Friday, October 28, 2011

France Day 7

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Today is driving day. That is it. Just driving. We packed all our bags, loaded up the car and off we went. Well, we did stop at the local store with a boulangerie for pain au chocolat for breakfast, yum. This time we were following some printed instructions and we did okay. A few missed turns that we quickly righted. There were a few errands that we wanted to do along the way, or actually we wanted to do them before we started out but never found the right places. So I randomly pulled off the road into what looked like a pretty good sized town looking for gas. And the first thing we saw was a post office, bingo. He gave me directions to the Intermarche (supermarket) down the street. And on our way there, a bank, bingo again. The third and final item was the gas at the supermarket. And luckily all of this was on just the one road, so that we could trace our steps back to the highway. So, mission accomplished. And I don't even know the name of the town we were in.

Most of our drive was on toll roads which were great roads. You take a ticket as you start which is stamped with your location. Then at some point down the road, when you get off the toll road, or when it seems to be ending, the toll center reads your ticket and you pay your euros. I think our trip was about 8 hours and our tolls were a little over 100 euros. But we did travel most of the length of France.

Random fact you may not have know. They have deer bridges. On parts of the toll roads. Yes, overpasses for deer to get from one side of the road to the other. I really like that.
EDIT: Okay, I know it is hard to see but it is not easy getting a photo in focus, through a windsheild, into the sun, driving 130KM per hour with your mother sitting next to you saying "Ummm, what are you doing?" trying not to freak out. Although by then she was kind of used to it. I have some pretty cool photos of some of the signs on the side of the road. What the photo should show you is the very high sides and the trees and foliage across it. It is also pretty wide. It was confirmed that it was a deer bridge a bit later by some construction signs for another they were building. (I'm pretty sure that is what they said.)

Two cool things about the toll roads. The first is that the speed limit is 130km. Not sure what that is in miles, but it was a good little clip. And since it is illegal to pass on the right hand side there is a lot of active driving, moving to the left to pass, then back again immediately for others to pass. The other thing I really liked is how many rest areas they have, and how beautiful most of them are. A majority have picnic areas, lots of grass, playgrounds for children and then many others also have gas stations, restaurants, and a few even had hotels. All pretty cool so you don't have to get off the toll road. We had brought the best sandwiches in the world with us to have as a picnic lunch. They are so simple, delicious French bread with butter and a few slices of jambon (ham). There is just something about each of these simple things that is just done better in France, then you put them all together and wow. Well, we went through the city of Lyon and at that point decided we were hungry so to pull off at the next rest stop to eat. I pulled into one and immediately pulled right back out. Mom was squawking about how hungry she was and she needed to eat right then but I was not going to eat in that ugly rest stop when I had seen such beautiful ones before. And as mom had been snoozing most of the drive I think she missed seeing them. So when I finally did pull over she admitted it was worth the wait. So beautiful. A big park area with picnic tables under the trees, two different playgrounds for kids, and it was huge.

There were also very cool clean bathrooms. Very modern set up. On the wall was a pretty big cut out with pictures of water, soap and a dryer above. So you put your hands through this kind of conveyor system that all turned on automatically. I had to get a picture of it. Seriously.

EDIT: I also noticed this great grove of trees just on the other side of the rest stop. They were so beautiful I had to take a few shots.

I was pretty amazed by this angle. Such precision.

We finally pulled into our new area with relatively little fuss. We used the gps to find the home of the Untour hosts for this area. Then our new landlady came to their house so we could follow her back to our new apartment. Thank goodness she did. I would never have gone down some of the "roads" she took us on if I hadn't been following her. I think we were spoiled by going to Alsace first. This area is much more populated than where we were. So far there really haven't been that many open spaces and the towns seem to extend into one another. Not a bad thing, I just loved the open beauty of where we were.

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