France 2013


So we're off again.  This year we're doing France again, because we like it there and Lizzie can do the lingo.  Trying to get her to learn Greek for next year.  


This year I've paid for all my work expenses with a Tesco credit card so had some of those Tesco Points to lay off against a trip on the Tunnel.  Which was all fine and dandy until I added the motobike trailer and the price doubled.  But hey ho, it's better than the cattle ferries.

We intended to kip the first night at a service area on the autoroute heading South.  About 9pm we pulled onto one, it wasn't too great. On the way to the exit I spotted a picnic sign, we squeezed through two boulders at the entrance, placed to stop lorrys and caravans and found this....




No one came on it between when we got there and when we left in the morning. I wandered up to the service station shop to get some croissants on Saturday morning and the car park was full of campers and people sleeping in cars with the noise of the autoroute next to them.  1 - 0 to the Van Brian crew.




The next day we popped into Luxembourg for a bit of shopping, 20 cartons of Marlboro and some bottles of holiday fun.  Half price and worth the trouble..


I also bought some local beer while we there called Simon, which I thought was a very nice name for a beer.


We shot back into France and found a Camping Municipal in a small town near the border.  It was Saturday night and also Bastille weekend so it was a French holiday.  I'd caught myself a Luxembourg chicken in a supermarket chiller cabinet earlier so it got slung on the barbee along with some extra fin green beans.  The site had a frite stall so two cartons of them got added to the menu.



That night all hell broke loose.  We stood outside and watched the biggest firework display since the last quite big one I'd seen.  It was next door on the town sports field. Great stuff, down with the aristocracy and up with the republic!

We decided to have two nights here so we could calm down and get into holiday mode. We had a leisurely breakfast and then just did the chilling bit.



As I felt a bit guilty about doing naff all all day I took my trolley for a spin around the site after tea.  Note: Notice that when Lizzie get hold of the camera I start to look blurry and dull.  I'm sure blurry and dull aren't my redeeming features.


On the second day while cruising through the hood with my ho on the back of my ride, a wasp stung me and made me squeal.  I seem to get a bit of a reaction to these injuries and within an hour it was blistering up, the next day my right leg would have done John Merrick proud.  I got escorted into a pharmacy and the lady went Oooooh tut tut tut when she saw my swelling.  Sold us some cream and some tablets and I got a pat on the back for be a big brave boy. 


So we wandered South with no idea of where we were going or where we were.  We might of well have been in Germany according to the place names.  Which I think this area was until after the war.  

Just after lunch we tried The France Passion book for a place to stop, the idea is farms and businesses let you stop overnight for free if you have a look at what they're flogging.  Found one that was grotty and then gave up trying to find a second after trawling up and down a remote track for twenty minutes.  So, I dialled in the nearest camping municipal on Darth Garmin and we ended up here.....




A large village called Eguishiem or something like that.  Every year the French do a most beautiful village thing on the tele and the folks at home get to vote, like that Stars In Their Eyes thing thats popular with the lower lifeforms in the UK at the mo.  Well this place won this year.

They even had big birds jumping about on twigs on the church bell tower.  


The site was great and we got settled in straight away.  Van Brian had landed...


The next day we ploughed on and found a municipal next to the towns lido, which Lizzie got into for a couple of Euro as we were residents.  I decided to do a pizza for tea on the barbee as I had a new pizza tray.  It turned out well so another recipe got added to the campervan cookbook I'm compiling in my head.


My customer waits for her order....



Result........


And then after two nights there we were in Provence, at a site we stopped at last year outside a town called Cotignac, we'd liked it and said we'd come back.  After setting up and getting tea on the thunder started and then we had two hours of torrential rain.  The barbee was out in the open, on full blast with a chicken in it.  Steam rose off the top of it but the chicken was fine, very moist in fact.


We dined inside.  Two photos of the inside if you don't know what that looks like...


My customer awaits her order again.....


