After a month touring some of the beautiful wild national parks of Spain through Andalucia, Castilla-La Mancha, Aragon and Catalonia and fitting the AutoQuest with two front new Michelin tyres in Andorra, we arrived at Camping Merry-Sur-Yonne last Friday (10th March), our new home for the next seven months! After discovering the Poitou-Charentes last year working at Camping Le Moulin, we’re now going to explore the Burgundy region (Since January 2016, the Burgundy region is now called 'Bourgogne-Franche Comté'). We arrived at the campsite late afternoon and Zac (short for Zachary) & David welcomed us with broad smiles. Jamie and I are both very excited to be helping them out this season and making Camping Merry-Sur-Yonne a friendly and unique place to stay in one of the most famous wine regions of France.
|Our hard-standing pitch at Camping Merry-Sur-Yonne, our new home for the next seven months.|
After our first week’s work, we definitely don’t regret choosing Camping Merry-Sur-Yonne over other campsites. At the back of a quiet village of the same name, next to the river Yonne and the Canal du Nivernais overlooking 150 million years old cliffs, 'Les Rochers du Saussois' that were once part of the seabed that covered the whole area, it is an idyllic setting.
|Camping Merry-Sur-Yonne in the morning mist (9am).|
|Morning walk to 'Les Rochers Du Saussois'. View from the bridge over the river Yonne. The cliffs are in the mist in the far background, on the left.|
|Over the Canal Du Nivernais.|
|The cliffs are just on the left-hand side, looming over the Yonne river.|
|Ten minutes later, the sun's finally out! The cliffs behind the houses along the main road (D100).|
|A few storks' nests on top of the many trees looking over the river.|
After cooking for Zac & David on our first night; since then they and Benjamin, their talented young chef have made us some gorgeous food in their cosy Bar/Restaurant Le Saussois. Our menu has had such delights as heart warming Spag’ Bol’, Homemade Burger & Chips, Thai Green Curry, a creamy fresh Veg’ Risotto and Fish n’Chips with freshly-made mushy peas. All very welcome after a hard day’s work in the campsite.
|Jamie enjoying some heart-warming spaghetti bolognese!|
|Homemade Burger & Chips!|
|Here's a close-up pict!|
|Yummy Fish n' Chips, almost like home [in Yorkshire].|
|And a scrumptious veggie risotto!|
A former municipal campsite which once welcomed many youth camps every Summer from Auxerre, the campsite had been closed down for well over seven years when Zac & David took it over in January 2016. It’s a large site, with 61 pitches; most of them on grass separated by big trees, we knew we wouldn’t be bored! There is indeed a lot of ground to cover and get the site ready for Spring.
|A panoramic view of the site. The main alley's in the middle.|
With so much to do, Zach walked us around the campsite ground to look at what needs to be done now. With Spring just around the corner, we’ve only a short window to get as much done as we can. In just a day, Jamie quickly realised we’d need a few more tools to do it all. Even though Zach & David have to be careful about what they can and cannot spend; with a little persuasion from Jamie, they understood that good quality tools needed to be ordered. Our first pair of 25Euro-loppers from a local ‘Brico Dépôt’ (France’s version of B&Q) broke on Jamie after only a day’s work, we went for the fast online option – thank God for ‘Amazon.fr’! That and the help of the Mairie’s gardening and maintenance workers; Jérémie and Jean-Michel, have meant that Jamie and I have been able to do a lot in just a week’s time. Indeed, Jérémie and Jean-Michel kindly let us borrow some of their tools as long as we’d safely lock them up after use.
|So many trees!...|
|... And just this ladder!...|
|... But, after a few words with Jérémie, one of the maintenance workers from the Mairie, we got this bad boy!|
|That's it Jamie's climbing up!|
|Jamie's using the handsaw.|
|Here's the result after just a little over two hours.|
Since then, Jamie and I have been cutting down laurels, raking parts of the grounds which have been completely taken over by moss, collecting branches plus cutting down the many trees (120 plus!) on site... Well I should really say Jamie has been cutting many branches off the trees! Fearless, at six metres off the ground, he’s been going at it with just a pair of long loppers and a handsaw. As the weather’s been overcast and the wind has been blowing for the past couple of days, seeing my Jamie up in the air going up the wobbly ladder has made my heart pound a little... Having him hold a pile of tissues tightly on his forehead as blood kept running down his t-shirt yesterday, didn’t help either! It wasn’t Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but Merry-Sur-Yonne’s very own Saw Massacre! Jamie dropped his handsaw on his forehead. It sounds worst than it was, but he’s end up with a bruise and a straight line of saw teeth (a bit like if he’d just had stitches removed).
|Look at the very bushy laurel on right-hand side behind bench...|
|... And, here it is, after Jamie's been stripping it down to its bare bones!|
|... And at the very end!|
|More trees cutting, here at 1pm.|
|And at 6pm!|
|A couple of days later, after he dropped his handsaw!|
|It's not too bad... A bit of a bruise and the saw's teeth!|
I’ve also already been making connections and dealing with the communes’ recycling organisation, the departmental and regional tourism offices, the local camping-car repair and dealer shops. I really don’t know how Zac & David have physically and mentally been able to not only run their campsite/ small shop/bar-restaurant and auberge (yes, the campsite came with a big former farm building and kitchen), but do everything else from building work to gardening, welcoming guests, cooking and promoting the place and much more! It is an endless list.
We have had already quite a few campers stay for more than just the one night and an already international clientèle with English, German, Dutch and even Australian campers in a Tennessee-registered ‘RV’.! As the restaurant Le Saussois and the épicerie are opened to the public, it’s been lovely to meet some of the many regulars from the village and vicinity, but also Auxerrois and Parisians visiting the area for the weekend or just passing by for the day.
|Many campers including Australian ones!|
|Here's the proof!|
We love it already. We feel at home. Welcome to Merry-Sur-Yonne!