Sunday, August 18, 2013

L'autostop en France: Royan

This was the first day that we really got the knack of hitchhiking in France (which largely involves hopping between service stations) but we certainly didn't have it when we began. We spent about 2 hours trying to get out of Orléans and ended up hot and tired on the side of a highway.

Which, by the way, is illegal. We'd suspected as much and had those suspicions confirmed when very quickly the police turned up. Luckily I'd gotten my French back quite quickly so was able to talk to them. They wanted to fine us 11 euros each but we didn't actually have that much cash on us at the time and it turns out that the police don't accept credit cards! In the end they were very nice and only charged us a single fine and then drove us to a better spot. I think that counts as hitching a ride with the police!

Our hitching spot

Our new hitching spot courtesy of the French police

The other thing that was a bit of a surprise was how far Royan was from Orléans. 390km to be exact. Slightly longer than the 150km that we pulled out of thin air and assumed was the distance. I seriously have no idea where we got that number. But we were rather surprised to still be on the road at 10pm. However, we did get our first ride with a trucker - very exciting! And we did get there. 

So freaking excited to be in a truck!

This would be Wilfried whom I asked about his husband.
In NZ I'd hosted a couple of couchsurfers and one of them happened to be Paul, who happens to be French. So, I called in that favour and away we went. He picked us up in Royan and immediately took us to his friend's house where they were having a party. Not a bad start. 

As we have established by now I am very crap at taking photos while socialising - so here is a photo of the lawn the next morning.
 Having been self-sufficient to an uncomfortable extent I got quite emotional each time Paul's mother did something maternal - below we're eating a lunch she made us. At a table. In a house! Sigh.
 Paul then showed us la côte sauvage or the savage beach (which sounds particularly amusing when said with a French accent) along with his girlfriend Alice.

 E and I taught Alice 500 and retaught Paul.

Eleanor and I comparing our shorts tan lines!
 That evening we went to the international fireworks competition. This was particularly special because I'd told Paul I'd come to see it about a year before and completely accidentally was there at the right time! We saw France, Mexico and the UK compete before South Korea took out the prize. It was substantially better than fourth of July fireworks in NYC!
A horrible photo but the best of the bunch!

 The next day we were off, but not before visiting Paul at his incredibly demanding job...

Eleanor took the time to write in her journal
 Then he dropped us off at a good spot - having hitched around NZ he was familiar with the requirements. And without further ado we were off down the coast!


  1. Hi Nina, Matt here (have to post anonymous as I don't understand how else to do it). Great to read this, very jealous to see hot beaches when we are in 2+ layers and in constant 'fear' (not realy) of earthquakes. Hope you and E well xxx keep up the blog - very interesting stuff

    1. I'm not good enough at technology to help! Sorry about the Earthquakes - the country is struggling to cope with my departure STILL - I know, talk about clingy! We are both well, I'm going to meet her tomorrow in Croatia! Good to hear from you (finally) xx (also your 'xxx' makes me suspicious that Christina is writing).