Day 2 of our 2018 Motorhome Tour of Germany
We left early in the morning, which honestly is when all good adventures should start. Driving off as the sun rises is one of my favourite parts of any journey.
There’s not much to say about the drive through France as we stuck to the motorways. All (I think!) of the motorways in France are toll roads and one of the reasons we sold our first motorhome and bought our new one is because we wanted to be under 3m high. If you are under 3m, the tolls (which are automatic) classify you as a class 2 vehicle, not class 4 which is a commercial truck and the toll costs are about 3 times the price!
Also, we got a toll pass, through Sanef Tolling, which is brilliant! It fixes to the windscreen of your vehicle (we switch ours between our car or the motorhome as required) and allows you to pass through the ‘quick’ lane of the motorways in France, Spain & Portugal without stopping (these lanes are marked with a ‘t’ in France). By doing this, you can avoid a lot of the queues at the toll plazas, which are especially bad in holiday season. The link for the website is here and they can send it to a UK address. The payments come out of your bank by either direct debit or monthly billing, which also saves the panic when you arrive at the toll and realise you have no cash! (Note- this is not an affiliate or promoted link. Just a useful service we use.)
We found a parking place on www.park4night.com and stopped at the Musee des Maisons Comtoises- which is a museum of houses from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. All the houses were carefully taken to pieces from wherever they were originally built in France and then they were rebuilt in this open-air museum. We didn’t go into the museum but you could see the houses over the fence.
Parking at the site was free and there was fresh water, rubbish bin & grey & black waste disposal. There is a charge to use these services- we think it was 1€ but the sign was unclear. Some sites accept 1€ coins but most have required 2 x 50cents, so make sure you have plenty of change with you.
It was our first time using our new Ma-Ve self-levelling system- or bionic legs as I call them. They seemed to work very well, although it did lock out on us the next morning whilst we were using the app on our phone, but apparently this is because we parked uphill- which is something the system says not to do! Still, it was a lot easier deploying the legs (doesn’t that sound weird!) then having to use chocks etc. Not sure it was worth £4.5k though. We will see.
The next morning, I was awake at 4am. I find this happens a lot in the motorhome. Part of it is excitement for the adventure ahead, part of it is a new sleeping routine and part of it is my head not being able to switch off. Still, on this particular morning I was treated to the most INCREDIBLE sunrise.
I saw it starting through a gap in the blinds, and as I watched the sky grew steadily pinker & pinker. I decided to get up and enjoy the show- I’m a sucker for sunrises and sunsets. I stealthily climbed out of our bed (over Mr WB I should add) and managed to get dressed, put my shoes & coat on and leave the van- all without waking any of my family! I’m very impressed with my cat-like qualities, and the ability of the bionic legs to stop the van shaking anytime someone moved around!
I stood there for about an hour, which was impressive considering the temperature was a chilly 5 degrees C. Still, I couldn’t turn myself away from the colours of the sky, which were getting more and more spectacular. I’ve taken so many photos and I genuinely can’t decide which ones I like best!
Not another soul was around- it was like a special show just for me. The birds started waking up and calling to each other and at 7am the local church bells had a ‘ring off’. I’d never heard anything like it before. First one church rang out its bells, then the other did theirs, so naturally I thought they were finished. But oh no- then they each tolled 7 times AGAIN! It was like they were desperately trying to wake everyone up.
However, when I returned to the van, unable to feel my fingertips, the family was still asleep. Goodness knows how they slept through that! I decided to make myself a cup of tea and let the whistling gas kettle do what the church bells could not.
Once we were all up and breakfasted, we headed off on our eastbound journey. On the way out of the campsite, we noticed a tourist sign for ‘Grotte de la Glaciere’. Upon Googling, we discovered there was a local cave which contained a glacier! Sounds intriguing, right? So we decided to detour and followed the tourist signs down several winding roads. That’s one of our favourite things about motorhome travel- the ability to turn off the planned route and see something unexpected.
On the way, we passed a beautiful waterfall, which I’m sure has a name but I didn’t see a sign to tell us. It was on the road up to the Grotte and there was a parking place very close so you could walk, for free, right up to the waterfall. The spray was pretty strong and we got quite wet, but the day was warm and we enjoyed the experience.
Unfortunately, the Grotte didn’t have quite the same charm. As a cave- it was impressive. As a cave with a glacier in, it was a bit of a let down. Turns out, the glacier melted many (many) years ago but apparently “in the winter they do get snow”…. I’ll leave my sarcastic response out of this! There was some ice in the cave and the steps down were incredibly slippery. I imagine in winter the effect is pretty special- but the cave isn’t open in winter. There were a couple of icicles down the cave face, which were cool to see and walk under, but you could see them melting. I imagine in high summer there wouldn’t be much ice left at all!
Our tour guide was a real character, but he obviously felt he needed to provide us with value for our 7€ entrance fee, so he decided to show us every single creature, sculpture and supposed face of man magically carved into the cave face. The tour took 2 hours. Talking about cave formations, rock sculptures and prehistoric creatures. Entirely in French.
He also asked many questions and expected us to know the answer, again in French. In the end we learnt to avoid all eye contact and look up at the cave roof in awe a lot, which avoided awkward moments. I think he thought we were complete idiots! Would we recommend the cave? Yes, probably. For 7€ it was a really cool experience and the difference in temperature between up top and down in the cave was impressive. If you speak French I imagine you would get a lot more out of the tour than we did, but overall it was fun to see.
It was just after this detour that we realised we’d messed up. A lot. And we weren’t sure how to fix it!