Travels With Stanley Episode Two (Rouen to Saint-Jean-de-Luz).

The Grand Hotel Thalasso in Saint-Jean-de-Luz rolls out the red carpet to welcome Diana Ross!


My Dear Beloved Reader,

Having awoken fairly early at our Rouen Hotel and re-packing a somewhat full Range Rover we sallied forth at 06:37 on a pretty wet morning for a soggy drive to the south of France. Fortunately, the further south we drove the weather improved with each degree of latitude. Our first break occured after 1 hour and fourty-five minutes having covered  98.2 miles, averaging 59mph and achieving 30.6mpg was just outside Alencon where Diana a.k.a. “She Who Must Be Obeyed” insisted that we breakfasted upon cafe au lait and pan au chocolat. Needless to say Stanley was prohibited from such a fine repast and had a delicious tin of puppy food!

After a total stop of 31 minutes we drove for a total of two hours and forty five minutes covering 149.7 miles while achieving 32.6 mpg at an average speed of 57 mph in very wet conditions especially while skirting Le Mans. We broke our journey just a tad north of Poitiers for seventeen minutes for a stretch leg break and to allow Stanley to visit the local lamp post.

Forty five minutes later having covered 49.6 miles at an average speed of 70 mph achieving 35.3 mpg in improving weather but still on the soggy side we stopped for another stretch leg break for a further thirteen minutes.

Now, my dear reader you’re probably wondering why I’m bombarding you with such statistical nonsense? The truth of the matter is that the weather had been so glum that, the only highlights, scenery wise, were various types of  gallic roadworks that, occasionally featured workmen who seemed to be committed to smoking untipped Gauloise cigarettes. We departed our stopping place, Aiffres just outside Niort, at 12:53 and settled in for the next 157 miles which took us through Saintes where we entered the Cognac area with lovely rolling pastures and plenty of vineyards. Skirting Bordeaux we continued and entered the arondissement of Aquitane and broke our journey for a late lunch at 15:25 having averaged 63 mph and achieved 33.6 mpg stopping at Saugnac-et-Muret which is on the east side of the Parc Naturel Régionale des Landes de Gascogne. We enjoyed the view while eating a humble french baguette filled with a rather non descript cheese.Twenty-nine minutes later we were back in the car feeling refreshed and releived that the sun was shining we drove for a further fifty-five minutes covering 64.9 miles at an average of 73 mph achieving 34.1 mpg we made our penulitimate stop some 21.5 miles short of our destination in order to give Stanley some exercise before we arrived at our hotel.

fullsizeoutput_d7bbWe left nineteen minutes later and arrived at The Grand Hotel Thalasso in Saint-Jean-de-Luz where they had rolled out the red carpet in order to welcome Diana Ross and her husband.fullsizeoutput_db42

We were greeted by the most courteous and helpful staff and were whisked to our suite and having quickly scrubbed up we were ready to enjoy dinner in the Michelin highly rated restaurant L’Ocean.

We were not disappointed having had our already healthy appetites tickled by an aperitif we tucked into our first course of fullsizeoutput_db34

deconstructed squid with potato risotto which was absolutely delightful. Then

fullsizeoutput_db36

we enjoyed some sea-bass over a selection of beautifully prepared vegetables and then our our main course of

fullsizeoutput_db38

Veal cooked two ways, crispy sweetbreads and St. Georges Mushrooms followed by

fullsizeoutput_db3a

a cheese selection and finally

fullsizeoutput_db3c

Valhrona Alpaco dark chocolate, soustons sugared peanuts but when I broke the crust

fullsizeoutput_db3e

it was just sublime.

We went to bed tired, happy and stuffed!

Until my next post of this saga…………Toodleoo!

Travels With Stanley (Folkestone to Rouen)


My Dear Beloved Reader,

I thought it was about time to put finger to keyboard and attempt to capture our travels from the UK to Marbella in southern Spain. We departed from our home to attend a board meeting at Network HQ in Edgeware some twenty nine miles from home and after having concluded the meeting we departed for Folkestone in Kent in our trusty, somewhat full Range Rover Vogue SE Auto.

fullsizeoutput_dac4

It was a damp and drizzly day and more weather was to come later!

After one hundred and one miles we were on the train and had started our journey through the Eurotunnel.

We landed on the Continent and began our journey of one hundred and thirty-three miles to Rouen. The weather deteriorated quickly and we had an unpleasant drive in driving rain and gale force winds.

We eventually found our hotel which was not too easy as the Mercure Rouen Centre Cathedrale Hotel and its garage are situated in a pedestrianised area of this pretty cathedral town. Fortunately, the local police with their inimitable gallic charm escorted our car (blue lights flashing – see the video below) to the hotel. After a pretty difficult drive we were pleased to flop into bed and start our journey to Saint Jean du Luz the following morning.

Here’s three minutes and thirty-nine seconds of video highlights from Day 1.

Until our next episode of this gripping story…..Toodleloo!