Grapes at Domaine Leduc-Frouin

ripening grapes in the Loire

ripening grapes in the Loire





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In praise of autoroute “aires”?

Whilst French autoroutes tend to offer a more enjoyable drive than UK motorways, most are toll roads (peages) and hence the speed and ease of covering long distances in France has to be balanced against the costs. But traffic on autoroutes is lighter (except around the major cities) with rest areas (aires) every 12-20 miles or so. Some are quite basic offering parking, toilets and a telephone, whilst others offer a wide range of garage, food, drink and shopping diversions. The food tends to be mass-produced and a bit pricey (much as in the UK). One impressive “Aire de Service” is on the A16 near Amiens (80 Somme, Picardie) – Aire de la Baie de Somme (see picture), about 100km south of the Channel ferry ports of Calais and a bit less from Boulogne-sur-Mer. Accessible from both north- and south-bound carriageways, this offers a small haven of peace and tranquility with quiet parking and picnic areas away from the heavy good traffic – views over to the coast – and lots of wildlife (marshland, lakes, birds)so you can take a stroll to diffuse the stresses of driving. There is also a big modern shopping and dining area with clean toilets and other facilities. The A16 provides an alternative route from the Channel ferry ports to Paris – less crowded than the A26/A1 route via Arras. The route takes you in to the suburbs of northern Paris and can be a bit congested in rush hours. There are just 3 “aires de service” on the A16:- Aire des Deux Caps between Calais and Boulogne la Baie de Somme north of Abbeville HardivillersSouth of Amiens. The A16 also links to the A28 autoroute to Rouen and Normandie.

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