Château Gaillard, Amiens, and Another Motorhome Malfunction

Tonight is our 100th night in SOK 🔔 So far he’s got just over 5000 miles of dossing on the clock.

Overall, he’s performed very well…. We’ve had a few minor niggles but so far, they’ve all been pretty easily solved. Yesterday we discovered another problem though, this time with the fridge…..

The fridge isn’t switching over to 12V when the engine is running. We’ve no idea how long it’s been like that. The fuse is fine and the control panel does “know” when the engine’s running. Hmmmm…. It works fine on gas whilst we’re stationary, so all is not lost; it’s not as though we’re driving for hours at a time on this trip. We’ve spoken to Marquis and will get it looked at while we’re back in the UK. In the meantime we’re soldiering on OK 🤕

In brighter news, we stopped off to look at Château Gaillard yesterday, which towers above the East bank of the Seine at Les Andelys.

Back in the late 12th century, this was the border area between the lands held by the Duke of Normandy and those held by the King of France (note the able assistance of SOK’s answer to Debbie McGee in the photo below 😉):

Richard the Lionheart (who was Duke of Normandy and King of England) built the castle in 1196-98. Richard died in 1199 and in the autumn of 1203, the French besieged the castle.

They had no problem taking the town, as the inhabitants had left it unoccupied, many of them having taken shelter up in the castle. Unfortunately, that did put a strain on food supplies as the siege progressed. The governor of the castle had the civilians driven out into the ditch separating the opposing sides, where they died of cold and starvation over the course of the winter. Yikes….

Our interesting snippet for the day: Thomas Edward Lawrence (the future Lawrence of Arabia) visited Château Gaillard in 1907 and some of the crusader castles in the Holy Land in 1909. His view was that the unusual “scalloped” walls showed that Richard the Lionheart must have been closely involved in the design of his castle, having come across such ideas in the East during the Third Crusade.

Lawrence’s Oxford University dissertation bore the highly relevant-sounding title The Influence of the Crusades on European Military Architecture to the End of the 12th Century. Not just a pretty face then…

Château Gaillard isn’t far at all from Giverny, but as the weather has turned colder and greyer this didn’t seem like a good time to check out Monet’s garden…. Instead we turned North and soon passed through the beautiful old town of Lyons la Forêt, which is where Richard the Lionheart’s great grandfather Henry I died in 1135, supposedly as a result of a “surfeit of lampreys” 🐟🐟🐟. Lampreys are a particularly unappetising-looking type of fish that you never see on menus nowadays – perhaps for good reason?

The weather turned grim overnight, with both of us awoken more than once by the sheer racket made by the rain bouncing off SOK 🌧.

The weather wasn’t great this morning either, and the temperatures have dropped considerably. We drove on to Amiens, where the main attractions are the cathedral and Jules Verne’s house.

Amiens cathedral is the largest in France. Construction began around 1220 AD to house the head of John the Baptist which had been brought back to Europe from the crusades. It’s still on show but you have to buy a ticket to see it (entrance to the cathedral itself is free). We didn’t bother; we saw a photo on a poster and got the general idea (sorry, I didn’t take a photo of the poster…. there are lots of photos of the head online if you want to know what it looks like, for example here).

As seems to be the way, lots of other places in the World also lay claim to having John the Baptist’s head. I think displaying it on a gold plate probably counts as over-egging the pudding in Amiens’ case…..

The main thing that struck us was the sheer height of the place:

Overall, it’s an impressive building but we didn’t feel it would be worth travelling a long way to see (unless of course it held some kind of religious significance for you).

We both loved Jules Verne’s house:

The author lived here for 18 years, from 1882 until 1900, at the height of his fame. The ground floor was set out as it would have been in Jules Verne’s time.

I’d quite like to pick up his “winter room” (above) and attach it to our house!

The upper floors are devoted to exhibitions about his work. I was particularly pleased to learn (and point out to Mark) that he had 12,000 books in the house… 📚 Very important things in life, books…..

There was a particular focus on Round the World in 80 Days and 20,000 Leagues under the Sea.

Apparently the inspiration for 20,000 Leagues came from the 1867 World Fair in Paris which showed the very latest developments in submarine and diving suit technology.

Round the World was inspired by press reports in 1871 suggesting that the completion of three major infrastructure projects would now make it possible to complete a circuit of the World in three months:

📗 the East-West coast railway in the USA (1869);

📘 the Suez Canal (1869); and

📙 the Mont Cenis tunnel under the Alps (1871).

Verne got his maps out and started planning such a journey….

There are lots of books, film posters, models etc to look at. Here’s Mark’s favourite of the flying machines:

Mark is now inspired to read some Jules Verne 😀 It’s a good little museum, well worth the Euros 7.50 each to get in.

We’re now back in SOK and the weather has turned really dismal again. It’s only 6pm but it feels as though it could go dark any minute. Time to fire up the heating; so much for summer 🌞


  1. Looks lovely despite the weather. Adriana doesn’t always switch over the 12v either, but it’s no mystery, it’s when I forget to flip the switch!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 😂 I tried “getting all manual” with ours but to no avail – it really doesn’t think it’s getting any 12V… The fuse for the fridge is fine, and the control panel knows the engine’s running….. Fingers crossed it’s easily fixed 🤞

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m sure the Marquis tech people will be able to sort it when you get back to the UK. Must be frustrating though, how is Mark keeping his beer cold!


      2. His beer is fine 🍺 Thankfully I have a fridge thermometer 🌡️ When we stopped today, the fridge had been off a couple of hours and had got up to a horrendous 4.5 degrees C……


  2. Can Marquis not send you info to help you to re-set the fridge yourself, or would this affect the warranty?


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