We went for a three week French camping holiday in our number two tent, me driving our newly purchased VW T5 which has yet to be converted to a campervan. We left for France on Le Shuttle on September 6th 2016 and arrived back on September 27th 2016.
Some of the campsites we had stayed at before on previous French camping holidays. One such site was Le Bec-Hellouin an easy site to reach from the port near Rouen. We had chanced upon it a few years back. Quiet campsite. This year it was heaving with British and Dutch vans. The site at Ebreuil we had stayed at 20 years ago. This still had the same British owners, though this was going to be their last year. And as for Millau, I had camped there years ago while paragliding.
Arçais, Linda and Mike
In Arçais we camped in the village camp site, and of course met up with Linda and Mike. Robin and Tessa also were there for a couple of nights, on their way back home from a family wedding. BBQs in the campsite, many meals at Mike & Linda’s, brocante and vide grenier sales, and cycle rides through the woods, including a red squirrel sighting.
Marval, Jen and Bev
Next stop was Marval to see Jen and Bev. Here we camped in a nearby campsite of Château le Verdoyer. Posh French camping, with two swimming pools and wifi. The weather on driving back from Jen and Bev’s was rather windy with fallen trees on the road. While we were with them we visited Le Périgord Vert for a market, and Brantôme where there was an Abbey and quaint streets. Next day we visited Nontron and then Le Moulin Du Grand Etang for a walk around the lake and ate very smart ice creams.
Next stop was Millau, where we camped at Camping Des Deux Rivières on the river across from the main town. We stayed a couple of nights, and visited a couple of glove making museums, including one which is a manufacturer. Ate one less than impressive meal in a cafe; trouble with choosing the local delicacy and not knowing what it was. (Mashed potato with cheese stirred to a consistency of rubber.)
Six-Fours-les-Plages, Anthony and Sylvie
Next on to my cousin and his wife Sylvie who live on the coast at Six-Fours-les-Plages. Never seen so many motorbikes on the road, all from the huge Paul Ricard Circuit. We did not camp here, but stayed in their visitors annex. (Camping might have attracted the local wild boar to come and visit us and dig up yet more of Tony & Sylvie’s garden.) Sitting in their garden, a red squirrel came to inspect us. We dined the first night with them. Next day, we visited Port Sanary sur Mer for coffee, and ate supper one night at the La Spiaggia which was a good and well served meal.
Next day it was off on the road again. After some dithering we eventually decided to camp at Camping La Bienheureuse near to Arles. This was a mosquito infested French camping site with small pitches. The next day we visited Arles, spent some time trying to park, nearly getting stuck in a multi-storey car park.
So we headed out and drove into the Camargue ending up in Arènes de Méjanes which was set up by Paul Ricard the original owner of the eponymous Pastis. Here we had a trip around the nature reserve, once in a train and once on foot, admiring the white horses and the black bulls. We then ate a huge five course lunch excluding coffee. The bull steak was quite chewable. Rosemary did not do justice to her meal, and even turned away the cheese platter. On the return to our campsite, we paid our first toll of the trip by crossing the Rhone on a chain ferry.
French Camping at Camping de la Filature
We now headed up North paying our second and final toll to cross the Millau viaduct. We drove to beyond Clermont Ferrand where we stayed at the French Camping de la Filature, Ébreuil. This is where we had stayed years ago in a French Country Camping pre-erected tent. The next day we visited Puy-de-Dôme. This had changed since we were last there. A mountain railway had been built to get people to the top. When we had visited years ago, we had to drive, and then come straight down because there was no where to park. I had also been there on my own and paraglided off the top. Today there were many paragliders taking people up on tandem flights.
We visited Charroux the next day, a cute village which seems to be a total tourist trap. There was a shop which ground and mixed mustard. After a coffee we headed on to Chantelle where we did a circular walk which included a walk along the gorge under the abbey and saw a red squirrel. Sunday came and we decided to eat lunch in Ébreuil. We walked in, visited the church and found the restaurant. Closed for a week. Quick purchase of lunch from the local Spar and back to the site to do some BBQing.
Monday we packed up and drove to Chartres where we stayed in a B&B Hôtel Chartres Le Forum. (Our lilo had decided to explode some of its pockets and sleeping on it made me feel sea-sick.) You check in with a credit card in an outside machine and get a special number to unlock your hotel room from an outside landing. We settled in and then ate supper at the Poivre Rouge next door.
In the morning, after scratching our many insect bites, we headed off to Calais to catch Le Shuttle home to England.