We had four nights there.  The motobike got us around and about and we went to a few of the small towns in the area.  Heres Lizzie picking up a Euro she'd spotted and put her foot on.  The Adidas bag she stole from a child at the swimming pool on the last campsite.


I thought this water feature/trough/fountain thing looked like a big head.  But then I had been drinking a lot of Pastis.


There now follows some picturesque photos of Provincal towns I took on our rides....



I like the word Saladerie....










Right, thats enough of that.  

Now a couple of wildlife shots.

Number 1:  A baby bird, fell out of it's nest.  Now, probably dead...


Number 2:  A huge hound, massive in fact.  Sat in the road, wouldn't move for cars or acknowledge people.  Then a bloke whistled it and it wandered off.  Now, probably still alive....

Lizzie likes lying in the sun getting red, she's quite good at getting her front red.....


But seems to make hard work of getting her back red....


One day we popped in the Poisonierrieary, which is French for fishmongers.  I bought big shrimps for lunch and a nice bit of cod for tea.....


I slaved over a hot barbee in the midday sun.....


And then they were gone in five minutes, makes you wonder if it's worth it sometimes.


After the cod we played Numberwhang and I think I won.


The nice campsite lady had told us about a cascade in the town.  We looked for it following her directions and couldn't find it.  So we asked another nice lady in the tourist info shop.  She tried to send us to another town.  When we said no, we want to see some cascades here she looked surprised and said that they were on the other side of the road and up a path.  There was no sign directing you to them them but after walking up the path for ten minutes we found this, I think they're missing a trick here.....


On the last night I broke out the Jager.  I thought I'd get some training in as the next day we were meeting our friends on a site for a week and I knew some fluid exercise would stand me in good stead.  The luxury of having a fridge with an ice box was all too clear.....


So after a few hours the next day we ended up here...


Next to my mate Jonty's huge erection....


This is a photo of my feet.....


And this is my bike, or Van Pedro as Lizzie called it as it's like a little donkey....


This is a photo of my friends dog who was over the moon to see his mate Uncle Kev....


As were my mate Jonty....


And Liz...  (Yes another Liz)


During the next week we.......

Played a silly French card game that made us think a lot...


Had a big dirty French tart.....


Had little accidents.....


Took "Selfies" of ourselves....


Jonty cooked every night.......



Pulled bones out of fishes with long nosed pliers.....


We cooled off with the aid of electric fans.....


Made cocktails in water bottles....


Sent messages home to friends......


Ordered large brandy's in the local bar and got half pints.....


Ate home made kebabs.....


Played boule like the locals, except we took a cool bag full of drink to the boulery court.....



Canoooed down the Ceze river with broken oars....


And every day at 4:30 had two large Pastis's just to get the evening started (well, only I did the last two things) .....



And then on the last night the site put up signs warning everyone about a thunder storm.  Pah, we said, we're British, you can't tell us anything we don't already know about rain.

The evening went well, no silly French thunderstorm or rain.  Then about at eleven we heard a few drops of rain on the gazebo roof.  A minute later there was water running through Jontys tent sweeping all his worldly possessions to one end of it.  

I did the best thing I could do at that point and took all the lovely wet ladies to Van Brian and told them to get their soaking wet clothes off and rub themselves down with my nice dry towels.

None of the last sentence happened, but I think I may have dreamt it that night.

In the morning we packed up our wet, muddy belongings and headed off, waving goodbye to a very wet and muddy Jonty and Liz.



We ended up on a free Aire and spread our wet gear out like proper gypos....



We decided to splash out after the exertions of the day and order take away pizza, I was rather taken by the fresco on the restaurant wall......


The aire filled up and by late evening we'd been joined by French, Dutch, Croatians and next to us in the smallest camper in the world a little old Scotsman.


The sunset was nice and we plotted our route North for the next day.


Unusually the next day I pulled in at one of the viewpoints.  I normally drive by them.  It was ok and deserved a picture.


In this town, which was quite high up we found another free Aire provided by the town council.  We had a wander around and found the bakers for tomorrows breakfast.


