Everything they say about French drivers is true. This is our seventh year in Europe (our original plan was for three years) and in all that time we once had another car door swing open and put a small dent in our Lincoln. That was it until we came to France. Last year, while our car was angle parked in a line of cars at a train station, another driver drove along the rear of the cars hitting some, slamming one into us and then hitting us as well.
Two weeks ago I watched a French driver park his car and whack his mirror into a support pole in an underground parking lot. About three days ago a cement truck drove by us, clipped our car and kept on going. Luckily that didn’t seem to cause any damage. Even just driving our car Mike will often pull over and let a car pass us because the driver is driving within a car length of our rear bumper. We have heard many other complaints about this in campgrounds. Worst of all, 10 days ago we were driving the Lincoln and we were stopped at a crosswalk waiting for a pedestrian to cross when we go hit from behind. The really good news is that the pedestrian had just cleared our car when we were hit, and he wasn’t touched. The man who hit us instantly accepted responsibility but he didn’t speak any English. I found another man in the area who spoke French and English and he spent almost an hour with us helping.
In France you are supposed to have a blank accident report in your car at all times. You don’t call the police unless there is a personal injury. We had never heard about this and the driver that hit us didn’t have the form. The gentleman that was helping us went and got his form for us. Both drivers fill in the form together. As you can see in the photo, our back end was very damaged but luckily the brake lights and turn signals all still worked. The trunk does open and close but has wide gaps where the rain can easily get in.
Our car had all the damage. The person helping us made a comment about French cars being strong and North American cars being cheap and shattering easily. Mike started to explain that our cars were designed to buckle and prevent the occupants from getting severe whiplash and other injuries and that it had worked well for us. Our car is a 2011 and it will cost more to fix the damages than the car is worth. The problem is that we cannot replace our car in Europe. The front end has been extensively modified to enable the car to be towed behind the RV. This isn’t something that is done in Europe. We have spent days trying to figure out what is going to happen with insurance and haven’t got anywhere yet.
The day after we got hit, the campground had all sorts of ambulances and police out front. A pedestrian crossing at a crosswalk in front of the campground was hit and required an ambulance. Traveling in Central and Eastern Europe we were really impressed at how well cars stopped at pedestrian crosswalks. We thought that some of the pedestrians were a little nuts when they would just walk out onto the road at a crosswalk because they knew that the cars would stop for them which they did.
Instead of continuing east we went back to Avignon where we knew that there was a company that worked on foreign cars. Ford dealers won’t touch our car in Europe. We spent an enjoyable but unplanned week back in Avignon where we had spent a lot of time last year. We are now heading east again to meet my cousine and then we return to Avignon to have some mandatory but hopefully minimal repairs actually done. Thanks to the car accident we won’t get to Monaco or as far east in France as we had hoped. You can see each of our RV campsites on the map above. Not exactly the most efficient routing.
The picture of Avignon above was taken just outside our campground where we stayed on a small island directly across from the city.
We spent a week in a very cramped little campground. It was basically the owner’s large backyard. As you will see, if you watch the video, the campers are just put anywhere to save a little space. The owner does try and plan where a camper is put based on when they are leaving to avoid shuffling too many other campers to allow one to leave. Definitely not my favourite campground.
On top of everything else this campground had some nocturnal birds. The first time I heard them at night I thought I was hearing the beeping of a commercial truck backing up. It was still beeping at 4 AM in the morning! One night Mike went outside to try and find the bird and see what it was. Mike quickly found out that it was pitch black outside and he couldn’t see a thing He did find out that the sounds were actually coming from two birds, one on either side of our camper.
A young Italian couple parked next to us for a few days. They are just starting out almost full-time camping. They are hoping to see if You Tube and social media will provide a reasonable income for them. They asked if they could do a You Tube video, in Italian, showing off our camper inside and out. With my broken leg I left Mike outside on his own to save me going up and down the stairs extremely ungracefully. When we left Canada, I thought that I would have three steps to navigate to get into the RV. I forgot all about our inside steps. It is three outside AND three inside steps to get up into our camper. That has been a little awkward for me so far this year.
