Monthly Archives: October 2008

Antibes to Mandelieu via Renoir’s House

Patrick is able to see again which has improved the safety of French roads considerably.

Today we finally left the old farm campsite at Villeneuve Loubet and headed all 14 miles to Mandelieu.

However, at the last moment we realized that we had spent 2 weeks just 3 miles from the Renoir museum so we left the van at the side of the road and took the buggy there. By the time we got there, it was 45 minutes before closing for lunch… Neverthe less we did get to see it and were very glad to have done so.

No piccies allowed inside but

Renoir's house

Renoir

Part of the garden

Part of the garden

The famous old farm with Cagnes-sur-Mer famous Mimosa

The famous old farm with Cagnes-sur-Mer famous Mimosa

Edit: No it isn’t, says Liz This is a picture of the snail trees of Nice! Maybe but it is still perty.

Some more modern piece in chrome (and poor quality welding)

Some more modern piece in chrome (and poor quality welding)

This must be art. You can tell 'cos they bought it!

This must be art. You can tell

Now that is representational.

Now that is representational.

The journey to Cannes was uneventful except for the process of filling up at the petrol station.
There is the van for petrol (front left); the buggy for petrol (rear right) and then gas for the cooker bottle (mid right) but over the other side of the yard – in that order. Confused? We were.
This was the first opportunity for me to take the D90 out for a play.

Two photos stiched from top of ten foot pole (pitch at Villeneuve)

Two photos stiched from top of ten foot pole (pitch at Villeneuve)

A haunted wood?

A haunted wood?

Saturday night out for the French when the tourists have gone home.

Saturday night out for the French when the tourists have gone home.

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The six (bank) card trick!

Here is the picture.

A supermarket on the South coast of France with a cash point in the foyer. Patrick walks in and gets out six bank cards and a list of numbers on a bit of paper.

He inserts the first card and tries two numbers. Inserts next card and tries two more, and so on for four of the six cards.

The final two cards go in and he draws cash from each one. The queue of people waiting behind him have puzzled looks on their faces…

He hasn’t taken to identity theft.

We asked Nationwide to send us cards, one each for our account with them to use for getting cash in Europe as they do that free of charge.

The cards they send us do not have chips on them. They also send us, in a different letter, PIN numbers but the PIN numbers do not match the cards.

We ask Nationwide what we should do and they tell us to use our existing PIN numbers. We do and they work.

On enquiry, we discover that they can be used in ATMs which don’t read chips but can’t be used to pay for things in shops who do read chips.

This is inconvenient. We ask Nationwide to send us chipped debit cards.

This they willingly do and send us the cards to us at Claire’s address.

Claire posts them International Signed For to us in Troyes. 10 days later they haven’t arrived and we discover that they are only traceable to the point where the Royal Mail hands them to La Poste.

We decide to leave Troyes and ask the owner of the campsite to refuse delivery of the post if it should arrive.

We continue to use the cards we have in ATMs without a problem.

About a week later, they cards reappear with Claire as undeliverable.

Claire then sends them to us by Airsure which is traceable all the way.

At this point, we find that our cards no longer work in ATMs. However, 5 days later the new cards arrive safely.

Do the new cards have the same PIN numbers as the now defunct old cards?

Do the new PIN numbers relate to the new cards even though the PIN numbers were sent out before we asked for the Debit cards?

Maybe the new PIN numbers are for the old cards and the old PIN numbers will work with the new cards?

As we all know, they give you three chances with your PIN numbers and then the ATM will eat your card and there is no appeal.

Hopefully, Patrick actions are now what anyone would be expected to do.

The final two cards were when I had had enough and decided to use Barclaycards whatever the cost and get some new PIN numbers from Nationwide!

Why are we surprised that banks don’t trust each other?

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Troyes to Nice – Tunnels & Bridges Horror

Geneva to Genova – written by Liz 30.09.08
So, we’re in Deiva Maria, about 50 miles east of Genoa (Genova) on the Italian Riviera and what is it doing? Why, raining, of course.

