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 GENERAL INFO (Jump to Diary)
France, officially named French Republic, covers 643,801 square kilometres. It is a unitary semi-presidential representative democratic republic. It has a total population of almost 67 million people, of which 65% are Christians, non believer/Agnostic account for 25%, and Muslim 8%, and Jews 1%.
The currency is Euro, worth 7,46 Danish Krone. The GDP is $2.4 trillion.

The west of France has strictly oceanic climate, while the Mediterranean and the lower Rhône valley experience a Mediterranean climate and the mountains are alpine.
 France's flora ranges from small grasses and wildflowers in the mountainous alpine regions, to the fir, spruce and mountain pine trees in the coniferous forests, and the oak, beech and chestnut trees of the lower-elevation deciduous forests. Smaller plants and flowers, like gorse, heather, broom and bracken, dot the meadows and grazing fields.

Among the mammals are roe deer and red deer, along with the rarer fallow deer. Wild boars also live in French forest land. Many smaller mammals, including hares, foxes, marmots, badgers and beavers, are common in wilder places, and even larger predators, like brown bears and lynx exist in very small, endangered populations in France. Some reptilians are found here, like the asp viper and common adder, as well as lesser-known species like the southern smooth snake, ladder snake and western whip snake.

DIARY
8/4. I arrival from Belgium in the misty morning, and drive through a nice, green but flat landscape. Besides from the many small villages, here are quite some industries like car factories, and even a atom power plant. But windmills are numerous, and new are coming. I also passes an real old one.

At noon, the sun kick-in, and it make it all so much more beautiful. The trees have small leaves, the rape is starting to flower, and I open the windows in the car. I meet the first toll road, but at least, it is smoother than the free ones. I have chosen the major roads towards Laon, as the landscape is so close to the Danish.

Laon is situated on the first mountain I meet on this Europe tour. Not a big one, but the cathedral on top of it look impressive. It is surrounded by a medieval town, which look great. The church is just as impressive inside, with stone carvings, glass mosaic, and figures of their female god. The view over the surrounded flat landscape is fantastic, and the small cafés real tempting.

But; I have more sights this Sunday: Paris. Some of the smaller towns I passes on the minor road I have chosen, have quite some impressive buildings. This must be the old main-road. The trees along the road have just started to get their leaves, and have maintained the green colour. When I gas the car, I'm a bit baffled about they don't have diesel. However, their Gazole can do.

I reach Paris, and the traffic tightens considerable. Maybe Sunday wasn't such a good idea after all? The chestnuts have half sized leaves by now, and the cafés are packed. The temperature reach 25C, and the sun adds. I find a parking space a hundred metres from the Eiffel Tower, but now the sun disappears.

It is amassing how many grand building the central Paris have, one more magnificent than the other. I find my way to the Notre Dame church, which truly are great. On the way, I passes so many familiar buildings and Cleopatra's Needle, pinched in Egypt.
I do a walk around Notre Dame, but have a hard time getting distant  enough to make any good photos.

I had intended to see the botanical garden, but it will be closed by now, and I can do without anyway. I head south to a campsite - or not. I can't find anything resembling a camp site, and the locals have no idea. Well, there might be one on route to the next site. Or not.

I end up in Fontainebleau, and passes the huge Château. I have to return tomorrow. My GPS know a camping 20 kilometres back north, but I can't be picky, if I want a shower and wi-fy. It is located right next to a large canal, but at eight, I'm just interested in something to eat and getting all my experiences of the day written down.
Day 1: Laon, Paris, Eiffel, Notre Dame, Fontainebleau

9/4. It is a misty and slightly drizzling morning, and I work for a hour in the car, waiting for better weather - without it helps. The first site of the day is once again; Fontainebleau. It is absolutely giant, and the share size combined with the light rain make me leave without finding the huge fountain.

The entire day, I am following the minor back- and country roads, leading through waste but flat hills. Here are small villages, build in limestone, and the few rocky outcrops are limestone as well. The small farms are falling apart in a romantic way. The rape are starting to flower, and the Primulas and anemones are way ahead.
The rain is light, but never stops, and the mist covers some of the greater views. Never the less, I do enjoy the drive, and the vacant roads.

A bit further down south is the little town of Auxerre, famous for it timber framed houses, gothic style and cobble stone streets. It is really a visit worth! I love these old, leaning houses with the wood-cuttings, limestone walls and narrow streets. Here are just so many motives - although a fish-eye would had become handy.
Despite the drizzle, I really enjoy the town, and might consider  returning one sunny day.

Here are really a few people, and later, I learn Mondays are kind of still weekend for the French. A single rat runs around in the street, and doves are sitting on the roofs.

