Monthly Archives: November 2013

Berck, Pas de Calais, Thursday 31st October 2013

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Berck seen from the beach

Berck seen from the beach

 

 I am delighted to say that John and Julie were absolutely right in recommending this top aire by the Base Nautique, Chemin aux Raisins, right by the enormous beach and lovely sand dunes, very much like Le Touquet-Paris-Plage. It only cost €6.50 a day and has room for 75 vehicles, but it’s free from November to March inclusive and there’s free water, although no electricity.

 

Berck's motorhome aire by the Base Nautique

Berck’s motorhome aire by the Base Nautique

 

We arrived here at around 1.15 pm, as we decided to do our big shop this morning instead of tomorrow, being Toussaints and a Bank Holiday here and we were not sure if Auchan in Boulogne-sur-Mer would be open.

 

Sand dunes on Berck's beach

Sand dunes on Berck’s beach

 

We had lunch a bit later than usual, followed by a rest after the long drive from Broglie (3 ½ hours plus shopping time), and have just returned from a very pleasant walk in a very strong wind on the magnificent beach and pier where we were able to have a good look at the seals resting there and, of course, I took loads of pictures!

 

Seals at the end of the pier

Seals at the end of the pier

 

I'll just have a rest!

I’ll just have a rest!

 

It's more fun with a partner

It’s more fun with a partner

 

Mingling with the seagulls

Mingling with the seagulls

 

Beano thoroughly loved chasing his ball on the hard sand despite it being blown into his eyes and getting his fur covered in it.

 

A great beach to chase a ball

A great beach to chase a ball

 

I can imagine what a wonderful place this will be in the summer months too, and again, this is another destination to come back to in the future, whatever the weather.

 

Lighthouse seen through the sand dunes

Lighthouse seen through the sand dunes

 

We also had a lovely sunny day in Broglie yesterday and it was great having a dog again to walk along the Charentonne river, with its picturesque water mill and beautiful views of the countryside around. We met a very friendly Dutch lady who’s moved here and we chatted with her in French for a while, as she spoke very clearly and was easy to understand. She told us she lived in one of the houses on the hill on the opposite side and that she regularly walks the round tour from her house down through the village, to the library by the motorhome aire and through the woods, which only takes one hour, so we might try this when Beano is a bit older and can walk for longer.

 

The water mill at Broglie by the Charentonne river

The water mill at Broglie by the Charentonne river

 

 I went to the local bakery for the daily baguette and cakes, then the butcher’s for a couple of delicious fillet stakes, which I cooked and served with chips, salad and bread.

 

Lovely views from the river walk

Lovely views from the river walk

 

The visit to the vet’s was quite straightforward, even though the nurse seemed quite surprised that the rabies vaccine was done in 2 separate doses in the UK and she queried me about this. Other than that, it was plain sailing and Beano is now wormed and ready to return home.

 

The Charentonne river at Broglie

The Charentonne river at Broglie

 

So, it’s Wissant’s aire tomorrow and another long walk on the beach, we hope.

 

Ferries heading for the UK

Ferries heading for the UK

 

La Ferté-Macé, Orne Department, Tuesday 29th October 2013

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The lovely beach on the lake at la Ferté-Macé

The lovely beach on the lake at la Ferté-Macé

 

We are at another beautiful aire at the Base de Loisirs of la Ferté-Macé as a one stop-over before the vet’s appointment at Broglie tomorrow.

 

The lake

The lake

 

We had originally planned to stop further south at Javron-les-Chapelles in the Mayenne department but, although it was pleasant enough, flat and in the middle of the town, it wasn’t really what we are attracted to to spend the day and we thought this would be a more attractive spot for the day. It certainly is charming, as most – if not all – Bases de Loisirs are, and it has the bonus of fishing and a long dog walk around the lake. It is free and it has 6 pitches, but the emptying facilities seem to be at Place de Needstadt in the town itself, not at Parking de la Brochardière, where we are at the moment.

 

Our parking spot at la Ferté-Macé Base de Loisirs

Our parking spot at la Ferté-Macé Base de Loisirs

 

This seems to be the perfect place to come with a young family in the summer, with plenty of facilities on offer like golf, parkour, kayaking, etc as well as a wonderful play area right on the beach for the young ones. It is popular even today, sunny and showery in late October, with quite a few people just coming for lunch and moving on again, perhaps to work, or walking their children and dogs.

 

The children's play area on the beach

The large and well equipped children’s play area on the beach

 

So Adonis’s been fishing and I’ve been walking Beano and crocheting and we are all happy.

