|France and Spain 2016|
Summary This year I had promised to visit my brother in Spain but having been to Spain many times before I didn't want to cover too much old ground, So for 2016 I worked out a rough schedule, covering some new ground, for a circular trip down through France to the Costa Blanca. This included a stop off on the Ile de Re. We had visited La Rochelle before but not the Ile de Re. On the return trip we thought a few days on the Costa Brava a good idea other than that we had no specific return plans and we would decide these during the trip. I did do some research on the Ile de Re but the only other preparation we made was to buy a Channel Tunnel ticket using Tescos vouchers, add Eurpean breakdown cover to my C&CC "Arrival" policy and buy an FICC Camping Card International and an ACSI discount card. Armed with these, some maps, a sat nav and camping guides we set off on the 13th June somewhat later than we normally like to do. Even though we knew our tour would run into the peak season, we still didn't book any sites but decided where we would stop and for how long as we went along.
The return journey from Coquelles totaled nearly 2,900 miles and used 665 litres of fuel at an average price of 1.14 Euros per litre. This gave an average consumption of 19.8 miles per gallon. We used 14 campsites and 3 aires/stellplatz at an average cost of 22.40 Euros or £18.66 per night. The trip was notable for the very hot dusty weather encountered for much of the time.
Our favourite place of the trip - Camping El Delfin Verde.
Days 1 to 9 - outward through France and the Ile de Re
Days 10 to 29 - Into Spain and stop overs on the Costa Blanca and Brava
Days 30 to 36 - East through France to the Pont Du Gard and the southern Central Massif from the Costa Brava
Days 37 to 42 - Homeward north through the Central Massif and France
Day 1 - We left home on a showery day in mid June for Folkestone and the Tunnel. Some of the showers were torrential but we made good time and arrived about an hour before the last check in time only to find trains were delayed 30 minutes. The trip under the channel was uneventful and we were on the A16 at 4-30p.m French time heading for the motorhome Aire at Le Crotoy. Being fairly late we decide to use the toll road to Junction 24 at a cost of 12.20 euros for our class 3 vehicle. The 65 miles took just over the hour and we found this large Aire busy. I counted 50 motorhomes after we had settle in and paid the 7 euro overnight fee.
Le Crotoy Aire - Located at the end of the harbour, this is a very large Aire with views over the Somme estuary from many of the unmarked parking spots. Although not surfaced the ground is firm and it was surprisingly dry after all the reports of rain in France. It is a short walk into the small town. The borne was in a poor state of repair. Supposedly for 2 euros water and electricity were available but the electricity points were taped off and I would not trust it to dispense water. We had enough water on board for a few days and with our solar panel we needed neither
Day 2 - We awoke early to clear skies. I walked the dog along the harbour front and into town. Apart from some workmen setting up a café front the town was deserted. We were on the road just after 8-30a.m heading for Rouen on the free autoroute section of the A28. Before crossing the Seine in Rouen we took the D6015/N154 to Evreux then the N12 to Mortagne-au-Perche before turning off onto more “D” roads towards Le Mans via Beleme. A nice drive but tiring and we called it a day 235 miles after setting out stopping just south of Le Mans for the night at a Municiple site, Camping de la Route d'Or, at La Fleche. No sooner had we set up than we were treated to a heavy shower of rain.
Day 3 - We found Camping de la Route d'Or a well run, pleasant site and we decided to take a rest day. It would also give me chance to watch the England-Wales football match! In the morning we wandered into this neatly kept riverside town, had a coffee in a street side café sitting in the sunshine watching life go by before wandering on through a local park and back to site for lunch and settling down to watch the football. It was another showery day with a little bit of thunder thrown in during the afternoon. England won, just.
Camping de la Route d'Or - A large municiple site on the banks of the Le Loir river. There are two facility blocks both modern and clean, a heated swimming pool and sports facilities. There are a variety of pitches all level and on grass, but even in the inclement weather France experienced this year, none seemed to present and difficulty to both the motorhome or caravan owner. All were marked and the majority had 10 amp electricity, some were separated by hedges. The town centre is about a 10 to 15 minute walk away. For 13.60 euros a night, a good value campsite. There is a motorhome aire on the opposite bank of the river but we didn't like it's proximity to a busy road and road works. In spite of this, it was full on both nights we were there.
