Just over a week ago I left Switzerland and entered France. With very friendly (no really!) customs men. I can only assume that they thought my van was supercool.
I have to say that France immediately felt friendlier to be in. Still, there are mountains, but they are a bit more gentle, green and the landscape is more flowing. I don’t know, maybe it’s also because I entered right into the Jura, which is absolutely stunning!
It’s been ups and downs, but I am starting to get the hang of this vanlife a bit more everyday (yay for me!). I’ve stayed a camping for a few nights. A very lovely camping I must say (recommended by my neighbours, thank you!), but it’s not really for me. At least not now. Being alone, I can deal with pretty well, I’ve had quite some practice. But when I’m surrounded by families and (seemingly) happy couples, it just doesn’t work. Not that I would want to have a family right now, but alone is just pretty alone sometimes. Having a connection with someone can be really wonderful. Also, I’m not yet in a place where I feel ok walking up to people I don’t know and starting a conversation (I’m working on improving my French… It’s in there somewhere :-)). So, for now, I’m skipping campings, I’d rather be alone (with Jip of course…).
I’ve also had lovely nights, close to beautiful lakes, streams and nature
It’s quite the task to find nice places to stay, also because I’m quite picky :-P. I’ve managed pretty well so far. One looked nice, alongside the Loire, but turned out to be a place where intoxicated people go, to make too much noise in the middle of the night. But I’ve also had lovely quiet nights, close to beautiful lakes or streams and nature. It’s so nice to wake up in the morning, have a meditation session and breakfast with a view (although I meditate with my eyes closed, so the view doesn’t really matter ;-)).
And then go for a walk or a swim if there’s a lake. I’ve also picked up my movement practice (call it yoga, whichever you prefer) a bit more, that does feel good! The lakes in the Jura are really beautiful. I’ve also visited les cascades du Herrison. A walk down (and the same way back up) along waterfalls. It’s 3,7 km and 250m height difference. A bit touristy, but beautiful non-the less.
There are no wrong turns, just different routes
The past days I’ve driven through le parc national des Cevennes, again really beautiful. The roads Lotje and me have taken… It’s not always relaxed driving. It’s kind of like life. Sometimes I take a turn, see a steep road ahead and think; oh crap I don’t want to… but then go for it anyway and then there is the view… Except for 1 time, when I left Switzerland. My sister had already warned me to stay on the bigger roads, but google maps told me to take a turn, and so I did (obviously). That turned into a very steep (I think about 15-20%) and narrow road (just a bit wider than Lotje), which looked never ending. After about 50 meters of black smoke from my exhaust and Lotje struggling big time, there was an opening towards a field. I took the turn very poorly and ended up having to go backwards and forwards about 10 times to turn the van. In the back I was hitting a wooden fence pole and in the front, there was concrete… But in the end, I made it, although it probably cost me a few weeks of my life… So, just like life, not all turns are happy ones, or well taken for that matter. But you learn. And in the end; there are no wrong turns, just different routes (even google maps works that way).
Besides some cooling liquid issues, it’s been smooth and beautiful driving! I do have to say that I’m so incredibly happy that I had my flat tire in Holland and not here. Also, I’m pretty amazed by myself that I’ve driven this far. I used to be a bit afraid to drive abroad, alone and for longer periods. But here I am, in the south of France, cruising through the mountains. As I said, not always very relaxed, and I’ve just cracked my side mirror (good luck for me!), but I’m here and doing it all anyway :-). Again, yay for me!
Oh, and for all you curious people, welcome to my crib! (I know, it’s just 2 pictures not very MTV worthy, but awesome anyway!)