The local bar had seen better days...


No grass, just a gravel area with trees for a bit of shade, but you can't complain for free.  They provided water and a waste disposal area for grey and brown waste.


I didn't fancy unpacking the barbee so used the skillet on top of our butane ring.  It worked well and cooked our beef kebabs a treat.  Sadly no picture of beef kebabs just Lizzie mopping up some bacon bits I'd fried up to go with them.


I got up early the next day and found the sun burning the mist off, I think the temperature dropped a lot at night due to the height we were at.


That day we did a few miles more North and found an Aire next to a campsite, they charged 3 Euro a night, which I didn't mind paying.  While we were there a big group of people ran past with huskeys tied to them.  I think it's a training thing for the winter when they do proper dog sledging. We were still quite high up.  Which explains why Lizzie has a fleece on for tea.


We were getting into this Aire thing, I like saving money and so the next day our big book of European Aires found us this place next to the Canal de Loire


It was great, grassy, quiet, nest to the canal and the lock and free.

I watched boats go by and took a few photos of them in the lock...





Loverly house boats, I want one...


Heres a salty canal dog.....


The evening was still and photogenic...


I took this early the next morning while having my coffee, a great free stopover.  Thats us on the left. 


We got away early as I wanted to get North of Paris, we did that and after dismissing an Aire in one small town because it was just a tarmac car park in full sun, we found a camping municipal that was just the ticket.


The full cooking kit got dragged out and I did something special with chickens thighs, sorry no pics of that delight.


Our next door neighbour was a young French lad, he came over and asked if he could borrow a knife and fork as his tent was very untidy and couldn't find his.  We gave him a camping set we had in the van and a beer as well.  He reminded us of our son Callum who backpacked from Paris to the South coast last year. 


This is Lizzie decanting cheapo boxed wine into a bottle to go in the fridge, a top tip for you there....


I also found this being sold in the supermarket....


The couple who ran the site lived in this fine abode, very retro chic......


And then it was the last push up to Calais, we found a farm that let you stop on a field which was twenty minutes down the coast from the tunnel and 3 Euros a night.  Great views over to the sea and the dunes. Up with the larks on Sunday morning saw us on an earlier crossing and home for lunch.  Job done, three weeks in France, stopping at all sorts of places and having a ball.  


Where we stopped:

  • 1st night on Autoroute - A26 Aire de Baralle (Picnic area)
  • 2nd & 3rd nights - Camping La Paquis Municipal in Corny Sur Moselle (Fireworks night)
  • 4th night - Camping Municipal in Eguisheim (Prettiest Village in France winner)
  • 5th & 6th night - Camping Les Vignes in Arbois (Swimming pool site)
  • 7th to 10th night - Camping Municipal Les Pouverels in Cotignac (Provence towns)
  • 11th to 17th night - Camping La Greniuille in Goudargues (Camping with friends)
  • 18th night - Free Aire at Mejannes le Clap (Take-away pizza place)
  • 19th night - Free Aire at Ruynes en Margeride (Fog in the morning)
  • 20th night - 3 Euro Aire at St Atheme (Huskey Runners)
  • 21st night - Free Aire at Beaulon (Next to canal)
  • 22nd night - Camping Municipal at Pierrefonds (Reto chic caravan)
  • 23rd night - 3 Euro farmers field at Ambleteuse (Sea and dunes view)




7 comments:

  1. excellent write up and glad to see van miguel's replacement being put through its paces

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    Replies
    1. Cheers, we did enjoy having a bit more luxury than Van Miguel offered :)

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  2. Really enjoyed your trip report. We are leaving for France on the 27th for three months and doing much the same as you really. Good aire info too. Cheers.

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  3. Excellent stuff.

    Truly Wunderbar. As they say in parts of France which used to be German

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  4. Another world-class Whatton report, just mostly on four wheels this time. The magic remains.

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  5. Another superb write up.

    Greece next?

    ReplyDelete

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