4th August 2020

Presles-et-Boves – Lac d’Orient – 197km

Hayley has found us a nice lake southeast of Paris, some way southeast of Paris. There are a couple of camping areas in the vicinity so we are sure that we will find a suitable parking place.

We set off following Google maps which takes us through the Champagne region which, at this time of year, looks absolutely stunning. We stop to take a few snaps along the way.

However, we do get a little lost as we are jumping between Google maps and the van’s built-in GPS which takes us down a very long and untreated road.

We are lost…

After an extended drive, we finally pop out where we should be only to end up at a closed road, and a diversion is in place. Now what?

We are not far from a Champagne producer that we stayed at two years ago on our first van trip to a small town called Montmirail. The Champion Champagne house is a small independent producer who produces fine Champagne so how fortuitous that the diversion should take us there.

One of our “favourite” Champagnes

We set off, destination Champion Champagne and we drive through a beautiful town called Orbais l’Abbaye that has, yes, an abbey.

Your typical French town
A very tight squeeze at the top of this road!

The small town is stunning and while trying to find a place to park we end up in some very narrow back streets threading between parked cars with only mm to spare, but with Hayley, at the wheel and me watching out we get through, park up and make our way to a delightful restaurant that is putting on the usual menu of the day.

This is the first restaurant that we have been out to since early March, but it has all been done right with enough space between tables, a designated entrance, and exit to the restaurant. We have a fantastic three-course lunch with drinks and coffee for £30.00 for the two of us. What a lovely place with such lovely people.

A quick walk around the small town and the abbey, which is need of some upkeep, and back to Jess and on to the Champion Champagne house.

Nothing has changed here. Last time, two years ago, we stayed the night right behind the house overlooking the vineyards. Today it looks amazing in the sun as we pick up a six-bottle case of their latest and head off, finally to the Lac d’Orient.

After roughly 182km and a few stops, we arrive at Lac d’Orient. It’s a rather unusual place. Imagine a Tescos car park if you will. Well, it was a bit like that. A huge expanse of tarmac painted out to allow up to what must be 50 – 60 campervans to park up for the night free of charge! You can also empty your greywater and for a couple of euros, you can have 100lts of freshwater. Not bad.

Whilst the surroundings are not would you would call “ideal” it does however have a hidden gem, the town itself, and the wonderful lakeside beaches which are about a two-minute walk. There is a good-sized marina as well with a large fancy restaurant.

Lac d’Orient

We take a walk to the beach to see how our European friends are dealing with social distancing. People are wearing masks when ordering at bars and cafes, there is sanitizer also available. People are well spaced out on the beach, it still looks packed while a couple of local Bobbies patrol the area looking for any infraction of the rules.

On the beach! (there’s a song about that)

A short walk and we settle on a nice little bar for our first cold beer of the season since lockdown.

First real outing to a public bar

It goes down a treat. A short walk, further along, brings us to a beach bar with deck chairs and tables made from pallets. (You can get away with anything now and call it “trendy”).


It’s a long time to the sunset so we thought we would hang out here for a while and soak up the late afternoon sun with a bottle of ice-cold rose wine and a small platter of food to help it along.

Waiting for the sunset

It’s a beautiful evening as we watch the sun start to set and the beach slowly empty.

We would be better off placing ourselves somewhere else for the full sunset so we take the 15-minute walk back to the marina and watch the sun disappear while a family and their mad dog frolic in the water. Magic.

The end of a great day out in public!