Friday, 18 June 2010

France 2010 with Bev

France 2010

 Set off with at 2.30pm on Friday 18th June for the 280 mile trip to Dover. Had a good run down with not too many hold-ups and with a 45 min break at Starbucks at Hilton Park services on the M6 we arrived at Dover at 9.30pm so it was a trip to the chippie and supper on Marine Parade and settle down for the night.
Sat 19th June
 Up at 8 and after a spot of breakfast it was down the road to Morrison’s for a bit of shopping then to Dover Castle to spend a few hours here as the ferry was not until 6pm. I'm an English Heritage member so free for me but  was a bit shocked to find it was £13.50 for non members. It has a lot to see so easily managed to while the time away here despite it being a bit on the windy and cold side. Left round 5 and had an hour or so on the front at Dover Parade before trip  to the port.
view over dover from the castle
 The ferry was away on the dot of 8pm and  had a smooth crossing arriving in France at 9.30 (10.30 their time) ,as it was so late had decided to head down the A16 to Abbeville and stop on the aire at la Baie de somme.
This is the first motorway aire i have stopped on but it seemed a decent stop and did not feel unsafe (dedicated parking for caravans/campers separate from the cars and trucks)and the place has a nature theme.

Baie de somme aire

Sunday 20th June
After a good nights sleep and breakfast we set off for Rouen, after coming off the Paige i decided to stop at one of the roadside aires to check the address for the intended stop at Rouen, it was here while checking the map out that we had a chance meeting with fellow wildcampers Bill and Ange (pioneer) Pete and Ali(zeezee) and Nigel and Judy (Nigel 54) who i thought would be well on their way as they had got the ferry early sat morning (but then realising they were celebrating birthdays and they would have had to sober up a bit before heading on their way).Anyway  had a brew and a bit of cake with them and scrounged some eccles cakes off Nigel and then gave them a farewell and headed of our separate ways. Arrived at Rouen intending to stop on the Quayside on the opposite side of town only to find it all decked out and some sort of frame being built on the bridge. As the monday was Festival De Musiqe in France i presumed this had been done for this or for the July festivals. There were half a dozen Italian vans parked on the road nearby so parked amongst these and went for a tour of Rouen. With it being sunday it was a bit quiet but we visited the churches of Notre Dame and Joan of Arc and had a pleasant few hours. Back at the van decided  i would not stop on roadside and would head up to the aire at Oissel. On arrival at the aire which i knew had only 2 dedicated spaces we found they were taken (by 2 british vans) so decided to have a look at the other aire close by that was listed in satnav. This aire turned out to be a Leclerc supermarket so went back to Oissel and as it had many car parking spaces and they were empty tucked myself into one of these and after a brief walk round the village settle down for the night.

Aire at Oissel

Monday 21st June
Beautiful sunny monday morning so after filling with water etc we set off for the Camp PA.J. at Versailles
Camp P.A .J
€7 per night per person includes basic toilets ,showers and emptying facilities cross between an aire and a campsite but really handy for the Gardens and Palace at Versailles.Versailles. The station is also only a 15 min walk and i think it was in area 2 and on the main line for the Eiffel tower so also handy for Paris .(I had already booked campsite but in hindsight it would have been cheaper to stay here and easier to get into Paris)The gardens are literally across the road from this site but one to note is the Palace is shut on a Monday. This particular monday was the Festival De Musique so there was some sort of band on almost every corner in the centre of Versailles so we had a really good day and night and we even found a Starbucks
Versaille gardens

Tues 22nd June 
Decided to do the tour of the palace on the tuesday so parked on the road outside the camp as there were no restrictions and parking in Versailles a nightmare ,so  walked through the gardens to the Palace, unfortunately the queues were massive so  decided to give it a miss and headed to the campsite at Camping Beau Village and chilled for the rest of the day

Beau Village had all the usual facilities and the pitches were quite big and at €20 a night inc electric was reasonable for a site so close to Paris. I bought a ticket at the station to cover extensive and unlimited travel from Paris Visite which gave 2 day unlimited travel for €58 which was made good use out of. In the 2 days  went into Paris and did all the usual tourist sites and it also gave discount of some of the major tours.
 Also visited the chateau at Fontainebleau and surrounding area which is well worth a visit
beau village
beau village

Bev in Paris

The 3 nights on site and 2 days touring Paris then brought Friday 25th June and as it was still glorious sunshine it was decided we would head northwards and to the beach. First stop would be Honfluer.
Left the campsite around 12.00 and went non stop to Honfluer arriving at 3.30 so it was chill time with a bit of sunbathing and and a brew before exploring the fishing town, returned around 7 for a barbeque and then it was time to get ready for a few drinks in the port. The aire was €9 for 24 hours and included electric and all other facilities and has the usual boulangerie van calling in the morning. Honfluer is well worth a visit if your on this coast and has an array of seafood eateries (i'm not into seafood so not for me) but  found a cheap bar just off the main st and enjoyed a few pints of their finest beers.

Back street bar in Honfluer
Harbour at night

Sat 26th June
As Honfluer has no beach headed south in search of a bit of beach, had a quick look round Deauville/Trouville which lookes very nice but decided  would go as far down as Houlgate and see if there was anywhere better. Villers sur mer did look a very seasidy place but was not camping friendly and even though  had lunch on the quay at Houlgate it did not seem as good as the towns of Deauville/Trouville so it was back up to there and  found a place on the rather small aire (room for about 8 vans ,free with elect).There were many vans parked on the Quayside and the only restrictions seemed to be no picnicking signs . Spent Sat and Sunday here with a very nice meal overlooking the beach and got in a bit of beach sunbathing. We moved over to the pier for the sunday parking as it was a bit closer there is also a massive sunday morning market that runs right down one side of the pier for the bargain hunters. 
sunset at trouville

at trouville at  pier

As the ferry was 10.30 on monday morning  left it as late as possible at Trouville (6pm sun night) and then set off for the return to Calais. A couple of tolls on the way ,Normandy bridge €5 and a stretch of m/way €6.70 arriving about 8 at Baie de somme where i used the showers courtesy of a very pleasant cleaning lady who got the keys (think they are meant for the lorry drivers).Decides to get a bit closer to Calais and find a chippy as had run out of gas and so couldnt cook. Had a look at Le Tourquet but it seemed expensive and a bit out of the town so called at a McDonalds on the edge of town and carried on to Le Portal at Boulogne which has had a revamp and is now an aire across the road which is barriered and has a €4 charge payable via credit card.
Monday 28th June Up at 8 and a quick breckie and down to Calais for the ferry. We were spot on time wise as we were straight on the boat and back in the uk for 11 ish (uk time).Stopped at the park and ride on Dover rd in Canterbury £2.50 and free bus into town and spent the day sightseeing in Canterbury leaving at 6pm for the trip home which despite a few holdups on the M6 and a stop at the services at Northampton took  6.30mins.
Canterbury Cathedral

The Costings without food drink and entertainment. Mileage 1300 miles
Ferry cost £50.50 (including an ammendment)
Fuel in france was €1.15 per litre at major super markets filled up twice £117 not including the full tank i started with .      Tolls £30.73
Campsites and aires £71.71

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