Escape to the Sun

With little sign of Summer arriving anytime soon in the UK, the desire to travel again was never far from the forefront of our minds. We had actually purposefully not booked ourselves up with social events in June & July, so we didn’t have to exactly persuade each other to go. As we need to be back for the end of July, we decided just to head to France and spend of few weeks meandering, drinking French wine and eating too much cheese! Visions were already forming in our minds of us swimming in a warm pool or dipping our toes in the sea or a lake by day and BBQ’s by evening whilst trying out the local plonk. Ahhhh bliss.

A family funeral meant we couldn’t leave until after the 17th, so our tunnel was booked for the following Monday. Sunday would be used for packing and driving down to Folkestone for our morning crossing. Last year when “forced” to stay in the UK we took out membership with the 2 big Clubs and so took advantage of the 10% discount offered by the Caravan and Motorhome Club to book our crossing . It meant a saving of £22, which covered the cost of taking the dog!

After an early start to get the motorhome packed up, we made our way south to Canterbury for our overnight stop (see foot of post for details), and after 6 1/2 hours, a little saddle sore and weary we finally arrived! Our Copilot “Miss Nutmeg” our cockapoo fortunately travels well and as long as she has a few chin scratches periodically she snuggles down and sleeps the time away contentedly.

As is often the case when we know we have to be up the following morning despite feeling dog tired neither of us slept well, so we were up well ahead of our alarm and arrived at the tunnel early thinking we may be able to get on an earlier train, this time though it wasn’t offered, maybe because we had booked through a 3rd party, so instead we had a leisurely breakfast whilst awaiting our departure.

Having obtained an EU Pet Passport in Spain last winter, it negates the need for an Animal Health Certificate each time we travel. The staff at the Pet Reception couldn’t have been more helpful and were more than happy for me to scan Nutmeg outside rather than her have to face a room full of people & dogs.

Boarding the tunnel – adventures await

The tunnel is such an easy way of travelling, just 35 minutes from departure we were on French soil. With a long day’s driving the previous day, we didn’t want to go far, so found a campsite a short drive away, near a couple of lakes Camping Aux Cygnes D’Opale with huge pitches, a snack bar and an indoor pool the out of season ACSI rate of just 14 Euros a night felt like a bargain. The weather was beautiful and climbed to 21! We didn’t waste any time setting up camp, the dust was blown off our chairs and BBQ and we were quickly reminded why we love to travel overseas so much. The surrounding lakes providing perfect dog walking for our four legged member.

Around camping Aux Cygnes D’Opale

Even though we awoke to rain we decided to stay for a second night whilst we decided which direction to travel in. Paul was rather incapacitated though as he’d managed to break his little toe just before we left, so it was just Nutmeg and I that battled the rain for a long walk around the surrounding lakes. It turned out to be a day of 2 halves though as the morning showers passed over and as the sun came out so did the BBQ.

We were still a little undecided which direction to head in as the weather was looking a little unpredictable, so did a short hike along the coast to the town of Honfleur which is situated on the Seine estuary. We were both convinced we visited before and had an image of the motorhome parking area in our mind. It wasn’t until we arrived that we realised we’d got completely confused with somewhere else (we are still not sure where)!

The parking is a huge area close to the centre and was super busy with motorhomes lined up on all sides. Having arrived mid-morning we decided to find a restaurant for lunch and take advantage of the Le menu de jour, us both choosing Moules for starter and Paul coq au van and me skate for main course, the food was passable, but I think we could have chosen better and at almost 80 Euros we would have expected better. Cascades is one to avoid for us next time.

With the weather still proving unpredictable we just trundled further along the coast. Our first choice of stop over was already full despite it being only 10.30am when we arrived so we had to find an alternative and chose a spot at Couresulles-Sur-Mer. Our parking spot was right by a huge park which lead to the beach, perfect for our dog walks. The town is better known for Juno Beach which was one of five beeches of the allied invasion in the Normandy landings in 1944. Having visited this coast previously in 2016 we can recommend it, if only to serve as a reminder of the horrors of war!

Nutmeg having fun on Juno Beach

By this point we had decided that we wanted to visit the Brittany coast and in particular the The Gulf Of Morbihan, ideally with only 5 weeks we didn’t want to drive too far. The weather though had other ideas and so we decided instead to head further south in search of some sun. As the forecast was for heavy rain for a few days, we used the time to drive South.

