Our Big OE 1981/82

Peter & Debra’s Big OE to Europe – Oct 31st to Nov 12th

Crossing the channel from the UK to France. Exploring our way through rural France to the sunny south and the beautiful region of Provence ….


Diary Entry – Oct 31st
Drove onto boat bound for Boulogne. Left port at 10.15am instead of 10.00am. Three-quarters of an hour out and Peter made a run for the toilet, as did many others. The sea was rough. Arrived at 12.00pm. No hassles at customs. Remembered to drive on the right side of the road and drove for about 80km and then stopped for dinner at a layby. Decided to camp there.

On the ferry to France. Looking back on Folkstone. Peter a bit GREEN! He spent the rest of the trip in the toilet.


Diary Entry – Nov 1st
WHAT A DAY. Our first day in France. Drove to Paris and nearly went up the wall trying to get out. Very frightening. Had trouble getting water. Got some at a garage where Debra got abused. Free camped somewhere between Melun and Orleans. Very beautiful countryside with blazing autumn colours in the forests. Weather much warmer than in the U.K. 13-14C. Debra cut Peter’s hair.

Deb with some yummy french bread. A baguette.


Diary Entry – Nov 2nd
Peter changed headlights over. Travelled through to just north of Angouleme. Free camped. Sun was out, very warm, 24C in van. Trying to decide whether to go to Spain or Provence.

Woke up to a landscape of dew covered cobwebs. Bordeaux.


Deb preparing lunch between Perigueux and Brive in the Dordogne district.


Diary Entry – Nov 3rd
Have decided to go to Provence for the winter and so are now travelling eastwards. Travelled out of heavy fog into brilliant sunshine today. At 3.00pm it was very warm, 20C approximately. Not a cloud in the sky. Cheered us both up. Travelled through the Dordogne region. Rolling hills, small towns, and lots of chateau’s. Only travelled about 130 miles, so the day was a relaxing one.

Diary Entry – Nov 4th
Woke up to the 3rd sunny day in a row. Travelled 30 miles to Figeac through hilly countryside. Stopped there for meat, milk and matches. Travelled about 20 miles further on and stopped in a rest area by a river. Topped up water supply and stayed for the night.

Averynon River, Figerac. A really beautiful and relaxing spot to camp. Debra doing the washing. This rest stop had a french loo which consisted of a room with a hole in a slab of concrete with ‘feet’ indentations. You stand/squat and do your business. An interesting way of doing things!


Diary Entry – Nov 5th
Another sunny warm day, foggy in the morning though. Travelled to Severac le Chateau in morning. Got stopped by a traffic man for not having the lights on in fog. We both couldn’t understand each other, so that was that. Walked up the hill to the ruins of a chateau. In the afternoon we travelled via a magnificent gorge (Gorge du Tarn) which had many small towns, chateaus and marvelous views. Stopped for night between Ste Enemie and Florac. Best day so far.

Travelling through the Gorges du Tarn


Gorges du Tarn – Breathtaking scenery.


Gorges du Tarn.


Mind blowing seeing these old, old homes right clinging to the river bank – Gorges du Tarn.


Crossing the Tarn river – Gorges du Tarn. Check out the hairpin bend bottom left of the photo!


Diary Entry – Nov 6th
Sun out from sunrise to sunset. Very windy afternoon. Warm. Drove from Ste Enemie through rest of the Gorge du Tarn into Florac, then down to Ales. Bought groceries from our first French supermarket. Stopped about 10 miles out of Ales enroute to Bagnols es Ceze for the night.

Diary Entry – Nov 7th
Sunny dawn to dusk. Drove east over the Rhone, through Orange, Carpentras and stopped for the night at 1.00pm. Had a pleasant afternoon. Washed out hair. Got cold early on after dark. The landscape has changed a lot. Very dry looking. A lot of vineyards. Am starting to work out how much a franc is worth. Took three hours to make up a chart with dollars, pounds and francs in relation to each other.

Diary Entry – Nov 8th
A cloudy day for Provence proper. Frost in the morning, as we were high in the hills. Travelled across the Durance river and into the hills to Moustairs Ste Marie. Climbed the hill to the church and bought a vase from a shop in the town. Free camped night in car park above town.

Moustiers Ste Marie, Provence – Moustiers-Ste-Marie sits below a narrow notch at the base of rocky cliffs.
Above the village, the Notre-Dame de Beauvoir chapel sits high in the notch.


Diary Entry – Nov 9th
Stayed at Moustairs. Went for a four-hour walk around the hills. Picked wild herbs and flowers to take home. Partly cloudy and sunny. Camped in car park. Found a tap for water so will top up tanks tomorrow.

Provence – a posey of wild flowers. Deb got a bad case of hayfever with all of the wild herbs and flowers surrounding Moustiers Ste Marie.


View of Moustiers Ste Marie.


Moustiers Ste Marie.


Moustiers Ste Marie.


Diary Entry – Nov 10th
Decided to stay one more night in Moustairs. Cold today with little sun. Went for a two hour walk in afternoon and did a few tidy up jobs on van. Had a visit by the French police to tell us to move on tomorrow.

Overnight stopover prior to travelling through the Gorge du Verdon.
Somewhere near Sault in Provence. Deb washing her hair.


Diary Entry – Nov 11th
Up early 7.00am, made bed, had breakfast, washed out hair by 8.00am. Went to Post Office and bread shop at 9.00am. Post Office closed then set off for our drive through the Gorge de Verdon. Not as spectacular as the other gorge but it was impressive. We were extremely high up. Saw snow on the ground (unexpectedly). Drove until just before Grasse. Very cold in gorge. Sun shining at 2.00pm. Decided to move onto Grasse because of the arrival of youths drinking at our spot for the night. Parked in a tourist car park at the top of the hill of Grasse city. After digging out a gas heater and buying a refill, we had it going that night and are much warmer now. Played battleships, hangman, noughts & crosses and dots all evening.


Gorge du Verdon, Provence.


Gorge du Verdon, Provence.


Gorge du Verdon, Provence.


Enroute to Grasse and Cannes. Snow. Altitude 1169.


Diary Entry – Nov 12th
Went for a walk around Grasse town today. It was a warm day. Sunny all of the time. Bought a bit of food from the supermarket. Had a look through a perfume factory and museum. Camped the night in car park again.

Grasse. We love this photo and had a big version of it framed on our wall at home for many years.


Peter hanging around in Grasse.


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