Through Andorra and onto Lourdes
327 miles, 23.9 mpg
Leaving the Aire at Asco it was a long and gentle climb up into the Pyrenees to get to Andorra, somewhere neither Fiona or I had been to before. The scenery on the drive was lovely and I've marked the Pyrenees down as yet another place to spend more time exploring once we have time.
Crossing the border into Andorra the first thing you see is a long line of petrol stations, with the cheapest fuel we'd see on the trip anywhere expect Gibraltar (which was similarly priced). Fortunately we did need fuel so saved a fair bit of cash filling up here, as the fuel is a lot more expensive in France where we were heading next.
The initial bits of Andorra you see from the road are pretty built up and not very motorhome friendly. As we weren't planning to do any shopping we decided to continue on our way, climbing higher and higher before stopping at a lovely viewpoint with views to the mountains.
After that was still more climbing, with the pass topping out at around 8000ft - not only the highest point of the trip but the highest point we've ever taken the motorhome too. The road is good though and not too steep so our van didn't struggle at all - although our previous van (with a smaller 2.0TDi engine) wouldn't have liked it as much.
From the top of the pass there is a drop down to a small town just before crossing the border into France. That had a very large car park and looked like it might have been an overnight stopping option but we decided to press on. We didn't get stopped at the border but I've heard a lot of people do, for customs checks, and the Scottish lorry in front of us (which we think had been delivering whisky) did.
From Andorra we had originally planned to drop down to the med coast in France, possibly around Montpellier, however they'd had some issues with flooding so we decided we'd try somewhere different - eventually deciding to visit Lourdes.
Initially we'd planned to stop at an Aire on the way however the first one we tried was full and the next one while it had space we decided to move on from. When we arrived there were some strange goings on and from some googling it turns out it's a popular site for "cottaging" (look it up!) so probably wouldn't have been a quiet night.
Instead we pressed on to a site we'd located within walking distance of the centre of Lourdes, which meant a total drive for the day of 327 miles - one of the highest driving days of this trip (although I've done a lot longer in other trips). The site turned out to be small but nice, with decent facilities and was pretty cheap at only 13.9EUR a night (£12.64 at the time).
I'm not a Catholic or religious but places like Lourdes fascinate me, although I had some concerns about it being a bit of a Catholic Disneyland. Fortunately that wasn't the case and while there were shops selling tacky souvenirs outside the site, the church itself and its surroundings were pretty tasteful. We had a look around and drank some of the water but decided not to queue to visit the grotto. We did observe the comings and goings there though and it was sad seeing quite a lot of very ill (or in some cases very old) people visiting - I hope they gained some comfort from it.
After finding a nice place to lunch (steak frites and a beer for me - yum) we headed back to the campsite. Fiona was keen to buy an apple tart (she's a big fan) and was a little upset when the lady in front of us in the queue bought all of the remaining ones in the shop! I had to hold her back from mugging the lady in question, however we did leave with a reasonable amount of cakes!