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During the summer holidays of 2005 I spent 2.5 weeks in France.

Saturday, July 16th, 2005.
Today it was about time, we were all up for a nice vacation and left home at 7:15 in the morning. With some breaks inbetween we arrived around 19:00 at the campsite 'Les Halles' in Decize. We build our tents and had dinner. The weather was still wonderful, so we couldn't have wishes ourselves a better start of the holiday. We've been at this campsite 2 times before. Once when my dad and I went to the Formula 1 in 2003, and once when it was a stop on our trip to southern France (2004), as like this year. On this first day I drove quite a lot of kilometers. From Maastricht in the Netherlands, all the way through Belgium until somewhere at a parking place in France. In total is was 310 kilometers. After a short break when my dad drove, I drove the final ±70 kms to the campsite. In the Photo album you can see some photos I took on our way during this day. Just before midnight I went to sleep in my tent.

Sunday, July 17th, 2005.
We packed our tents and stuff quite early today, so we could make a lot of kilometers to get to the destination region. After about 10 kms I picked over the wheel and headed to Clermont Ferrand where we had to get our fuel tank filled again. This was about 85 kilometers. After this short break I drove another 230 kms. During this trip I could learn and get a lot of experience of driving in mountainous regions (shift down earlier and use engine braking). Once we arrived at the campsite 'Les rives du Célé' in Figeac we changed a tire of our caravan, because it was worn out. The steel inner rim was completely broken and the tire got a weird shape. On our way we already noticed a hard, vibrating noise when I drove harder than 105 km/h, but we didn't expect something like this. Luckily we had no accidents or injuries. The weather was still great and on our way we even had temps warmer than 35º C. Also this time you can see some nice photos of today in the Photo album. Also this night I had my first cup of coffee ever. Well, tasty is different... The interim score after two days: I drove nearly 700 kms.

Monday, July 18th, 2005.
This day was a relaxing day after two busy ones of travelling. The weather was slightly less, there were some raindrops at times and the temperature didn't rise as high as we would like to. So I decided to do nothing interesting in my tent: just having fun with the music on my brand new MP3-player. Especially the new album of Lori Linstruth and the most recent single of Ayreon (Come back to me) were played a lot. I also started reading the first book of Harry Potter. In the afternoon we went to the supermarket in Figeac to refill our refridgerator and other stocks.

Tuesday, July 19th, 2005.
The weather on this day wasn't very good either. Luckily the sky cleared in the afternoon and we had a nice sun later on. My dad and sister enjoyed themselves in the swimming pool with wave maker. I myself read the book of Harry Potter to its end. Further we did beside the usual things (breakfast, showering, dinner, etc.) completely nothing. Around 0:30 I finally fell asleep.

Wednesday, July 20th, 2005.
The day started with shiny weather. After the daily breakfast we left around half past noon to go sightseeing through the region. First we crossed the small village of Espagnac - Ste. Eulalie. This is a beautiful village located near the river Célé, which flows through the high mountains. After visiting the village + making some photos we drove on to Cabrerets (approximately 50 kms to the west of Figeac). Here we bought tickets so we could take a look in a museum and a prehistorical cave called 'Grotte du Pech Merle'. Because we had to wait for 2 hours to enter the cave, we decided to take a look in the museum first and see ourselves a movie there. As usual the museum wasn't really attractive, but the movie was fine. After a short introduction talk (about the history of the Pech Merle cave and the prohibition of making photos, etc.) we went to the cave at 16:20. The temperature was obviously lower than outside, but not too cold. During a walk of approximately 3 kms, we have seen several prehistoric drawings, footprints, stalactites, stalagmites, etc. You can see a selection of the photos that I took this day in the Photo album. They are about visiting the small village and the visit of the cave and its surrounding. On our way back to the campsite I drove our car over twisting roads. These 70 kms were really nice! We stopped at a supermarket to do some groceries and get some fresh things for the dinner of tonight. After dinner I started reading the second book of Harry Potter.

