Bridging the Gorge
We awoke early for our drive along the Gorges du Tarn. It’s a busy road in summer and we were unsure about how easy it would be to navigate. The drive can be a bit nerve racking in a motorhome, especially when trying to avoid crashing into overhanging cliffs on one side while minibuses , hauling a bouncing trailer stacked with canoes, charge towards you on the other. Luckily, as it was Bastille Day, the roads were relatively quiet, keeping cries of “watch out!” to a minimum. We were hoping to do some canoeing along the river, but were thwarted by a nasty parasite that lurks in the poisonous Tarn River. It is fatal for dogs so, with Odie’s health in mind, we ambled leisurely along the road instead, enjoying the prolific birdlife and views of climbers scaling the heights.
A visit to Millau is not complete without seeing the bridge; a thin gossamer thread across a deep valley. It is a beautiful sight and we chose to enjoy it from the road at the nearby Aire which has a view point. It costs €11.80 to cross and includes a display on how it was built.
Millau is a bustling place and we arrived just in time for the fireworks and celebrations for Bastille Day, although an hour of rain threatened to ruin any celebrations. Once the downpour had settled to gentle dripping we took a walk into into town to enjoy the festivities. It didn’t take many bangs or bass noises to send Odie into a panic so Christine took him back to the campsite, leaving me behind to take photos. What happened next turned out to our worst travel experience so far.
Some enterprising pick pocket made off with my mobile phone and wallet. As if that wasn’t bad enough I missed one of the river crossings on the walk back and got hopelessly lost in the dark. It took several hours for me to find my way to the campsite, and when I eventually got there my heart sank. The van was gone. In its place was a note under a rock. “Dave, have gone to police station and hospital to look for you, reception can help”. So, off I went to reception to try and contact Chris. The campsite owner was anything but helpful, refusing to let me use their phone. I even offered to pay her twenty euros to send Chris an SMS, but that was turned down. “It’s not my problem”, she said, “you’ll have to walk to the hospital, maybe she’s still there. I’ll draw you a map”.
After a considerable amount of begging she eventually relented and arranged for Chris to be told to come and fetch me. We were both incredibly relieved to see each other again. As bad as the experience was it had a positive side – we learnt some valuable lessons, the most important being to appreciate every moment we have together!