Nantes and Turn North

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Once again by the time we have finished with the sobering effects of this incredible memorial, the crowds have arrived, including several groups of secondary aged schoolkids. The effects of the World Wars still has an obvious part to play in the countries curriculum.

Upon studying the map it dawns on us that we have quite a drive to reach Calais by Wednesday night., including a couple of planned stops in front of us, so time to make tracks.

Tonights stop is the city of Nantes and we have found a overnight stop beside the river literally central city, ( with memories of Lyon this is a risk but hopefully will pay off).

So after a pretty good drive up through France we enter Nantes about 5.30pm, now to my mind should have been the time when everyone was leaving the city, not so. Took us just over an hour to drive about 3km through the city. Upon reaching our park we were very pleased to see only 1 other van there, so after a delicate reversing manoeuvre down into this little layby we were parked up.

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Our view for the night, Central City Nantes

Now I am not going to publish the details of this park as when we arrived back the following day from city adventure there was a very polite note from the local administration advising us that this area is not to be used for camper parking in the future. Will try and advise park4night.com on this update. I will say it is quite popular as by the morning there were 6 vans parked up here. A couple of midnight arrivals didn’t quite get the whole thing right and ended up having to do a 20 point turn with the river on one side and rockface on the other of essentially a 1 ½ lane alley way.

Monday night one of our French visitors from time at Awapai messaged us and reminded us she was only about 40mins away from Nantes and would love to see us. Laura works at the Terre de Sal Salt marsh’s in the Guerande area.

Obviously we need to catch up with her and decide to visit the marsh’s and have a 3 oclock lunch with Laura tomorrow.

Before we cut a track from here we want to visit “Le Machines de isle Nantes”. This is an amazing collection of “Jules Verne inspiration machines”. All based around hydraulic movement, there are an assortment of spiders, bugs and birds as well as the masterpiece creation this huge elephant. As well as the most incredible Merry -go- round, that has three levels from deep sea to below the surface to on the sea surface.

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Their present project is Known as the Heron Tree, and will be a three story creation of a tree, including roots, trunk, branch’s, leaves and all things that are involved in a tree habitat. This will be finished in about 4 years.

On the way to this site had a bit of a look around central Nantes, a very pleasant city with a modern castle ( 18th century). Interesting to see the refugee problem first hand here, with a central park area totally taken up with a tent city. Seems to be a state of just settled in and wait for something to work itself out.

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A Modern Castle, Nantes.

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On the outskirts of Nantes heading towards Guerande, we passed a paddock (a big paddock) full of caravans, evidently this is a major summer destination for “the gypsy” population. There were hundreds and hundreds of caravans parked here.

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Gypsy Summer Camp

The Terre de Sal salt business is a salt mining industry recorded in age of over 2000 years. A huge area (2000 ha) here is owned by various “communes” local families and villages and they also are shareholders in the cooperative that cleans packages and markets the finished salt products.

This is a totally manual harvesting operation that is still done the same way since it started. Essentially ponds are flooded with sea water, then as the sun and wind does its job “salt flour” is skimmed off the top of the ponds before the larger crystals are scraped off the clay base of the ponds. Generally harvesting takes about 40days, and is obviously dependant on hot weather, winds and no rain, (this obviously dilutes the ponds).

After a good catch up with Laura and notes made on more must try food  we have another 150km drive through to an aire in the Town of Fougeres, north of Rennes.

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Our original plans were to visit The palace of Versailles early Wednesday morning before heading to Calais, but we are behind time now so will have to leave for another time, October.

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