Yep, I got lost, almost completely and utterly lost. It was all the fault of those dastardly Frenchies. There we were, gayly swanning up the A-something autoroute yesterday on our way from the Loire valley to the Channel ports when a sign on an overhead gantry warned that the A29 was closed 65 kilometers ahead. I saw the sign and, after a brief cogitation, decided that it presented no problem for us. Sure, we would be driving up the A29, but I reckoned that we would have switched to the A-something-else before we had travelled those 65 clicks.
We had just crossed the river Seine by the spectacular Pont de Normandie and were crossing the canal running parallel to the river when we joined the end of a long queue of cars and lorries. After what seemed an age, we reached the barriers across the two lanes of the motorway and followed the queue down the slip road to a roundabout. There was no indication of any diversion so I simply decided to follow a German-registered lorry that I guessed was heading back home. He wasn't. He led us a couple of miles along a road lined on either side by oil storage tanks, heading for the port city of le Havre. This was a dual carriageway and even if I had wanted to perform a U-turn, the concrete central barrier would have made it just a bit difficult. So I waited until we reached a crossroads ruled by traffic lights. I could go straight on to Ports 2000 - 3000, turn right for Ports 4000 - 4500 or turn left for Ports 5000 - 6000. Or something like that. I spotted a café with a car park just up the road to the left and headed there to study the road atlas.
Returning to the roundabout where we had gone wrong, I spotted a sign which said that traffic for Amiens, Paris and Calais should follow S2. I also spotted a sign indicating the road known as S2, so off we set. Now, given the number of other vehicles that we usually see on the closed stretch of the A29 - and the number that had been in that queue - I would have expected to see more traffic on this relatively minor road taking us through industrial estates along the north bank of the Seine. Had I gone wrong again, I wondered?
Just as we reached a toll station, I spotted a side road signposted for a village I had already decided was the way we wanted to go. It was a delightful drive along a country road with pleasant scenery - and ours was about the only vehicle, apart from a tractor I had to follow at slow speed for a mile or so. But it would have been better if there had been a signposted diversion instead of leaving us poor motorists to figure out an alternative route ourselves. I did get us back onto the A29, where there was far less traffic than usual. Not that it is ever the busiest road in France.
We reached Calais about an hour later than usual. By the time we had toured the supermarket (wine, coffee, patisserie, carrots inter alia) and had a meal, I reckoned we would have missed the train we were booked on. Not that it bothered me as there are two an hour during the evening and if we missed one, we would be put on the first one with space available. But no, we were just in time to go straight through with no waiting at all.
Then guess what. Heading along the M25 and repeated on the M23 were signs reading, "A23 closed after A264". This would involve an interesting detour through narrow, country lanes and I wondered just where we would be directed - always assuming that there would be directions! But it didn't matter as I was one of the last to squeeze though as the cones were being put in place.
Now all I have to do is sort through which emails need action, deal with the begging letters, check my accounts, update a couple of web sites, read the thousands of new posts on the blogs I visit. And fetch the dog from kennels!
This picture was taken in April last year just outside "our" French village and is the picture for April on our kitchen calendar.