As I head on towards Noyers-sur-Serein, I pass the first vine fields I have seen since Denmark. Here are also a few, old and scattered apple orchards, all flowering nicely. I try to make some pictures in the small villages I passes, but the lack of light make it impossible.
Where the villages are so foreign, the landscape is quite alike the Danish, except it is places on these giant, flat hills, stretching for kilometres. I pass several forests, one is real huge.

I reach Noyers sur Serein, and park right outside the city gate at the canal. The limestone walls are covered in plants like Sedum, mosses and ferns. It is truly a must see place. The entire town is made up by ancient houses along narrow cobblestones streets. Limestone bowls with flowers, climbing plants, arches and general idyll. The newer part of town might only be a couple of hundred years old though, the older parts a bit hobbit-like. At present, I think this is the French town to see, if you only see one.

From here, it is more countryside with green fields, small forests and limestone villages. The fields are also covered in numerous limestone, reminding me of vine-fields. The rain just won't stop - neither will I. In the outskirts of Avallon, I find a gas station and a huge supermarket, and fill the car - there are not much room for extensive food left!

I reach Avallon; a walled hilltop town, just as old. The road is quite flat up there, and only when I reach the other side of town, I realises what peak it is located on. It is not as pretty as the previous, bit newer I guess, but the cathedral and view to the lowlands make up for it. And it does have its share of great looking houses.

A huge building with round gables houses the market, which is closed today. It is after all Monday...
I reach the backside of town, which is made up by several huge walls. On a clear day, here must be an astonishing view. It is still great, but just take some imagination.

The huge church is surprisingly rough inside, but the few mosaics are fantastic. So are the sandstone carvings outside on the building. When I have seen the better part of the town, and realised the rain will continue, I head on towards Vézelay. Again, I choose the back roads, and a blessed with green fields and tiny villages.

Vézelay is little gem, located on a small hilltop. From distance, the church with a tower in each end dominates it. At the foothill, another little, ancient village; St Pére is found, and it is surely not the rich part! Then I crosses La Cure and start the assent.

The parking ticket automat is broken, and they refers to the other one. I spend quite some time finding it, but I do have respect for the manual tickets you might get! Then I start the long walk on the narrow street, leading to the top. Again, here are so many motives of ancient houses - I just wished I could get them without the modern cars!

At three the sun peeks in, but just teasing. I reach the huge church, and here I meet the first nuns on this tour. As I walk around the church, I meet the great views to the surounding countryside. I am a bit amassed about I have seen no modern towns or industries today.

The church is again a bit barren inside, but light and with a few but beautiful stone carvings. I find a staircase, leading down, and it appears the original church is down here, carved out of the limestone.
Upstairs, the back-tower have a half circle of arches, each with its god, accompanied by explanations, Jesus, Maria Saint George and all the other ones. On the slops, facing south, there are vine fields.

Again, I have made too many photos, even though I'm not sure how good they will be, due to the lack of sun. I head a bit back north for the camp site of the day, I passes another - closed one. A few places, the limestone is visible along the road, but it is generally covered in a layer of mulch.

Then I head into some real narrow roads, leading in-between small limestone hills and farmland. I have to stop a single place to confirm it actually is wild Green Hellebore; Helleborus viridis, which are flowering among the Primulas and dandelions. Beside from that, it look so much like the more pretty places in Denmark.

A bit passed five, I reach a real nice camp, run by a British guy. Unfortunately, it is even more expensive than the former ones - which they all have been so far. It gota end! I sit in the cosy restaurant and work, while a American couple enters. They have travelled more than me, and it is real interesting to hear their stories. The make photos with giant cameras on tripods, and spend the time, waiting for the sun, and their photos are just amassing! Unfortunately, that means I get a real late finish with my work, even though I kind of make the tagging way faster than it deserves.
Day 2: Fontainebleau, Auxerre, Noyers sur Serein, Avallon, Vézelay. HIGHLIGHTS

10/4. I get a bit of a late start on the day, but I needed the sleep. It start out sunny, but it won't last. I drive 100 kilometres south through the lovely landscape. The hills are slowly getting higher, and in some areas, they are divided by hedges. Here start to be some Charolais cattle and sheep, but the farms remain with a neglected look.

I arrival at the former Roman city of Autun at noon. As usually, I start making cup of tea for the ongoing tour. I remains hot in my thermo mug, while the cooking gear will cool down, while I explore. This time though, I knocked the boiling mug over, and it ended in one of the boxes beneath the bed. Most was soaked up in my bag with spare electronics. I think I will store it differently, when it has dried...

 It is a former large Roman city, but now, it just a village. The large Cathedral of St Lazare is under renovation, and despite I do a loop around it, I fail to get a proper photo. The town is no match for those I enjoyed yesterday. Here are some Roman ruins, but a combination of the cold wind and the soaked car make me drive on, with the heater full on.

