23 March 2009


(Le Grand Pressigny is after all, the French centre for pre-history.)

I was born in 1951 in a very ordinary family. Money was tight for everybody in those days so if, when I was a child, teenager or young woman, you had told me I would eventually own a little house in France, I would have never thought it possible. A trip to the moon would have been more likely.

Once I had left home and started to earn a living, I was slightly better off but never felt the need for a passport. I had no desire to go on package holidays to Spain and had no idea how to go about anything more exotic. Holidays were spent camping in Scotland, Wales or Cornwall.

At the age of 28 I got a British Visitors Passport (remember those?) in order to go to Paris for a long weekend with a boyfriend. We went in his beaten-up MGB GT and camped in the Bois du Boulogne. (Can you still do that, I wonder?) He didn't last but I developed a taste for France that has lasted and grown.

In September 1993, on the steps of our local theatre, I bumped into Nick. The things we had in common were: we had both just passed our motorcycle tests; we were both single; we loved riding our bikes and were ready for some adventure.

We started riding together and did huge mileages. In spring 1994 we set off on our first adventure and went to a motorcycle rally in Belgium. After the rally we spent the rest of the week in France and our first stop was at Chinon. There I fell in love for the second time in 9 months. It was magic. The camp site at Chinon is across the river from the chateau. Going to the ladies loo at night is a magnificent experience - as you turn to leave the building and descend the steps the view of the chateau all lit up, with the boulevard and river in front of it and all the twinkly lights from the tents, is just wonderful. Chinon campsite is my favourite of all.

Chinon chateau and the bridge at night.

We pitched the tent and walked, exhausted, across the river into town. We had dinner and a bottle of wine in a small restaurant, which is now the Cafe des Arts, in Chinon's famous square with the fountain. We both had coq au vin. We have relived that meal many times since, although the restaurant is now somewhat more upmarket. In those days it was basic enough for the scruffy, smelly bikers that we were.






One of the lovely squares in the old town of Forcalquier the capital of Hautes-Province.

1 comment:

  1. I was born 1952 to even greater poverty. They think I'm rich back home because I have a house in Brittany (with it's own little micro-climate).

    I love the idea of having a bike, but I'm sure the power would see me off. I'm just not sensible when it comes to easy access to speed.