So we headed West through Northern Italy, and into the Southern part of the French Alps, at one point travelling for over 12 kilometres in one tunnel before popping out the other end in France, having entered in Italy.
We drove up through Frances own mountain lakes area, tried to work out how many famous mountains we were driving in the shadows of and then heading North West we skirted any large towns and stuck mostly to secondary roads to work our way towards Normandy. After a bit of a rest in the car during the night we found ourselves on part of the Le Mans race circuit the next morning before stopping for various incidental tourist sites……..Tiger Tanks, old bridges, that sort of stuff.
By this stage we had established that we would do the family thing in a few days time, after getting some rest in Cambremer, so it was basically full speed ahead for cider, smelly cheese, and lots of bonjours on the balconey at Bruno and Chrystels little French paradise.
We realised when we first visited Cambremer that it was the sort of town that we might like to have a holiday cottage in if we lived in the UK. In fact the idea of having somewhere in Europe to call home would be nice regardless of where we lived but I think the distance would make it a less attractive proposition.
Anyway, for us for another week it was to be as much like home as we had experienced for the last 8 months. Sure we had been welcomed and spoilt at family and friends houses in the UK, but this was a little more at our pace with our own space. It was wonderful.
We did still do some exploring and I managed to have some curious experiences whilst wandering around the country lanes………..
Whilst visiting the local War Memorial I said hello to an Asian lady that was walking past, seemingly on her way out of town. A little unusual I thought as there is no real footpath to speak of and not a lot of destinations.
By the time I left the Memorial she had turned back and we chatted again. This time she told me she was following the Cider route, a signposted tourist route around local Cider farms – for tourists in cars to follow I assumed!? Then the lady told me she was from Xi’an in China so I told her we had recently spent 10 days there. As we were talking she then explained that her ex-boyfriend had left her in Cambremer and driven off so she was now without a car but determined to see some more of the Cider route and get back to her hotel. I assumed that where she was trying to get to was where her hotel was……….
Basically, the lady spoke excellent French but only OK English so there may have been some mis-understandings as I communicated that I had a car to take her to her hotel and she communicated that she would like someone to drive her to the Cider farm that she had not yet seen. So I drove her to a Cider farm about 6km from Cambremer and when we arrived she asked me to join her for the small tour. I did as I hadn’t been to a Cider farm. After the tour there was Cider tasting and the lady, Emma, wanted to speak to the owner as it turned out she was studying Biology in Paris and was interested in Cider farming as a future career course. I was unsure as to what I was still doing there but she asked if I would wait and then she would return to her hotel.
So I waited and then we drove towards her hotel. When we got to Cambremer and she said that the centre of town was a good place to drop her off, I started to wonder what had just happened. Putting it down to mis-communication, I couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for this lady left stranded in the French countryside.
As I returned to our own accommodation she walked up the street past me commenting that she was a little lost but her hotel was just up the street. So I again said farewell……..
Until that evening when she bounced in after tea time with a bottle of bubbly cider and keen to catch up with Julia and I for a drink and a dance!???!! Well, we were being typically hospitable and obliged the drinking part and then sat around learning more about Emma whilst she listened to our stories of China. When we asked how she was getting back to Paris where she was studying, she was kind of blank about how she would get from Cambremer to the train station so I offered to deliver her. It is what any self-respecting French man would have done!
Actually, meeting Emma was a nice distraction from daily life in Cambremer and certainly an amusing one, with several lessons of the need to communicate effectively. Molly thinks it is very amusing that I took off into the country-side, drinking cider with a mysterious lady from Xi’an.