In France on their wheels

In France on their wheels

You can travel all year round, but in the summer the desire to leave somewhere far becomes simply irresistible. At this time, for many travels become a way of life. For those who have already experienced hospitality and rejoicing numerous travel agencies, but did not receive the expected satisfaction from the game in this roulette "lucky – not lucky", "deceived – not deceive", Another option remains: Traveling on your own car. Among his advantages – complete independence from the circumstances and comparative cheapness. Among the shortcomings (although someone may seem advantage) – the need to be constantly ready for adventures that always have enough.

Choosing expensive

About European roads "generally" written a lot, and it makes no sense to repeat everything. Recall only the main rule: you want to get acquainted with the country closer – choose in your guide satin "thin" expensive. If you need to quickly get from point A to point B, you should follow "Tolstoy" Roads. In different countries, they may be called differently, but on the map they always look like – a fat green line with a thin white stripe in the middle. Those who wish to move from this highway should be patient and get wondered in the mountains, forests and among villages in three houses. Return to the highway sometimes takes half a day. And do not think that "Thin" The road seems shorter, it will quickly bring you to the goal.

Once in sunny morning, crossing Germany in the direction of the French border, we decided to save time. Rolling from the route to the shorter to us "thin" The track, we spinned on the curves of the road and the irregularities of the relief, only by the evening I started it on the highway. But I got acquainted in detail with the peculiarities of the life of the German depth.

If you go from Russia to France through Ukraine (through Uzhgorod), Slovakia and the Czech Republic, then, most likely, the shortest road to you will pass through the German cities of Ulm, Stuttgart and Karlsruhe. Moving turn to Baden-Baden, it is necessary to continue moving through the highway, waiting for the turn to Paris. The fact is that the pointer to Paris on the CarlSruhe highway – Basel is barely distinguishable in roadside bushes, and if you do not notice it, then I’m suspecting anything, you will reach the Frebir himself, if not to Basel. And then you have to return back.

Probably there is some more straight road to Paris from this German highway, but we never found it, so before the first French city, Strasbourg, we usually moved through pastoral rural tracks. Or maybe they just seemed to be so after a high-speed German autobahns, which at a rate of more than two hundred kilometers an hour sweeping string bug-eyed Porche and overtaking their kamikaze motorcyclists. But in any case, a little earlier or later, Rhine appears, in which in this place and the border between France and Germany passes.

This is a surprise every time – to see the customs item. After the recent borders arose between Russia and Ukraine or the Czech Republic and Slovakia with the queues, picky customs officers, constant hassle and expectations of new problems seem like a fairy tale. Immediately behind the Rhine – France, on which we are going to travel.

Once in France, you decide the question: Lee and farther on the highway, which here becomes paid, or roll onto a free dubler. The price is small – approximately a dollar 20 kilometers, but for a long journey there can be a marked amount for the budget. In addition, riding on Dubler, though lengthens (insignificant), but allows you to start a familiarity with this wonderful country. And if you consider that the doubleler often leads you to free areas of the highway, then the loss of speed and time is generally becoming low.

The life of the autotourist facilitates the abundance of rest sites, roadside cafes, motels and petrol stations. The road signs of the brown, which in France marked cultural, natural and historical attractions, will not be allowed to drive past the dilapidated castle of the local feudal or dominant over the plain hill with some ancient stone on top. They will be annoyed to remind you of the need to stop and consider near the fact that the French themselves is expensive. But keep in mind: the French highly relate to their own monuments, and the attractions from their point of view the object may well do not seem.

The point of intersection of the French roads "second order" (It is clear that the intersection lines do not have at all) are often made in the form of ring crossroads. Especially widely, such circular junctions are distributed in the south of the country. Rings in different directions are running out roads. In his center there may be a flower bed, a flower garden, a fountain or horse statue of a local celebrity. And then just a picturesque cheese of boulders – well, love the French beauty! And if there are difficulties with the orientation, you can spin on the ring for hours, trying to find one of the villains of the unconnected roads.

It is especially difficult to choose the desired direction if you are not a specialist in the field of French: In French, the name out of ten letters can easily be transmitted by one inadvertent sound, heard from the owner of the last gas station you encountered. In addition, it is often on the pointer to be written only the name of a couple of hundred kilometers of large settlement. If you need something smaller, but located closer, only the map on the knees of the navigator will help you out – to stay on such a ring in order to sort out the atmosphere yourself, it is impossible.