 

Walking around the lake at Ferté-Macé

Walking around the lake at Ferté-Macé

 

We had a very easy drive this morning from Pont Réan at Guichen in Ile-et-Vilaine department, joining the D117 to south of Rennes and the N157/E50 due east to north of Laval, N165 to Mayenne and N12 north east to Javron-les-Chapelles. It was still early enough in the morning to try a different destination, so we went up north on D218 and D916 to just north of Bagnoles-de-l’Orne

 

Walking around the lake

Walking around the lake

 

I would certainly like to come back here in the summer months to enjoy that beach and a relaxing day in the sun.

So, it’s Broglie tomorrow and we might try the aire at Berck on Thursday, as John and Julie were quite impressed with it and highly recommended it.

Pont Réan, Guichen Aire, Ille-et-Vilaine, Monday 28th October 2013

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Well, we have survived the storm that was supposed to hit Brittany at 80 m.p.h last night, although we both agree that it had been far worse the night before at Quiberon.

 

We survived the storm at Quiberon

We survived the storm at Quiberon

 

Something quite amusing happened yesterday morning. As we were leaving the aire at 9 am, we encountered a few vans parked around the exit, with a van trying to squeeze out between the bollard and the paying machine using levelling blocks, as this had broken down and nobody could get out. I was told help had been called for, but being Sunday it might take a little while. A frustrated camper tried jumping on the bollard itself to make it go down, but to no avail, but at least it provided a few moments of entertainment. A few minutes later, the gendarme arrived, but he couldn’t do anything either and even tried kicking it, which, of course, didn’t work! The guard finally arrived at 9.20 am and operated the system manually and we were able to leave without further ado. Very efficient, we thought, and we carried on merrily on our way.

 

A wet walk on Port Blanc

A wet walk on Port Blanc

We spent Sunday afternoon and night at the new motorhome aire at Baden, situated on Route de Port Blanc, Kerhilio, at 800 metres from the jetty de L’Ile aux Moines (www.airedesiles.fr) This is quite an impressive and beautifully kept motorhome aire and the 8 daily fee for this time of year included electricity hook-up, wifi and showers, although these were switched off! The water borne operated with a €2 coin and we were more than happy to pay for this, as we were running a bit low and desperately needed a shower. The aire has room for 50 motorhomes, but there were only 3 last night, well protected from the strong winds by the surrounding trees.

 

Stopping by the oyster beds

Stopping by the oyster beds

 

We loved the walk down to the beach and seeing the oyster beds in the fishing village. It was raining quite heavily at one point, but we didn’t really mind as the scenery was so lovely.

Oyster beds

Oyster beds

 

Oyster beds under water

Oyster beds under water

 

We went to Port Blanc after making a final visit to the Carnac Alignments at Kerlescan, with its 13 rows of the best preserved menhirs and the impressive Géant du Manio, which stands 6 metres high, and its Quadrilateral. This is situated just a short and pleasant walk through the woods from the D196 road.

Getting excited about finding the Giant!

Getting excited about finding the Giant!

 

The Quadrilateral at Manio

The Quadrilateral at Manio

 

The Gian at last!

The Gian at last!

 

 

Little me by the Giant of Manio

Little me by the Giant of Manio

This morning, we left in a downpour and got rather wet whilst filling up with water and emptying the grey water tank, but the rain cleared soon after and it has remained a sunny and warm day (22 ºC in van at the moment at 5 pm). We went back on the D101 to north of Vannes, N166 to Bohal, about 10 miles south of Ploërmel, D776 to Guer, D772 to north of Guichen and D577 to Pont Réan, about 6 miles south of Rennes.

 

The motorhome aire by the Vilaine river

The motorhome aire by the Vilaine river and stone bridge

We are parked right by the Vilaine river, with a beautiful and picturesque view of the stone bridge on La Cale de Pont Réan, Rue de Redon. It really is lovely here, with 10 pitches for €5 a day, which is collected by a guard in the evening.

 

The charming stone bridge at Pont Réan

The charming stone bridge at Pont Réan

There are lots of people walking along the river, so it seems to be a very popular place, with a few restaurants and all kinds of shops, as well as canoeing and other water sports. This is another charming stop to bear in mind for future reference.

 

The river walk and motorhome aire viewed from the stone bridge

The river walk and motorhome aire viewed from the stone bridge

 

We are going towards Alençon tomorrow and have already made an appointment at the vet in Broglie for Beano’s worming before returning home on Saturday.

 

The quay and access for water sports at Pont Réan

The quay and access for water sports at Pont Réan

Quiberon, Morbihan Department, Brittany, Saturday 26th October 2013

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Côte Sauvage or Wild Coast at Quiberon

Côte Sauvage or Wild Coast at Quiberon

 

This has been our first ever day in the Brittany region and we have certainly made the most of it.

 

Magnifcent sunset at Oudon

Magnifcent sunset at Oudon

 

We were woken up at 7.30 am by Beano, who seemed a bit unsettled or upset about something (perhaps the early trains going past near the campsite at Oudon), so we were ready to leave Oudon by 9 am, back on the D723 to join the motorway north east of Nantes at junction 41 and on to the N844/A82/N165/E60 (Why so many names for one road???) towards Vannes and on to south west of Auray, where we headed south west to Carnac on the D768.