Day 4 - A short run of 166 miles to the Ile de Re. We were charged as Class 2 to cross the bridge, 8 euros return and we were soon outside Camping La Tour des Prises only to find the site was full until the following day when 20 outfits from a rally were expected to leave. We were invited to overnight in the site's car park and select a pitch for the morning. This we accepted reserving pitch 42.
Day 5 - In the morning we moved on to one of the larger pitches on site not far from the main facilities block and were all set up by 10-30 a.m. so set off to cycle the 2Km to the nearest supermarket in Couarde sur Mer. With replenished supplies, we had a quick look at the market opposite the supermarket followed by a walk through the neat and tidy village centre to the opposite side of the village where we picked up a cycleway which led back to the site where we chilled out for the rest of the day in the sunshine.
Day 6 - Windy but dry day with sunny spells. We cycled through the village of Loix, stopping there at a café for a cup of hot chocolate before continuing to Pointe du Grouin and its rocky beaches. Returning to Loix we had a nice lunch in La Route du Sel restaurant before cycling the 4Km back to site and finishing the day quietly.
Day 7 - A dry but grey day. We had a late start and cycled through La Couarde and Le Bois Plage en Re to the campsite by the beach called Les Amis de La Plage which also has a motorhome Aire adjacent. The Aire at 10 euros for 24 hours was crowded and we were not too impressed with the area and what we could see of this three star campsite. There were quite a few trees on the site making most of what we could see of the pitches, shady. The ground also was undulating and sandy. However access to a fine beach was good even for a wheelchair user. We returned to Le Bois Plage, where we brought a few essentials in the local supermarket before cycling the 2.5Km back to La Couarde. Here we paused for an ice cream before cycling the last 2Km back to site.
Day 8 - A brighter day with plenty of sunshine. We cycled the 6.5Km along the north coast cycleway to the harbour and fortified town of St Martin de Re. It was about an hours slow ride with a couple of stops to take in the views and give the dog a run and it was close to 12-30p.m when we arrived at the harbour side. Picking a restaurant for a light lunch we settled down. The light lunch turned into a full blown meal and a couple of hours later we left for a wander around the harbour side before eventually heading out of town via its main shopping area to the cycleway for our return journey arriving back on site at about 5p.m. after a couple of rest stops.
Day 9 - A leisurely day catching up with the chores on a fine hot sunny day. For a break we cycled to the nearest beach, Plage des Prises, and back after just a brief look. Tomorrow we head for Spain.
The Ile de Re is a small island only 20 miles long and just 3 miles wide. It has few hills and with its many cycleways it is an ideal holiday destination for a wheelchair user or those that need to use a disablity scooter. The best beaches are to be found on its southern coast.
Camping La Tour des Prises - A well run site with helpful owners. Pitches vary in size. Most are level grass amongst trees. Large outfits need to take care. We enjoyed the central location and our stay at this site and would return.
Day 10 - We left site at about 9a.m. heading for Bordeaux and Aire sur L'Adour which is about 30 miles north of Pau. We tried to avoid the toll roads as much as possible but found the shortest route was to use the A837 for 38Km to Saintes at a cost of 9.30 euros for my Class 3 vehicle. At Saintes we joined the “D” roads to the toll free section of the A10 to circumnavigate Bordeaux to the A62. We left the A62 just before the toll section to use the D113 to Langon. Mistake, the French authorities have made it difficult for vehicles to use this section of road. There is a 6 ton weight limit on it and there are many 30kph limits with quite severe sleeping policemen to enforce the limit. We won't use this section again when coming this way. It is worth paying the toll to get to Langon and the N524/D932/D934 to Aire sur L'Adour. 230 miles after leaving we were settling in on the motorhome aire at about 3-30p.m. The day was extremely hot, 32C in the shade with hardly any breeze and we saught refuge in the shade under a tree by the river for the rest of the afternoon before retiring to the motorhome for the night.
Aire sur L'Adour Motorhome Aire - A large tarmacked riverside Aire adjacent the municipal campsite within easy walking distance of the town. 3 euro per night in low season 4 euros in peak times with water and waste disposal point at the entrance at extra cost. The fee is collected by the guardian We regularly use this Aire when heading for the Somport tunnel.
