AS I TYPE this, the country is still shivering under a blanket of the white stuff. And this morning, when I stepped outside the warmth of my house with stout boots on my feet and a waterproof on my back, I couldn’t help but be reminded of a motorhome tour that I made to a particularly snowy Burgundy a few years back.
Our motorhome was a handsome little Marquis County Devon – £55,000-worth of Mercedes-based, pure touring luxury – and the trip began innocuously enough. Partner Matt and I trundled down to the lovely region of France at our leisure, with the watery sun giving no indication of what was to come. In retrospect, we should perhaps have paid more attention to the weather forecast on the radio; in truth, we were much more interested in the wine-tasting opportunities that lay ahead.
The first feather-light flake of snow floated to the ground around half-way through the trip; we woke one morning, while parked up on a motorhome aire, to find a light dusting covering the ground. No matter: never ones to let a little frozen water prevent us from tracking down a decent vino, we pressed on, and enjoyed a pleasant, if chilly, day in the town of Chablis.
Thawing out the salad
But by the following afternoon – coincidentally my birthday - our relaxation was beginning to turn to concern. The snow fell steadily, so we abandoned a drive in the dark to a hillside aire (“you must be joking,” said Matt. Or words to that effect) to instead stay at a well-gritted car park in Beaune. We enjoyed a fine glass of Nuit-st-Georges in the van that night, occasionally peering out of the window to assess how far the snow had crept up our axles.
And by now it was cold. Really cold. Fortunately we’d drained down the water system, otherwise the plummeting temperatures would have been sure to freeze up everything overnight. But, despite the arctic temperatures, the little Marquis behaved itself admirably: the heating kept us snug, and the vehicle itself never missed a beat on those cold morning starts.
The following day we were due to meet up with a Practical Motorhome photographer a few hours away, to grab some shots for the magazine. Ever the optimist, the photographer encouraged us to sit outside the ‘van in T-shirts, with a glass of wine and a selection of tempting French food. It was minus-seven degrees, and when we packed everything away the bowl of salad had frozen solid. It was time to go home.
On the way back, we reflected on what we’d learned. First, we concluded that, despite the weather, we'd thoroughly enjoyed our tour: Burgundy is a fantastic place to travel in a motorhome, and the inclement conditions meant that we enjoyed many attractions and stayed at most aires more or less on our own. But second - and perhaps the most important lesson of all - was the realisation that, if you should find yourself holed up on a snowy aire, then Nuit-St-Georges really does make a rather fine companion.
Post by Sarah Wakely
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