Despite the excellent road information, with a large number of different roads and bad knowledge of the language is quite likely. It is not scary to leave in the other side – if there is a card or navigator, an error will be fixed already on the next annular junction. But the vigilance cannot be lost – one who is already moving along the ring, and not the one who goes on such a junction. Worse, when ahead occurs a panel with an inscription PEAGE and a number of racks with barriers, meaning the beginning of a paid plot of highway. You can usually roll to the side, but if the last congress is missing – there is no return road, pay and drive around the motorway, admiring the sky, noise-protective walls and threads are mad race cars. Finally, to find the appropriate exit, take a toll on you dear to an asphalt country road, creeping through the fields and forest that surrounds the tiny town through and through, lost for a while in the streets of cities and larger re-emerged on the edge, leading you on to the Mediterranean Sea.

You need to pay at the entrance to the paid section. Only once in the seaside Alps near Nice, we went to the situation when I had to pay at the Congress from the Main. Unexpectedly, the road was blown up the checkpoint with the barriers and the designation of the end of the paid section. It was nowhere to minimize, I had to throw a trifle into a car operating.

Road life

If you are a traveler and naturalist, the idea of ​​five-star hotels with a swimming pool and breakfast in the room you alien. Sleeping bag under the stars Burgundy, Provence or Catalani quite suit you. In the event of bad weather handy tent. Empirically we found that you can sleep in the car and two men no more than 180 centimeters, more or less comfortably placed on the spread out seats "Zhiguli" fifth model. Convenient parking, where you can stay for the night – abound. All are equipped with the necessary minimum of livelihoods – tables, benches, garbage cans, and often children’s playgrounds, toilets with washbasins and cafes.

By the way, in any, the European nondescript parking lot sure someone spends the night – tourists, truckers, businessmen with a set of white shirts on a hanger. Preferring to enjoy the comfort of a motel or a roadside hotel. Motels with the significant title "Formula 1" It can be found everywhere, and the room in any of them will cost you no more than 100 francs ($ 20) per night for the whole family. Even if you are in ragged shorts, faded T-shirt and old loafers, no one will look at you askance – half of France walks in the summer just so.

The problem of power on the road, too, can be solved in different ways. For example: breakfast at the motel, lunch in the cafe, dinner at a restaurant. And you can prepare meals on their own primus, from products purchased in supermarkets. For petrol, the only problem – the price. For those who have traveled on US roads, it may seem excessive. Across the country, the cost of gasoline is about the same – 6 francs ($ 1) per liter. Better to refuel at gas stations near the supermarket – where it will cost a little bit cheaper, that the long-distance travel may be significant. Cheaper petrol at petrol stations of self-service, but it is only for holders of credit cards, and there is not much to gain. The only rule – are not made on the highway, where the most expensive gasoline. Possible failure in the path are eliminated, either alone or if the problem is serious, at service stations. On your car can laugh good-naturedly, but will do everything possible, especially if you’re on "Zhiguli", and service stations – fiatovskaya.

The road to the south

Loir Valley – a pearl of Central France. We’re going down the highway N 7, more than 200 kilometers which stretch along the Loire. It focused a number of historical monuments that view them all – life is not enough. Flashed towns with mandatory peaked "Eglise" (Church) in the center, not at all changed since DHArtanyana, old "chateau" (Locks) and the mansions of the rubble, overgrown with ivy to the roof. Old ladies neat, as if descended from the pages "Red hawk", sitting at the door of their houses, escorted the car wildly shaped eyes. Local children dive into the Loire to the dilapidated bridge, which was built in the time of Charlemagne.

We pass the city of Nevers, in Burgundy – flat landscape gives way to hills, while in the area of ​​Clermont-Ferrand on the horizon there are mountains. Massif Central extends almost to the Mediterranean Sea. This region is the most economically backward and ye men of France, but the nature is preserved in its original form. Serpentine road descends to the bottom of gorges, permeates rare and rather neglected by French standards, towns. The higher we climb into the mountains, the fresh air and thick forest. We stand up for the night at dusk in the heart of the Massif Central, passing the town of Mende. Comfortable parking with table and benches in the shade of the oak tree becomes a huge time to our house. Dilute the primus, and while preparing dinner, relax Burgundy, we admire the spruce forests on steep slopes, deep gorges with the bottom of the Snake River thread. dusk. Not a soul around.

Our idyllic meditating interrupted lonely car whose headlights snatched out of the gathering twilight bivouac mess and two unshaven men with spoons Named. Two young Frenchman come out of the car with some caught. I get acquainted quickly. Guys go from Nice, and to cut the way, decided to wave straight through the mountains. Their English is still better than our French, and after duty "Bon Suar" and "Sa?" Go to English. They treat wine. We are tightly regretting the cherished "Bison" (the only word that they are quite decently pronounce in Russian), and in a couple of hours they leave us with tears of lunia, proclaimed toasts in honor of Russian-French friendship. And who thought it was that the French are not defined with foreigners?

