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Le Puy-Notre-Dame Retro

by

Duncan Grimmond

Having dithered for several weeks about whether I could justify the expense and self-indulgence, my mind was made up for me by the difference in price between the on-line booking form and the price I was quoted by the booking clerk. (Pam also reminded me that it would be more fun to spend the money rather than let the care home take it!)

Landing at Zeebrugge on the Wednesday I set off towards the SW. I've finally cracked the way of setting my GPS to suit my needs. Avoid motorways &travel via a small town on the way. Doing this I have discovered a huge range of French country roads, generally well surfaced and almost empty of traffic. The D928 seems to run almost all the way from Hondeschoote on the French/Belgian border to Rouen (and beyond)

Silver Surfer II

At the "Bamboo" crossroads there was a diversion to avoid an accident which took us along country roads towards Abbeville but allowed me to peel off towards Neufchatel-en-Bray, my first planned stop. The municipal Camp sitewas well run, tidy, clean, with café and a bakery delivery (to order) every morning.

Thursday morning saw me out along the road heading for L'Aigle via Louviers . The only traffic I encountered was around the Pont de l'Arche / Louviers area on the southern fringes of Rouen.

La Loire

After my over-indulgence in French lunches on the Montlhery outing I was sticking to picnics and there are plenty of marked sites. I reached a camp site at Bourgueil to the west of Saumur. This was a little more basic than the previous one but perfectly adequate and reasonably priced.

I spent the following morning having a wander around Saumur including a visit to the chateau with its stunning views over the Loire.

I bought some provisions for lunch at the market and set off towards le Puy N D. I found a picnic spot with tables and seats that was host to a group of Beetles and VW campers and an English family in a Land Rover.

Lunch over, I headed to Puy and the campsite on the football field. This is made available free to entrants and visitors but is extremely basic! A changing room block with loos and communal showers, OK for single chaps but the facilities were a bit too basic for family requirements.

By chance the owner of the Marguerite cyclecar.

which I used as an inspiration for my two-tone look had parked next to my pitch and made my day.

As I hadn't officially entered I was without the requisite wrist-band as so could not participate in the evening meal provided but booked a table in a restaurant and arranged a vegetarian dinner.

All the cars

After eating I wandered down to the main street which had been closed and furnished with 30 or 40 tables to accommodate the 200+ guests and joined a couple of Brits, one of whom was , Dave, an expat who had built a tidy" Pembletoid" special on a 2CV chassis. He was a forum subscriber and recognised my name from the workshop weekends.

The other was Gerry with an interesting Riley special which was not running properly.

La Loire

While I was waiting for my table an amazing Darmont Special appeared in the square. The patina was astonishing and his tale of a barn-find and its purchase was bizarre to say the least. Timed phone calls, early morning visits, delayed meetings, strictly cash, surreptitious collections , any of which could have been inheritance evasion or criminal. The tale was that it had been a speed trial and hill climb special and had had a full competition rebuild before it was put away in 1929 and hadn't seen the light of day since.

I ate and went back to the other street. A pleasant evening with cheap wine and live music and dancing followed and I wandered slowly back to the tent after midnight.

Darmont

The following morning I had breakfast with Bernard & Joelle, the couple who bought my BSA trike in 2011, and we then gathered to join the "randonnee". Country roads to a chateau, where coffee, baguettes and paté was available to all.

Assembled cars

The parking was directed and there was a chevron of Morgans and Darmonts looking very tidy. I was in with a selection of trikes including the BSA. The whole weekend is much favoured by a section of the UK Morgan three-wheelers Club who have been attending regularly since the event's very early days.

Motorcycles

This was followed by a 40km drive to a "Salle Polyvalent" where the subscribers had a classic French lunch provided. The cheapskates like me had our picnic at a table in the shade which, very welcome in the midday sun. Tw0 and a half hours later we set off on the return leg. As I did not have the "Cahier de Route" I was following the car in front in the hope that they both had the book and knew where they were going.

Within 20km the group had dissipated to a small hard core so I went for petrol and set the satnav for Puy N D.

Back at the camp I met three French bikers, all BMW enthusiasts. We chatted bikes and Pembletons and I found one was a mechanic so I mentioned my carburationhiccup, just in passing you understand.

I made myself some food, (no wrist-band to get into the Mairie entertainments) and wandered down to the town again for a beer. Over the road were the three bikers who were eating in a café and they invited me to join them. Having already eaten I suggested I should return after their meal. I did and we enjoyed an evening with a pichot of Rose d'Anjou. I also got a rendez-vous for a bit of expert diagnosis.

Unfortunately I was kept awake by a bunch of unruly teenagers till the early hours, I wish I could swear in French!

La Loire

Sunday was dull and with a cool wind, rain threatened. After my breakfast I wandered into what had to be described as a Morgantastic paddock. Lots of other marques as well of course with many interesting French examples. Even a few Austin 7s.

The rain arrived as threatened and the "races" were a little sluggish in the wetter parts of the morning. Dave with the Pembletoid was not feeling too well, left for home but gave me his wristband and so I got a free lunch.

Assembled cars

The rain seemed to be coming in in bands so the afternoon's motor-cycle race was a cracker. A couple of Brits putting on a good show with some nip-and-tuck stuff at moderate speeds for a street course. They came in 1st and 2nd.

The sidecar race was another good spectacle,from a 1922 belt-drive 200cc with superlight sidecar to an extravagance of styling Gnome-Rhone with aero-styled chair, which arrived with a period camper bus.

Assembled cars

The rendez-vous came good but when I took Dominic for a diagnostic spin, the flat spot was not to be found ! Perhaps the engine was too cold.

I had already prepared the camp for a speedy departure as I planned to visit Bruno near Rennes, 190km away.

The 3 hour drive was dry in the most part, I just brushed the edge of a shower but getting the wet weather gear ready to put on seemed to act as insurance.

Assembled cars

My route homewards was another delight of French country roads. You can drive for 10-15km without seeing another car and. Stages of 150-200 miles are easily achieved.My total mileage was 1238 over the seven days

The 2CV components of the car obviously recognise that they are back home by responding perfectly and SSII seemed to come on song.

Duncan


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