As we are to visit Simon and the gang at their campsite in Onzain we make our way to Montargis which has a Port where we can leave Bluegum. The countryside is beautiful and we catch sight of many church spires along the way and the odd cyclist passes us by. We arrive in Montargis in the late afternoon and are fortunate to get the last mooring space right outside the security office which makes us both feel much happier about leaving her. We moor next to a narrowboat called Dream On and quickly get into conversation with her owners Sara and Laurent. It feels quite nostalgic and we tell them all about our own narrowboat Ebony. They invite us on board and her set up is remarkable similar to Ebony as well as being a Liverpool shell which makes me a little emotional to tell the truth. They then take a look around Bluegum and the difference is striking – whilst we loved Ebony we certainly made the right decision to buy a bigger boat for our adventures abroad.
We have a walk around Montargis which with a bit of imagination could be reminisant of Venice with its many bridges crossing over smaller canals. These have been made to look very pretty by having small rowing boats filled with flowers. We decide to eat out which whilst is a nice treat we are both disappointed with our meals and think we do a better job ourselves – don’t think the French have really got the hang of this vegetarian food. We have been told not to leave Montargis before tasting ‘Praelines’ which are grilled sugared almonds invented by the Duke of Plessis-Praelin’s cook – but I cannot give an opinion because the shops are shut so maybe next time.
Tuesday the 29th July we collect our hire car and have an uneventful two and a half hour drive to Onzain. We arrive just in time for a picnic and a game of boules; the traditional French outdoor sport. The campsite is perfect for families with young children having kids clubs, swimming pools and a range of activities to keep the little ones amused.
It is no surprise that we have a bbq later on as Simon, like his dad, loves to barbeque when the suns out and it’s a perfect excuse to drink more beer and wine. We enjoy a lovely evening with the family and finish the evening at the sites bar where we join some friends Joanne and Simon have made.
Simon, Joanne, Charles and I wake up reasonable early on the Wednesday morning so take the bikes for a nice cycle ride into the countryside and back through the woods. It’s a good tester to see how we cope with riding as neither Charles nor I have ridden in years and we have just ordered two bikes which we will keep on Bluegum. Most of the boaters in France have bikes to do their shopping and for sight seeing and it seems to be a good way of getting around as we don’t have a car and the bus service is not that good over here. We really enjoy it and decide we have made the right decision.
After breakfast we all go to the pool which is incredibly busy and the water is incredibly cold. It takes some time to build up enough courage to get it but it’s a great way to cool down. Louie has learnt to swim without buoyancy aids and is very proud to show us his new found skills. In the afternoon Simon, Charles and Angus go off for a boules tournament with some competitive French folk leaving the rest of us at the caravan. We eventually decide we should go and support the men but Joanne and I end up in the bar enjoying some chilled Rose.
The entertainment for the evening is a Foam Party and everyone apart from sensible Charles gets absolutely soaked – It’s a first for me and we all had a great time until we got too cold so we retreat back for showers and us girls end up in our pj’s leaving the men and boys to party on.
The two days are soon over and regrettably we have to say our goodbyes and get the car back by 12 noon. We managed to get back by 12.10 but find the garage shut for the French mandatory lunch break and saw a sign on the door stating the garage would be closed until 2pm. No worries we thought and go off for a spot of lunch only to return to be told that as we were late bringing it back we had to pay for an additional two hours – I wouldn’t have minded if they had told us they closed for lunch or if there had been something on the paperwork but we are expected to know their little French ways – as you can probably guess I am not too happy about this and then they charged us for going over the 200 allocated kilometres – turns out to be an expensive car hire. Oh well more lessons learnt.