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European Travel Blog Part 2: Exploring Western and Southern France.

Updated: Feb 26

Day 5 Colmar to Besancon

So far on the adventure we had not encountered to many dirt tracks but today that was going to change. We got our first taste of some of the many off-road tracks that still exist in this area of France.

Exploring our first off-road tracks of the adventure

These tracks started almost immediately as we left town, nestled in among the vines. Our route took us past the small village of Wintzfelden which we had to stop in for a coffee (and perhaps just one quick pastry).

One quick pastry and coffee in Wintzfelden

One quick pastry and coffee in Wintzfelden

We then went on to visit the Romanian military cemetery in Soultzamatt that commemorates Romanian prisoners of war that were held in labour camps in this area during the First World War.

Lunch was an delicious picnic in the hills of the ‘’Grand Ballon’’ mountain range where we all enjoyed the gouda and local specialities we had been collecting so far. With views overlooking the Murbach Church, which dates back to the 11th century, it was a wonderful setting.

Romanian War Graves in Soultzamatt Tucking into our first Picnic Lunch Murbach Church

By the end of the day we have arrived in Besancon another quaint town in the Alsace region located on a peninsula along the River Doubs. Our hotel was just outside the old town that is overlooked by a citadel and boasts an impressive cathedral.

Day 6 Besancon to Lalouvesc

With the geography of our adventures every now and again we have a ‘’get there’’ day today was going to be done of those days where we were going to cover a lot of mileage. This made the perfect opportunity to explore Besancon with a morning jog before our long day on the road started. See the video below to get a feel of just how beautiful the Besancon is.

Our accommodation in Besancon had a very clever egg boiler that made sure you got the perfect egg. Here is a short clip of Mike enjoying breakfast.

Our route today would take us to the southern town of Lalouvesc. After a quick lunch on the way at one of the motorway services centres (which was a very elegant affair compared to the same situation back home in Australia) we arrived in picturesque Lalouvesc, famed for its to Saints (St. Jean Francois and St. Theresa Couderc) it was apt that our accommodation for the next two nights is an old converted monastery run by a Dutch couple Fred and Patricia along with their son Julian. Fred is chef, so we were looking forward to some delicious meals.

 Lunch ''a la Service Centre''

Lunch ''a la Service Centre''

Day 7 Lalouvsec Day Trip

We were all looking forward to exploring the magnificent countryside that surrounded Lalouvesc. Fred and Patricia mentioned to us that there was another Dutch couple that were breeding unique Mangalitsa pigs in the area it could be interesting to visit them and the ‘’walk with the pigs’’ , why not was our response!

 Group photo outside our converted monastery accommodation in  Lalouvesc

Group photo outside our converted monastery accommodation in Lalouvesc

After a great drive around the tiny village of Saint-Symphorien-de-Mahun we then headed to ‘’Domaine les Soies’’ and were greeted by the happiest sound of curly haired pigs. Johannes and his wife Bernadine along with their 3 dogs run the farm and breed the unique Mangalistsa pigs with their distinctive curly hair and well marbled meat. After a quick cup or coffee and tea and delicious cake we ventured out to walk with the pigs who were very friendly apart from wanting to have a nibble of our shoes, or in Mark's case just lie down on them.

Exploring around Lalouvesc Johannes, Bernadine and their dogs The very friendly Mangalitsa pigs

Johannes is also a Land Rover owner (Discovery) and showed us some of his favorite 4x4 tracks that we explored in the afternoon. Fred spoiled us with another delicious dinner and his son Julian played some violin for us during dessert.

Enjoying one of Fred's delicous meals Hosts Fred, Patricia and Julian Julian playing violin

Our hosts were a terrific family and from the clip below you can see we really enjoyed our time in Lalouvesc.

Day 8 Lalouvesc to Saint- Chely-d'Aubrac

Our route today would take us further south to the small village of Saint- Chely-d'Aubrac located the Aveyron region, Aveyron has a reputation for great beef which we were excited about.

By this stage in the adventure we were all getting to know the quirks of our Land Rovers, each having its own personality. Mark telling Linda , “Don’t worry if three lights go red and orange on the control panel, it doesn’t mean anything only that the lights are working” had many chuckling away. Despite all the eccentricities we can see many of the group becoming quite fond of their Land Rovers even with a few rattles here and there.

Our convoy of Land Rovers exploring the countryside

Our route took us through the beautiful country towns with amazing green meadows filled with yellow and while flowers. In Saint- Chely-d'Aubrac we were treated to some delicious local beef for dinner.

Yellow flowers everywhere

Read more about our European adventure in Part 3 where we explore the Millau Bridge, the largest bridge in the world and enjoy some delicious cheese in Roquefort. (Coming Soon)

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