Friday, 10 August 2012

Viva La France!

Just returned from a great "nearly 3 weeks" in France. Our aim was to relax, enjoy the the wine and do as little as possible. We also wanted to see how Billie Bailey performed on an extended stay and whether the money we spent on "extras" was worthwhile.

Buffed, packed and ready to roll, us and the van! We set off this year from Portsmouth to St Malo. Usually we travel on a Friday night from Dover, but this year we bit the bullet, spent the money and decided on Portsmouth, pricey but worth it! Memo for next time, spend the money on a better cabin, it was a bit basic!!

On the dock at Portsmouth ready to roll!

Travelling on a Saturday was great! Very little traffic and no M25 to crawl on first. Very soon, we were safely sitting in the restaurant and our holiday had begun. The drive to our campsite the next morning was very quiet, coming out of St Malo was simple and the drive down to the Vendee only took around 3.5 hours of empty Sunday morning roads. Billie towed like a dream and breezed over the Nante bridge.  Really good idea to travel on the Sunday as there are no lorries on the road. Added bonus, the roads from St Malo to the campsite in the Vendee were toll free.
We arrived at the campsite to find a huge pitch in a lovely quiet field. Easy access to the campsite and good directions. There was water on the pitch, although a very long lead was required for the electric. We were told that the week before had been very wet, but we brought the sun! The following two and half weeks were almost wall to wall sunshine, we have the tans to prove it.

We put up the camp kitchen and the windbreakers. I was really pleased that in the end we did take the comfy Lafuma chairs ( so was Den!) We returned from our holiday with new comfy Lafuma chairs, having braved a trip to the French dump with the old ones which spilt in sympathy with each other. Our credit card company was happy.

This part of the Vendee, was relatively unexplored by us. Home to salt flats, oysters and lovely ( but busy) beaches. An ideal part of the country if you like all seafood, personally not too keen on oysters. Being creatures of habit, we tend to explore very locally, the nearest village St Gervais contains essentials and Beauvoir Sur Mer has everything else, including a very nice bar for coffee and a papershop. 

Supermarkets were all nearby but you do need transport. This is also biker country, but we were still glad we had brought Smartie, without her we would have shortened our visit as the shops were just a little too far. As it was, we decided to stay for the whole 18 nights and our trip south was put on hold, next year perhaps.

We explored the Isle of Normoutier, very busy, St Jean D'Mont,  even busier! Lots to see and do and loads of beaches, except the sand and sun was so hot we only ventured to the beach twice.

Passage du Grois.

The causeway to the Isle de Normoutier, you can drive across at low tide. Once the tide goes out the French are out in force picking the spoils of the seafood from the beach. We ate in the restaurant, 3 courses for 18 euros.

A very pleasant couple of hours eating here on the terrace overlooking the sea, followed by a couple more hours sleeping in the sun.

How did Billie perform?

Very well, no problems and everything worked. We used the facilities, as the showers were very hot and we cooked outside for most of the holiday. The bed is really comfortable and the living space makes so much difference to overall comfort. The air-con works and did lower the temperature by a few degrees. I think a slightly bigger unit would have been more effective, but it was fine for what we wanted.

Minor niggle, the TV wouldn't pick up a signal due to our pitch behind some tall trees, so we used our Kindles as usual. Missed the Olympic opening ceremony but watched it when we got back.

On the way home we went via Caen, simple easy crossing, we stayed at the Municipal  in Ouistram for a night on the way home. Definitely would use this crossing again.

Our idea of a perfect holiday. Easy driving. Good clean campsite with BIG pitches and pleasant company. Things to do and places to go if you wanted to do them!!

TIP: Never park next to a coach in the customs checkout....but that's another story!!

Check out my campsite reviews in the French Campsite section.

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