Auton is located on the first little mountain range I have reached, and more follows. The vide valleys are lush and green, while the ridges are covered in forest. It is a pleasant drive cross country, but I have over 200 kilometres to the next site, and eventually; I enters the highway. The sun is coming back, although sporadically. Halfway, I make another cup of tea, hoping this one will hit the thermo mug and eventually me. The soaked gear seems to be fairly dried by now, and I restore the storage. 

The landscape flattens out a bit, but at the same time, I can glimpse the snow topped mountains in the distance. Then a new range occurs, and here are a fairly modern town at the foothills, but I'm heading to the top. The grass fields are covered in flowering dandelions, while some fields are ploughed. The soil is yellow and is mainly made up by limestone gravel - in fist size.
I am amassed about how little traffic these roads have. Both the narrow countryside roads, and the big highways have way less cars, than in Denmark - even on a Sunday.

I am here to see the Pérouges medieval village, which I think is used for films, although it is functional. Here are discreet cafés and restaurants along with souvenir- and art shops. I believe it is an restored original village on a hill top, which have been given a good and genuine makeover.
I do some loops, trying to capture the atmosphere. Here is a cold wind, but when the sun finally break through, it feels just nice.

When I have seen it all, I head on to the nearby camp site. I reach it at five on the dot, and again, I can choose any site I like, as it is only 5-10 occupied. That will come to an end - which I fear! Where I had a lot of work, and additionally chatted three hours away, this evening will be comprehended quite fast, as the day have been made up by manly driving. However, that does not prevent me from fast-tagging the photos. Day 3: Autun and Pérouges

11/4. It is a long drive to the first site of the day, and I just enjoy the tour, despite the lacking sun. The hills are getting bigger, and without warning, a tunnel lead right into the true mountains! Roads build on endless bridges clings to the mountain sides, and deep valleys are glimpsed below. The lack of sun and the present of mist, make the photos blurry, but I experiences some astonishing sights.

I have chosen a shortcut, which turns out to be through Switzerland, which might be an error, as it is right through Geneva. Additional, I have to buy a €40 sticker for the car. Geneva is truly a busy town, and so modern, compared to the French cities I have visited. I find my way through, and end at the marina and the lakeside. A huge fountain reaches into the air, in the port, but soon after, I'm out in the farmland. Here, the farmers are spreading manure.

After a while, I smoothly drive into France again, and start wondering: Why is it I'm here? It is just nice houses and farmland. Then I reach Yvoire, a real nice town. It have a tiny medieval village, and views to the large lake Geneva.
I walk the alleys of the town, but here, there are no film crews, and the many shops and restaurants are way more visible than
in Pérouges. I try to get some get photos of the houses and Lake Geneva, and head on.

Of unknown reasons, the GPS have chosen a road, leading first eight kilometres one way, then back by the same highway. Well, the views are nice, but it is a toll road both ways! Then I get into the French Alps again, and it really start to look right.

The typical alp-houses, small green meadows and giant mountains behind. Unfortunately, a mist is covering it all, and my photos only reveals the look, not the share beauty. Never the less, I really enjoy the ride. Here are fields with cows, tall waterfalls, snow covered peaks, amassing road constructions and alp-huts.

I reach Mt. Blance, which to no surprise, is covered in mist. I stop and gas in a nearby village, and make a loop in the area, but the mist won't leave. Next site is an over 100 kilometre long mountain road, starting at Grenoble, and that will be for tomorrow. Further more, I am not planning to spend a night at the freezing top! I head towards Grenoble, and the well over 200 kilometre drive is a treat.

The first part is a narrow trail, heading real steep up the mountain. Small farms are found along it, and the views to the valley fantastic. Eventually, it reach a slightly bigger road, and it follow the Alps, and are in some stretches cutting through real narrow gorges. In other places, the landscape opens up, and green meadows with scatted huts, small forests and the rivers make a beautiful landscape.  

I stop in one gorge to see a waterfall and the white river. Here are mainly conifers, but the barren spots have still snow. I pass a town, which have a lot of snow dunes laying around. I don't bother to stop.
The road slowly descents, and the trees are getting greener and greener. Further down, a large valley have a lot of orchards with green grass and dandelions. An single farm have a lot of Charolais.

I reach Grenoble, and drive around it to the camp. It is located in beautiful surroundings, but all the signs, showing the way say "Fermé Camp", which I think is a strange name, and not the one I remembered. I am not inclined to find another, as this is perfect located to start the tour of tomorrow - and I haven't seen an single camp the entire day.

It does look quite empty, but an elder gentleman aloud me to stay, if I can do with the little bathroom and a no receipt. Well, beside from internet, a bath is all I actually are looking for. I start on the 300 photos of the day, and the head start means I'm finish early.
Day 4: Geneva, Yvoire medieval village, The French Alpes, Mt Blance.

It is now time to go to Diary 2 and the southern France

Photos   Map & Plan   Diary 1  2  3