Thursday, July 21st, 2005.
Also today the weather was great. After breakfast and some other daily things I went to the swimming pool and the nearby field of grass, where you could relax. This was a very good moment to get a bit more tanned, but it was also the first opportunity we had during this vacation. My parents and sister went to the supermarket for some groceries, while I was reading Harry Potter at the campsite (I planned to read all the 4 books I own during this holiday). In the evening I walked with my sister over the campsite. We took some nice photos at this field of grass near a lake. It was a pity that it became quite fresh during the nights, so we had to wear pullovers. The sun disappeared early behind the high mountains, because the campsite was located in this mountain valley. Also the wind was blowing quite strong through this valley. After eating cake and drinking cola the Pringles and French bread with brie (a typical French type of cheese) came on the table. That is really a nice way of enjoying my summer holiday.

Friday, July 22nd, 2005.
After a good sleep I woke up around 10 o'clock. Around noon we left the campsite and headed to Rocamadour, a thirteenth century pilgrimage city. This city is about Saint Amadour, someone who's been identified by the holy biblical Zaccheus. His body was found here in the twelfth centruy, but got burned during the crusades. His tombe is still to be found in the church in this city. But to actually get to the city, we had to walk under the burning sun. It was extremely hot and once we got at the castle on top of the mountain, we had to choose to go down by using the stairs or an elevator. Of course we took the stairs and the hundreds of srairs brought us down, while we passed some very small chapels with paintings of the last days of Jezus Christ's life. Once we arrived in the city itself, we could enter the small church. Outside you could see the sword of a certain Roland which was sticked into the mountain wall. We walked further down and entered a nice but busy street with many typical French souvenir shops. The atmosphere was just very nice and we got ourselves a tasty icecream with the flavours vanilla and chocolate. Then it was time to go back up the mountain again. After going all the stairs back up, you could really feel it in your legs. In the Photo album I collected the most beautiful photos of this day in Rocamadour. I drove both the way to and from Rocamadour (2x 45 km). On our way back to the campsite we bought some postcards to send of to our family and friends. We also went to a supermarket just outside Figeac to get some food for dinner. In the evening I wrote the postcards I wanted to send, so we could post them the next day. The night was again full of cola and brief with French bread. Then I also finished the second Harry Potter book. The first week of my holiday is over and tomorrow we will leave this place to head for another campsite more to the east (in the surrounding of Nîmes). At the end of this rather busy day, I went to bed around 0:30.

Saturday, July 23rd, 2005.
We packed our tent and caravan to travel further to the east of France. We left Figeac around a quarter to 11 and posted the 19 postcards in a nearby city, Decazeville. On our way we passed Millau. Near this city they built a gigantic bridge over the river Tarn. This enormous viaduct has a length of 2.5 kilometers and the longest supporting pillar is higher than the Eiffel tower (±300 meters). We stopped on a parking place near the bridge to take a closer look at this megastructure. Of this panoramic visitors point you could make some impressive photos, which I did too. You can take a look at the photos in the Photo album. First we started looking for a campsite in Le Vigan but we couldn't fiend anything appropriate for us. We drove on to Crespian, as there was a very nice campsite, called 'Le mas de reilhe'. We've been to this place before in 2003. Crespian is a small village located approximately 25 kilometers to the west of Nîmes. After putting our caravan up, we quickly visited the supermarket for some food. We also ate an icecream there and I drove us back to the campsite. After dinner we built the tent for me and my sis. At night I listened to some music and played a bit with my GBA. Fortunately it was a lot warmer on this campsite during the night, so we could spend the whole night outside and still sit in a T-shirt and short pants.

Sunday, July 24th, 2005.
This second Sunday of our vacation was all about doing nothing. We slept late and after our breakfast we went to the swimming pool. I didn't really get to swimming itself, but I got tanned a lot. During the afternoon I listened to a lot of music and I started reading in the third book of Harry Potter. The weather was still amazing: at 11 o'clock in the morning it was already 28 degrees and the maximum of this day was about 40º C. The amount of kilometers I drove during this holiday: nearly 900.

Monday, July 25th, 2005.
It was less warm today and there were many clouds. I read some more chapters of the Harry Potter book and then we decided to go to the Haribo candy museum. 'Le musée du bonbon' is located in Uzès, a city approximately 20 kilometers to the north of Nîmes. You could see lots of things in the museum, from making the actual candy to the advertisements they used in the past. There was also enough candy for the visitors of the museum, so it's definitely worth a visit! If you are interested to already take a quick look into the museum, feel free to check the photos in the Photo album. Like nearly every other day we also went to the supermarket today. Today we ate soup and pizza for dinner. My father and sis went to the swimming pool to have some fun there. After that we drank a cup of coffee and I spent my time reading the third Harry Potter book to its end. At night we received a SMS from my uncle Gerrit that he planned to join us for a couple days (we spoke about this before, so we knew he might come). We directly went to the reception of the campsite to reservate a place for him for the next few days.

