Wednesday, 17 August 2016

French Adventure 2016

Well the house seemed to be littered with endless lists and piles of things needed on the trip!  I worried about where it was all going to go! However it all finally went in, most of it in the back of the Freelander2. The final thing in was my bike, which with the wheels and pedals removed slid in easily over everything else.

So we were off, on Saturday 30th April, heading for Poole.  We arrived on the Quay at 19.45, and were soon sat enjoying a glass of wine in the evening sun. At 06.30 there was a knock at the door of the caravan and we were asked to move forward to the departure gate as soon as we were ready! Legs up and we moved forward. Formalities dealt with and we were on to security and customs! I love it when they ask if we are carrying knives!  I just point to the kitchen drawer!  Anyway we were soon on the ferry, ready for an 08.30 departure. In for a surprise then as by 08.15 we were on our way over the Oggin.

An early departure meant that we arrived early and we were one of the first off. Straight through customs and passport control, then we were away!
Our first stop was to be Villedieu-les Poeles. We have been here many times before, but it is a good site, in a tidy little town. We arrived at the site at about 16.00,and were immediately impressed. The whole site was immaculate. The new managers obviously knew what they were doing, unlike last years managers.

Looking down on the site from the bar!

We were away at 10.00 the following morning, heading for Montreuil Bellay. Again this is a site that we have used before, but when we are just traveling through France, I see no point in looking for a fresh site every night. We had dinner and then sat in the sun.

Again we were up and away by 10.00 in the morning, heading for our next stop. This was to be Camping de Montreal, at St Germain Les Belles, where we were staying for seven nights.  We have been here before, and have got to know Hans and Leone very well.  Having called Hans a few days earlier, we knew a lakeside pitch had been reserved for us!
We were there at about 14.30, to be greeted in the full continental manner, and then in the gorgeous sun set up properly.We were staying here for a week as we wanted to enjoy the area.

The view from our pitch

He is not in Prison.  Chris from the pitch next to us spent his time carp fishing!  This one weighed 32lbs

During our week at Camping de Montreal we went to visit The Village of the Martyrs, Oradour-sur Glane.
On June 10th 1944 the German SS massacred 642 of its inhabitants.  Many of them were shepherded into the church, which was than locked and set on fire.
As a memorial to this attrocity the village has been left exactly as it was.  Look at for more information.
It really is a very eerie place but is well worth a visit!  Everything was left as it was when the Germans departed.

After a very pleasant week in some lovely weather it was time to move south again, so we cleared up and set off for Les Terrasses du lac at Pont -De-Salars.
We duly arrive there at 15.00 to find a.very disappointing site. Despite having been open since the beginning of April it was very unkempt.  The grass had not been cut and the whole site just looked unloved!

This picture  makes the site look far better than it was.

A quick decision was made that we would have dinner, go to bed and then be away early the following morning heading south. After not much sleep due to very heavy rain we were up and away before 09.00 heading towards the Millau Viaduct.
The site Lizzie had chosen was Le Fou du Roi at Lansargues, on the edge of the Petit Camargues.
We had a good run down, with Lizzie hiding her head in a book as we went over the viaduct!
As we approached the site we had to divert to avoid bridges that only had 10 foot headroom!
What a contrast when we found the site.  It was immaculate!
The owner spoke some English, and the small cafe and shop were open.
We selected a corner pitch and set up.  There were a couple of other units on the site, none of them were English. the decision was made that we would stay here for a week to give us time to relax  in the sun and explore the surrounding area.

Lizzie, accompanied by Elsa and Greg the ground grinder.

Elsa and Greg were given to us by grandchildren Izzy and Freddy for us to photograph on our travels.

Lunch time in the village square

The entrance to the site!
We enjoyed touring the area and saw many of the famous wild horses. The coastal strip was very busy and is some places very commercialised.  It was also remarkably difficult for us to access the beaches
After a week it was time to move on again. this time we were moving south west to Narbonne, where we would pitch up at Camping la nautique.

