France & Spain 2014

Friday 11th July:

I'd managed to get three full weeks of this Summer and we had the vaguest of plans, Dover - Calais crossing then down the West coast, into the Pyrenees, a bit of mountainous Spain then back up through the middle of France and home.

The trip to Dover was complicated with me leaving my iPad in a hotel room in Bristol the week before we left, so the Friday afternoon drive now was Nottingham to Bristol to pick it up, then Dover.  As expected the M25 made a mess of these plans as we hit it at rush hour on Friday, we missed the ferry and got stuck on the later one, which then was delayed an hour.  We landed in Calais at 01:30 Saturday morning.

We knew of a really good service area on the autoroute with a quiet picnic area well away from the road and headed there.  Parked up and got a good nights sleep.


Saturday 12th July:

Got away at 10:00 after a bit of a lay in after the late night, and headed South West towards the Atlantic coast.  Broke a rule and did Autoroutes to get us closer to the coast quicker and were rewarded with a 46 euro toll bill.  So that was the last time we used them for the next three weeks. Around mid afternoon we decided to stop and found a free motorhome aire in a small town called Luche.

We had a wander around and sat by the river which was remarkably still.


Then headed to the Bar Tabac for cigs and a bit of early doors sitting and watched the square with the local blokes.  Who were doing more or less the same thing.


On the wall was a World Cup draw, with a German shirt for the prize.  Not something I'd ever expect to see in England.  We trotted back to the van, had a spot of forgettable dinner and retired to bed, tomorrow we would be at the seaside.


Sunday 13th July:

A steady drive in the morning and we made La Tranche Sur Mer.  Found the towns aire, which as 10 euro a night.  We were at the coast so paying for parking becomes more common, the campsites are three times as much.  It was World Cup Final day.


We unloaded the bike, had a ride around the busy seaside town, did the windy grey beach then headed back for dinner and football.


 I managed to get a free wifi signal, found an app on the iPad that streamed UK TV, found my cable that plugs the iPad into the TV and got to watch the game.  Sounds simple but it took me half an hour of faffing.  But was worth it in the end.  The Germans beat the Argies one nil and I toasted them with some Belgium beer while sat in France.


Monday 14th July:

We drove South down the coast and looked at a few of the aires but non really clicked.  You kind of know straight away if you want to stop on one, some are next to busy roads or really cramped up.  Finally just outside the town of Fouras we found an aire opposite the Camping Municipal which was by the beach.  The aire was 7 euro and the camping 12 euro but we were only there one night and the site was as busy as the aire.  It was Bastille Day and there would be fireworks and bands on in the town square tonight.

We had a beer in the town in the afternoon, checked on the time of the fireworks then headed back for a snooze then dinner and drinks.



Beef kebabs went down well...


At half ten we took drinks to the beach, we were around the bay from the town so got a view of the fireworks over the bay, the coast also swept around to our left and two other towns set theirs off at the same time.  It was like each town was trying to beat the others.  I took a load of photos, but instead of the firework setting on my camera I'd managed to select snow shooting mode.  Needless to say non came out so you will have to make do with an iPhone shot of the bay just before the big bangs and flashes.


And a dodgy selfy after a few beers....


Tuesday 15th July & Wednesday 16th:

With a bit of a post Bastille Day headache we moved down the coast a bit more.  We tried a Camping Municipal site in one town but the council had closed it that year and were letting motorhomes park at the port, I fancied a proper camping so the next one we found we stopped at.  The town was called Mortagne Sur Gironde.  It was quiet, clean, with big pitches and cheap at 12 euro a night.  So we paid for two nights and got the barbie out.


Fry-up for dinner....


We found we had a lovely view out of the bedroom window of our van of the port...



The next day we looked around the port, found a coffee cabin and sat watching the sailing types coming and going, did a bit of shopping to replenish my dwindling stock of beer and pastis then retired to the shade in the afternoon.



I found a way of both cooling me and my pastis down....


Thursday 17th July:

Did a big shop at an Intermarche on the drive South and then stumbled across another Camping Municipal, the place was nice and close to Cap Ferret which sounded a bit Yorkshire to me, but was really lots of pine forests with miles of bike paths.  We pitched up and then did miles of bike paths, stopping for a warm beer and some incredibly indifferent service at a beachside bar.  No tip for the phone obsessed waiter then. 



