A Life in the Slow Lane


We woke up this morning to the sound of heavy rain drumming incessantly on Basil’s roof. We have been very lucky on this trip. Despite all the changes in geography and seasons we have been subject to very few days of rain. The downpour eased to a light drizzle before Mabel greeted us with her usual Spanielly exuberance by poking her nose over the lip of our bed while at the same time beating out a tattoo on Basil’s wooden interior with her tail.

LIDL was our first port of call to top up with food but also for Sarah to increase her collection of LIDL’s bargain sparkling wine. She emerged not only with her favoured bottles but also another at €1.30 a bottle! I hope this one turns out to be as bad as it’s price deserves, otherwise there may not be room to fit me in for the final leg of the journey!

The rest of the day was spent uneventfully on a toll free motorway. I knew there were sections of French motorway, in particular around cities, which were free of charge, but it was a surprise to travel well over 100 miles without paying today.

The final part of our journey was through part of what used to be called Alsace-Lorraine. This part of France, including the city of Metz through which we passed, has had its sovereignty changed five times in the last 150 years. The Germans took it from France after the Franco-Prussian war in 1870. It was returned to France in 1918 after the First World War. The Germans annexed it again in 1940 and finally it became French again in 1945. No wonder people in this part of Europe are the strongest proponents of a united Europe.

Basil’s shady spot for the night

We have finished the day in a strangely anomalous “town” called Amneville. We chose it because it seemed the best of a poor bunch of aires. The aire itself (49.247800, 6.137850) is nice enough, if a little expensive. It is set amongst some trees with electricity and water included in the €12 price. Best of all we have very fast wifi free of charge!

Rather eerily empty car parks at Amneville

However Amneville is a very strange place. It appears to be a sort of holiday park and not a town at all. There is a zoo, indoor snow slope, multiplex, swimming pool, bowling alley, casino etc. etc. These are linked together by paths from numerous surrounding car parks. All of this is serviced by about 20 restaurants, 6 hotels and various apartment complexes. We’ve been for a walk round and not surprisingly it is fairly quiet on a Tuesday in October, but by no means empty. The whole thing has a slightly jaded appearance as if it is past its sell by date. We were, for a moment, attracted by the Indian restaurant which appeared in a leaflet we were given when we arrived, but having checked it out I think we will be dining chez nous!