Thanks to the rowdy group previously mentioned we got very little sleep overnight. The group had headed towards the bar (along with a large number of young people about to start a Contiki Tour) and the party went on for quite a while.
I got up in the night when I heard groups walking about the campsite and around the parked rigs. A group sounded as if they were outside and at least one group thought it was funny to bang on caravans/camping cars and run away.
There is a complaint due to the management and I deliver it in no uncertain terms as we book out. There is a security guard at the front gate but we never saw him (them) and from the loud noise and the number of small groups strolling around, it would have been obvious to me that something should have been done.
It put the icing on a cake rapidly going stale that is yet another big city campsite.
All that said we now head east for the First World War centre (and now International Centre for Peace) Verdun.
Getting out of Paris is no mean feat. The motorway we want is literally over the back fence of the campground. We have to go under it to get to the front gate. But to get to the motorway to travel east requires quite a long journey through downtown Champigny and bordering suburbs.
However the on ramp to travel west on the motorway is much closer and easier. So the plan is to go west on the motorway, drop a u-turn and head east, negotiate several ring roads and link roads and stay away from Paris Centre and any other satellites.
Getting on the motorway is actually a breeze. And very quickly we are west bound. But the morning peak hour is building and there does not seem to be too many on ramps that match an off ramp that we could take. On seeing a familiar “Paris Centre” sign I bite the bullet and head off an off ramp. Straight into fairly heavy traffic and a one way system that takes me across The Seine to the far bank, the one that we do not want to be on.
And, although not downtown, it still very busy and chocker block with peak hour traffic and heavier delivery vehicles. A very large truck turns left ahead of us and I decide that I would rather follow something that needs a bit more room than end up in a squeeze somewhere, and so left we go. A hundred yards or so and a few quick lane changes around mid morning delivery vehicles later (made a little easier by being in the shadows of the much bigger rig) and we see a sign. Metz. Exactly where we wish to head. So we head there. Back across the river, a quick right turn and there is the motorway heading east. And then so are we. Hah.
That wasn’t so hard (again a-hum).
The next trick is to get off the ring roads and ensure that we are still heading east, but on the right road. We decide to head towards the Charles de Gaulle Airport and follow the ring roads using that as a header.
Damn this is so easy. Works like a charm. This way and that, over and under, left then right. And still on the correct roads. And then “Mitry Mory”, or the little town of.
The map certainly says head towards here. But the roads all seem very new and the next thing we are in a very narrow street, facing an oncoming bus, with road works all around (putting in an underground cable down the centre of the road) and traffic heaped up behind us.
A police car is right on the scene. Clearly no one is going anywhere fast, but a little bit of point duty and some taking charge should see the situation solved. Cops get in their car, drive up on the footpath to get around the hold up and away they go. Fucking French!
By using a nearby driveway and some fancy reversing on our part, and by the good will of those behind us squeezing their vehicles either side of the roadway, we manage to manoeuvre the bus through, us around and the vehicles behind ahead and away.
Using the same trick as in Paris (where the bigger vehicle goes so do we) we follow the bus through the rest of the road works to the edge of town and wide open countryside. We can breathe again.
An unplanned tour of an industrial complex follows, “Ah so this is where the Lidl Supply Store is” and a bit of guess work on my part (a-hum the third) and we find the correct road and, again heading east, we are on our way.
An uneventful trip after that, another Lidl right beside the road we are on, and an a few hours later sees us at Verdun and by midafternoon we are tied up alongside.
The country here is wide and flat and covered in wheat and corn fields. In fact as far as the eye can see. We have been impressed with the size of the agriculture here but these fields are so vast that we take photographs of them. Clearly they do not capture the feeling of space and distance, but it will help in the future to remind us.
One of the photographs is of hundreds of rolls of hay. These rolls are about two metres wide and about the same high. And they lay in the field as far as we can see.
The little towns that dot the route we now take (even though we are on a National Road it is well worn and narrow) are much different from the ones further west and south. They still front the roadway and are clearly old, but not that old. I imagine great damage caused by the war through here (an area that suffered much bombardment and capture by both sides) and this may well explain the look of the buildings. Perhaps this is the way that built in the 1920s.
It is hard to say other than they are different.
Verdun camping ground is very nice. It nestles between a low hill range and the river “La Mence”. There is small lake, plenty of trees and large swimming pool complex that has waterslides and a plunger pool.
The pitches are grass and pretty flat. It is 15 minutes walk from town and the places that I want to see, but that is tomorrow. Today has been a long day, filled with little unplanned tours, one or two 360 turns around round-a-bouts and meeting of local constabulary (lazy bastards) and shopping. Now is time for a rest and a breather.
And the camp has free WiFi. Yeah!
The rest of the day is planned. The only thing left today is follow the plan. It rains in the night. There is a spectacular thunder storm. That was not in the plan, but we are by now in bed and its time for sleeping, which certainly is in the plan.
Glad to be here.