After a trip to the dog/motorhome show at Malvern and a couple of days at a rough C&C holiday site in North Chailey Sussex we set sail Newhaven -Dieppe on the 21st August for France. A 5.30 crossing meant we arrived at 10.30 and with it being dark and not knowing Dieppe we set off for a small aire about 10k away at St Nicolas d’Aliermont . When we arrived the access road was littered with someone’s large bag of food waste .All the bins were nearly full and this looked like someone had emptied their fridge stuck it in the bag and left it on the floor at the side of the bins and a cat or fox had been at it .We re-bagged it and squashed a bin down and then settled down in one of the 3 spaces alongside a German van. The aire is free and room for 3 vans on tarmac but there are many more car parking spaces which are tolerated. Services by jeton from the town hall €3.
22nd Aug :- After a stroll round the town St Nicolas we found a lot of the shops were closed for holidays (it does have a clock museum)we set off in the direction of Mailleraye after 10 miles we spotted some friends in a lay-by heading home so we did a quick about turn and had a brew and a bit of a catch up with them . Then off to Mailleraye sur seine a €6 for 24 hours aire, barriered and pay by card. Nice place on the river but only small town with usual bread shop etc.
Thurs 23rd Aug:- A good run today with a stop at Nonancourt for water, here there is a free aire with free services and one electric point on the borne ( three English vans who looked as though they had been here a while hooked up with splitters and we call the French ).Bonneval is quite a large aire even though it says about 10 places ,there were nearer 20 while we were there and we even had a German tugger pulled up next to us then got table chairs out and then started cooking as though it was a campsite.(no awning out though).Free aire with services in car park in centre of Ville ,Canal runs alongside where you can hire canoes and boats. A nice stroll through the Ville with a few bars and all the usual shops. Fri 24th Aug :- From Bonneval we moved down to the Loire area to a great municipal stop overlooking a lake with all services inc electric for €6.80. Not much in the town but good location, also toilets on site and washing facilities which you had to get the key for (we didn’t bother).Pay at the Marie just up from the site. Sat 25th Aug :- Getting a bit nearer to Bordeaux now and found another great aire on the Charente at Nersac. Another small ville with a bar and boulangerie and charcutterie and not much else but the 7 van aire is free with all services including 6amp electric in a nice location at the rear of the Marie and next to the police station, a sports stadium and supermarket nearby and a short walk to the river .Fields full of corn on the cob if you like that.
Sunday 26th Aug :- Down on the coast just up from Bordeaux at a place called Blaye. Was going to stay on the aire in town which is €3 a day without services but came across this vineyard just down the road which offers 48 hr parking with all facilities including 6amp electric. You are not pressured to do a tour or do the wine tasting and buy any wine but we did the tasting and bought a couple of bottles (they only do red and we don’t drink it so it will be presents for someone) and stayed 2 nights .Parked next to a wonderful couple who happened to come from Northenden which is close to us so we had a tour of Blaye with a couple of drinks and a visit to the Citadel. Great location to be parked amongst the vines but beware after tea the Mossies’ awake and start feeding on you as we found out to our displeasure as we sat out drinking both nights until dusk with our neighbours and i have never been so badly bitten.
Tues 28th Aug :- We have now passed Bordeaux and the next stop is a small walled town on the river Garonne, Its mainly a stop due to thunderstorms forecast in the area of Cahors on wed and as we are heading to Saint-cirq-lapopie and Rocamadour which are in the area we thought a stop here and we would miss the thunderstorms. Mistake as it was the hottest day we had had at 38 degrees and just as we got back from a walk in town after tea the thunderstorm hit. Even the rain didn’t do a lot to cool things down so we had an unpleasant night’s sleep. The aire is very quiet with all services free except electric and on a car park just out of town with room for about 10 vans.
Wed 29th Aug: - Heading now towards Cahors and we are on an aire right on the canal at Caumont not far from Marmade. Great free aire with black and grey waste disposal, toilet on site (which was disgusting) and a pizza cafe. Water could be got via tokens but the connector was the boat type metal female connector so you would need to make sure you had an adaptor. Good walk down the canal path .Pitches are between trees but check before you drive down that you can get in although you can turn at the end.
Thurs 30th:- On now to St Cirq Lapopie a €7 a night aire with services on the river (we are staying 2 nights) On the approach road there are 2 parking places ,on the left a grassed area and on the right you go down to the river .Guy comes to collect money between 5pm and 7.30pm. We did a night on each. Bakers van comes round at 8.30.The village (medieval) is only a mile or so away but uphill all the way. You can walk down the road but we opted for the river walk and then onto a rough climb to take us there. Once there the place and views were fantastic so well worth the uphill struggle.