Day 11 - A grey start to a 200 mile drive, via Pau and the Somport tunnel, to Zaragoza but as we approached the tunnel the skies cleared and the temperature rapidly rose to 32C in the shade as we neared Zaragoza. We again had difficulty finding the site even though I knew exactly where it was on the sat nav. After a couple of wrong turns, one proving fruitful in that we came across a garage in which we refuelled, we eventually pulled into Camping Zaragoza and after a bit of banter with the friendly receptionist about Brexit and paying the 28 Euros site fee we settle in on a shady but small pitch for the night.
Camping Zaragoza - We have only ever used this site as a night stop, not much has changed over the years. There had been reports of noisy dogs and itinerants on site. There did appear to be some itinerants on site but we did not experience any bother from anyone and had a peaceful night. My only comment was I thought the site facilities less clean than I last remembered, particularly the chemical disposal point.
Day 12 - An early start for the 305 mile drive to my brother's villa. We set off down the autovia A23 to join the A7 and onward arriving at just after 4p.m.
Day 13 and 14 - Parked outside the villa of my brother and wife enjoying their hospitality.
Day 15 - We left my brother's villa after lunch for the short drive to Camping Marjal Costa Blanca where we received a cheerful welcome and were allocated a pitch about half way down this large site.
Day 16 - A quiet day checking out the site and facilities for a possible return in the winter months.
Day 17 - We entertained my brother and his wife and two mutual friends in the campsite restaurant. On their departure we went for a swim in the onsite pool. This had a hydraulically driven hoist to help the non-ambulant in and out of the pool for which we were very grateful for.
Camping Marjal Costa Blanca - A very large site with all facilities including a spa and gym for which there is an extra charge. We obtained the ACSI rate of 17 euros per night for a comfort pitch which included a water and waste disposal point on the pitch and 4Kw per day of electricity, the latter I had not appreciated until I paid the bill on leaving when I found I had exceeded this allowance, not by much but it is something to be wary of. We were a little disappointed with the on site supermarket, it was not as big as expected for the size of site and as expected the site is not close to other amenities. The nearest village is Catral which we did not check out. We remained uncertain as to whether we could use this site for a winter stop over without any motorised transport. The cost of car hire for an average size car was 150 euros per week.
Day 18 - Set off north using the Autovia A7 to Alcoy and Valencia and then joined the Autopista AP7 to Tarragona heading for Camping Clara, an ACSI site just north of Tarragona. The Autopista toll cost of 20.90 Euros was a little more than I expected and for the first time in two years touring my sat nav let me down and could not find an HGV route to Camping Clara. We eventually found it after a couple of hair raising moments being directed down a narrow lane and on another occasion ignoring it and ending up down a dead end. On arrival we found the site could not accommodate our large motorhome. We continued down the N340 coming across Camping L'Alba which could offer us a pitch. It wasn't much of a site but for 23.50 euros for the night, we didn't mind especially after a day's journey of 309 miles.
Camping L'Alba - A very Spanish site and being a weekend the many statics on site were in use. Like all sites along this stretch of coast, the north south railway line runs adjacent to the site which is an irritant which cannot be ignored. The only pitch we could get on was quite close to this line and what with the Spanish enjoying their weekend and the rumble of passing trains we had a late night and slept fitfully. Large outfits could have a problem navigating round the site and low trees prevented use of other pitches. However, the facilities block I used, was small but clean. The site has a pool and café and bar and it is a short walk via a footbridge over the railway line to a nice beach where I noted there was another campsite and a restaurant.
Day 19 - We lost no time in setting off north along the N340 to join the Autopista AP7 towards Barcelona and Gerona. Arriving on the outskirts of Barcelona, we missed the Gerona turn and found ourselves heading deeper into Barcelona. We did a U-turn at a junction to get back on track. The Saturday traffic out of Barcelona was very heavy and it was stop start for a while until it thinned out a little. We stopped for a break and lunch at an Aire with a picnic area and, as I usually do, I walked round the motorhome to check everything was ok especially the load on the bike rack and then settled down to lunch. During lunch we noticed a Guarda patrol vehicle drive slowly by checking vehicles. We had just finished lunch when there was a knock on the passenger window. Winding the window partially down a rather swarthy looking character tried to explain to us there was something wrong with our “configuration”. Now I had checked my motorhome not 20 minutes ago and the Guarda had also given it the once over. Were we about to be the victim of a deception robbery? We were not about to find out and disbelieving this character we promptly drove off. We never did find anything amiss.
