Getting to where it is all supposed to start
This is a bloody mess!
Writer's block can be nasty. Especially if it hits you straight after your return from an amazing trip. It might have been the huge amount of videos, pictures and stories I brought home with me that was too overwhelming. I just didn't know where to start and I kept postponing blogging.
To give you an idea, let me introduce you to a draft of my lavender trip plans. I combined a few nice shorter lavender routes and hotspots into 1 map and it became a bit of a mess. Due to work issues, my travel plans had to be postponed. Luckily I didn't have any hotels booked yet. But when at some point everything changes again and you realise you are about to go on holidays "tomorrow", it is challenging to turn this into something somewhat feasible before hitting the road.
All I knew was that I wanted to start 'road-tripping' west of Grenoble, since this was where I marked the Route de Presles as a "must drive". This was already 1100 kilometres away from Amsterdam. Due to lack of planning time, I decided to just focus on getting there first. Booking a hotel near Presles, driving there and then go from there!
Driving, driving and more driving... And some road rage
I booked a hotel in Saint-Marcellin, packed my suitcase, threw it in the car and started driving. It was the afternoon but since I am very much a night person, I wasn't too worried. First stop would be about 5 hours away so I'd be there before midnight. I learned while driving to Cologne that a 3-hour drive was a piece of cake so I was confident.
I won't bore you with a story of me driving the highway in the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and France. It is just the same as everywhere else... cars and asphalt. I had a quick dinner halfway and slept in the cheapest and dodgiest Formula1 hotel that I could find. I took a fair amount of breaks for fresh air and leg stretching and was mentally prepared for the second bit: The Péage!
The Péage is the toll road system that the French have. You can, of course, avoid it, but that will take you much longer to get to your destination. So I grabbed my credit card and drove most of my second day on a toll-road.
My dad always says "France is a beautiful country, but it's a shame French people live there". And unfortunately, I had my first encounter with those kinds of "French" on the Péage. Somehow a massive traffic jam happened in front of the toll booths. It was messy and there were more queues with cars than there were booths. And somehow I managed to get two shitty French dudes next to me thinking they could sneak their car before me while I had been waiting forever already. I think they were driving an Audi or something similar. An expensive and intimidating car with some intimidating guys in it. On the other side was me... a dark-blonde haired woman all by herself in a tiny Italian Fiat 500. They started driving their car towards me, trying to push me out and back off. However, they didn't know my car is very well insured and I gave zero fucks. So I turned my steering wheel towards them instead of giving them space. And that made them go mental! They opened their window and started yelling that I had to let them in before me. I told them no and to wait their turn behind me and I closed the gap with the car in front of me to make it impossible for them to enter.
It became a bit of a scary situation and it went on forever (at least 5 minutes). They were sort of criminal looking and very intimidating. But at that point, I was already pumping with adrenaline and thinking that these guys should not get away with this (not now, not ever). They started knocking on my window (yeah, they were that close) and that was when I decided to grab my camera and take some pictures of them. As you can see, they didn't like that one bit! Somehow, they gave in after that and gave me all the room I needed. I did check my mirrors after that to see if they were following me, but they weren't. I didn't see them again!
Look at the ONET guy checking out the drama
You can imagine that I was pretty relieved when I made it to my hotel in Saint-Marcellin shortly after that. I needed a bit of a break from driving. Dropped my stuff and started exploring the town a little.
It has only about 8000 inhabitants and that already tells a lot. It was quiet and could be explored in an hour by foot. I had dinner and was triggered by a sign saying "Promenade de Joud Panorama" with a steep looking staircase at the end of the alley.
The stairs were never ending! But it was worth it! The view from the top of the town and also the valley was a nice gift to end my highway-driving days. This was a sneak peek of what was about to come in the coming week.
At that moment, standing there, I forgot about the 2 French guys. In return, I got 2 French street-dogs that started following me around town. A town that doesn't have much to offer, except for their famous cheese named after the town. I didn't get the chance to try an original piece there, but if you like cheese, you should certainly try it out one day!
It was time to head back to the hotel and get the rest of my travel plans figured out. I found an apartment that I would be using for the next few days and the road trips for a few days! I charged all my gadgets and fell asleep...
The next day I would start the Route de Presles. The image of that road (mentioned on a website with "dangerous roads") made me pretty nervous about it. I had no experience driving mountains or cliffs with this car yet and the next day I was about to just start with a "dangerous" one. Spoiler alert: I survived! But more about my car driving the cliffs and narrow roads in the next blog!
Also in this series:
- Nothing yet... just follow me for the rest of the story!