Sat 1st Sept: - Moved on now to another medieval village and one of the stops on the Camano way religious route. There are a few parking spaces here we opted for the Chateau park as it was close to the lift to get up and down to the village. Just a rough stone car park but plenty of space and no facilities so make sure you have water and empty tanks. We walked down to the village and must admit it is a place worth going to even if you’re not religious, plenty of cafes and touristy shops on the top as well as in village. The lift was a godsend for getting back up but… it only took you half way up for €2.50 and then another lift for same price to get to top, think the bus return would have been cheaper but better than trying to walk back up. On the Sunday afternoon we moved onto another parking spot just up the road L’e Hospitalet here was a massive grass field with toilets and room for about 50 vans (some shaded ) even though most sites say 20 vans. Both spots were easy walking to the cafes and shops on the top. Monday 3rd :- On our way now in the direction of Clermont Ferrand and found a little village Sadroc (6 van aire)not far off route that has all the services and has 4 unmetered 13 amp electric points .We stop here for lunch and use the facilities and top everything up while here . Nothing in the village except for a church, school and a small shop. (We needed bread and cheese so spent a bit to cover the water and electric. Off now to Ussel an aire on the lake in the Park Naturel in Limousine, What a sight when we arrived, there were caravans (and plastic gutter and soffit vans) everywhere and quite a few motorhomes as well. They had smashed the borne and there were electric leads everywhere including some running from lamp posts. Needless to say we didn’t stay here and moved to another aire by a lake about 20k away at Meymac , this time it was just motorhomes ,and the lake was just across the road ,no views but just a short walk to lake and beach with canoes and peddle boats and a swimming section. Room here for 20-30 vans and fairly quiet as most French have gone back to work. All free services (except electric.). Great walking area with an hour and half walk round the lake (which we did) and a few other walks. And the nigh time view of the stars was unbelievable.
Wed 5th sept: - Now on a massive aire the north side of Chaumont on the river in a nice village with plenty of places to eat and usual shops and a few photo opportunities. Very busy aire so if you go make sure you get there early, Free parking but services are not.€2 for cassette emptying and water .Met a couple who i know from the forums so spent a night reminiscing (The Wints ,Alan and Eileen ) for anybody who is a member of a few forums. Fri 7th Sept ,:- Slowly working our way northwards and today we arrive at Moulins a town with loads to see and do with an Intermarche across the road .The aire is an old municipal site ,barriered and 10 cents an hour, Entry is though barrier and payment by card only ,jetons for the services (they were left open and there was water at an old shower block) I did buy 5 at €2 for electric and services but only used one for electric on the first night as we were parked under trees , Stopped here for 3 nights for €7 ,great walking and biking trails.
Monday 10th sept :- We are slowly going down the Loire and today it’s a small village on the canal basin with lots of activity with hired boats and the people working on their own boats. Plenty of parking, we were on grass overlooking the canal and 2 more vans joined us later. Free parking and water at side of Marie, services were by token and they were facing the Marie. Usual shops a chemist, boulangerie and charcuterie.
Tues 11th sept :- Now onto a small village on the Loire and at the junction with 2 canals , free parking but services again by token. Not a lot in town but a few bars near the aqua duct .Again plenty of walking in the area and the Pont du Braire is the largest aquaduct in Europe. Wed 12 sept:- Only an hour down the road and now at Sully, A great aire all free behind the castle and on the Loire with a lot of forest walks into the town which when the temps are as hot as it is at present makes it easier to get about. Quite a few shops and bars in centre. All services are free and we stayed 2 nights and chilled.
Fri 14th sept :- Heading in the direction of Le Mans/Fouge’res and now at a small walled town just south of Chartres, A 7 van aire overlooked by the castle ( 11 vans parked when we were there and cars will park in spaces in the day)and with the Loire running alongside .Services are €2 and there is a toilet block in the park. Nice town with lots of bars, shops and eateries but it is a good hike uphill. There are steps facing the park which will take you to the chateau and town ,also a little further down the road is the Grotttes du Moulin (a series of caves) , closed when we checked so cannot comment.
Sat 15th sept :- Intended to stop at Le Mans but could not find the aire so had this as a backup , Medieval village on the way to Fouge’res and was our first camping -car park site. Fairly easy to use once you suss it and this is right next to the village, €12.50 for 24 hours with all facilities Inc 6amp electric and Wi-Fi. It’s also barrier entry and exit so very secure. Self-cleaning toilets in adjoining car park along with bins. Sunday 19th sept :- Arrived at Fougeres and found the aire close to the castle was full but a couple of roundabouts up the hill is another which is a big car park with free facilities and toilets across the road it was fairly empty and closer to the town centre. Plenty to do and see here and as i have been before reckon it must be amongst the best in France .Tues Sept 18th:- Getting closer to the end of the tour so we opt for this small village on the way back up north, the aire had nobody on so we opted for the municipal which was just down the road and for an extra pound €10 a night inc Wi-Fi the facilities and the views over the lake were much better .Nice walks and a small town about half a mile away also a couple of supermarkets close by. Site over looks 2 lakes, 1 fishing and one has a manmade beach and i presume swimming.
Wed 19th Sept:- Getting closer to the sailing date of Fri 21st so we opt for this free aire in a little village on the Seine , Stopped at La Mailleraye on the way out but thought we would try this on the opposite side of the river which was recommended by a friend. The aire is big enough for maybe 30-40 vans but only 10 here tonight , grass and gravel parking with black and grey emptying ,water you need a token for €2 . Couple of cafes and a bars in town and an old Abbey ruins. Our final night before the ferry back to the U.K we again spent a very quiet night at St Nicolas d’Aliermont .The trip on the ferry back to Newhaven was the worst i have been on and couldn’t get out of my seat for the whole trip and so put me off using this route again.