Tuesday, July 26th, 2005.
During the last night we had some slight rain, but in the morning everything was fine again. After going to the supermarket we went all four of us to the swimming pool. My dad left around a quarter to 3 and waited for my uncle to enter the campsite terrain. In the meanwhile I was sunbathing near the swimming pool. Around a quarter to 5 my uncle arrived with his Alfa. He built his tent and then we had dinner all together. After doing the dishes we repaired my sleeping matrass, as the edges were a bit loose. I started reading the fourth Harry Potter book while eating brie and French bread and drinking a glass of ice cold cola. Later tonight we went to a square near the reception where a duo was singing French chansons. This was all quite humoristic! Around 1:00 at night (because of this beautiful summer weather) we went to our beds...

Wednesday, July 27th, 2005.
After our breakfast we decided to take our cars to drive through the surrounding area. We also had the plan to go on a trip with a steam locomotive, which rides over a traject not far from the campsite. Once we arrived at the trainstation of Anduze we saw that we had to wait 2 more hours before we could take the train for its next trip. So we made a trip by car to spend the time well in the surrounding of Anduze. I drove my uncle's car behind the car of my parents. The challenging roads over the mountains were incredibly cool! In the meanwhile we visited St. Jean du Gard for a short time. This place is the other location where you can access the train. Once we went back to Anduze to buy our tickets in time, we overtook the steam locomotive, which was riding on the other side of the valley. I took a nice photo of this moment. At 15:00 we stand in the last wagon of the steam locomotive. The smoke and smell in the 850 meter long tunnel was amazing. The surrounding was at times completely covered by the dark smoke of the locomotive. The whole trip over the deep valleys and over the mountains was very impressive. Once we arrived in St. Jean du Gard the locomotive switched place and locked just to the last wagon, ours. So we could nearly touch this huge beast of metal. This locomotive was already doing its job for more than 70 years, which is quite impressive. After all, the trip of 14 kilometers with the 'Train à vapeur des Cévennes' is an experience you will never forget! The weather was prefect as well, so what else could we wish for? In the Photo album you can see the most beautiful photos of this wonderful day. On this day I also drove about 75 kilometers. On our way back to the campsite we went to the supermarket for groceries. At the campsite we took a quick dive in the swimming pool, before we had dinner. At night the temperatures were so good that we sat until 1:30...

Thursday, July 28th, 2005.
Also today we started with breakfast, but soon my uncle came with icecreams. If we were interested to have one? Of course! They were really tasty. He and my sis had also taken some flyers with them about things you can do in the surrounding area of the campsite. We didn't know really what to do, but with the help of the flyers we quickly decided to go canoeing. We only had to decided which parcours to go. We picked the trip from Collias to the Pont du Gard, which 4 of us already did 2 times before -- I uncle hadn't. But as we know this trip is so wonderful and impressive, we just had to do it again. We arrived in Collias (I drove the Alfa 147) we lent two canoes with accessoires. I decided to join 'elephant' Gerrit, which was not really a wise decision. Anyhow we had lots of fun and laughter. We spent our time very well. We enjoyed nature while we were active peddling the canoes. The photos in the Photo album show you the beautiful scenery we saw that day. After 2.5 hours we arrived at the impressive Pont du Gard, although we still had to go on for half an hour to get to our destination. We gathered with some other people and waited for the bus to bring us back to the starting point in Collias. After this trip of 10 kilometers you could feel your muscles very well, especially because the weather was extremely hot today. Again we dropped by at a supermarket and around 19:30 we arrived at the campsite again. This was also the final day for my uncle at this campsite, as he would go back to the Netherlands during the next two days. This night went very well, as we went to our sleeping bags at around 2:30.

Friday, July 29th, 2005.
The day started with quite some clouds, so the temperature didn't get the chance to get up high. After breakfast and showering my uncle left the campsite at 11:00. He planned on going first over the famous Mt. Ventoux and then to go northwards back to the Netherlands. He had quite some bad weather during his trip and he spent the night in Tournus (about 100 kilometers south of Dijon). At the campsite I read more Harry Potter and I relaxed a bit during the rest of the afternoon. My mother and sister went in the meanwhile to the supermarket in Sommières. In the evening we played a game called 'Stap op' and once again I lost bigtime. Just after midnight I got to my tent for a good sleep. I only listened some music before I really closed my eyes.

