Champagne country but no bubbles for us

It was with much anticipation that we eagerly peered out of our camper van windows one chilly morning to see what the view was like.

Early morning view

We had arrived in Chamonix Mont Blanc, in France, the previous night – after travelling through the 11.611 km (7.215 miles) Mont Blanc tunnel from Italy.

When we opened the blinds we saw picture perfect snowy mountains towering above us with sweet sloping roofed chalets nestled in the valley just metres away from us.

Picture perfect mountains
Sweet sloping roofed chalets nestled in the valley

The ground was icy and we were surrounded by that special “hush” that happens in the early morning when snow has freshly fallen. The only noise we could hear was directly below us – we had parked just a couple of metres away from a gushing river full of snow melt.

The ground was icy
We had parked just a couple of metres away from a gushing river

What a glorious place to be but much closer to the water than we thought the previous night!

We had parked closer to the water than we thought!

Sadly we didn’t have time to hang around as we were booked on a ferry to England a couple of days later and we had to press on to get to Calais in time.

We made our way through stunning scenery – think mountains, green valleys, translucent emerald green rivers and roadside water falls – and entered into Switzerland briefly – driving past an abandoned border post now in the middle of a field.

Stunning scenery as we made our way
Pretty impressive view!
More stunning scenery
The colour of the snow melt was extraordinary
A roadside waterfall
We drove past an abandoned border post

Our journey took us through some quaint French villages, past elegant châteaux, and on to the beautiful city of Chalon-sur-Saône.

We love quaint French villages
Great colours!
Emblem of one of the towns we drive through
We went past plenty of châteaux both large and small like this one

Although the surrounding district is highly commercial and quite industrial the ancient town centre itself is a delight.

Approaching the town centre of

As soon as we had settled in our “Aire de camping” we strolled along the river towards picturesque Saint-Vincent square.

Picturesque Saint-Vincent square

Dominated by the profile of the Cathedral (built over the 14th and 15th centuries) and surrounded by beautiful timber-framed medieval houses, the square is at the heart of the city.

The square is dominated by the Cathedral
Another aspect of the Cathedral
The timber-framed medieval houses
were beautiful

We explored some of the shopping lanes branching off the square before heading back along the embankment to the van, enjoying a vivid sunset on the way.

One of the shopping lanes in Chalon-sur-Saône
Down by the River Saône

It would have been great to visit the Nicéphore Niépce museum – dedicated to the inventor of photography who was born in Chalon-sur-Saône. The museum is home to 6,000 cameras and optical objects, as well as over 3 million images. Unfortunately it was closed but maybe one day we will come back for a visit.

Chalon-sur-Saône looking lovely in the rosy glow of sunset
The sunset was really vivid

The next day we continued our travels through the French countryside and again saw some lovely views and interesting places. This included Langres – a medieval fortified city and gateway to champagne country.

Splendid blossom at the roadside

Langres has seven gates in the defensive walls and the road we were travelling on actually went through one of them.

One of Langres seven gates – we drove through this one!

Our destination was a small village (population about 430 people!) called Trépail. It might be small but the village is very famous – it known for its vast number of vineyards.

The tiny village of Trépail

There was a very pleasant Aire in the village where there was an information board with a map showing the location of the 24 champagne producers in the village. We were hoping to do a tasting but when we went walking we found each and every one of them was closed.

There’s a very pleasant Aire in the village
There are 24 champagne producers
in this small village

It was a pretty little village though and we enjoyed seeing the tiny church, the school and the rustic dwellings dotted around the place.

Trépail’s tiny church
The local war memorial
Yep it was closed!
The local school house (with gorgeous
blossom trees)

The next day we set out on our final leg to Calais where we found an exceptionally good camper van parking area which had every facility available and was nice and close to the ferry terminal.

Down in the port area of Calais
A ferry departing the port of Calais

We encountered something quite strange on our evening stroll around the port – a 12 metre high and 25 metres long mechanical dragon which breathed real fire!

A strange encounter!
The Calais dragon was being put to bed – and breathing fire all the way

Apparently the Calais Dragon can lie down, stand up, run at up to 4km/h and flap its huge wings. Passengers climb onto the beast’s back via a staircase on its tail and take a trip along the Calais seafront. Amazing!

The legs move but the wheels actually propel the dragon

Finally, the next morning, we excitedly boarded the ferry to Dover – we were so looking forward to a two week visit to catch up with our families in the UK.

All aboard!
Jonathan waiting for the ferry to leave Calais

Published by

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 “Champagne country but no bubbles for us”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s