Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Our French Adventure. 8th May to 20th June

Well we brought the Caravan home on Friday 3rd of May to use it as a spare bedroom as Robert and Kathy were coming to stay. Suddenly realised that the insurance on the Freelander2 would expire whilst we were away. So after some conversing with LV, they cancelled my policy, and immediately started a new one. £30.00 cheaper than the previous year and a refund on the unused part of my policy.  That was brilliant service.
 After the weekend the caravan was taken in for a damp check, which it passed with flying colours.  Whilst it was in Chipping Sodbury Caravans the water pump was replaced as it was found to be faulty.  We then cleaned the caravan and packed it ready for our trip.
We left for Poole at 4.30 on Wednesday. Got to the ferry terminal, steadies down, had tea and played scrabble before turning in.
06.15 on the Thursday we were woken by the Ferry men, and we finally got on to the ferry at 08.30, a bit late.  We were last on! Force 8 on the way to Cherbourg so we arrived late.

First stop was to Les Chevaliers at Villedieu-les-Poeles, for two nights. It was a nice leisurely drive down. We treated ourselves to our first proper French meal in the bar, as the supermarkets were shut as it was a bank holiday! This is the third time we have stayed here as it makes a convienient first stop in France. It also gives us a chance to accustom ourselves to French life and fill up with wine and cheese etc.

On the Saturday we were up early for us, we paid the bill, E32.00 as we were using the ASCI discount card.

Our next stop was to be La Foret, in the Vendee.  This entailed a four hour drive.  Unbelievably we saw no other English vehicles on our journey.  When we arrived at the site we chose our pitch. The Owner asked if we had a mover. As we have not got one, four of the staff unhitched our caravan and pushed and pulled it into our pitch. Now that is service!  I could have reversed it in but it would have taken some time.Weather was hot but a tad windy.
Our Pitch

We spent five nights at this site, and enjoyed relatively good weather. Whilst  we were there we visited St Jean de Monts and Noirmaster as well as lots of other villages.
The entrance to the site

We left on Thursday, moving further down through France to Pons.  A nice site built around an old mill.  This also had the advantage of an excellent bar on site, so we enjoyed sitting outside on the verandah, enjoying the sun.  We also enjoyed one excellent meal in the resteraunt.  Unfortunately we had a few very wet days.
The Terrace!

On Tuesday we moved on to Moissac. This site is on an island in the river, and is entered through a narrow enclosed bridge.  Bit of a bottom clenching moment as you go through it with a caravan following you.

The site was very wet so we took our time finding a decent pitch. Whilst we were on this site Lizzie bought herself a posh Sun Lounger at E'LeClerc, for half the price it would have been in the UK.  We spent time looking round the area, thoroughly enjoying our visits into town people watching.  The Sunday market was particularly good.

On the Monday morning we left the site at 11.30 to drive down towards Toulouse. We were due to meet Kathy, Rob and the boys at an aires, a French rest area beside the motorway, at 1.30.  By this time it was hot, so we pulled onto the aires, and set up our chairs to have lunch and wait for Rob and co.  Slightly
 ahead of time they arrive. We finished lunch, and set of down the peage, toll road, round Toulouse and down the A61.
We then cut off the piage and took a more sceinic route through Limoux and Quillan towards Perpignan. The drive spectacular through the mountains, or rather over them.Some of the roads were cut through the rock.

Also some of the villages we went through were horriffically tight.
Eventually we reached Le Barclaes, and after a bit of Off roading, yes with a caravan behind us, we reached our site for the next nineteen days.  The site is called Camping Club Floride & l'Embouchure. We were on  the Embouchure part which is alongside the Agly river and was less than 100 metres from the beach. Our pitches which were opposite each other had private bathrooms, shower, loo, wash basin on each pitch.  This also became a useful place to store chairs etc overnight.

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The first few days it was windy but we were well sheltered and were able to enjoy the burning sun. We soon got into a routine of walking along the front to the local village for coffee and to enjoy the market.

After we had been on site for a week we started to explore more than the local villages.

We had a pow wow and decided that Andorra was our aim, so we set off down to Spain and into Andorra.  We climbed mountain passes 3 times higher than Ben Nevis. We drove through snow! Diesel was only E1,12 a litre.

It was so relaxing on the site as we sat and soaked up the sun and watched people. It was most amazing to watch the French arrive in their caravans and unload Fridges, freezers and proper tables and chairs out of  the front windows.

We thoroughly enjoyed our time on this site, but are not sure what it would be like in high summer!

Our 19 days were soon up, so it was with heavy hearts we packed up the 14th of June. Rob and Kathy were leaving at the same time as us, but were aiming to drive straight to Calais.

We were heading for Camping de Montreal.  We found the site easilly after a very long drive. The pitch we chose was on the edge of a lake.
The view from our pitch

 We stopped here for two nights, and yet again enjoyed superb weather. We visited some of the local villages and countryside.

On the Sunday we cleared up and moved on again to Camping Campilo in La Vendee.  This site was very new, and should be superb in a few years time. We were only staying one night here. It was very hot and we sat outside.  That night was marked by a terrific thunderstorm!

On the Monday we moved on again to La Trinite Sur Mer.  Again we were only stopping for one night. Here we were due to meet Martin and Judith. Judith was taking part in a sailing race from the Uk to Portugal, and was due to be in port that night.  They came up and joined us on the Tuesday morning for coffee in the brilliant sun. It was really good to catch up with them.

We then left and drove up to Les Chevaliers at Villedieu-les-Poeles, for our last night in France, before heading for the ferry from Cherbourg home.

So ended a wonderful trip to France.  There is so much more I could have written as we had such a wonderful time.

Just one or two additional comments.
French fuel was cheap. about E1.24 a litre.
French super markets keep fuuny hours. Not opening until 9.00am  Some shut for lunch, and they all shut by 7.30 at night.
My French got better by the day!
Would we do it again? You bet, just watch this space

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