We left the Autopista at junction 9 taking the CV35 to head for the coast and Camping El Delfin Verde at Mas Pinella near Toroella de Montgri. The days run had been short at just under 150 miles and we arrived in the early afternoon leaving plenty of time to select a pitch and settle in. We opted for one of their new Comfort Plus pitches exactly opposite where we had pitched two years previously
Day 20 to 25 - Being a large self contained site with a good supermarket, bars, restaurants, takeaways, swimming pool complex and a beach and having visited the area many times before, we felt no need to leave the site other than to walk to a nearby beach bar. We spent the days enjoying the fine weather and sunshine taking it very easy. The most energetic activity was to walk the dog on the beach and an occasional swim in the pool.
Camping El Delfin Verde - We have visited this site regularly over the years. Not all the changes have been for the better but we still like it. Since our last visit two years ago site roads have been paved and where there were gutters along both sides of the pitch access roads, these have been replaced by a single central road gutter making pitch access much easier. Many pitches have also been upgraded and now offer 10 amp electricity and water and waste disposal on each pitch. The shopping area has been reconfigured and a great deal of planting of palms and other trees has been carried out improving the general ambience of the whole site and offering more opportunities for shade. Of course, all this extra work has been at a cost and this is reflected in increased prices.
Day 26 - We wanted to checkout Camping Las Dunas in the Bay of Roses and compare it with El Delfin mainly because it accepts dogs in high season whereas El Delfin doesn't. After a 26 mile drive we arrived late morning for a 4 night stay. We opted for a standard 100 square meter pitch and settled in.
Day27 - A day largely spent getting to know the site. In the evening I cycled the short distance to Saint Marti de Empories, a small popular village south of Las Dunas. The village square restaurants were very busy and there were still people swimming and lazing in the evening sunshine on its well kept beach. I took a few photographs and returned to site.
Day 28 - Lazy day
Day 29 - A cooler day and I cycled to San Pere de Pescador and checked out three other camp site on route, Aquarius, Ampfora and Rio. Of the three, I though Ampfora the best and it was also better located for a motorhome owner there being shops and bars in the vicinity and a good made up cycle way into San Pere. However, I didn't think San Pere was anything to write home about. On the way back I discover the Can Mas restaurant wasn't just a restaurant but also a local bodega where you can taste their wines before you buy in their well equipped shop. I selected a couple of desert wines to take with us. In the evening we had a good three course meal with wine in the pleasant on site restaurant.
Camping Las Dunas - A large well run site, more mature than El Delfin and with more modern facilities. The pool area had better facilities for children with water slides and pools for all ages. Life sized animal figures provided and added attraction as did a large animated fountain. The fine beach was similar to that of El Delfin's but sloped more gently into the sea, again making it safer and more attractive to children. However wheelchair access to it was very difficult due to access being over a steep bank and there being no wooden walkways. Pitches were large and easy to access and mostly grassy where ground sheets had not spoilt this. However, we thought the site expensive and if we were to return to this locality again we would stay at Camping Amfora which, off peak, is also is a member of the ACSI discount scheme.
Day 30- Our target for the day was a leisurely drive east avoiding the toll roads as much as possible to Pezenas. All was going well until we arrived in the town where at first we could not find Camping Cristol. Eventually we spotted a direction sign and followed it but found the route closed to traffic due to the Tour de France passing through the town. Once we realised this was the reason we decide it was futile looking for another site in the area, they were bound to be full and we headed for Gignac. The first site we chose here, Camping Le Pont had a very narrow approach road and the only pitches offered were difficult to access and we decide to look elsewhere and headed for the municipal Camping La Meuse. We were relieved to find a pleasant site with plenty of empty pitches most large enough to accommodate our motorhome. We paid the fee of 22.10 Euros for the night without electricity and settled in. The day's journey was 150 miles and we got away with paying only 9.75 euros in tolls which we paid for ease of crossing the Pyrenees on the AP7 on the Spanish side and the A9 on the French side.
Day 31 - Was Bastille Day and we were treated to a military style fanfare at 8am to announce a day's public holiday so we decided to stay another night especially as our intended route clashed with the next stage of the Tour de France. Gignac's centre was just under a mile away so we decided to walk in and have a look around. To our surprise the restaurants, bars and a few shops were open. We each had a mediocre cup of café au lait in one of them and wandered the narrow streets of the old town ending up at the town's highest point on which stood the preserved remains of a large tower. Not that interesting in itself but there were great views across the countryside from here. Wandering back to site we just got to the local Aldi as it was closing. It is not far from the site and we had not expected it to be open on a public holiday. We will still have to return in the morning for the few things we need. The rest of the day was spent quietly. In the evening there was a dance and firework display in the park opposite the campsite.