We found a large pitch and soon set up. All the pitches here have their own individual toilet block, as well as water and waste disposal on each pitch. Luxury!

On the Sunday for some reason I decided to check the doors on the Freelander.  Normally I just lock it with the fob and never bother to check.  Anyway I discovered that the drivers door was not locking! A bit crucial as our passports, extra money and important papers were locked in the Freelander! So the following morning I rang Land Rover assist.  Within half an hour they had me booked in at the local Land Rover main agent for the following morning. The next day I went to the agent. They checked it and told me to come back the following morning as they would have to get a new locking mechanism. I returned the following morning and the Freelander was repaired, and as a bonus washed the outside and valeted inside!  The joys of going to a main dealer!

Whilst we were at La Nautique we visited much of the coast line and found some delightful places. We were also able to get baked beans in the local supermarket.

One funny thing that happened whilst we were there was an English couple who set up opposite us. It turns out that they had pre-booked and prepaid for all of their sites through the Caravan Club.  They were paying considerably more than us per night.  We use the ACSI book that gives you a discounted rate except in July and August. The book and membership card cost about £10.00 a year, and we cover the cost in just two nights stay!
As they unloaded we saw an ironing board, a coffee machine and 300 cans of beer come out of the caravan. In conversation it turned out that he did not like French beer so he brought his own.  He also admitted that they were very overloaded but he was not worried about that!  It certainly takes all sorts!

The local harbour

It was soon time to move on so we cleared up ready to travel down to Le Barcares where we were staying on our pre booked beach side pitch for a month.

After a very windy run down the motor way we reached Le Barcares and were soon booked in and settled on our pitch. When we arrived we were greeted by our Dutch neighbours who we have met here in previous years!

Lizzie on one of our beach visits.

We quickly fell into a routine of Coffee along the front at our favourite restaurant, and visits to the market, (Wed, Fri and Sunday).

The Market

We sat in the sun or went to the beach, just enjoying the beautiful weather.

The beach on a busy day!

I was able to cycle for miles along the coastal paths, where I could really explore the local area.
After a couple of weeks Lizzie was able to hire a mobility scooter so she was able to join me on my forays into the local area.  That certainly made life easier for us.
Lizzie gets wheels!

One thing we had to do though was to order a new awning as ours was showing daylight through patches on the roof.  Browsing the internet we found that Norfolk camping was selling the awning we wanted, so one was ordered for delivery to home.  On the day we cleared up it split from top to bottom.

Dancing in the village square

One excursion we did was down to Spain, to see Zoe, who was staying at Loret de Mer with her dad and a group of friends. We had an excellent day with them all!

All too soon it was time to head for home, 28 days had gone so fast. We had been looking  for a site just north of Toulouse. I went on Caravan Talk and asked for ideas.

 A site called Camping de Montech was suggested. This was a lovely well kept site just off the motorway, and despite not being in the ACSI book was only 14 euros a night.

From there we headed North again for our next stop at Camping de Montreal, where we stopped for a couple of nights, enjoying more excellent sunshine.

Can you spot our caravan

We then headed for Le Nobis d'Anjou where we stopped for a couple of nights. This site is on the edge of Montreuil-Bellay, which looked to be an attractive little town. We spent a day exploring the town before moving on again.

The local Chateau

Inside the church.

Our final site was back at Villedieu les Poeles, which when we arrived was rather busy so it was fortunate that we had booked. We were now right in the middle of the area that was going to be used by the Tour de France for 4 days. The town was full of vehicles associated with the tour as well as one team that was being based on the main car park.

On the Saturday instead of meandering up the country roads to Cherbourg we had to use the motorway. Many of the country roads were shut due to the tour.  As we drove up the motorway we were overtaken by many of the Tour de France team buses. At one point we actually saw the tour passing below the motorway.

We finally got Cherbourg at 4.15 and were on the ferry by 5.00pm. Departure was delayed due to an unwell passenger. After an excellent crossing we arrived in Poole at 10.30 and were home by 12.30.
An excellent trip!
63 nights away.
2502 miles.
99.28 gallons of Diesel

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