France

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First 2018 outing

 
After a snowy winter that lasted longer than the previous years, it was finally during the first weekend of June that VivaLaVida resumed service for a small outing in Ardèche (France) with the family. Here are some pictures of our boondocking…
 
 
1. First camp in a nice forest of Ardeche, South of France.
 

 
 
2. The camp fire.
 

 
 
3. Isabelle’s brother and his family rented a VW T6 California. It was a little tricky with two little ones of almost three years and seven months!
 

 
 
4. Some sunset colors…
 

 
 
5. In the morning, we celebrated Emile’s two years Birthday ! 😀
 

 
 
6. Breakfast…
 

 
 
7. Emile still sleeps well in VivaLaVida.
 

 
 
8. Our second wild camp spot in a clearing.
 

 
 
9. Emile having a great time!
 

 
 
10. Sunny breakfast.
 

 
 
11. Emile and his dad.
 

 
 
12. Last picnic before returning home. It was too short!!
 

 
 
That’s it for today.
 
The next outing is scheduled on the weekend of July 14th. Before, I ‘ve quite some work on VivaLaVida in preparation for our next trip to a destination that I’ll reveal soon. I will keep you informed of the work in progress…
 
Stay tuned!
 
 

Must already go back……

 
After five days, it’s already time to go back home.
 
 
1. We camped in the wild not far from Macinaggio, below a Genoese tower. First light of the day…
 

 
 
2. … gently move the village of Bettolacce out of the darkness.
 

 
 
3. To the East, Elba Island takes shape on the horizon.
 

 
 
4. Soft light of sunrise…
 

 
 
5. Good morning Sun!
 

 
 
6. Our boondocking spot.
 

 
 
7. Panoramic view of Macinaggio and its bay.
 

 
 
8. Maquis of Cape Corse.
 

 
 
9. Short stop to reconnect VivaLaVida’s swaybar.
 

 
 
10. Cristal clear water…
 

 
 
11. Lovely marina of Porticciolo.
 

 
 
12. Last sea play for Emile !
 

 
 
13. Loading VLV into the ferry.
 

 
 
14. Square in Bastia.
 

 
 
15. Last look at this beautiful city…
 

 
 
Back on the continent, we spend the night at my brother François’s place, in the Var valley, before driving the 400 miles bringing us home.
 
Thank you for having followed us during these short vacation! We hope to spend another weekend or two in VivaLaVida before I store her for the winter. We will share them here… 😀
 
Stay connected!
 
 

Cape Corse

 
We continue the ascent of Cape Corse, the wildest part of the “Island of Beauty”.
 
 
1. Botticella village.
 

 
 
2. The small Giraglia Island which gave its name to one of the most important sailing race in the Mediterranean Sea.
 

 
 
3. Old mill.
 

 
 
4. My darling 😉
 

 
 
5. Tollare Marina, at North end of the cape.
 

 
 
6. Swell…
 

 
 
7. Barcaggio marina.
 

 
 
8. Paradise beach.
 

 
 
9. Emile plays…
 

 
 
10. … with his Mom’s hat.
 

 
 
Last sunrise before return ferry crossing in the next update…
 
 

North West shore

 
Our stay in Corsiaca continues…
 
 
1. Familly walk on the coast.
 

 
 
2. Emile still loves the baby carrier !
 

 
 
3. And Isabelle appreciates these landscapes
 

 
 
4. But the rain catches up…
 

 
 
5. Fortunately, it will only last an afternoon and a night.
 

 
 
6. Breakfast.
 

 
 
7. Outdoor lunch.
 

 
 
8. St-Florent again…
 

 
 
9. La fantasmagorique plage noire de Nonza, en remontant la côte ouest du Cap Corse.
 

 
 
10. Sea clouds…
 

 
 
11. Pino, small village in Cap Corse
 

 
 
12. Boondocking in a pretty cove.
 

 
 
13. Horizon…
 

 
 
14. Afterglow…
 

 
 
Next of our Cape Corse discovery to come soon…
 
 

Program change.

 
After a few days in the Alps with temperatures well below usual in this season, Isabelle dreamed of warmer places. We decided to cross to Corsica for our second vacation week, hoping to find more sun…
 
 
1. Wake up in Menton, before embarking in Nice.
 

 
 
2. Waiting for boarding.
 

 
 
3. Emile discovers the upper deck.
 

 
 
4. Over Mediterranean Sea…
 

 
 
5. Arrived in the night, the next day allows us to enjoy the sun on the beach.
 

 
 
6. Emile loves outdoor picnics !
 

 
 
7. St-Florent, down the Cap Corse.
 

 
 
8. Trail through the maquis to reach a wild beach.
 

 
 
9. Emile’s snack. We met a German guy who announces that the portal located 2 miles from the beach is closed… We decide to turn around and go to another beach of which we know that access is open.
 

 
 
10. Crossing the Agriates Desert on the trail towards Saleccia.
 

 
 
11. Saleccia Beach, accessible only by boat or by a rather rough trail.
 

 
 
12. Inlet behind the beach.
 

 
 
13. We cannot say that it’s crowded… 😉
 

 
 
To be continued soon…
 
 

Tende…

 
1. Tende is a particular village, hanging on the slope of a deep valley.
 

 
 
2. Small streets are narrow…
 

 
 
3. … and most of the houses have views over the valley.
 

 
 
4. Porch…
 

 
 
5. A real little labyrinth.
 

 
 
6. Ancient door…
 

 
 
7. Another, with its guardian. 😉
 

 
 
8. The colors of the church clash..
 

 
 
9. Roof entanglement.
 

 
 
10. Up the street to the church…
 

 
 
11. … and its painted pediment.
 

