There have been a few and they all have in common sunshine, a wine region, friendly locals, sleeping rough in vineyards, and vast quantities of food and drink.
The first was a 4 day tour around the Beaujolais during a very hot August in 2008. It turns out that the good people of the Beaujolais, despite living a mere 200 km north of the Drome Provencale, consider olive oil to be the Devil’s ejaculate and cook instead with butter, cream and cheese. We were there during a canicule (heat wave) with temperatures regularly kicking it above 40 degrees celcius, and every restaurant we entered served us gratin dauphinoise like there was no problem. Apparently it’s the “legume de choix”, vegetable of choice, except no part of potatoes, cream and cheese is vegetable and we were given no choice at all. It was all good fun but clearly something had to change…The next drink driving holiday saw us driving down the Rhone valley, from Cote Rotie to Avignon. Our thinking was that the prevalence of olive oil in the local diet would spare us from feeling like we had been force fed lard for a week. Instead we would eat light Provencal food, quaff rosé and Pastis, and reduce our calorific intake by 6,598%.
It didn’t quite work out that way. We drove around the agricultural D roads of Provence, slept in vineyards and olive groves, bathed metaphorically in Pastis and literally in rivers, and had a blast. But we also ate and drank far too much (again) and barely made it out alive (again).It was irritating: we had hit on a holiday formula that was fun, daft, unashamedly laddish, easily affordable and rich in food and booze. But we basically felt ill the whole time, plus we couldn’t shake the notion that you can only drive around the countryside completely pissed for so long without something bad happening.