, we suddenly saw Michelle & Robert, whom we know from Lissart. Just after we had talked to them by the pool, we were approached by another french couple, to which we had been introduced in Aphrodite village, last automn.
Last June, Michelle & Robert had recommended us various excellent Restaurants around their place and now we took the opportunity, to introduce them to a couple of Restaurants around here, even though, they couldn't quite reach the high standard of those places in the Dordogne or around Lissart. What do we ever have fastidious palates ?
When we arrived here, we were delighted, that the big pine tres gave us shade, but then in the beginning of September, it was sometimes almost a bit too cool between them. So we really needed to go down to the beach or the pool, to fully enjoy wearing nothing but our birthday-suit.
After 3 weeks, on the day of departure, we got up early for a change and drove the 500 km back to the Mediterranean Sea, the same way we had come 14 weeks ago.
By 4 o'clock, we already arrived at Oasis-Village in Port Leucate, our next temporary home, which was five times bigger than our last Studio. After we had discovered, that it hadn't been cleaned at all, the reception soon sorted out the culprit and asked us then, whether we preferred to wait for a few hours to get it cleaned, or whether we wanted to have the cleaning-fee of 50 Euros and do it by ourselves. So, for the first time, sice we dropped out, we opted to earn some money and did it! Well, that means, we took the 50 Euro bill, put our bags in the house, stripped off and went ... out for a walk to the beach - cleaning could wait till dark ...
We didn't get far until Helen & Remy spoted us and waived us over to their Appartment. They had told us already in May, when they were here on their last holiday, that they had booked again for automn. During the coming days, we bumped into them quite often again and one night, we invited them over for a meal. Now as Heinz had a big kitchen again, he loved to cook some fancy dinner.
The first few days at Oasis were quite windy, so Heinz found shelter in the Cybercafe. There he got news from Esther & Peter, friends from England, that they were soon passing by our area on their way to Costa Natura. After exchanging a few e-mails, it was arranged, that they would come to see us. Less than a week later, on a busy Sunday afternoon, they came spotting us out of hundreds of other sunbathers on the beach. Quite lucky, they found us and soon both had their first dip in the unusually high waves. First time at Oasis/Aphrodite, they both liked it very much as well.
We were pleased that they stayed with us for 3 days, which was hardly time enough to talk about all the news, since we last met at Costa Natura in March. Especially, as quite some time was spent, playing with their Digital Camera and Laptop, which they installed in our house, complete with printer and photopaper. Resulting from Peter's experimenting with the camera, he took some brilliant shots from us, especially in situations, when we were not artificially posing.
After a wonderful summer, we were even spoiled with a very warm automn in Port Leucate, of which the last three weeks were pretty calm. On the day prior to our departure date, we tried to extend our rental, as the sun had warmed the air above 25°C degrees again and we had been able to swim in the sea. But as some other people had reserved the appartment, this was not possible. However, when we saw, how bad the weather had changed on October 4th, we didn’t regret leaving Oasis that much.
On every stop we made, during our way up north, temperatures had fallen a bit lower. No wonder, we were crossing the “Massif Central” through which even the Autobahn led us up to altitudes of 1’200 meters above sealevel.
The first hotelroom, we had in Vichy. Numerous old manisons, built in the stile of the “belle epoque”, prove how wealthy this old thermal spa resort must once have been.
The next day, we continued to Auxerre, a pretty village with lots of historical half-timbered houses. In Troyes, we found even more of them in a big part of the old city. Some had been built back in the 17th century. Despite having been renovated regularly, some of these houses were leaning over precariously.
Driving through the countryside, we passed many nice villages and went sight-seeing again in Dijon. Having explored all these places, we had to reinstate our energy-level and spent the last Euros for another gourmet-meal in one of the French restaurants.
A few years ago, we once passed by Beaune, which looked pretty nice. As we hadn’t taken the time to explore it then, we wanted to catch up now. But after those highlights of the past days, this village didn’t appeal to us very much now. Not even the flower decorations we had noticed then, were to be found, and now, we were here a month earlier in the year, than last time.
In weather, that became worse the closer we approached the Jura range, we stopped also in Arbois. Had it been dry, we certainly would have stayed longer.
Considering the snow, which had started to fall down to altitudes of only 600 meters and the heavy rain we came across, we were now quite glad, we had insisted on getting snowtyres for our car, prior to our departure from the Mediterranean.
By phone, we contacted Christiane and Klaus, a German couple we know from Costa Natura. We passed by at the naturist resort ‘Dreiländereck’ (corner of 3 countries) in Germany, where they live in a mobilehome during the summer. The naturist complex was very well cared for. It had a big natural swimming-bath with reed, waterplants and a waterfall. On top, there was a beautiful Sauna, that had been heated in honour of our visit, which also pleased some of the permanent residents – other camping-guests could hardly be found at this time of the year.
Christiane and Klaus had also their 8 years old granddaughter staying for her holiday and together, they took us to Bruni & Erhard’s house on the same resort. All of us went out for dinner to a typical farm-restaurant, where we found a rural atmosphere, good and very reasonably prices food.
We were allowed to sleep in a very nice flat near the camping, where Christiane & Klaus have a winterproof home and address. From there, we went sigth-seeing to Freiburg’s inner city, which was very pretty and made us realize, how many more department stores can be found in Germany, compared to France.
Now it was only a short hop to Switzerland, so we detoured our way back to our relatives via the beautiful Bernese Oberland. There, we got a glimpse of the highest mountains, freshly covered in white, behind the colourful automn trees. In the evening we arrived in Central Switzerland, where Heinz’ sister and her husband welcomed us in their warm nest, ready made for us… More naturist Years: 2001-2002(France and Spain)
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