3 – 22 September 2012 France
Monday 3 September
Set off around 18.00 arriving at Dover 21.45 with the roads not being too busy. Found Marine Parade which is a road on which many Motorhomes stop for the night free of charge. Off to Bed ready for early start tomorrow
Tuesday 4 September
Set off for the dock at 6.00 and parked in the holding area prior to boarding at 7.00 and the ferry leaving at 7.45. Had a cuppa whilst we waited. Its great being able to do that ! Once on the P & O ferry we had a cooked breakfast to set us up for the day.
Disembarked at 10.30 and drove to Abbeville and a Carrefour hypermarket to get stocked up with the essentials of Beer & other less important items. Abbeville looked quite a nice town worthy of a longer explore in the future.
Arrived at the municipal campsite at Pont de l’Arche around 15.15 after a busy circumnavigation of Rouen. After setting up we got out the chairs and sat in the glorious sunshine, something we had not seen much of since the end of March.
Had a shower and headed off into town a few minutes walk away looking at the old timbered buildings Slightly reminiscent of Lavenham in Suffolk.It was a pretty town with a few bars, restaurants and several shops. Well worth a visit.
Made the most of the sunshine by sitting outside of a small cafe. Some random Old French woman came up to us and asked if we were enjoying our holiday ( in French of course ) and gave us both a kiss on both cheeks as per the French way Ooh er ! !
Went for a meal in a typical French restaurant which was very nice and returned to “Cis” where we both turned in early to await the next day on our entrepid journey.
The campsite here is well situated between the river Eure & the church and with an ASCI card was only €11.55 per night including electrics. The showers and toilets were fairly basic but plenty of hot water. Would recommend it and will return as it is a handy stop off after the ferry.
Wednesday 5 September
After showering etc we set off at 9.30 and had a decent journey avoiding any toll roads arriving at Chartres around 11.45 which was just before the reception closed for lunch between 12.30 and 14.00.
We walked into Chartres along the banks of the river Eure, finding a beautiful cathedral set in a lovely small city. The cathedral has 172 different stained glass windows and is definitely worth a little look. Wandered around crossing the river a number of times over some picturesque bridges. Stopped for a couple of beers at a couple of cafes and once more enjoyed the good weather.
Saw a red squirrel in the woods behind our site on the way back and on return had some typical French bread & cheeses.
The campsite was called Bord de L’ Eure and was very well situated for Chartres. The facilities were fairly basic but still acceptable with plenty of hot water but most of the toilets were the Turkish type ( a great big hole in the ground only. Mon Dieu ! ! )
the site cost €13.55 including tax with the ASCI card, you could also buy bread and there was a small pizzeria on site .
Thursday 6 September
We travelled today to Chateau Leychoisier which had a beautiful camp site with restaurant, separate bar and swimming pool. This cost €16 with the ASCI card.
The site was a lovely wooded site with plenty of space and shade.
We spent the day sunning and lounging around the pool and generally chilling before having dinner in the restaurant the food was excellent. I had king prawns in a pastis sauce, Jane had mussels,scallops and prawns in a sauce for starter followed by veal for me & steak for Jane. Sweet was coconut ice cream and Tarte aux pomme. Yum Yum delicious ! . All for € 61 including 1/2 carafe of red & 1/2 of white wine. To walk off dinner we wandered around the grounds and found some deer with huge antlers which were really tame and let us stroke them
Friday 7 September
Loved this place so much we stayed for another night so no driving today Yeh !. Had ordered a lovely French Baguette and ate a warm “Pain Au Chocolate” for breakfast lovely jubbly.
spent the day again just chilling, didn’t even leave the site. Swam & laid by the pool reading and in the evening had a Barbeque and waited for the sun to go down.
Saturday 8 September
Set off around 8.30 and stocked up with food & fuel at a Supermarket near Limoges. From there we visited a village called Oradour Sur Glane. This was a village which was completely destroyed by Germans on the 10th June 1944. The Regiment of the 2nd Waffen-SS Panzer Division Das Reich killed a total of 642 men, women and children and destroyed the entire village without any apparent reason. The village remains as it was on the day of the atrocity and we walked around it, very moving ! There is a new village at the side with a large memorial and exhibition centre which you can visit and there find details of the history of the war and what happened here. This is a must see visit, so go ! !
We then set off for St Cirq de La Popie and after having some close encounters with the rock walls of the Lot valley we finally pitched up in an Aire on the banks of the river Lot around 14.30. It was a beautiful setting and although there were no facilities except a waste water dump it only cost £7 per night. A man on a golf cart comes around in the evening.