Outlouted over a winding serpentine climb on the top of the Mont-Agual Mountain – the highest point of the central array. From the observation deck in a surrounding area. The spectacle from the height of one and a half kilometers opens amazing – the feeling that you see half-France! So, we are in Sevennas, on the edge of the central massif. Further the road will go down – to the Mediterranean Sea. We do the last march and in the evening enter the unbarrous sandy beach at the city of Arzhele-sur-Mer. Nightly like Roman Patricia – in the grove of Mediterranean pinema. Under the dimensional rustling of the waves on the sand, we look through the long needles on shimmering stars, listen to the enthusiastic squeal of the night bathchers and fall asleep under the sounds of the African tamarth, who seems to us, right from the opposite Algerian shore.

Police, circling several times during the night Parking in search of disgraces, do not touch us. On the coast, only minibuses and caravans are forbidden to spend the night in Parkings – they are offered to go to the territory of the nearest campsite. The police do not suit the passenger cars – who knows what people do there at night. Police in France tactful and understanding – does not interfere with resting spending the dark time of day where he wants.

Twenty-five years ago, the southern shore of France, adjacent to the Spanish border, was considered alarm. Rested there and bought villains a poor people. Say, who retires Shakhtar from Alsace or a veteran of World War II from the North of the country, could well afford to purchase a piece of land in a quarter of hectare and a big house to pass old age. Rich people traditionally preferred to settle closer to the Italian border – between Monaco and Saint-Tropez.

Now the situation has changed, and the construction and tourist boom overwhelmed the coast of Catalani – the former Spanish province, who moved several centuries ago to the French. The French themselves call this area Roussillon – probably not to feel the invaders. New residential arrays are built here, roads are expanding, turning into high-speed highways, in the year it increases the surveillance of tourists. Our French friends who had a secluded villa among vineyards are ten kilometers from the coast, were confident that civilization would not reach them. What was our amazement, when, instead of a narrow path passing by their house, on which two passenger cars, we found a trip to the highway Paris – Barcelona.

Arriving on the Mediterranean Sea in June, we had the opportunity for a few weeks to sunbathe on the deserted beaches, attend large supermarkets in which one cashier could work, and the queue still did not occur. Everywhere we felt the focus of attention – visitors were a bit. We knew that all French were resting for two months – July and August. Then the half of the stores is closed in Paris, and in the remaining prices are twice. Crowds of tourists roam around the city, finding out each other in English, where attractions listed in guidebooks are located, and the French speech practically disappears from. Parisians at this time lie on the sandy beaches of the Mediterranean or stand in automotive traffic jams, trying to get to him.

When the first of July, we hardly got to the sea, seeking two hours without movement in the car at the entrance to our beloved seaside town, when the supermarket stood forty minutes in line, although all twelve tickets worked, when they saw our deserted the beach yesterday turned around In something, resembling the fryingness of the sea cats, they understood – it’s time to go on. Where? Well, for example, in Andorra.


In this place the border between France and Spain passes through the Pyrenees Mountains, so there are practically no roads there. We had to get to Perpignan, turn to the tracks b 114, leading to Spain, to which there are only a few kilometers – and only after the town of Burg Madame began the usual mountain serpentine. Andorra – a small principality, located on the way, by which smugglers wanted many centuries, carrying cheaper Spanish goods to France, primarily wine and stronger alcohol. Therefore, the capital of Andorra – Les Escaldes – for a long time was considered a transshipment base and a place to rest local smugglers. Until now, it retains the status of a duty-free shopping area, which is equally attracted to the Spaniards, and the French. Only there you can see the Spaniard, loading in the supermarket the trolley to the top of sugar, which is cheaper in Andorra in Andorra than in Spain.

Another Andorra is known as the place of cyclists training, preparing for the next Tour de France – we constantly overthrew them on the protracted lines, and then, on cool descents, they overtook us. Gathering in Andorra, we somehow did not think that this is another state. Therefore, only passing something resembling a checkpoint we remembered that our passports remained in Paris. The fact is that fearing vorays, which is enough everywhere in the places of tourists, we left our documents in Paris, in the safe of our friends, taking with you only the photocopies of two pages – the first and the one where the French visa was affixed. These are poured, – we understood, seeing how a pretty Frenchman in a policeman and a flirtal shaped hat shakes returning from Andorra tourists. Those who were driving in Andorra, for some reason did not check. But turning back was late and we went on.