The night sky in Deiva Marina - Red sky at night...

The night sky in Deiva Marina - Red sky at night...

We arrived last night – Sunday – to a beautiful sunset over the sea, as seen from our pitch, only to be met with rain this morning. At 14.05 (Italian time) it’s still pouring and isn’t as warm as it should be. Still I can look out over the sea and imagine it blue and beautiful, rather than grey and miserable.

And the morning shows us the beach...

And the morning shows us the beach...

Patrick has taken the train to Genova (I think)

I wish I had noted the name of this church in Genoa...

I wish I had noted the name of this church in Genoa...

and I have elected to stay here and recover from our long journey south. We left Troyes on Sunday morning and scampered south in brilliant sunshine to the little village of Neydens, just south of Geneva, but still in France. Although so close to Switzerland, we were put off by the thought of the cost of the compulsory vignette for major roads (£40+) and the still chilly nights and so decided to brave the Mont Blanc tunnel and head for the Med.

It was a truly awe-inspiring journey – one of the best I have ever taken – through (literally) the Alps, across/through the Appennines and along the A12 autostrada to the sea. It was worth every penny of the 80E toll charges.

A wall would have been nice...

A wall would have been nice...

Shouldn't we have oxygen rather than propane for this trip?

Shouldn't we have had oxygen rather than propane?

So this is how rabbits see Mont Blanc

So this is how rabbits see Mont Blanc

Continued by Patrick

The noise level on the trip was higher than usual. Much of the journey was through tunnels and over bridges between mountains. Patrick doesn’t like heights so every exit from a tunnel caused anxious squeaks and Liz doesn’t like being trapped underground so the end of every bridge brought a sigh of relief from Patrick and anxious squeaks from Liz…

This aversion to the life of a rabbit became very apparent when we decided to take an impromptu trip from Deiva Marina to Sestri Levante

Sestri Levante

Sestri Levante

along the old coast road. This is almost entirely tunnels but very narrow single lane affairs. The system is that you arrive at the first tunnel and there is a set of lights and a board telling you what times the lights will go green. In effect, you are being formed into convoys. Some of the tunnels seem endless but are broken up with little holes in the cliff or a few yards of open road. Liz found that she needed to keep her eyes shut or feel sick.

Coming back, we were the first in the fifteen minute convoy. As the lights went green, our buggy decided not to start! At this point we realized that we had come out without phones or money. Fortunately, we realized it was a stuck starter motor and it has a pull start as well. We made it for the following convoy.

Deiva Marina had some merits…

The beach at Deiva Marina - blue like God intended even in the rain!

The beach at Deiva Marina - blue like God intended even in the rain!

Deiva Marina - the beaches are free at this time of the year

Deiva Marina - the beaches are free at this time of the year

Found in Deiva Marina - so Emus do take holidays!

Found in Deiva Marina - so Emus do take holidays!

But we found the campsites in the area very cramped. Seems Italians think a space to park is all you need. We also found that we were finding the language harder to learn than we expected. The thought of committing to Italian for the next 6 months frightened us quite a lot – especially as our initial experience was that the locals didn’t have much patience with people who didn’t speak the lingo.

We made the decision to run for the French Riviera and eventually to Spain. Liz finds it very difficult when she can’t understand the conversations she overhears!
So three nights later, we headed for France and Villeneuve Lubet Plage, between Nice and Antibes.

Genova to Nice
Again, a wonderful drive along the old coast road rather than taking the very much quicker toll road. It twists and turns. It goes up and down at alarming angles. But every turn produces wonderful views of the blue Med, often hundreds of feet below but then you drop down to sea level for the villages along the coast.

Where is Jeremy Clarkson?

Where is Jeremy Clarkson?

Reward for dangerous driving...

Reward for dangerous driving...

Wonderful places to stop and rest over a cuppa and some bread & cheese.

Lunch time again.

Lunch time again.

Fashion can change, you know...

Fashion can change, you know...

