After more planning than we could ever imagine, countless injections, too many goodbyes, and weeks on weeks of final preparations, we were finally ready to start our journey to Australia. Singapore bound, first stop, France.
Day 3: 22/03/19
Location: Saussan, France (just outside of Montpellier)
Waking up to frost on the outside of the car confirmed our decision to drive down to the South of France as quickly as possible. We packed up our things and headed towards Chris’ Aunt and Uncle’s house, only a couple of miles from Montpellier (we haven’t got our heads around the whole kilometre thing yet). After a wonderful welcome, we sat outside to catch the last couple of rays from the sun before going inside for a delicious dinner. Outside for less than 10 minutes, Sarah swatted a mosquito – very practised at this, she got it in one. Alas, it was too late, the mosquito was full of blood from its last delicious meal: my ankle.
Days 4-6: 23-25/03/19
Location: Saussan, Montpellier, Palavas, Sète
Sarah and Jean-Luc were happy to show us around, and gave us excellent tours of Montpellier, Palavas, and Sète. Filled up with delicious food, cheese and wine, we didn’t even have to think about the decision to stay an extra two nights. It was a jam packed few days – winding our way through the back streets of Montpellier, dashing onto a bus to avoid getting caught up in gilet jaunes riots, watching yacht races in Palavas, and admiring the panoramic view of the Mediterranean Sea on one side, countryside/mountains on the other from Sète.
Sunday afternoon, we showed our hosts around Natalie. Jean-Luc’s 92 year old Mother had to be held down to stop her from hopping up the ladder to get a better view of our tent. The last thing we needed was the broken bones of the elderly on our hands! After showing off my exceptionally fancy toilet stool, I put it away and heard a strange hissing noise. I noticed that I was inhaling a strange white powder. Wondering what it was, I looked up to see white powder everywhere – I had accidentally set off the fire extinguisher! In less than a couple of seconds, the whole of the back of the car was covered. Borrowing an extension lead from the neighbours (who came and had a quick nosey at the mess that I had made), we spent a good proportion of the afternoon hoovering and cleaning, trying to get rid of every single spec of the corrosive dust that had made its way into every nook and cranny in the car.
I kept my foot elevated as much as possible, but the more time went on, the more my ankle swelled, and on our last evening I had to hop my way up the 39 stepped spiral staircase to get to bed. Monday morning (our intended departure day) – my ankle was looking more like a tree trunk than an ankle, and had turned a deep shade of purple. Hoping for a miracle cure, we went into the pharmacy. On both sides of the counter people inspected my leg, unable to hide their faces of both shock and disgust. There was nothing more I could do, I had to see a Doctor and stay another night (what a shame!). Back to the house for more cheese and wine to help relieve the pain.
Day 7: 26/03/19
Location: Wild camping spot near to Trigance (N 43.74078, E. 6.47942)
Armed with some prescription cream for my ankle, extra mosquito repellent spray, a new fire extinguisher, ‘pass the pigs’ travel game, and a baguette for the road, we left Saussan for the next part of our trip. As ever, it was sad to say goodbyes, especially after such a wonderful few days. On Jean-Luc’s advice we drove to Gorges Du Verdon and spent the day driving and soaking up the glorious views. Our last evening in France was spent shivering in our sleeping bags, camping at 2300 ft where it got down to -1 degrees overnight. Waking up to frost on the outside of our sleeping bags, we were ready for the next stop on our trip. Italy here we come!