The medieval village of St Cirq de La Popie is a walk of 1.2 Km along the river and then up a fairly steep hill ( that’s obvious as the village is on the top ) but it is well worth the effort arriving in a beautiful village where no cars are allowed and plenty of bars, shops & restaurants. By this time we were in need of refreshments so had a pint of Ratz Ambree which tasted good but didn’t touch the sides of my throat and then a Leffe in a different bar a bit later on. ( We had worked hard for them ! ) Then we returned to “Cis” and had an evening of cheese & bread washed down with some wine & beer.
Sunday 9 September
left at 7.30 to beat the traffic as going back was closer to the rock walls and I could drive in the middle of the road away from them ( Wuss! ! ). We stopped around 9.00 for some breakfast before getting a little lost around Toulouse ( I blame the French road signs you know ! ) Even worse I nearly turned into a One Way road the Wrong Way ! ! (What a Muppet )
Arrived at the Moulin camp-site around 11.30. The site has a Swimming pool, Bar & Restaurant although the latter was shut at this time of year. Free Wifi at the bar. The staff are friendly and the shower blocks are clean & modern which is a change from some of the sites in France. There is plenty of shade at this site and we were easily accommodated for the size of “Cis”. The cost with the ACSI card was 17 Euros and we had an extra large pitch.
We ate lunch on our pitch and then went for a swim. a large Wedding party had stayed over and they all had a massive lunch with speeches etc. After this they took over the pool so we left and sunbathed on our pitch.
At 18.00 most had left so we went for a drink at the bar, we were also given punch & cake from the remains of the wedding party. Although the restaurant was shut the bar did simple food and we had some pre-prepared Chicken Risotto which was surprisingly nice.
Mon 10 September
Arrived at Camping La Cite around 11.30. Camp-site has a swimming pool, bar & restaurant but we didn’t use any of them.
Walked along the little river and up into the beautiful walled city. This was the one used in the Kevin Costa film “Robin Hood Prince of Thieves”. We wandered around the city taking in the sights and then stopped for refreshments. The two girls serving must have been the most miserable waitresses in France. No tip there then ! After wandering around some more we had lunch in a restaurant garden, We had Cassolet which is a local delicacy here consisting of a type of stew with Confit Duck, sausage and beans. It was delicious.
Tuesday 11 September
Set off to Canet en Rousillon and just before we got there we passed the intrepid four Nottinghamshire fire-fighters Pete Wignall, Phil Foulds, Prad Verma & Russ Munt who were doing a charity cycle from the south coast up to Paris. Well done lads !
Arrived at the camp-site La Brasilia which was a Yelloh site and had all the amenities, good modern shower blocks, Bar, Restaurant, shops and an amazing swimming pool complex. Would highly recommend this one but it of course cost a little more
went down to the beach and chilled out swimming & sunbathing and finally back to “Cis” for tea consisting of some massive king prawns we had picked up and chips from the site ( Sorry Frites or is that French fries ? ! ) washed down with some nice french wine.
Wednesday 12 September
Stayed another night at La Brasilia ( staying until Tuesday). Jane stopped by “Cis” whilst I had a cycle into Canet en Rouissilon and around the port and sea front. Canet looked nice, plenty of restaurants on the front but it was quiet as it was around 10.00.
on returning to the “Cis” had a late breakfast with some dark brown squirrels a bit similar to our Red squirrels but not as red.
Went to the pool but the weather turned very windy & cloudy and eventually it rained so we returned to “Cis” & chilled out. Had an evening meal at the restaurant which was ok but nothing special. If you need to eat its acceptable but I wouldn’t recommend as being great french cuisine.
Thursday 13 September
Friday 14 September
Today , still windy ( Le Mistral you know ) but beautiful blue sky. This gave us the chance to chill around the pool all day with the occasional visit to the bar & 3 Cheese Panini & Chips ( Just the job ). About 15.00 I needed some shade so we came back to our pitch so I could sit in the shade whilst Jane stopped out in the sun. ( that’s why I look so good still ! )( Modest as well ! ) chilled for the rest of the afternoon & evening
Saturday 15 September
Had breakfast with the squirrels again before spening the rest of the morning around the pool before coming back to “Cis” for a light lunch and stopping there the rest of the day. We cooked Steak which we had bought from the Supermarket previously but it didn’t amount to much. We can’t seem to find any decent steak either in a restaurant or in a shop ( So much for French Cuisine ! )
Sunday 16 September
( Sorry reader, still a bit boring for you, can’t write much if all we are doing is chilling out )
Weather gorgeous today & no wind. Stayed by the pool all day & bought a hot whole chicken which we ordered with some chips. It was not ready so we went for a quick beer in the bar before returning to “Cis” to eat them before watching a bit of TV and going to bed.
Monday 16 September
Unfortunately today we woke up to a sea fret & drizzle and hung around “Cis” until around 14.00 when the sun finally came out. Then we got the van topped up with fresh water & emptied the cassette & grey waste to save time tomorrow morning.
