From Vaison-la-Romaine to Thoirette

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A Change of Plan

In the last post I said that we’d planned to cut through Switzerland to get to Germany. To drive on the motorways and national roads, you need to buy a vignette for CHF40 (£33) at the border. We were aware of this and were (begrudgingly) prepared to pay. What we didn’t realise is that we’d also have to pay a further daily amount (CHF5?) on top of that, as the van weighs over 3.5 tonnes. Given that we’re really enjoying ourselves in France, we’ve decided to give Switzerland a miss this time, and instead cross into Germany from France. We’ll also be treating ourselves to a nice meal out with the money we would otherwise have spent on Swiss road taxes.


It was another scorcher of a day, the sign outside one of the village pharmacies we drove past was registering 30°C by 10 AM, and the day just got hotter and hotter.   We’d only intended to stop off at the Montbrison-sur-Lez aire to take advantage of the free electric hook up on offer and charge up the laptop. It was only a short drive, but we enjoyed the lush green alpine scenery of the Côtes du Rhône, with field after field of vines. As we drew closer to Montbrison-sur-Lez, we noticed fields of lavender between the vines giving a pretty contrast of colours.

The aire was on a quiet road on the outskirts of the village, in the shade of a some very tall trees and backing onto an area with benches and picnic tables. Immediately opposite vines were growing, and a short distance up the lane we could see fields of lavender. It was so picturesque that we decided to stop for the night.

Given the temperature, we spent the day sat in the shade reading. I also took full advantage of the free electricity, firing up the laptop to work out a new route into Germany, and noted down the co-ordinates of some suitable looking aires.

Once the weather had cooled down a bit, we went for a walk to see the lavender fields. Not only did they look at great, they smelled lovely too.





St Antoine l’Abbaye

Heading north on another scorching day, we continued to enjoy the scenery, though after a while the lavender fields petered out and were replaced by other crops, mainly sweetcorn and sunflowers, though no yellow yet unfortunately.

It took a good couple of hours to reach St Antoine l’Abbaye, another of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France. The aire was on the edge of the village, just a few minutes walk from the centre, and being the only van there we were able to bag the best spot in the shade.

As the name implied, the focal point of the village was the abbey. It certainly looked impressive from the outside, and we stepped inside as we could hear the organ playing. As soon as we sat down the music stopped, so we went for a wander round the village.

The rest of the afternoon was spent chilling in the shade outside the van until a thunderstorm broke.

St Antoine l’Abbaye

St Antoine l’Abbaye

Virieu sur Bourbe

The lady in the tourist office had recommended a couple of places to visit on the way to the next aire at Virieu sur Bourbe, so we stopped at Roybon and Bressieux on our way.

Roybon – a replica of the Statue of Liberty (a gift from France to the USA)


The aire was in a lovely setting, and we parked right next to a water mill. It was another day of temperatures in the 30’s, with another late afternoon thunderstorm. We had the aire all to ourselves, and the sound of the water sploshing through the night was very therapeutic.

Virieu sur Bourbe


After spending a night on a lovely peaceful aire in the rural village of St André sur Vieux Jonc, we were supposed to move on through the Jura mountains to Maisod. We pulled over for a ‘brew with a view’ up in the mountains, and then stopped in the next village, Thoirette, to buy some bottles of water (we’re drinking loads in this hot weather).

Jura mountains – a brew with a view

We noticed an aire next door to the supermarket, so parked up with the intention of buying some shopping and continuing on our way. However I couldn’t help noticing that there was an unmetered electric hook up point. Checking the notice board, we saw that the aire cost €6 per night including the electricity. Given that the rent collectors tend to pop round early in the evening, we thought we’d stop for lunch and plug into the electricity for a couple of hours and update this blog, then move on. We hadn’t been plugged in for more than 15 minutes before a lady turned up for the rent. Caught out, we had to cough up €6 and now we’ll be spending the night here instead. It’s a nice aire in a lovely village, so no big deal.


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