Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Brittany and Normandy in May and June

Excitement mounted for both Lizzie and I as we prepared for our two and a half week trip to France. We cleaned the van out, removing all of those things that we were not going to need.  Departure was scheduled for 2pm on Wednesday 24th of May.  We duly set off and arrive at Plymouth where we were at the front of the queue. As it was a fine warm afternoon, Lizzie settled down to wait for us to start the port formalities before boarding!  Lizzie made herself  very comfortable!

We finally boarded at about seven pm, one of the last on despite being at the front of the queue. Stll last on usually means first off, so fingers crossed!  We were travelling over night on the Brittany Ferry's flag ship ' Pont-Aven'.  Found our cabin and dumped our gear. This was advertised as a cruise crossing, but to be acruise the cabins could have been better.  Dinnner, however was excellent and after a few wines we turned in. When we woke in the morning we were in a bright and beautiful France. 
We were off the boat by eight fifteen, and on our way to the first site. Two hours later, aided by the excellent Michellin directions we arrived at Camping Pil Koad, which is to the west of Douarnenez.  We got the site and were allocated a spot  that was as far as you could be from the main heart of the camp. We were told that we could choose any other pitch, as we were the only people staying.  So we changed pitches for one that faced south and set up base camp. Around us were various chalets and permanent tents, but none of them were occupied. 

Then it was down to Lidl, for essential supplies, Wine and beer.
We then just laid around the site as the temperature was hitting 30 degrees. At that point we decided that it was time to visit the heated pools and the water slides.

Saturday dawned a bit grey, so we popped down to a local market, before driving along the coast, through horrendous rain, to Pointe du Van, and then Pointe du Ray. Thunder, lightening and heavy rain!
Then the sun came out and the temperature started to rise.  Found a nice cafe at Primelin. It was a nice bay here and the sun had come out.
Drove on to Audierne where we stopped at an awful supermarket.  Only one checkout working and a huge queue, so I am afraid we abandoned the trolley. 
Drove on through superb countryside to Plouhinec, where there was a much better supermarket, so lunch was purchased and we fuelled up at E1.35, a real bargain. Back to camp, where the sun was out so we lazed aroud and swam in the pool. Temperature was around about 20, so comfortable.

On Sunday we went to Quimper which is a very nice town, but on a Suday only cafes and bars were open, so it was coffee in the square by the cathedral.

The weather was dull, but warm, and improved as the day went on so back at camp we were able to sit out in the sun.
A few more people arrived on site, including an English family who were over the hedge from us. The had crossed via the tunnel and driven for nine hours from Calais!  And were only staying two nights!

On the Monday we cleared up in the dry. As we drove south east the weather got hotter and hotter. We arrived at Pen Boch, which was a site that was absolutely heaving.

 Set up, salad lunch so we stretched out in the sun listening to the French people round us.  Then at 4.00pm, they all packed up and went home!  peace and sun, 32 degrees.  Bliss
I was up on the Tuesday very early, by a Cuckoo flying overhead, so I  went for a long walk round the bay!  It was already warm at 8.00am.  The beaches adjacent to the site were very tiny but the views were stunning.  Enjoy a few shots of them!

We drove into Vannes, looking for a supermarket, and found a Lidl.  Not able to get everything so we found another , Le  Marche, where we got the ret. That saw us sorted for a few days.  Good French white wine at E1.00 a bottle.Coffee and tea at a local roadside cafe. Realised that our French had gone from the pigeon level, to almost acceptable.  The French people we spoke to obviously realised we were doing our best, and became really helpful. Went back to camp and lazed by the pool and Lizzie played on the water slides. I went on once, never again.

Wednesday.  Not so bright this morning, so into Carnac.  Somebody had left an awful lot of stones lieing about. Apparently a Roman legion was turned to stone by a Druid.  Looked some amazing boate in the harbour!

Back at camp, the weather was so much better, so it was out in the sun with a good book!

Thursday dawned hot and sunny. We popped up to local town and located a Daily Mail,  Bliss for Lizzie. Coffee and the collect wine from the local supermarket. 10L box for E11.00.
Very hot back at camp so I went walking whilst Lizzie fried.

Friday.  Cleared up and left the site. Hopefully we will use this one again.
Drove upp through Vannes and Rennes to Villedieu Les Poeles and met Cathy, Rob, Ethan and Zak.
Brilliant weather again!
Spent time setting up as we are here for eight days. 
Sat up late with Cathy and Rob.