Saturday, July 30th, 2005.
This morning the intense heat really forced me to leave my tent early. After doing the daily things I went with my sister to the swimming pool. We played a bit in the fresh water and tanned a bit more near the pool. After some time I went to the tent to get my MP3-player, so I could listen the full album 'The human equation' of Ayreon. The others went in the meanwhile to the supermarket to get some food for tonight's dinner. They decided to go with soup and a pizza. Of course they didn't forget to bring chocolate and caramel desserts. The other three went to the swimming pool after washing the dishes. This time it wasn't so late at night before we went to bed. We already slept before midnight. The interim score for the kilometers I drove during this holiday: nearly 1100.

Sunday, July 31st, 2005.
Two weeks of holiday have already passed. Today it was very hot again. After taking a shower I instantly walked on to the swimming pool because my mother and Karen were already there. I didn't join them in the water, but it was a good time to get a bit more tanned. When we got out of the swimming pool my dad came with the idea of making a tour by car through the surrounding area and to pick some very small roads over the mountains. And small they were! At times it was just as width as one car, and you had to drive nearly all the way in second gear. Because of the sharp corners and steep slopes you had to be very careful and alert. Still this is the best way to get more experience with driving a car. The flat simple roads in the Netherlands are a piece of cake, so to say... In a very small village (I think it was Milliérines) we went out of the car to take a look around. It looked all so cozy. After driving even further up the mountain we finally arrived at the top of the Col de l'Asclier. Also there we got out of the car to enjoy the fantastic view of the mountain. Of course I took some nice photos there as well. On our way back to the campsite we got through the city of Ganges, were we bought ourselves a tasty icecream. At night I read another part in the Harry Potter book and just before midnight I went to bed.

Monday, August 1st, 2005.
The weather today was pretty unpredictable. So when it was clouded and a bit rainy, I read the last Harry Potter book to its end (yeah, I did it). Around noon we went out with the car and drove to the salt flats near the Mediterranean Sea. We went our on the beach, but it was still raining a bit which was uncomfortable with the fresh blowing wind. The beaches were nearly empty, even during summer holidays. You can see some photos of the beach in the Photo album. After visiting the beach we drove on to Montpellier, were we did some sightseeing. We saw many old buildings and statues. In the Photo album you can read what it exactly is, so I won't repeat it here. We walked for about an hour through this city, before going back to Crespian. At the end of today the weather became better and in the evening (around 21:30) we saw the sun beautifully setting behind the horizon. We packed our bags already this evening, as we planned on going back to the Netherlands early. At 0:30 I was resting on one ear...

Tuesday, 2nd & Wednesday, August 3rd, 2005.
We woke up quite early today, so that we could leave Crespian around 10:20. The weather was fantastic so we decided to use the RN roads (Route Nationale) to drive back home. This allowed us to drive over more interesting ways, take it easy, and to see more of the surrounding area. The downside was that it would take us two days to return, were we usually need just one. Driving through the cities and villages was really nice and we could keep quite a good tempo. The first part I drove was about 230 kilometers. When get more and more to the north of France the weather became also worser and worser. It started raining more heavily and the temperatures dropped quickly. It also became later and later, but as we dion't like to build the tent up at a campsite in the rain, we decided to keep on driving all the way to our hometown. Usually we don't drive at night, but as most of us preferred this idea, we did it. After my mom drove for quite a while, I took the wheel and drove all the way through Luxembourg until we arrived at a fuel pump there to fill our petrol tank again. It was already 0:30 and we bought some hot drinks to keep ourselves warm and awake. Then I drove for another few hours, including all the way through Belgium. During the last part my dad was driving. In the end we arrived at 5:30 at home. In the meanwhile I had some hours of sleep, but once home we all went to bed direcly. I woke up around 11 in the monring after quite a short sleep. I sorted most of my stuff out which I had with me on holiday. It's better to clean it all instantly. For dinner we ate french fries and just before dinner I bought myself some Formula 1 magazines to keep myself a bit up to date with the news I missed during the past two and a half week. Also in the end I drove 1750 kilometers during this vacation (of which ±180 kilometers in the Alfa 147 of my uncle).