Freecamping by a river and Le Palais ideal

After leaving Beaune we spent the whole day driving. At this point we really got into taking local roads rather than motorways. It takes longer but makes a more pleasant drive and avoids the expensive toll charges. Because we’re traveling slower it’s easier to spot and pull up at interesting places. Handy when traveling without a plan.

One such spot was a river somewhere south of Lyon. We parked right in front of it, with Swans and all, and decided to spend the night there enjoying a few glasses of ‘Meteor’ beer in the friendly atmosphere of a nearby bar. Just before heading to bed a police car pulled up and parked near our van. We were a little worried that they may tell us to move (and we were probably over the limit at this point). We bravely decided to wait it out behind a bush. A while later a big, white, ‘breaking bad’ style RV arrived at the same spot. A guy came out with a dog and erected a tent next to the RV (for the dog, I think), clearly staying there for the night. The police didn’t give a damn so we figured it was safe and came out of the hiding. In general we found France very camper friendly and nobody minds a bit of free camping here and there as long as you keep it sensible.

In the morning we were ready to clock up some more miles and head towards the French Mediterranean coast. Just as we were leaving we noticed an interesting place on the local information board: “Le Palais Ideal”. It was only 30 mins drive away and sounded interesting, so we thought we’d check it out. The Palais was build by Joseph-Ferdinand Cheval, a rural postman in Hauterives who was doing 32km long rounds on foot. In his words: “What can we do while perpetually walking in the same surroundings, except think. To distract myself I built a fairy palace in my dreams.” And what a palace it is. Built over 40 years starting in 1879 using stones he collected on his postal rounds it depicts many wonders from around the world such as Indian temples or Egyptian thumbs. Joseph never traveld himself, he just built his dream right in the back garden. At trully inspiring dude. People in his time thought he was mad, we thought he was awesome.

There was a small river around the corner from the Palais. We hadn’t done a river crossing since the survival course in the Brecon Beacons so decided to give it a refresher.

We munched a few van made hot dogs for lunch and continued our trip south. We drove most of the day and managed to find another great free camping spot for the night. This time on a top of a hill surrounded by vineyards and great views of the valley below.