The site was a bit expensive for our tastes, 18 euro, but it would do for one night, the kids and the couple on the pitch next to us were noisy and annoying.  I'm not really selling this one am I.  But it had a pool so Liz was happy with that.  Some roast chicken and red pepper on the barbie cheered me up.


Friday 18th, Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th July:

Making sure I started the van nice and early with the engine running next to our sleeping noisy neighbours we packed up and left.  We drove through more seaside towns and reached one called Contis Plage with a large aire right in the town and next to the beach.  All the campsites were over a km from the town so this suited us fine at 12 euro.  We parked up after trying two pitches, then another van left and we moved to their pitch as it was better, then another one left and much to Liz's dismay I moved us again. It was like motorhome chess.  

Our final resting place in the corner by the pines...


The town was really nice, with a chilled surfer kind of vibe.  We went to the beach and watched the chilled surfer dudes for a bit but this soon bored me.  I'm not a great fan of sitting on the sand.  To get around this I tend to sleep a lot....


We decided to stay for a couple more days.  I cooked the usual camping type things apart from one night when we suffered some bad weather and I got the paella pan out.


That night started off with a thunder and a rain storm that left the other side of the aire a bit soggy.


Then as it got dark we were treated to hailstones bouncing off the roof, all very exciting...


The French will play boule anywhere they can find a bit of gravel.  Which I like, it doesn't seem like France unless I've seen someone throwing a steel ball around...


The last night there we again got a quick heavy thunderstorm.  But due to me being in super relaxed mode the roof vent over the bed got left open.  So a wet bed and duvet for the night.  Lovely.

Monday 21st July:

To the mountains today.  South and slightly inland we trundled, stopping for another big shop before Spain tomorrow.  Mid afternoon in a town called Sare on the edge of the Pyrenees we rolled onto a 6 euro aire.  Wandered around the town, cooked something, planed our route over the mountains to Spain and went to bed.  I remember nothing else about this day.  Thats us up in the top corner....


Tuesday 22nd July & Wednesday 23rd July:

We drove over the mountains and into Spain.  The roads in Spain were empty and compared to the French alps and the Dolomites we sailed up and over the cols without being stuck behind lorries or caravans, which was nice.  We found a Spanish aire but it was a bit grim and next to a busy junction, so I searched for a nearby camping.  We ended up at Camping Murkuzuria near a small town called Ezcaroz.  The chap in reception was very chatty and told us all about the National Park we were in and all the forest walks.  He obviously didn't know about my idea of fun.

A nice little site but 23 euro was stretching my tight arse budget a bit.  Saying that we decided to do two nights...


Kebabs saw a return to the menu.....


It was good....


On the Wednesday we planed our route and plotted where we'd been...


Thursday 24th July:

Today we drove for 120 km and didn't see one supermarket or food shop.  So far we'd spent nothing in Spain apart from camping fees.  We got to a camping that was way too good for us.  It had indoor and outdoor pools, jacuzzis and saunas.  It had a supermarket, bars and a restaurant  The price reflected this, 36 frigging euro.  

I had to have a sit down with a beer after checking in.  And to be strictly honest thats what I did for the rest of the day while Liz used the facilities.


The temperature was on the high side for my liking, but I suffered on, making sure the fridge was kept full of beers and ice.  Which kept me busy almost constantly.



So when it cooled down in the evening we all felt a lot happier....


After a bit of thought we decided that tomorrow we'd head back to France and supermarkets and cheap arsed campings.  We also decided not to head up the middle, remember that vague plan?  We'd head for our favourite shopping centre in Luxembourg.

Friday 25th July:

And so like the Spanish Republicans in 1939 we fled over the mountains seeking a welcome in France, only we weren't being chased by General Franco's army. 



We found a welcome, although it was a wet one, I waited in the van while Liz checked in the Camping Municipal at Auch.  She paid the man 10 euros for a pitch with electric and free wifi.  It was good to be back.


Within an hour the sun was out and normal order was restored....


After some fine dining, no idea what of as I didn't take a photo, we retired to the van for a spot of Numberwhang....


I bet I won, she won't agree though.

