Moments that make you feel glad to be alive!

Imagine driving along a winding coast road in the South of France heading towards St Tropez with the windows wound down. The golden mimosa that tumbles down at each side of the road exudes a delicious, delicate perfume and the jagged glimpses of the turquoise sea flash in your eyes. The sun is warm on your face and the wind is in your hair and your senses are flooded. These are those moments that you feel really glad to be alive!

On the road to St Tropez!
The golden Mimosa exudes a delicious delicate perfume
Jagged glimpses of the turquoise sea flash in your eyes
The road sure was winding
What joy to see and smell the Mimosas
Sparkling glimpses of the sea in the distance

Are you in a low slung vintage sports car with the roof down or riding a big 1500cc touring bike? In my mind I was in a 1950s Mercedes-Benz 190 SL but in reality we were trundling along in our less-than-sporty camper van! It was still an amazing experience and we felt so grateful that we were able to do this on a warm February day despite all the Covid restrictions and regulations.

We encountered many touring bikes along the way
Glimpses of the ocean through the trees

We had already enjoyed some wonderful and dramatic countryside that day as we travelled from Gémenos to the lovely beach area of La Gaillarde. on the Mediterranean Coast.

Dramatic scenes from our trip earlier in the day
We see the Mediterranean for the first time
This view had it all – snow covered peaks, blue blue sea and acres of grape vines

Having recently had some bad experiences with finding spots to stay in our camper van, we were a little concerned that our choice for that evening wouldn’t work out for some reason. Luck was in our favour though and we found “Chez Marcel” when I noticed a small sign for it. Lucky I had my eyes peeled.

Palm trees – must be in the South of France!
I just saw the sign for Chez Marcel in time!
Following our host on his quad bike to our camping spot

We had a lovely spot with a sea view and once we had settled in we went for a beautiful walk along the shore, enjoying the small coves, doing some rock hopping and watching families enjoying the late afternoon sun. It really felt as though spring was on its way.

Sea view – very nice
Watching families enjoying the late afternoon sun.
We liked the little coves
…and enjoyed finding a path to the rocks
Great to have the place to ourselves
Steps leading down to the rocks from a stunning villa
Jonathan enjoying the beginnings of sunset
The first signs that Spring was coming

The next morning we were delighted to find that Marcel had mistakenly interpreted my enthusiasm for pain au chocolate for an order (I did order a baguette). So we just had to buy them and ended up relishing them for morning tea.

The pain au chocolat were utterly delicious

We had decided it was time to start making our way back to our daughter and son-in-law’s in the Netherlands. It had been a wonderful trip but we had to start getting organised to get back to our catamaran “Sunday” in Turkey.

We decided to do our usual thing and take the scenic route rather than use the faster but soulless toll roads.

Our route back to Pijnacker

The first leg was very winding, scenic and took us through “Les Alpes” once again.

It was definitely the scenic route – a long and winding road.
Our last view of the Med before turning inland
The route was very scenic
With some amazing rock formations
….including this rock arch on a bend in the road
There were some spectacular views

The snowy scenes were beautiful and in such contrast to the balmy weather we had experienced on the Mediterranean coast.

Strange to be in the snow again after the spring like weather on the Mediterranean coast
Snow is always beautiful as long as there isn’t too much of it!
Snowy peaks ahead
Another dramatic view

We stopped for the night in a small camper park surrounded by mountains – just outside the small town of Sassenage on the outskirts of Grenoble.

The camper van park was in the outskirts of Grenoble and was surrounded by mountains
We had a very peaceful night there

The following day we set off again reasonably early in good conditions but soon we were surrounded by low clouds, then heavy rain. On the positive side, we saw a lovely rainbow that appeared to end on a van in front of us.

Low clouds on our route
Low clouds hiding the mountains
At least there was a rainbow
We found the end of the rainbow!

It was astonishing to see how flooded everywhere was. How long had it been raining for?!

It was astonishing to see the extent of the flooding
Trees in the flood waters
How long had it been raining?

That night we found a wonderful place to camp by the side of a lake in Vaivre-et-Montoille in eastern France. We had the whole lake to ourselves! The serenity and calm was so welcome after a wet and wearing drive.

We had the lake to ourselves
Complete serenity and only the water birds for company

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Salty tales from Bali Hai

In 2015, after a break from cruising of almost 30 years, my husband and I sailed off into the sunset - this time to the wonderful Islands of Indonesia and beyond. Three years passed and we swapped sails for wheels driving through Scandinavia and Europe in a motor home. Now we are on the brink of another adventure - buying a Lagoon 420 Catamaran in Athens. This is our story.

2 thoughts on “Moments that make you feel glad to be alive!”

  1. What a great trip! The mimosa looks fabulous – such a lovely sign of spring. And your drive through the mountains heading north looked spectacular too – you’ve certainly found some stunning scenery on this mini-break, and have also captured ‘the freedom of the road’ despite curfews and lockdowns. Hope your time back on the boat is just as rewarding – not long now! xx

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    1. Thanks Sarah, we really did feel very fortunate to be able to enjoy all the fabulous scenery in France. It really is a wonderful country. We arrived safely in Turkey on Monday and are staying in a nice apartment near the marina ( and also close to shops) with a lovely view of the sea. The only drawback is it’s right next to a mosque!! Hope all’s well with you and Martin xx

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