At one point, we saw a somewhat elderly looking plane banking round the headland and apparently headed for the cliffs! On closer inspection, it proved to be a seaplane. It came in to land (or is that sea) just below us, bounced a good few times and took off again. Not sure what that was all about. Maybe just to rough when it came to it…

It is a plane and here it comes...

It is a plane and here it comes...

And we are down, maybe

And we are down, maybe

We didn't want to stop anyway, did we?

We didn't want to stop anyway!

This is not a road to be hurrying. Each town is a twenty minute crawl through narrow streets

The main SS1 coast road - really!

The main SS1 coast road - really!

– hard to remember that we are on an A-road (well actually the SS1). Ventimiglia was an interesting place to pass through. It looks like it is, a frontier town almost entirely devoted to selling French tourists their cheap booze and tobacco (and fuel, of course) together with amazing arrays of tatty souvenirs.

We skirted Monaco – actually, it felt more like flying over it – then dropped down to the very much more sophisticated plain at Nice.

The campsite we are on is very attractively set out with hedged pitches and clean, well appointed facilities, including an indoor swimming pool and small shop/café that sells bread and croissants in the morning.

What do mean, "travelling"?

What do mean, travelling?

They have a number of “chalets” or wooden huts for rent. We took one of these for Julyan & Georgia to come for the weekend as we wanted to see them and Paris was proving very wet and cold.

They came down on the overnight sleeper on Thursday night, arriving at Antibes at 7am Friday morning. Fortunately, they had the sense to find a café for breakfast before ringing us at a more reasonable hour.

The harbour at Antibes

The harbour at Antibes

Patrick had just bought his long promised Nikon D90 digital SLR in Nice complete with three lenses. A 50mm f1.8, an 18-200 zoom with vibration removal and a Sigma 4.5mm (yes, really) fisheye. This proved a great success with both Georgia and Julyan.

Much eating,

You can see stress levels are high...

You can see stress levels are high...

Tea time for the soul.

Tea time for the soul.

swimming and trips to Nice and Antibes

Its Julyan & Georgia but which century?

Its Julyan & Georgia but which century?

Liz and fierce bodyguard

Liz and fierce bodyguard

Strange people can be found in the back streets of Antibes

Strange people can be found in the back streets of Antibes

Paperazzi's delight?

Paperazzi

Georgia in Heaven

Georgia in Heaven

took up most of the time. Julyan, of course needed to try driving the buggy on the beach! He had to share it with a wildcamp…

No matter how many ways you say it, it has no meaning!

No matter how many ways you say it, it has no meaning!

A free campsite

A free campsite

They went back on Sunday but this time on the TGV in daylight. The round trip cost them just 100E.

We are currently waiting for Patrick’s new glasses to be made. £350 in UK two years ago – £650 here! But they really are essential – particularly if he is driving… Liz has driven the buggy on the road after a trial run on the beach but is still proving adept at dreaming up excuses for not doing so.

On Tuesday, Liz spent a very happy day on her own in Antibes; visiting the Picasso Museum

The Musee Picasso, Antibes

The Musee Picasso, Antibes

(his house, really) and found the building more attractive than the paintings.

Inside Picasso Museum

Inside Picasso Museum

View from Picasso's pad (The Musee)

View from Picasso

Homage to Picasso by someone. They are beat up violas!

Homage to Picasso by someone. They are beat up violas!

She also had a happy snurge through the English Bookshop. We both remember Antibes from a sailing visit in 1994 and have found it just as good now, very cramped and compact but the old town is charming with a wonderful market.

Antibes market

Antibes market

Another church we didn't get the name of but it is in Antibes.

Another church we didn't get the name of but it is in Antibes

Patrick has resisted blowing the budget on glacé fruits – so far!

Amazingly, we have finally got our post from Claire so we have things like driving licences, bank cards and health cards at last. Once the specs are ready, probably the end of the week, we will move on to Mandelieu, the industrial end of Cannes where there is a motorhome stockists. The idea is to pick up things like a campsite discount card (ACSI) and a shower bag but Liz may feel the need to inspect other vans and…

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