Saturday 26th & Sunday 27th July:

With our new plan of heading North East we worked out two hours driving a day just wouldn't cut the mutard.  So we added an hour to our daily drives and pressed on.  We found yet another little town and yet another 18 euro Camping Municipal, this one was special though, the town was on a hill and very nice.


We decided on two days here, which kind of messed the plan up, but nothings impossible.

I produced a camping classic of chicken wrapped in parma ham on a bed of green peppers and black puy lentils with roast potatoes.  It went down well...




Sunday morning coffee in the town was a treat....



And we had a wander....


The pool on the site was special too, in as much as only us were using it....


Although the lack of children or parents could of been down to our towels....


Monday 28th July:

Today, drive, drive, drive, find aire, wander into town, eat, drink, sleep.  You're getting the hang of this now aren't you.

Free aire, decided to eat out to celebrate and found all the restaurants in town close on a Monday.  The town of Meymac did not want our money.

It was a nice place though....



Late evening we had a rain shower then sun, I was rather impressed with my iPhone after it managed to capture this shot....



Tuesday 29th July:

Looking on the map we spotted we'd be passing an aire in Beaulon that we stayed on last year, next to the Loire Canal, it was free and good.  So we headed to it and found it to be as good and as free as before.



The weather was cloudy but I entertained myself watching the barges on the canal going through the locks.

Wednesday 30th July:

Another big shop and a good day driving found us on a camping for lunch, odd little place with only ten pitches and a big carp pond next to a bar restaurant.  Suited us though, we gave 9 euros to the town of Riel Les Eaux for our night there.


We had big fat French pork sausage for dinner too, always a treat.


Thursday 31st July:

Now today turned out to be a bit of a trial, a long drive, and then we find our camping of choice had been closed.  No problem a big town nearby has one.  Get there and it rings a bell.  Came to the same site a few years ago and it was full.  This time not full, this time barrier down and the receptions shut till four.  It's two and I can't be arsed to sit outside for two hours.  Next ones half an hour away, get there and he's full.  This is getting annoying.  He tells us of another town with a camping, off we trot and find it's open, not full but the receptions shut, till the next morning.  But a little sign says to find a pitch and pay up the next day.  Wonderful.

And it is, we'll come back another year we decide.  Next to a lovely lake and very laid back.



Friday 1st August:

We pay a nice lady 12 euro in the morning and set our sights for Luxembourg.  Which we find and pillage for £7 bottles of Jager and Pastis and £4 packets of Marlborough.  Total saving about £500.  Fill up with 95p a litre fuel.  Then it's a bit of Belgium driving for an hour then back into France.

At a town called Signy L'Abbaye we find another first for us.  A completely empty campsite, not even anyone in reception, just another little sign saying to pitch up and pay later.  We do as we're told.



Liz spends a happy half hour stashing all our fags and booze under the bed, as customs men would never look under there would they?


I busied myself making a homemade pizza.  Which was well received by my only customer that night.



Later on some bicycle campers turned up and hid in the far corner of the field.  The showers were hot and I had a good old scrub down.  Happy days.

Saturday 2nd & Sunday 3rd August:

Last day and night of the hols.  Got the map out, plotted our way to Wissant, just South of Calais and got there for lunch.  A free aire, which was busy, as to be expected so close to the port.


We sat on the prom and watched the mad kite surfers.


 Then went back to the van for dinner and Merlot.  It turns out quite a bit of Merlot, as I was told that on my last trip for a smoke I managed to fall into the van.  Hey ho, last night and all that eh?


Sunday saw us looking at this depressing sight....



And then that was that, Dover and then home. 

23 nights away and 2932 miles doing four countries, averaged 10 euro a night to camp and 30 mpg while driving.

Hope you enjoyed the write up, we don't do much but we enjoy what we do...


The map.......



7 comments:

  1. As always, a fabulous travelogue read. Merci Beaucoup as they say in France. And in parts of Luxembourg I believe

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  2. great stuff, enjoyed that - especially the towel on the line!!

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  3. Fantastic thank you guys.
    Regards
    Tim MHFun

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  4. Enjoyed the write-up Kev. Love the rainbow snap.

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  5. Hahaha me and hubby laughing away here. Excellent write up and really enjoyed your style of writing and humour. Quite a character altogether lol

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