France round 2
I am very sad to say that this leg of our journey marks the beginning of the end. Our flights are booked and we'll be leaving the amazing continent of Europe on the 20th of September. So as our adventure took us from the scorching sun of Spain we aimed ourselves back north toward Amsterdam to end our journey. Luckily, however, we still had plenty of stops along the way.
The first small stop on our journey was the town of Ondres. This was really just an overnight stay for us but I still thought it was worth a mention. We were camped in a beach carpark next to a beach unlike any when had seen on our journey so far. This beach stretched into the distance in both directions with miles of white sandy shoreline. This coupled with the giant dumping wave reminded us so much of the beaches at home that we got a little bit nostalgic. Add on an incredible sunset over the ocean and it was really amazing.
The next place that we popped in to see on our way north was Bordeaux. We didn't actually spend the night there but we walked around the old town for the day. It was honestly such a surprise. We didn't really know much about Bordeaux but we had heard that it was quite beautiful. And that it was! Honestly one of the best places just to stroll along the river side looking at all the amazing buildings.
Now the next stop on our little French tour was by far my favourite. And how could it not be? For we were in Paris! Now I am going to really struggle to express in words how much love I now have for that city. Firstly, if anyone has not been there yet you need to get yourself there ASAP! I'll do my best to give you a brief rundown of our time there without carrying on too much and let the pictures speak for themselves.
We started our tour of Paris with a little spin on the Hop-On Hop-Off bus. This is by far one of our favourite ways to see a big city because, let's be honest, double decker bus are just plain fun. After a lap on the bus and our first sight of some little known monuments such as the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, and the Louvre Museum, we hopped off and got ourselves onto a walking tour. Again, this was a great way to get a feel for the city and get an insider perspective on what it's actually like to live in Paris. After our walking tour and some delicious French food we again boarded the bus, but this time for the night time tour complete with sparkling Eiffel Tower and neon lit Moulin Rouge. Incredible!
Our second day in Paris we started with a little look through what is only the largest museum in the world. The Louvre. I haven't been into all that many museums in my time but just one look through the Louvre was enough to tell me it is up there with the absolute best of them. My favourite was the ancient Egyptian display (especially the Sphinx). Of course we also went and saw the number 1 most disappointing attraction in Europe, the Mona Lisa. And it's true, while I wouldn't say that is particularly disappointing, it definitely was spectacular or impressive. But hey, art really just isn't my thing. After another turn around the Hop-On Hop-Off bus we disembarked at the Eiffel tower for the thing that I was most excited for. The view from the top. After waiting in line for about an hour we were finally on our way up. The view from the top was incredible, while slightly daunting, and absolutely worth the wait. After the arduous elevator ride up the tower we needed to replenish our strength so of course, we had some incredible nutella crepes, before hopping on a boat for a relaxing cruise of the river.
The next day we unfortunately had to move on, but not before we visited the Palace of Versailles. Now if we thought Paris itself was extravagant, Versailles was the definition of complete opulence. It was mind boggling to imagine where they even got the money for such an incredible estate. Not only was the building itself amazing, but the gardens were just as immaculate.
Once we had finished at Versailles we headed north, continuing on our way back to Amsterdam. And here we hit a small problem. Our GPS naturally took us to the easiest road out of the city. Unfortunately this was the easiest road for vehicles under 2m tall. So we ended up weaving our way through back street to try and get to the exact opposite side of Paris to where we started, all through peak hour traffic. Our GPS said that the entire journey to or campsite for the night would take around 2 hrs. Well after an hour of driving we had travelled the 18kms around Paris and were finally on our way. And with that last night our time in France had sadly come to an end. The next stop was Belgium and the end was drawing quickly nearer.
The one last little story I must tell before I leave you is our next Frankie dilemma. Now we had been having problems with Frankie's battery light flashing for a while but it had never really bothered us. Unfortunately the battery slowly got worse and worse until, in Paris, it died completely. This was very unfortunate as almost all the light in the van, as well as the water pump, all ran off the battery. It was safe to say we would be living a little less luxuriously for the remainder of our trip. But hey, we can win them all!