Refreshed by our 2 night stay at Camping Sologne we left early on the morning of Sunday 27 July. On our outward journey we did use the bypass around the centre of Salbris before rejoining the A71 at Junction 20. Near Vierzon we turned onto the A20/E09 in the direction of Chateauroux and Limoges. We continued southwards for the length of the A20 before joining the A72/E62 south of Montabuan. We bypassed to the west of Toulouse before joining the A64/E80 and continuing in a south westerly direction. The urban autoroute bypassing Toulouse was very busy.
We left the E80 at Junction 20 and turned southwards on the D117 to our planned stop at Complexe Touriste de la Justal in the village of Mane. We had chosen this site because of its close proximity to the "new" home my sister Flick (Felicity) and husband Dave had bought for their retirement. We found it in “Caravan Europe” and from the recommendation of my sister’s local builder!
We arrived at the site late afternoon of Sunday 27 July having travelled 351 miles. Mane is situated just a few miles south of the A64 autoroute south of Toulouse. Complexe Touriste is a peaceful site and near enough to the autoroute to be useful as a night halt. The Complexe consists of an estate of holiday bungalows and a small campsite in the small village of Mane. We stayed here as it was relatively close to the new house which my sister has bought in the foothills of the Pyrenees. It was a bit off the tourist trail and no other Brits stayed there whilst we were there. Access to the site was signed a little confusingly as “camping vacance” but it was along a caravan friendly route from the main road. As we later discovered other access through the town were quite tight with lots of narrow roads.
The large touring pitches are set along one side of site road in blocks of four. All the pitches are well marked and divided by hedges. On arrival the friendly young warden had us park our outfit on campsite road whilst he walked us around the vacant pitches so that we could pick one. The site is well shaded by mature trees. We had the pleasure of watching a red squirrel “moving house” to a dray in the tree directly above our caravan. She carried her young in her mouth one-at-a-time. On the other side of the pitches is a small river which joins a larger river which formed one boundary of the site. The camp site area was very quiet whilst we stayed there as many of the pitches were occupied by seasonal ‘vans whose owners only seemed to come for the weekend.
The complex had a good sized open-air pool and a large sports field. A programme of activities, in French, for children and adults took place in a central community room. There were a couple of outdoor table tennis tables. The staff were friendly but did not speak English. The toilet block was quite small for the number of pitches. There was, also, a laundry and washing-up room. We were charged a very reasonable £11.36 per night for our 4 night stay.
Mane is a pleasant riverside town with a few shops, bars and cafes. It, also, had a supermarket, with a petrol station, and DIY store on the outskirts.
On Monday 28 July we looked around the local area and popped over to see sister Flick and Dave's home. "La Grange" which is in an idyllic rural setting, near a small village, was formerly a barn which they were converting into a lovely home. The house is surrounded by a lovely garden which, in the warm and sunny climate, produces a profusion of fruit and vegetables.
On Tuesday 28 July we spent a day at the nearby mountain spa and ski resort of Bagneres-de- Luchon. Luchon was a stylish and busy town and we found it rather hectic. To escape the crowds we took the cable car from the near the town centre to the ski centre at Super Bagneres. Near the summit station of the cable car the area was rather tawdry with blocks of shuttered winter ski lodges and a large hotel which was closed for the summer. A short walk brought us out onto the open mountain slopes and we enjoyed a sunny afternoon's walking with lovely views to the nearby snow-capped mountains and eagles circling on the thermals above them.
After a quiet day at the campsite on Wednesday 29 July we returned, on Thursday 30 July, to "La Grange" and enjoyed a lovely day socialising with Flick and Dave. The day included a swim in their outdoor pool which was pleasantly warm from the hot summer sun. We finished the day dining on the terrace whilst the setting sun turned the distance Pic du Midi through a range of golds and reds before finally taking on a beautiful purple hue as it blended into the gathering gloom. Flick and Dave, also, came to dine with us at the caravan - they had to bring their own chairs so that we could enjoy a pleasant dinner under outside on our pitch under the spreading branches of the encircling trees.
On the morning of Thursday 31 July we left Complexe Touriste de la Justal and rejoined the A64/E80 westwards. Near Tarbes we left the autoroute at Junction 12 and drove south on the D21. After bypassing Lourdes on the D937 we joined the D821 to the town of Argeles-Gazost, which lies due south of Lourdes.
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