Saturday. Up Late!  Breakfast from town and the papers. Then went to get shopping for the next few days.  Brief drive round, that meant that we were lost.  Sunny day.  Not much done. 
Up at the bar at 5.30 with Cathy and Rob. Few lagers and a back for tea. Excellent fish.  Poisson Trad, divers pese. Very nice.  Wonder what sort it was?

Drove out to Julioville, where we had excellent moules and frittes at a very basic, but brilliant French resteraunt. Our first meal out this trip! Then went up the coast to Granville. Stunning view, and we looked at the remains of the German fortifications.
Sun came out at lunch time, giving us a warm, if slightly breezy afternoon.  That good weather was not to last though as Monday broke dull and damp.  We followed Robert up to Sante-Mere-Eglise. this was the first town liberated at D-Day. It is also where a paratroopergot hooked by his parachute on the church tower. He pretended to be dead, and was rescued after a nail biting couple of hours. b We went to the Airborne museum that commemorated the invasion.  It really was very good, with lots of excellent displays, photos of which follow:

As it was June the 4th, there were many ceremonies going on to remember the events of 68 years ago.  The date meant that lots of the allies had come to the area, many bring their own vehicles.
I did rather like this sculpture that was outside the gates of the museum.
We all felt that the whole of Sante-Mere-Eglise had become a huge tourist trap, especially when we were charged e5.00 for a coke,  (£4.20).    However that is life!
We then drove on to Utah beach.
As you drive along out here you keep coming accross monuments like this one.
Each on marks the point where an American soldier fell during the invasion.  A very poignant reminder of just how many soldiers fell during the war.
We went into the museum on Utah beach (  This is a recently modernised museum, and is actually very good. They had a glider there that was used to fly troops into Normandy during the invasion.  This is one of the bombers that towed a glider
There one or two good static displays like this one.
Well reccomend a visit to this museum. Rapidly getting dangerously close to museum overload though we headed out onto the beach, where Lizzie decided to play with a 2nd WW gun.

From there we drove along to Omaha beach, where again there was ceremony just finishing.
Home through St Lo, back to camp for a warmish evening.

Market day in Villedieu-les-Poeles, brings the whole town to a standstill.  Lots of vegetables stalls, and all the other usual things.
We bought our contributios for tonight Barbecue!  Lettuce were 3 for a euro, you coulkd not buy just one. Had a disgusting, in my opinion, Normandy sausage bap for lunch.
Then it started to rain, still being staunch English, the BBQ will go on. 
Aperetifs were served in Maurace and Ediths very nice Bailey Pagent Auvergne Caravan, 8 years old and immaculate. I hope I am still able to caravan when I am their age!
Robert's Heath Robinson arrangements kept us all dry.
Maurace and Edith, were two weeks in to a seven week trip.  They had no real plans were just moving on as the saw fit.

Went for a walk on Wednesday and found this!
It is a Pizza machine. You select you Pizza, pop the money in and a few minutes later out it comes. And yes, I did actally see somebody walking away from it with a Pizza.  Then it started to rain again, and the rain was heavy all night. 
We set off on the Thursday morning on a circular tour. Firstly to the British cemetery at St-Charles-de-Percy. This was a very moving place with 800 plus graves here all beautifully manicured.
On into St-Lo, where we visited a certain Burger chain, for Tea/Coffee and free WiFi. We wandered around the town ramparts, but did not stop long as parking was difficult.
On to the Germany Cemetery at Marigny.  This one had over 20,000 german soldiers buried in the grounds.
It dawned on us when we got up on Friday morning, that we were nearly at the end of our holiday. So it was off to the supermarket to get cheese, wine etc for the journey home, as well as small presents for all the children.
We had booked an evening meal in the site restaurant, along with Cathy, Robert and the boys.   excellent meal and we met the new baby properly.
Well we cleared up on Saturday morning with a heavy heart. We both love France, but if we do not go home, we cannot come again.  It was also a real shame to leave Cathy, Robert and the boys who were staying for one more night.
Drove up to Caen, onto the ferry, last on again! 
Could  not resist getting a picture of this outfit!  The Range Rover had obviously never been off road, or possibly even a grassy field with wheels like that!

 Landed at Portsmouth at 9.35, cleared the port just before 10pm, and arrived home at 12.05am

1206 miles with an overall average of 28.00 mpg overall

So love France, but next year we will head further south to get real heat!