 
 
12. The interior is also quite spectacular.
 

 
 
13. Still other doors…
 

 
 
14. Balcony on the valley…
 

 
 
15. Going down to VivaLaVida.
 

 
 
16. A chapel bell tower…
 

 
 
17. Swing for Emile…
 

 
 
18. Last look at the village.
 

 
 
To be followed in some days…
 
 

High routes in the Alps…

 
The next day, VLV took us to the highest paved road in Europe (this is at least what the French say 🙂 , the Pass of la Bonette.
 
 
1. Departure from our camp…
 

 
 
2. Ascent to La Bonette.
 

 
 
3. Small break in the ascent.
 

 
 
4. On a little pass below the head of la Bonette…
 

 
 
5. The panorama is gorgeous despite the light of midday.
 

 
 
6. VivaLaVida in her element.
 

 
 
7. VLV’s rack and solar pannels.
 

 
 
8. A valley on the other side of the pass.
 

 
 
9. Alpine tundra…
 

 
 
10. Seasonal migration…
 

 
 
11. Rocky edge…
 

 
 
12. Old military buildings in the descent on St-Etienne-de-Tinée.
 

 
 
Other passes to come shortly in the continuation of the narrative…
 
 

Swiss registration and first trip in Europe…

It’s been almost a year that I left you with VivaLaVida on the port of Baltimore, bound for Antwerp.
 
Achieving registration will have been longer and more complicated than expected. It was first of all Swiss customs that caused problems. To register VLV, it was necessary to obtain an X-homologation in order not to have to comply with a homologation which obviously doesn’t exist for this vehicle. The only way to obtain it is to import the vehicle with a special status of “moving effects”. Having left my papers in Switzerland during my trip to the North American continent, I had to prove that I stayed abroad for more than a year without returning to Switzerland. Even if there is nowhere indicated that the proofs of this stay must be official, that is what the customs asked me. They refused all the items I displayed – blog, stamps of my passport, credit card statements, airline tickets, etc. – testifying of my continued absence from July 2013 to March 2015. I therefore requested my municipality of residence for a certificate but, since I haven’t announced my departure in 2013, it couldn’t enter the matter. The only alternative was to make an official request to the US Border Security and Custom Office. I finally got it after more than 3 months and VLV was allowed to cross the border, getting the 18.44 and 13.20 forms with X-homologation.
 
Second step, the technical inspection. With the help of Andrew and Offroad Accessoires in Carouge, the vehicle was presented to the inspection a first time in May, with a negative result. Several points were to be modified, including the rear underrun bar deemed non-compliant. A second presentation allowed to obtain the ok on all points ecepted an approval for only two persons, the rear seat belts not having European approval. Had to go the DTC in Vauffelin – the office that awards homologations in Switzerland – which, after cashing in 560.- SFr, declared the existing belts to be in conformity with the legislation but refused to grant the homologation on the ground that their manual adjustment was behind the shoulder and the passenger could not operate it alone! The inspector therefore required the installation of retractable belts that do not require manual adjustment. However, since the sofa folds to form a bed, it was necessary to find belts long enough since the upper attachment point is at the rear of the vehicle and with two detachable front points to release the bed during the night. Once again, thanks to Andrew, I obtained two corresponding belts. After submitting the holding part drawings to the DTC for validation, I made it done by some metal shop and took VLV back to Vauffelin, repaid the 560.- SFr to finally get the homologation. Back for the third time to the technical inspection to finally get the title changed from 2 to 4 places…
 
So it was only at the end of August that I was finally able to register VivaLaVida with Swiss numbers, more than 10 months after bringing her from Antwerp. I didn’t have much time left before two weeks of vacation planned in September and I still had some work to do to accomodate Emile, my 15 months old son, including good bindings for his car seat and a bunk from which he could not fall. Thanks to the help of Bernard who sewed the berth and some late nights, VLV was finally ready to leave in time to stretch the wheels with my sweet family. We planned to discover the Dolomites but unfavorable weather forecast made us change our plans for the Maritime and Italian Alps, discovering some high altitude old military routes.
 
The first of these was the Col du Parpaillon (Parpaillon Pass) whose summit tunnel culminates at over 8,500 feet above sea level. The road was originally built between 1692 and 1694 for artillery, then rebuilt at the end of the 19th century to ensure the supply of some fortress near the Italian border.
 
1. Near the tree altitude limit…
 

 
 
2. The trail rises on mountain pastures…
 

 
 
3. … already deserted by herds.
 

 
 
4. What a pleasure to find this uncrowded mountain again!
 

 
 
5. Near the pass, the panorama is gorgeous.
 

 
 
6. And here is the tunnel that passes under the proper pass, at 8.677 feet altitude.
 

 
 
7. VLV stops before crossing it, it is time of the Emile’s lunch. 😉
 

 
 
8. This tunnel, finished in 1894, is 577 yards long! He secured a rear road to supply the fortress of Tournoux, in Haute Ubaye.
 

 
 
9. on the other side, the view is also magnificent.
 

 
 
10. Narrow passage.
 

 
 
11. Even if it doesn’t look like, the descent is steep by location.
 

 
 
12. But nothing to “impress” VLV.
 

 
 
13. Light effects…
 

 
 
14. Close, the Italien Alps.
 

 
 
15. We camped in the descent, near a small chapel, and the night as been cool…
 

 
 
Continuation of the story of our trip in a few days…