Here is the video this couple made. It is very long, and we are the “star attraction” shown in the last half. The beginning of our camper section with Mike speaking in English (everything else is Italian) discussing the exterior starts at 18:38. The videotaping inside starts at 26:01 and ends at 34:01. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DK5jeT0NNlQ . They called the video Mega Camper Tour, but it is stored under “CAMPER TOUR GEORGETOWN XL”.
Mike ended up in Toulon on a train ride a while ago but he didn’t explore the city, so we went back together. We ate, toured around as much as I could at the time and then Mike went a little further. Nearly all the pictures so far this year were taken by Mike. Much of the time I wasn’t there and if I was, I had two hands on my canes which made taking pictures difficult. I stopped using my canes earlier this week. The doctor said that I should probably use them again when I remove the boot and go to wearing shoes.
My cousin Jane is coming to visit. Mike and I spent a couple of days exploring the coast east of where we were staying and looking at campgrounds that had a chalet for Jane next to a campsite for us that we could fit in to. People often assume that we have major problems finding campgrounds that will take our size. Over seven years we have had the occasional campground that said they couldn’t fit us in, and we certainly haven’t looked at campgrounds at the end of tiny roads in the mountains but overall it really hasn’t been a problem. That is, until Southern France. We have had more campgrounds tell us that we are too big in the last few weeks than we have had in the previous 7 years added up. Mike and I often stay in inexpensive locations that have electricity, water and dumping capabilities and not much else. We don’t need external toilets and showers and all the games for children. Our next campground will be a little different. It is a “5 star luxury campground” that we got a good deal at and Jane will be sleeping in a small chalet/mobile home right beside us. I am just a little concerned that it might be school holidays and much busier than it was when we went and had a look at it. We will see.
We had some friends from Canada renting a house less than an hour from Avignon. They are staying in a lovely small tourist town that we visited last year called L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. We drove there and joined them for lunch one day. It was a very nice visit.
On one of our excursions, we visited the town of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, well-known for its wine. I ordered an appetizer of scallops in leek sauce. The price was 18€ which didn’t sound as bad as $27 Cdn after conversion. For that price I expected a reasonable number of scallops, I got 3! The taste was lovely, but it was way too expensive as was the entire small town. In addition to having lunch in town we wanted to visit a local winery. I found one on the internet that had wine tasting for 10 euros per person and for an additional 5 Euros you could tour the facilities. I thought that we might both indulge in the wine tasting and Mike could participate in the walk around the winery. We found the winery, but we never found the front door or public entrance and eventually we gave up. We passed another winery down the road that looked nice and went inside. This was a small winery but their 5 acres that qualified for the Châteauneuf-du-Pape label allowed them to export 50,000 bottles per year. That doesn’t seem right to me. I wonder if there was a translation issue. The winery made a white Châteauneuf-du-Pape that was not for export. Since presumably they wanted to sell us wine and it wasn’t busy, one gentleman spent quite a while with Mike and I at no cost. We first tasted the white wine. We then tried the red when it was just a couple of years old and then tasted the same red wine aged for about seven years in the bottle. As most of you know, Mike and I don’t know much about wine at all. According to our salesman the older red wine went with different meats than when it did when it was younger. I thought that they were all quite nice. He told us that the price was much less there than it would be in Canada. It was still a lot more than we were prepared to pay for the wine. I was pleased when he went into the back portion of the winery, and we could leave without telling him we didn’t want any of his wine to his face.
This is getting long but I really want to tell you about a young couple we met camping beside us. They had fixed up their van for camping for the first time. They didn’t have electricity and figured that they would be going “off grid. They didn’t know what foods they could and could not bring from the UK to the EU so they decided to stop at a grocery store in France. Their first day was a long tiring drive. They got to their campsite without having done any shopping. Their solution was to use their cell phones and order pizza via Uber Eats. Off-grid????
In my last article I talked about Mike having taken the wrong train and ending up riding his bike back from Toulon to Marseille. Here is a picture he took in Marseille that he didn’t give me in time to make the last article. The final picture was taken from our campsite in Avignon with our drone.