Our next Etappe leads from the South-Western corner of France all the way across to the east and into Italy, to catch a boat in Genova on the 29th December. As we are practically passing the Luberon, we drop in on Merindol and visit Pierre and Jacqueline, catch up with village news, and spend a day with Véronique and her partner. The two of them are real foodies and we have the pleasure of tasting many of their home made things, such as paté de magret de canard, purée thon a l’aïoli, bread, preserved olives and tapenade, quince cheese and various hand-picked teas. For some of them, Véronique kindly shares her recipe too, so we travel on enriched by food and stories and relaxed from a massage exchange.
The ligurian coast is a great disappointment – so built up there hardly seems a place for us to stop, let alone spend the night! I guess if one does this bit by train, one would have a different experience, as some of the older towns seem to have a lovely historic centre, but we can’t find anywhere to park and have a look around. After a long search, we find a place where we can reverse Emma into a driveway that ends on the beach. We take out our bbq and cook a couple of fish by the sea. All along the coast here, the beach seems to be covered in several metres of plant debris washed up by the sea. I wonder how they get rid of this in time for the tourist season.
Even in Genova, parking comes at a high premium, at 30 Euros for half a day, unsupervised. We decide to drive out into the mountains instead and find a lovely roadside restaurant about 10km out of Genova, where we can park for free and spend our money on food instead. At sundown, we roll back down the hill to the harbour and embark in time for our departure at 11pm.
This feels like the end of one chapter and the beginning of another… we got from the UK down to Genova, 1800 km in one month which, for us, is a lot of driving. We hope that once we arrive in Sicily, we will spend less time driving and more time experiencing the places and people we visit. The boat is the ideal place to stop and do nothing for a day.
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