Camping Municiple La Meuse - A small well maintained level site. Pitches are shaded by trees and separated by hedges. Facilities were clean and a motorhome service point just outside the entrance served as the site's toilet disposal point.
Day 32 - Before setting out we drove to the nearby Aldi store and topped up with some groceries and then set off for the Pont Diablo. We didn't stop in the car park but drove over the bridge and the gorge hoping there might have been somewhere for a quick halt with a view. No such luck and not wishing to linger further we headed for the A750, Montpellier, Nimes and the Pont du Gard avoiding the toll roads. The roads were very busy and the journey tiring. It was made worse by the discovery of a fuel leak when parked at the Pont du Gard and being unable to find our chosen site for the night. The car park at the Pont due Gard is barrier controlled and cost 18 euros no matter how long you stay. We spent a couple of hours wandering around this impressive world heritage site before deciding to ignore the fuel leak and drive the final 10 miles to Uzes where we hoped to spend a few days. Could we find Camping Pailotte, could we hell! We must have spent an hour looking for signs in heavy traffic and on narrow town roads. We gave up in the end and headed for one of the two sites, Camping le Mas du Rey, we had spotted signs for. We eventually arrived on this site at about 6pm. much later and much further out of town than we would have liked. We had only covered 85 miles in the day but we were both weary and the only thing we did was cook a meal and retire to bed resolving to sort out matters in the morning.
Day 33 - A Saturday and Le Weekend, you can get very little business done on a French weekend. I had established the fuel leak only occurred with the engine running so the best thing was to stay put until Monday. A quick phone call to my breakdown service (the C&CC's “Arrival”) confirmed this was the best option. I pointed out my service hand books listed an IVECO dealer only 19 miles away. I explained the problem and they will contact a garage and call me back on Monday, hopefully the problem can then be fixed promptly. In the meantime I pinpointed the leak which was caused by a corrugated pipe rubbing up against the fuel pipe from the tank to the filter. I wrapped a bit of Duck tape around the area and tied back the corrugated pipe to prevent further abrasion. A temporary fix I hope.
In the afternoon we rode our bikes into the local village. A nice hotel and restaurant otherwise not much there but we got some exercise.
Day 34 - An early start to cycle the 3 miles to Uzes in the cooler part of the day. We went the long way round to avoid the steepest of the hills. It took 45 mins with a couple of short stops and on arrival we had a coffee in one to the many cafés. We then spent some considerable time exploring down the narrow streets before seeking out a restaurant for lunch. Replenished we spent a further half hour checking out one of the main streets before making the return journey mostly downhill in 40 minutes back to the campsite. Apart from a swim in the onsite pool we spent the rest of the day quietly.
Camping du Mas de Rey - What I would call a rustic site set in woodland. It grows on you, the owners were friendly and helpful and the communal facilities clean. Access from the D982 is along a narrow track.. The site's area is large, partly sloping with pitches of varying size mostly in the trees and well spaced out. There was a small bar combined with a TV room and snack bar with a terrace overlooking the swimming pool.
Day 35 - We were ready to leave at about 9 am, just as well because the breakdown service called as promised confirming an appointment and the directions to a garage on our planned route and only10 miles away. We were there by about 10am and after showing them the problem and some discussion on how to proceed, they got to work. It would take two days to get a spare pipe, at least that was their estimate and I didn't think I could rely on that, so I agreed to a temporary fix to get us back to the UK. The leaking section of pipe was removed and a new section jointed in using jubilee clips. A quick test, a bill of 84 Euros and we were on our way within the hour along the D982 towards St Jean du Gard. A stop to refuel at an Intermarche, I think I had lost at least a quarter of a tank, and we started looking for a nice site to collect our thoughts and plan our journey to Calais. The directions in the Caravan Club Europe book to a couple of sites at St Jean Du Gard weren't particularly helpful but both sites in the book were adjacent to each other on the river. (I must feed back some more specific detail). We opted for the better but more expensive site, Camping du Mas de La Cam but be warned the access for a large outfits is a little tricky.
