Thursday, 20 August 2015

Sojourn En France 2015 Part 1

This year we decided we would take April on the long run from Dover en route to France and return via Caen. It actually worked out not a bad run or would have been if it had not been for migrants at Calais and "Operation Stack" at Dover. Following Lady Satnag and not my directions, we did a mammoth detour via the Kent countryside. Still, it gave Den plenty of practice driving April over numerous roundabouts and country lanes. We eventually found ourselves at Dover and arrived fairly efficiently in Calais after a pretty uneventful crossing which only took an extra hour than it should have on the ferry.

Aire 2 Caps our first stop just the other side of Bologna on the A16 was pretty empty and we settled in for a good nights sleep.

We have used this aire a lot and it has some spaces on the grass and has always seemed pretty safe as its well away from the coast. 

 Parked up on the Aire at 2 Caps.

It's a very convenient stop off point and easy to fuel up in the morning. It always amazes me how some people manage to actually get to France from England all on their own! We had a guy stop us in the morning and ask us to program his Tom Tom for the Effel Tower. Wonder if he ever found it??

We jumped on the auto route and it was time to try out our new toy, the Sanif Liberty Tag. Now anyone who has ever had to manage the French toll booths knows what a fine performance it can be and now the booths are usually automated it's even more fun...NOT! Hanging out of the window, trying to put cards in the slot and watching for sticky out bits, all adds to the stress levels of driver and passenger. With a tag, just a PING and your through! No ticket to collect and driving through the tolls becomes a highlight of the holiday. It worked every time and apart from the bill in the next month it was worth every penny!

Soon we arrived at Beaumont Sur Sarthe our first stop. A neat little municipal by the river on the edge of the town, just south of Alencon. We have been using this camp site for many years and it has recently got new managers. It is a beautifully run site very clean and in fact we have spent a lovely week there in the past. Sadly the town itself is suffering as many French towns are with many shop closures and it is not the thriving place it once was. The new camp site managers closed for lunch from 12.30 to 3.00, so we spent a pleasant hour at the car park in the town having lunch. To be fair it wasn't really a car park more like a mini aire and we could have spent the night there.

The car park is right next to the camp site in a lovely spot at the top of the hill.

At 3.00 pm we were first in and soon settled in a very large hedged pitch. A glass of wine and a snooze in the sunshine.

The river Sarthe runs through the side of the site we declined a riverside pitch as we find the mozzies love it there. Lots of fishing goes on here.

The beautifully maintained sanitaire block. Everything is inside and the water is HOT! Easy facilities for motor homes too. There is also a good comfy animation room or lounge where you can get breakfast, watch TV ( in English) and pick up free wifi. We tried our TV here and it worked beautifully.

As it was a Saturday night we were invited to the camp site soiree. 3 courses for 8.50 Euros and some fascinating company. I even got to try my French!

The food was really good.

The next morning saw us off early on the way to our next stop in the Limousin area Parc Verger. Really the drive was too long and we should have stopped for another night en route. We made a comfort break at another aire by the river in some little town, it was very hot!

We needed a break and so did April!

Finally arrived at Parc Verger. We were given a lovely pitch under the trees which was just as well as it was very hot, hot, hot! Parc Verger has new owners Franc and Lisa, so there are lots of exciting new developments afoot. The new disabled toilet in the sanitaire block being one of them and a camp shop. It will be interesting to see how things change over the next few years.

Camping Parc Verger

The next three days were spent in reading, sitting, bike riding and chilling! We did the whole of the nearby Voie Vert, a bike track on an old railway line which runs from Oradure sur Vray to Chalus. 30k in all , although we did cheat a bit and did it in sections, twice for good measure.

The Voie Verte ( Cycle Path)

We had a lovely meal in the village at Dino's but were soon ready to move on.

Drama to follow in Part 2.

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