For people indifferent to mountain tourism and mountaineering, Andorra can only be interesting for its shops. All of them are focused in two towns – Les Escaldes and La Vella. After you study each of them for one day to the smallest details, you need to climb into the mountains or sit in the car and leave. Most visitors do. Arriving for two days, they go shopping and numerous bars with cheap drinks. To save on the hotel, many spend the night in their own car, which can be left on a huge free parking right in the city center. Therefore, all night people walk around, clap the doors of the cars, the alarms are triggered and the laughter of a resting crowd. Apparently, among the inhabitants of the parking, temperamental Spaniards prevail, compared to which even the French seem to be frozen scandinavia.

Two days later it became clear that it was time to leave. To climb into impregnable mountains surrounding the city located in a narrow valley, we did not want. Yes in this and there was no special need. To get rid of the need to take tourists from impregnable mountain peaks, local authorities right in the parkings put the doubts of the rocks, which can be climbing anyone – and puzzled drivers who came out of the car to stretch the legs, and fought by the newest equipment of climbers-professionals. Having experienced their forces on one of the man-made cliffs, we gathered with the Spirit and went to the French border.

With doubt, turning our papers in the hands, the Frenchwoman raised his eyes: what it is? She clearly doubted whether it is possible to skip such documents to the territory of France. But we knew from experience that in such cases the main thing is not to give doubt to grow in a female head and take the kind of concrete decision. So cute smiling, we told everything as it is about our passports. Yes, you are right, – the guards of the border praised us and, smiling, raised the barrier.

Cote d’Azur

On the highway N 9 from the Spanish border to Marseille get over for one day. We try to move as close as possible to the sea, so from time to time we will go from a lively highway to narrow local roads, which are often among the water itself. Our right on our right, the rest of France is on the left, so it’s difficult to get lost. We are moving back to the loved road b 9, to finally part with it from the city of Beziers. For Cape Agd, we are going on a certain similarity of the Curonian Spit, to the left of which salty lakes exacerbated for tens of kilometers, and on the right – the sea. Between the road and the sea extends the beach, endless and almost deserted even now, in season.

Every one hundred meters stand cabins for dressing up and cane canopies from the Sun, but rare holidaymakers do not need this service – they sunbathe without clothes, lying right on the sand and keeping their cars in sight. This is right: it is known that on the coast steal. In general, the problem of preserving ownership is in those places very acute. Tourists with their houses on wheels – caravans, as they are called, and beautiful machines made of expensive equipment, are easy prey for crooks.

Even we are on their "Zhiguli" managed to interest them. Once, lying on the beach, we heard a cry of our alarm, which could not be confused with anything. The rapidly unfolding car immediately disappeared in the raised dust. Approaching, we found a broken trunk lock. Open thieves could not, but the castle dismissed. Our acquaintances in the same edges were stolen from the trunk on the roof of the car sleeping bags and a tent. Others lost money and documents right at the Villa gate of their friends in Nice. Arriving from Moscow on "Eight", They came out of the car on half a minute – to say hello and open the gate, and the bag with money and documents, the camcorder and other things were left in the car. The rigging motorcyclist had enough five seconds to break the glass and pull out all the valuable ones from the car. And the victim took three weeks to get certificates in return for lost passports through the consulate in Marseille.

At the entrance to Marseille, the landscape changes dramatically – white and dark green colors dominate here. Limestone rocks covered with low-spirited fluffy pines accompany us for tens of kilometers. Starting for the night, to the next day, by passing Marseille and Toulon, to get to Saint-Tropez, from where the famous Cotezure Beach begins – Cote Dhazur. From the north, this section of the coast is protected by the spurs of the seaside Alps, so the climate is very soft here: the warm winter is replaced by hot, but not hot summer. On a narrow strip of land between Saint-Tropez and Monaco, business, movie stars and pop idols are resting or lived, which is even higher than the prestige of the Cote d’Azur and attracts here not only in the people of France, but also tourists from all over the world.

Saint-Tropez – one of the most luxurious places of the Cote d’Azur. Behind the walls of greenery and high fences are hiding from the sights of envious villas and palaces. In the harbor in the center of the town, lazily swayed at the berths of the Yacht of Arab Sheykhov, hitting the imagination of festive red-tree decks with gilded handrails and protection in white shape, completely embroidered by Galuna. From small aerodroders located a little away, private aircraft and flight helicopters rise to the air, in a matter of minutes delivering our passengers in Nice restaurants or Casino Monte Carlo.