Day 36 - In the early morning I cycled the 4Km to the nearest supermarket in the centre of St Jean du Gard. I found a variety of shops and a large market complete with entertainment from buskers. I found what I wanted in two supermarkets, the largest of which was Super U in the centre of town. After a wander around the market I returned to site where we relaxed for the rest of the day either outside the motorhome or on the banks of the river where we watched children and adults swimming or trying to catch tiddlers in the rock pools. I crossed the river with the dog to take him for swim and to take some photographs of some mules. At first the mules showed little interest in me but one decided to take a dislike to the dog and proceeded to try and head butt him. The mule got increasingly agitated and looked as though it was even going to turn it's intentions on me. I promptly let the dog off the lead and he scampered off down the bank into the river and the mule, unable or unwilling to follow down the steep bank, promptly lost interest in both of us. In the evening there was a small circus laid on for the children which sounded quite entertaining
Camping du Mas de la Cam - A large site set among woodland on the banks of the River Gard. Access to it is via a narrow road which crosses the river via a narrow bridge with no safety barriers. There does not appear to be a weight limit on it but large outfits need to proceed with caution because of its width and awkward approach. Pitches vary in size and some are on terraces and some, on the river bank appeared to be for tents only. Some areas of the site can be difficult to access for large outfits. The facilities are communal and clean and in addition to a bar and restaurant there is a small onsite shop. The river has been dammed to create a deeper swimming area in its crystal clear waters which also provided an interesting area for children to play when fed up with the onsite swimming pool. We thought this site was in a great location and we enjoyed the surroundings and our two night stay.
Day 37 - The next stage of our journey was to Issoire where we planned a night stop at Camping Municiple du Mas. To get there meant crossing the Central Massif for about 60 miles to join the A75 north towards Clermont Ferrand. From the site we took the D9, the Corniche de Cevennes to Florac and then joined the N106 to the A75 for that last stage of the journey of 90 miles of free autoroute. The D9 although twisty with some steep climbs was a surprisingly good road passing through some great scenery and the Cevennes National Park where we saw, on one of our many stops on this section, a large eagle (possibly a Golden Eagle). Florac looked an interesting place for a return visit and we noted there was both a convenient campsite and a mortorhome aire there. The N106 provided no relief from the twists and turns of mountainous roads although I though the gradients less severe than those encountered on the D9. Once on the A75 we quickly covered the last 90 miles arriving on site to find it almost empty although as the afternoon wore on, more “night stoppers” arrived. We received a warm welcome with a minimum of formalities as we were still on their database and were soon settled on a large grassy pitch. Although now a cloudy day, there was little wind and the temperature with a high humidity was an energy sapping 35C. The weather looked ominous but we had nothing more than a couple of showers of light rain during the course of the evening.
Camping Municiple du Mas - Our second visit to this excellent municipal site located just off junction 12 of the A75 and adjacent to a large lake and the river. The former has a track all around it and makes an excellent dog walking area. Facilities are clean, pitches are large and there is a water point available to each pitch. There is also a good motorhome service point which I made use of before leaving.
Day 38 - A short 135 mile but enjoyable drive to Chateauroux where I planned to take the dog to the vets for his passport checks. We avoided the toll roads travelling via Montlucon. On route St Eloy les Mines stood out as a place for a future visit and Culan had a magnificent chateau pearched on a rocky outcrop above a small river. Once past Montlucon the road to Chateauroux is straight and fast. We stopped off at a large Super U supermarket on the outskirts of La Charte to top up on groceries before making our way to the vet's practice on the outskirts of Chateauroux. We found it without too much difficulty but at first could not find anywhere near to park. At the second pass I found a parking slot by the roadside a couple of hundred meters past the practice. I had to make an appointment for the following morning. This was half expected so came as no surprise. Job done we made our way to Camping Les Grand Pins about 5Km south of Chateauroux and settled down for the rest of the day in the sunshine.
Camping Les Grand Pins - We have used this site just off junction 14 of the A20 a number of times over the years, it makes an excellent night stop. The centre of the site is a large grassy area and you can just pull up anywhere on it if you don't want electricity, we didn't. On three sides this area is surrounded by pine woods where pitches offer shade. There is a good motorhome service point which we again made use of to top up with water and dump waste.
