As the name suggests it is where we break up long journeys and discuss what we find out about the places where we stay.
Hotel La Fontaine – Artenay, Loiret is part of the Logis de France affiliation group. While not appearing to be on the official Logis website this hotel appears in the catalogue that we have. There may be one of several reasons for this.
My son and I, with Beau, our Golden Retriever, had been travelling since about 7:00 am (British time) at the beginning of the summer holidays. We had dropped off my wife at Stansted Airport at about 10 o’clock. She was flying to Dublin to pick up her mum and was due to arrive on Monday the 8th of July in Toulouse. The rest of us had continued to Folkestone to pick up the Eurotunnel before making the long drive to our cottage in the Lot.
On arrival in Calais we had filled up with petrol at Auchan on the old route de Boulogne and had then taken the motorway directly south on the A16 past Abbeville, Amiens, Beauvais towards Cergy-Pontoise and Argenteuil. I prefer to take the A16 which has relatively little traffic compared to the A1. In fact one of the last times we took the A1 we drove past Airport Charles de Gaulle less than an hour before the fateful crash of the Concorde, July 25th, 2000.
With it being Friday the 5th of July, the outskirts of Paris were busy and we were held up on our descent to the west of Paris via Nanterre on the A86. It was apparently the real start of the holiday weekends and the world and his wife and family were due to be on the roads. However, all of a sudden nearly all of the traffic turned towards the right to avoid the tolls on the new underground motorway that brings one out south of Versailles. We of course continued and keeping to the speed limit of 70 km per hour were able to avoid much of the traffic problems from yesteryear (See this link to Toll Road News for more information). We then headed down towards the A10 direction Orléans.
We stopped at the first possible motostop in order to give ourselves a break. It also gave Beau a chance to get out of the car and check out what dogs had been through the vicinity. It was now approaching 8 pm French time and were in need of a break for the rest of the evening. Using my Logis de France booklet and the GPS to find the nearest hotel of the chain we found, telephoned and booked a twin room at the Hotel La Fontaine in Artenay. They, like most French hotels were ok with dogs but we needed to get there as soon as possible as demi-pension (room and evening meal) included a buffet which would be cleared shortly after 9 pm.
Hotel La Fontaine – Artenay
On arrival we received a warm welcome and shown the parking area. This was in an enclosed area with the gates locked in the night. The hotel was very much traditional with a large café/bar area. The rooms were clean and had been renovated. For us the only downside was the electric toilet which didn’t seem to work properly. However when mentioning this to the landlady the next morning she wasn’t fazed and thanked us for pointing out the problem. (Always a good sign of the establishment wishing to do its best for the clients).
Dinner, as we were told over the phone when booking the hotel, was a buffet. There was a reasonable selection cold items for the entrée. The main course was again reasonably stocked with warm dishes. The meal included a carafe of wine or other drink and a coffee.
The clients were mainly people passing through on holiday although there were a couple of locals who were eating on the terrace. These seemed to be eating alternative meals which may been worth checking out if our arrival had been earlier. I got in conversation with a charming Dutch couple at the next table who had also travelled down that day. They had hit major traffic jams around Rotterdam and the eastern motorway around Paris (A3 & A86). Like us they were in need and appreciated the relaxed atmosphere of this traditional hotel.
All in all, my son and I hit the sack well fed and watered and had a good night’s rest ready for the remainder of the drive the next day.
Awaking early the next morning to give Beau his usual constitutional I was able to take a few snaps of the town before checking out and heading on our way. We didn’t bother with breakfast but I did take my normal coffee-fix in the bar which was well frequented by people from the town.
Artenay is a small agricultural town about 20 kms north of Orléans and about 100 kms south of Paris. It is just off the A10 motorway close to the departmental border with Eure-et-Loir. It has a population of a little under 2000. There appears to be a gentle pace to life here and we were lucky enough to see it on a lovely warm and sunny July day.
The architecture is typically French and I was particularly taken by a gate left to rust and the wood show its age. I don’t know what it is about the way these things are left to age that I find charming. I guess it’s just the laid-back part of me.
The Rest of the Journey
As expected, the world and his wife were on the roads that Saturday morning with all motorway stops packed. We returned to the A10 and then the A71 after Orléans. At Vierzon were turned onto the A20 which for a great part of its length is untolled. We took more petrol near Chateauroux. There is a new industrial/commercial area here with reasonably priced petrol at a Carrefour Market. Certainly worth checking out.
We arrived safely in the early afternoon and stocked up with the basics to see us through the first couple of days before the ladies arrived on the Monday evening.
Any thing to add?
Please feel free to comment. If you have stayed somewhere and you would like to submit a report please do contact me