We wanted to be near water so chose Biscarrosse lake just south of Bordeaux. The larger of the lakes is a staggering 5400 hectares and at that not even the biggest in the Country! Arriving late in the day we parked at a dedicated aire for the night, but decided to walk to a couple of campsites nearby to check them out. Both were offering out of season rates La Foret Lahitte just 10 euros a night for a motorhome & 2 people and Camping Pipiou just 20 Euros. Both sites have pools, but as Pipiou is situated a little closer to the lake and had a better pool we chose there. In high season which starts on 1st July, the price here goes up to 35 Euros a night (5 Euros of that being for a dog!!!). With miles of cycle tracks and opportunities to get out on the water this area is perfect for those who like to be active. The weather was still being unkind though and after several days of heavy rain and showers the sun finally made another appearance, as the weather forecast was due to be better over the next few days we decided to hang around a bit longer so that we could make the most of both the lake and the pool.

There are 2 major lakes adjacent to each other Biscarrosse which according to wikopedia is around 35 sq km’s and Sanguinet 55 sq kms! Both offering ample opportunities for messing around on the water. June is still low season in France though so most of the hire facilities were still closed (as were the bars and restaurants). As someone who has run their own business this still feels so alien to us along with the work to rule and afternoon closing – I don’t think I would ever get used to it! The up side of this is that the campsite and area was still very quiet. The lakes have several beaches which offer places to swim and the water is shallow, so perfect for kids. This also meant that the water was lovely and warm and the perfect place to get my SUP board out on the water. My investment in a rechargeable electric pump beforehand paid dividends as I was able to pump my board up at the waters edge and without wearing my self out using the manual pump before I even got on the water. For any complete beginners this would be a perfect place to learn as the water was so calm and flat before the afternoon winds.

Although dogs are not allowed on the main beaches there were 2 in the local area where they could go and although not normally keen on water Nutmeg soon got the hang of going in to retrieve her ball and cooling off at the same time.

In addition to the lake there’s also great cycle routes in the area and a planned cycle ride from one lake to the other was somewhat thwarted when Paul turned his power on to his electric bike and nothing happened. With a dodgy knee and broken toe there was no way he was going to partake in a 34 km ride without power, so he had to make do with seeing the photographs when I returned! Whilst there I checked out the ACSI campsite Camping Navarrosse, we had originally planned to go there, but the reviews weren’t great. The facilities were very dated and grubby, but the location made up for it particularly if you didn’t need electric hook up as there are plots right on the shores of the lake. If we came back again, I would certainly be tempted by the view, especially as we have recently invested in two lithium batteries and upgraded our inverter (thanks to our friends Jan & Trev who helped us with the spec and installation) so in theory never need to plug in again! Not only that we can now use the electric kettle and I can use my hairdryer (I know I’m camping, but these things matter!)

Our location at the lake was around 2.5 km’s from the nearest town Parentis En Born, although only small it has 3 major supermarkets. On one of the “damp” days just after the rain abated we decided to do a long dog walk through the woods and after around 6kms found ourselves on the edge of the town, so we thought a little thirst quencher wouldn’t go amiss and so went in search of a bar! Despite walking up and down every street in town it was with much disappointment that we had to admit defeat as there was nowhere open!

After a week though (probably two days too many for me), we were ready to move on. More adventures await.

Our Sleepyspots

Canterbury New Dover Road Park and Ride GPS N51.261439 E1.100156

Dedicated motorhome parking area around 40 mins from the tunnel. Must enter before 8pm. £8 per night. Includes emptying and filling facilities and bins.

Camping Aux Cygnes D’Opale Bagny Sur Bains GPS 49.9233322 1.65823 ACSI Campsite 14 Euro per night out of season includes EHU. The site has a small snack bar and covered pool and is located by a series of lakes so good dog walking. Pitches are large and the site is small and quiet. We would use it again.

Parc De L’edit Normandie Free dedicated motorhome parking with services. The services are pay by card although we didn’t use them. It’s located on the edge of a big park and around 15 mins walk to Juno Beach. Perfect for visiting the local museums etc. Lovely quiet spop. Got busy later in the day. Good cycling routes and walkable to town.

Honfleur GPS N 49.418555 E0.20325 12 Euros a night. This is a large motorhome parking on the edge of town. Functional not pretty and has EHU if you are lucky to get it. It didn’t really do it for us, but I know lots of people would disagree.

Mauleon GPS 46.919209 -0.753661 Free motorhome parking with services. Quiet spot in residential area. Nice park over the road and a short walk to the town square and church.

Lake Biscarrosse Motorhome Aire 44.344526 -1.008244 8.90 euros for 24 hours inc electric. Good value aire across the road from the lake. La Foret camping just up the road though offers 10 euros for 2 people inc EHU and includes a pool.

Camping Pipiou 44.346986 -1.100986 20 euros a night low season (until 1st July). 4 star campsite with lovely pool across the road from the lake. Has an on site restaurant that has limited opening hours out of season. Note from July the 1st the rate is 35 Euros for 2 people and a dog!

Andi x

One Comment Add yours

  1. Great to read about your trip, I hadn’t seen anything for ages and wondered if you were travelling! Looking forward to seeing more of France and this blog was a good taster. Thank you.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s