After catching around the narrow streets of the old city, filled with tourists and watching the life of his inhabitants, go on. Dropped, passing Saint-Rafael, choose for overnight small parking, hung over the sea. Road b 98, passing along a steep cliff along the sea, lives hard life around the clock. It is on this road that the heroes of films telling about the beautiful life of the azure coast are sophisticated. All night, a variety of vehicles will be squeezed by us, from time to time when you get the place. In the morning we wake up surrounded by a dozen cars, tightly scoring the patch at the road. Sleep smoral all. Having pulled out a leather motorcyclist leaving the exit, which sleeps on the ground, putting his head on the rear wheel of his iron horse, we touch the path – until the hordes of tourists awakened.

In the morning chill enter Cannes. The city of the prestigious film festival is still sleeping, and fashionable hotels stretched along the croisette waterfront resemble cakes on the counter of a closed confectionery store. Only an early hour allows us to find the parking lot on the boulevard near the sea. Walking up and down the stairs of the Palace of Festivals, trying on their palms to handprints of Hollywood stars, forever captured in cement on the square at the palace. I am surprised to find that the hand of Sylvester Stallone is only a little more of the middle female hand. But in the imprint of one palm of Schwarzenegger, both our.

The focus of life in Cannes is the embankment where the most "cool" Hotels and restaurants. Each hotel has its own piece of a luxurious beach – it’s only just go through the street or go through the tunnel from the hotel. Non-living in hotels, simple mortals are not allowed, so you have to make a promenade to the far end of the embankment, where the sand is as white and crumbly, the sea is the same turquoise, that’s just go far for Martini. By the way, in this city can live simple mortals – to remove the room there in "Rooms" Cheaper than in Paris. Just need to find the appropriate place.

When the waterfront croisette again becomes highway N 98, Cannes stays behind. The road goes along the sea, then climbing the coastal rocks, then go down to the water itself. Moving in a dense flock of cars, which, odors from the heat, makes his way through the resort towns filled with half-colors and breaks into the nervous gallop in the roads between them. Approach Nice – the capital of French Riviera. Imperceptibly the road goes to the main street Nice – English Boulevard. The difference between Nice from Cannes only on scale: Boulevard-embankment is authentic, hotels more and fristed, palm trees thicker, millionaires on hotel beaches are still richer.

Enter the top of the Cape Nice, dominating over the city, and arrange "Roadside Picnic" overlooking the sea and city. By the way, at the beginning of the century on the streets of Nice, the Russian speech was heard almost more often than French: among the little of the world’s wealthy Russians, it was customary to come here to rest in order to keep up with fashion. This place was not considered to be an aristocratic – even a teacher of provincial gymnasium could afford to remove the family in Nice, at least once every two years.

Herzen was buried here, it was not far from here for many years lived and worked Bunin. Local closar, with a bottle of wine and a long baguette-baguette, eternity under the next palm tree, lazily opens one eye and looks at the number of our car for a long time. "Russians", – he says and drops his head on his shoulder.

Back – in Paris

In the opposite way to Paris, we go on the road N 85, which on the road signs appears more often as "Napoleon road" (Route Napoleon). It was on this road that the shortest way to Paris went to Paris, in 1815, Napoleon, who escaped from Elba Island, where he was exiled in 1814 after taking Paris by the allied troops and renounce the throne. Everywhere occasionally encountered with triumph, accompanied by crowds of like-minded people, Napoleon reached this road to Paris, in order to be finally broken at Waterloo.

Moving along the way laid for us Napoleon. True, on a more modern vehicle, which, we barely pass the mountain range of the seaside Alps, the engine overheats. And this happens to the city of Gras, where the bunin lived. Around – scorched by the Sun, crumbling shrubs of Provence hills. Towns in the valleys will melt in a sultry chain. Truly, it is necessary to be ingenious to write places in these, so unlike Russia "Dark alleys".

Becomes fresh, the slopes of the mountains dress up with gloomy fir-fir forests. Valleys are planted with fruit gardens, stretching along the road for many kilometers. Intrigued by the road signage "Road of fruits and wines", Let’s go to the village and stop at the river among the gardens. Washing off the remnants of the Mediterranean salt, proceed to the dinner, a variety of free fruit. Through Grenoble, we get to Lyon, from where and take the course to Paris.

If you go through the A-6 motorway, you can turn out to be in Paris in a few hours. But we are not in a hurry – the summer has not ended yet! Using Highway 7 as the main direction b 7, through Roanne – Moulins – Montargis – Fontainebleau Get to Paris. And when we pass by the Arc de Triomphe, on our speedometer "Zhiguli" turn out to be swept 4.000 kilometers of french roads. That’s how we are in two months, with a minimum margin of money, half-france traveled.

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