Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Salisbury to Sare

Friday 21 June 1996

Sunny with a clear blue sky as we left Salisbury at 9am for the short drive to Portsmouth to catch the Brittany Ferry to Caen. When we arrived in France the following morning at 6.30am it was grey and raining. Not the best start to our holiday.

Saturday 22 June 1996

We had planned to drive through Rennes and Nantes to Bordeaux, but got hopelessly lost in Caen and somehow ended on the road to Le Mans so opted for Tours to Bordeaux instead. It was our first time driving in France, and with the dismal weather we found the road signs and directions pretty confusing.

After our disappointing start, the remainder of the journey was trouble free. The weather had improved by the time we reached Le Mans and sunny when we reached Tours. Once on the right road going in the right direction it was easy to follow the map to Bordeaux and then on to Sare.

We arrived in Sare at 7pm and were pleasantly surprised to find the Gite with ease. We were both shattered after our long journey and went to bed after after a quick meal.


By November 1813 Wellington had driven the French out of Spain. He had defeated Marshal Soult in the Battle of the Pyrenees in July and crossed into France in October following the crossing of the river Bidasoa.

Despite this Soult occupied a very strong defensive position based on the river Nivelle. He had built a line of redoubts between the river the mountains, and the centre of this line was the Lesser Rhune mountain which overlooks the village of Sare.

The Battle of the Nivelle would drive the French out of these strong defensive works and allow Wellington to advance his army out of the difficult mountainous region into the lowlands north of the Pyrenees.

Sare is a popular holiday village on the French/Spanish border a few miles inland from Bayonne and in the shadow of the distinctive peaks of the Rhune mountain. On the other side of the Rhune is the Spanish village of Vera.

Jan and I speak very little French, but found that most local shops could speak a little English. Unlike our holiday in Spain the previous year, communication would not prove a problem. The lady who ran this bakery, where we got fresh bread for breakfast each day, was particularly friendly. She even gave us a farewell present of a cake at the end of our holiday.

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