Day 39 - A leisurely start to make the 11-15a.m. appointment at the vets. We parked with no difficulty in the road near the vets 45 minutes early. We had a coffee and I took the dog for a wander before checking in at the vets. The appointment was on time and the vet was thorough and knew exactly what was required. The bill was 31.30 euros and we were on our way to our next intended destination, Chartres via Blois and Chateaudun by 11-45 a.m. On route we checked out the location of the vets in Contres which I had planned to use if access to the vet in Chateauroux had proved difficult. We missed the premises at the first pass, it being set well back off the road with car parking in front of the small building. It was obvious parking for a motorhome was much easier here than in Chateauroux and with a Super U supermarket being a little further up the road on the town's bypass, there was the option to park there as well. The practice was closed for lunch but I made a note of the opening hours and the telephone number for possible future use. We stopped shortly afterwards in a picnic aire and decide not to travel as far as Chartres but to stop on the municipal site at Chateaudun. The site is well signposted from the northern end of the town's bypass and we had no trouble finding it following these. This was just as well because it is in an HGV restricted area and my truck sat nav would again not provide a sensible route to the site.
Camping Municiple Moulin a Tan - The site is well signed when entering the town from the north on the N10. It is located on a large island formed by the rive Le Loire and is adjacent to a stream of the river and a scenic watermill. The entrance to the site is height restricted but this can be moved to allow vehicles in and it was quickly opened when we arrived. Reception is in the middle of the site with the majority of pitches in amongst trees to the left while pitches to the right were more open. We selected a more open pitch to the left near the facilities block which was adequate and clean if not modern. There is a motorhome service point which is also the sites toilet emptying point. A walk around the site revealed fine views of Chateaudun's castle from a pitch on the extreme left of the site's entrance and evidence of muddy pitches when wet in the more shady areas.
Day 40- 142 miles to Neufchatel en Bray via Chartres, Dreux, Evreax and Rouen where at Camping Sainte Claire we discovered a superb aire run by the campsite. Arriving early aftermoon we had no trouble obtaining a pitch and had time to stroll down the adjacent cycleway, constructed using a redundant railway line, to the station café where we had an ice cream before visiting the Leclerc supermarker which was also nearby. We had a very peaceful penultimate night for 12 euros.
Camping Sainte Claire's Aire - A superb aire open all year. It even has a washing machine and dryer in addition to communal showers and toilets. The 14 pitches are all hardstanding with a grass sitting out area and are hedged. Entry is barrier controlled and you take a ticket and pay the charge for 24 hours of 12 euros at a machine which includes 10 amp electricity. Stays are not limited. A cycleway runs past the site and it is a short ride or walk into town past a large Leclerc supermarket. If the aire is full the adjacent campsite is excellent and I noted the cost per night without electricity was similar to the aire at 12.50 euros
Day 41 - 102 miles avoiding the toll sections of the autoroutes to Camping Les Erables, Escales which is about 6 miles away from the Channel Tunnel terminal. This has become a popular night halt so I had phoned a few days earlier to pre-book a pitch. Arriving at 1-30p.m.I had time to set up satellite TV and watch the Hungarian Grand Prix. On a clear day you can see the white cliffs of Dover from the pitches on this site. They were not visible at all that day but the next morning the air had cleared and they were unmistakable.
Day 42 - We were booked on a mid morning train and we were ready to leave the site in plenty of time. It is only about a 6 mile drive to the Euro Tunnel terminal and we arrived in time to check in for an earlier train than booked. We were quickly through Pet checkin and joined the queue to pass through French and British customs. Of the five lanes available to travellers only two were open and it took nearly and hour and a half to pass through the check points and arrive in our boarding lane. We had no sooner switched of the engine than we were give the green light to board. The train departed at the time we were originally booked and we were soon on the M20 on our way home. We stopped for lunch at the Maidstone services, there was a half hour delay at the Dartford crossing, the removal to the toll booths seems to achieved very little and the M25 was the usual rat race but we made good time and arrived home safely with time to unload the essentials.
Camping Les Erables - A small terraced site with only 27 pitches. Facilities are basic but clean and there is a motorhome service point which once again doubles as the sites chemical disposal point. The top terrace is usually reserved for motorhomes and the price per night without electricity is 10.40 euros. Electricity, 6 amp I think, is 3 euros and showers are extra.
Further photos can be seen in the photo gallery of the trip here
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