1969 – 2015 Preston to Carcassonne – a roadtrip revisited

In July 1969 my sister and I set off from Preston to travel to Britanny in our dad’s Austin A40. We had had an exchange student from Nimes (Preston’s twin town) staying with us only a few weeks previously and on a bit a crazy whim and to allegedly help with my A Level French and Geography, we just basically set off with a borrowed largish, box-walled scout tent and a ridiculous amount of food from our parents shop and, I recall, a solid fuel stove – I think – and a kettle.

Margaret driving, me navigating we hit the road. If there is such a thing as intrepid but cautious travellers then perhaps that was us.

Night 1 –  Camped at Nuneaton! Nothing against Nuneaton but this was hardly blazing a trail. The M6 and M1 didn’t join up in those days but that is probably not an adequate excuse for only doing 120 miles on Day 1.

Night 2 – Camped at Dover. Two days and we hadn’t left the country!

Night 3 – Honfleur, Normandy. Honfleur, as you probably know, is a beautiful, picturesque fishing village. In 1969 it was probably even more quaint, unspoilt and perfect. I thought that all French towns were going to be the same!

I don’t think I had a clear idea what Brittany was going to be like but, similar to much of England this summer, it was raining so on Day 4 we basically turned left and headed south looking for sun. Rouen, Le Mans, Poitiers, Limoges. No motorways, truly empty roads. French roads are a delight today but in the late sixities, they were truly blissful although my memories of the them are all in black and white and accompanied by the smell of Disque Blue which I bought and smoked like a true wannabe student from the Spring of Paris ’68.

Today, I’m writing in France in July 2015.

Given secure internet connections and a fair wind, I’ll try to post a bit as I go but first a shot of Margaret on our 1969 trip. We were camped somewhere near Rodez, only about 60 miles from where I am today.


A bientot.


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