Last Saturday, Chabanais was busy and buzzing with competing cars from the Angoulême ‘Circuit des Ramparts’ having a lunchtime ‘pit stop’.
The Angoulême Circuit des Remparts weekend is an event where classic cars ‘race’ around the twisting roads of Angoulême. It is a key event for car enthusiasts!
The first race was held in 1939 and the circuit of 1,279 meters has not changed since. Relaunched in 1947 but abandoned in 1955, this race saw the greatest drivers of the time. Although the circuit is often referred to as the slowest in the world, this didn’t stop Juan Manuel Fangio leaving his mark in 1950 with three hours and twenty-four minutes for the 80 laps.
In 1983 Circuit des Ramparts was revived. Today, only three French city circuits are active, the others being Pau and Monaco. This year is special, as it is the 50th edition of Circuit des Ramparts.
So, it is historic but also a celebration with concours competitions. A beautiful road trip through the Charente countryside!
In the park, along the river, on side roads, all the cars looked so colourful and really great in the autumn sunshine and Steve was in his element. Seeing an Alfa Romeo Alfasud, the first car he owned!
Then possibly his favourite car? Alfa Romeo Duetto Spider.
So, next year why not bring your classic car and come and tour the beautiful Charente region.
As the sun sets on the river Thames, we now find ourselves on a new dawn on the river Vienne. We’ve arrived in Chabanais!
And now let us go back ten days when we still didn’t have our French visas, therefore we couldn’t book a definite day to travel and Charlie, our lovely dog was too ill to have his travel Pet Health certificate issued. The sale of our apartment was due to complete on 20th June which would mean we would soon be homeless.
We set off for our long awaited visa appointment on 8th June, armed with reams of paper, enough to wallpaper our lounge! So much photocopying that our old printer almost died of exhaustion, so our neighbour took it off our hands. Our second printer was already packed! Our 10.30am visa appointment seemed to be shared with at least 50 other people, still it was a day out!
Meanwhile, back at our our apartment, the hot water pump had packed up and finding a plumber that could replace it within a few days was a challenge. While Steve organised a plumber and two new front tyres for our car, I was back and forth to the vets to to get blood and poo tests done for Charlie. His symptoms pointed to a nasty parasite, so the vet started treatment while still waiting on the results. Thank goodness Charlie got better and his certificate was issued on Tuesday 14th. The very day the removal company and the plumber descended on our home.
Later that day, we received the e mail from the visa centre saying our passports were back from the French Embassy and ready for collection. But no actual confirmation of the visas being approved. Even on the French Embassy website, there was no confirmation. We had to wait anxiously until 8.30am Wednesday 15th when I collected them and nervously opened the envelopes and looked inside the passports and we’d been approved! Bienvenue en France! Couldn’t quite believe it and I admit I shed a tear. When I arrived home, Steve dashed off to get a new front tyre fitted and yes, if you’re keeping up, I got a puncture in one of the brand new tyres on Tuesday night!
We were now booked on Eurotunnel 07.50 Thursday 16th with a nice 5am start! After such an exhausting week, with not much sleep, we decided to take up our friends Lucie and Tom’s kind offer to stay overnight at their place in France.
But there was still time for a little more stress on our way to Folkestone with an accident closing the M25 resulting in us missing the train, along with many other passengers. But the staff met us with a smile, no fuss and booked us on a later train. The friendliness, facilities and efficiency at the terminal were a very welcome surprise. Charlie was happy as he had longer to play on the agility course set up in the dog area! We drank a bucket of coffee!
Were these signs for us not to go? ….. were they heck, nothing was going to stop our “aventure français”.
We arrived early evening in pretty Chitenay, (pronounced as you may think!) in Loir-et-Cher.
We were given a lovely French welcome and met Lucie and Tom’s young children for the first time, so did Charlie and he finally relaxed enough to receive a lot of fuss and cuddles from them! Lucie and Tom moved to their beautiful house in March. It will be their long term family renovation project, along with the gardens and woods. An idyllic location for their children to grow up in.
And potentially, only a few hours from where we may find our new home? Next morning, fresh croissants and coffee for breakfast and dear Lucie sent us on our way feeling refreshed for the first time in weeks.
Finally, I now feel we can get really excited as we are here. Our little rental house is right in the village centre and 2 minutes walk from the river, the local café and local shops.