Tuesday 18 September
Had a long drive today ( 6 Hours) with a quick break to stock up on food & diesel. We arrived at La Bonnette camping at Caylus which was a site owned by a very friendly Dutchman called Hans. It had a nice little bar & a swimming pool but it was a little cool for swimming. The site is fairly small but the facilities are ok and meals can be pre-ordered at the bar. It cost 15 Euros a night with the ACSI card. Would definitely return to the site but wasn’t over-impressed with Caylus as a town.
After setting up we had a walk through the woods into Caylus which was a nice medieval town but not nearly as pretty as St Cirq La Popie. Found a nice cafe to sit outside in the market square and had a Leffe Ruby which was a fruity beer and very refreshing, it made a nice change.
Had a bit more of a look round and came upon another cafe where Henk & Mika, a Dutch couple on the same site kindly invited us to join them for a beer.
On returning to the camp-site we later met up with Henk & Mika again at the campsite bar along with the owner Hans & another Dutch couple ( aren’t Dutch people lovely ). Unfortunately after about a hour it began to rain really badly so we had to make a quick getaway back to “Cis”
Wednesday 19 September
Steady drive today arriving at the awesome little town of Beaulieu sur Dordogne. The camp-site is right on the side of the river and has a restaurant which is open in the high season ( but not now ) and a pretty nice pool. cost 12.30 Euros for a night. The showers & loos are modern and very clean.
After a while exploring we’d worked up a thirst so stopped at a little cafe with tables on the street and then back to the pool for a swim & chill.
in the evening walked to the “Villinus” restaurant where our French waitress spoke English with a broad Mancunian accent. Bizarre or what ! The food was excellent, 2 fish pates,1 pork in a mustard sauce & 1 duck and was washed down with a couple of bottles of wine all for 50 euros which for this standard of food in France was pretty good
Thurs 20 September
Loved this place so stopped for another night. Left Jane in bed and shot off for an explore on the bike for a couple of hours. Had spotted a nice restaurant yesterday but on returning today found that it was closed. Bummer ! We easily found another and had something to eat washed down with a couple of Pelforths.
After lunch, back to the pool for more sunning, chilling & swimming……AARGH ! whats that noise? about 30 Noisy French schoolkids have invaded the pool and are bombing and splashing and generally P***ing me off. Fortunately a lady nearby told them off and eventually they left. Then later back to “Cis” but oh no ! they’ve camped right behind us. Hope there’s no Ging Gang Goolies going off tonight ! !
Friday 21 September
Schoolkids were pretty quiet so managed a good kip and set off on our next stop Montbazon. Give this camp-site a miss. its crap ! It cost 14 Euros but wasn’t worth it, there was a pool but it was as green as Robin Hoods tights but not as clean ! Jane had a close encounter of the French kind when she went into the communal toilet & sink area to find some old French dude stark naked washing his tackle. ( Ooh La La! ! ! )
The weather here was awful, went out for a walk and got drowned so had to make a quick retreat into a couple of bars to dry off. One was in a marquee down by the river which would have been nice if it was a dry day. Had a Curried Chicken Pizza that wasn’t half bad.
Saturday 22 September
Set off nice & early but then got held up by two huge pipe transporters with motorcycle outriders who wouldn’t let you pass for about 10 miles even on dual carriageways. Thanks for that !
Arrived back at Pont de La Arche which is so handy for a stopover and have previously told you about at the beginning of this holiday. Then the compulsory couple of beers after the walk around town and back to “Cis” for lunch in the sun. In the afternoon went back into town to the wine shop and bought a rare bottle of Armangnac for Jane’s brother Glenn for his birthday. It only cost a mere 91 Euros. GULP! hope he doesn’t knock that back after a few too many. On return to “Cis” once more we spent an hour chatting with fellow British travellers who were giving recommendations on where their favourite sites were.
Sunday 23 September
Last day today we set off to Calais with a plan to stop off & pick up some booze on the way to take home. NOTE French Supermarkets are shut on Sundays ! ! Oh Merd ! luckily there is a booze warehouse near to the port on an industrial estate ( can’t remember the name. It’s an age thing ! ) So we stopped there but I would recommend stopping away from Calais because its cheaper.
The weather was again crap today and after stopping for dinner at a steakhouse we made our way to the ferry terminal were we enquired how much to change our ferry to today instead of tomorrow morning. £60 but if we waited until after midnight it was free. For those of you who know me well, guess which we chose? There was a humongous storm with mega lightning & rain so after catching the 12.30 ferry we drove through the night and arrived back around 4.00.
Aah,,,,Pillow…. Bliss…. until next time Adieu