This is a very self indulgent account of Richard and Heather Knowles travels as they wander through Europe in search of a different way of life.
This is a very self indulgent account of Richard and Heather Knowles travels as they wander through Europe in search of a different way of life.
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Monday 15 September


Went for breakfast at said service station., for coffee and croissant. Buffet breakfast only available, beyond budget (when we decide to follow it and more than we actually wanted to eat,) so coffee fruit and burnt beaufort on ryvita (H badly affected by bread, camper turbocharged) and off we set. Pulled into Chambery out of town shopping spot, frequented each year by Bentham Ski Trip. Waitress in mini skirt not in view ! Went to hypermarche encore une fois. Favourite pastime. Great activity around wine selling area. Prix Choc and special deals. Many men with trolleys full and carefully studying catalogues (shopping trolleys full of wine, and I mean seriously full at 1130 Monday morning, have we got our priorities right back in blighty ? ). I could not contain myself so approached gullible but friendly looking french guy. Why are all these blokes buying so much wine I asked in perfect French. The price is right he replied.

So I said, having already espied some 13% Cote du Rhone for under 2, what is a good buy ? Mmmm hard scratching of head, consultation of catalogue, pages flicked. What do you like ? “Remember I am a Brit that drinks fruit juice with a high alcohol content usually from the Antipodes, Shiraz or similar” my French flowed again but was received somewhat incredulously. How much do you want to spend and when do you want to drink it. Tonight and under 6 euros. Six euros is a serious bottle of wine in my mind. I am from the Yorkshire world of viniculture. A black aproned expert was summoned. How many of these have you seen lurking around the local ASDA. My man’s choice (wouldn’t have been mine) La Chapelle de Calamiac, le peche de saint-benoit Minervois la Liviniere 1999 13% mise en bouteille a propriete for 5.90 euros and several medailles d’or. I have been over influenced by crap Minervois at local off licence. Still bought some CdR for under 3 euros. Thanked my new French pal and went hunting cheese. Just bought some excellent Tomme de Savoie and topped up the Roquefort when french pal caught up and reminded us to decant our bottle first. Spotted confiture de lait on cheese counter, nasty looking brown stuff in a bowl ! Peter Kay (UK comedian would have a field day with that considering his views on Garlic Bread) jam made from milk ? Had to ask the assistant for a taste. Reminded me of some Swedish Cheese but tasted very sweet. The assistant said it was trop doux for her. H got it in one. Its spreadable fudge. And so it it is milk and sugar boiled up like jam. Bought other bits, bog rolls to combat confiture de lait and others because we couldn’t resist and went to pay. Met new pal again. All smiles and serious hope that we had a good voyage. Carried on up the road to Albertville, Moutiers and the great ascent to Val Thorens to book ski accommodation. Arrived to see cows walking across bridge usually skied across and pooing on tarmac tennis courts. Walked up beyond Mick Browns favourite leg stop at Les Deux Lacs bar on the piste and returned to park up. Pork Normandaise and Domaine Pelaquie CdR. Woke up to the sound of cow bells and primary source of beaufort cheese around camper, eating any bit of off limits grass they could.


Beaufort On The Hoof

Micks Leg Stop

Beaufort On The Hoof Micks Leg Stop


Tuesday 16 September


Woke up cold. Chilly already at 2300 metres. Mid forties, lithe, french woman in see through black lace top, mini skirt and boots perusing camper. H intercepted. Bon jour. French taxi driver turned up at same time. Pair desperate to see camper. H hurriedly tidies up. R exits shower, van door open , in towel, untanned side visible. Give me time to put my trolleys on (perfect french again). Jacques summer taxi driver (winter Ski Instructor at Meribel) very exuberantly investigates van. Makes several remarks about taking H off for private lessons (not parallel turns). Eventually takes woman, who it appears is not his wife but taxi fare on her way. Get prices for ski accommodation for Bentham Ski Trip, book and finally leave VT to return in March. (Spaces possibly available if anyone interested).

Down to Bourg St Maurice, hypermarche encore une fois. Special offer on chocolate eclairs. Head off for Les Arcs up the easiest ascent to a ski station in the Tarentaise. Pick up french hitch hiker, car broken down. Discuss merits of rugby and World Cup and drop him in Arcs 1600 to discover a free flotte bleue. Camper van service point with free electric and water and a view to die for. Just in case we do I have put rocks under the wheels to stop us dropping off the edge. It is like a magic kingdom off that cliff. Mountains darkly outlined by a pink and blue sky and little hamlets shining out of the dark valleys like fairy lights at Xmas. Moules Corsaise salad, Tomme de Savoie and Roquefort ,my french mates recommended wine (forgot to decant it, a bit chewy) and chocolate eclairs. Life really is a beach. (bitch) .



Night View



Wednesday 17 September


Parked up in Arcs 1800 and walked to Peissy Vallandry area through forests and along pistes skied in previous years. Saw the new equipment for the link to La Plagne being built. It is a huge cable car span with no central support for environmental reasons. Cost 15m. Mixed feelings about the link. The pistes on both sides are lovely and all the new traffic could have a disastrous effect. The lift pass has been set at a high price though may deter some potential users.

Drove down to hypermarche at Bourg and stocked up again. Drove up to Val d’Isere and parked on what is the Ice driving track in winter. Chicken casserole, Choc mousse and excellent chocolate eclairs and aptly named Chateau Ferret (minervois 13% for about 1.50 which was very palatable.) 


Our Pitch Arc 1600


Our Pitch Arc 1600


Morning View

We Ski This !

Morning View We Ski This !



Thursday 18 September


What a days drive. Round more precipitous hairpins than I have ever driven before. From Val D’isere over the Col d’Iseran and then over Col de Mont Cenis (looks worth skiing sometime) and then up to Sestriere. Fantastic scenery all day. Parked up in free aire de camping with electric. Fish Soup, Moules Salad and more Chateau Ferret. Watched a 2nd rate American video on our surround sound cinema scope laptop. Luxury after no TV for weeks.


Val D’isere Down There

Mont Cenis

Val D’isere Down There Mont Cenis


[Loire/Ile De Re] [Dordogne and Gorges] [Summer Alps] [Italy] [Slovenia] [Croatia] [On The Road To Morrocco] [Monte Carlo or Bust] [Spain, Benidorm and Gibraltar] [Rabat And All That] [El Jadida, Ounara, Essouria] [More meanderings & out of Africa] [Snowmads] [Snowmads 2] [Richard -  The BIG 50 !!!] [Eastern Europe] [Eastern Europe (cont)]


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