 

The Carnac Alignments

The Carnac Alignments

 

With only one break for coffee before 11 am at the lovely aire of Marzan at j.17, over the attractive view of the Vilaine river by La Roche Bernard, we were in Carnac by noon and, after deciding not to stop for the day at the motorhome aire in the town itself – lovely as it was -, we went back on the D196 just north of Carnac to have a look at the famous Neolithic site of The Carnac Alignments, made of thousands of 6,000 years old megaliths.

 

The Carnac alignments

The Carnac alignments

 

We stopped by the Visitors’ Centre at Le Ménec to go around the site and get some information about it. The leaflet says the village of Ménec was built within the enclosure, comprising 71 blocks which almost touch one another. This site currently has 1,050 stones running over a total length of 950 metres.

 

Ménec, built around the megaliths

Ménec, built within the enclosure

 

We really enjoyed our walk in the sun around this fascinating and intriguing site and finding out about their history and purpose. Built between the fifth and third millennia BC by sedentarised communities, the rows of menhirs and enclosures form part of individual tombs (mounds) and collective tombs (dolmens).

 

Some of the bigger megaliths at Ménec

Some of the bigger megaliths at Ménec

 

After our walk around the site, we made our way to Quiberon and, although we tried stopping for the day at various possible wild-camping spots, we decided on the official motorhome aire by the camping municipal de Kerné on Route de Port-Kerné, open all year and with room for 110 vehicles, with water but no electricity at only 6 a day. This wonderful aire is right on the coast and commands beautiful views of the very aptly named Côte Sauvage or Wild Coast.

 

The motorhome aire at Quiberon

The motorhome aire at Quiberon, Port-kerne

 

So after lunch and a little rest, we went for another long walk to enjoy the magnificent coastline and the sheer force of the ocean blowing the foam from the waves over the impressive cliffs, making it look like snow.

 

The wind 'playing' with the foam from the waves

The wind ‘playing’ with the foam from the waves, looking just like snow

 

The wind 'playing' the the foam from the waves

The wind ‘playing’ the the foam from the waves

 

It’s been very windy all day but still very warm, with temperatures in the van hitting 26ºC in late October! I am not complaining.

 

Loving the wind and the sea at Quiberon

Loving the wind and the sea at Quiberon

 

 Tomorrow, we are going to see the rest of the megaliths, including the Giant of Manio or Géant du Manio, which stands roughly 6 metres high! After that, we’re hoping to spend some time in the Golfe du Morbihan, which looks very interesting indeed.

 

Côte Sauvage or Wild Coast at Quiberon

Côte Sauvage or Wild Coast at Quiberon – more ‘snow’

 

 

Oudon, Loire-Atlantique, Friday 25th October 2013

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Oudon, on the River Loire

Oudon, on the River Loire

 

We started our half-term holiday last Saturday morning, 19th October, and, after an uneventful crossing in the Eurotunnel, where we enjoyed a quick sandwich, we made our way to Boulogne-sur-Mer (junction 31 on A160 for our usual shopping at Auchan. As it had already been a long drive from home in Bognor Regis, we decided to stay on the motorway and followed the A28 south of Abbeville to junction 9 and on to the motorhome aire at Buchy on the D928 and D41, about 15 miles north east of Rouen.

 

The well maintained and pleasant aire at Buchy

The well maintained and pleasant aire at Buchy

 

Buchy’s is a very pleasant aire by the car park at the sports centre (Parking Salle des Sports), Route des Fourges, and near the college. The book says it has 4 pitches but we reckon that there’s room for double that number. It is free, with a borne for water and electricity for 2.50. The pitches are on hard standing and there is no clear division between them but they are surrounded by well maintained grass and it’s perfectly adequate for an overnight stay. As it was already late afternoon, we didn’t do very much other than walk Beano, our new puppy, and eat our flammekueche (or Tarte Flambée), which is a lovely alternative to pizza.

 

As we have our new puppy with us, we had to get up early for toilets, etc and were ready to leave Buchy before 9 am on our way to the aire at Montbizot, still travelling on the eastern bank of the River Seine at Rouen, as Pont Mathilde on the western side is still shut for repairs until the summer of 2014! So we followed the D6015 to Junction 21 of A13 west to J. 24 by Château de Robert Le Diable and then the usual route past Bernay, Broglie, Sées, Alençon and Beaumont-sur-Sarthe.

 

Montbizot is half way between Beaumont-sur-Sarthe and Le Mans and we made it there by 12.30 pm, as the roads were empty, being a Sunday morning. We had a heavy downpour for a bit, but it was still warm and pleasant for walking by the river Sarthe. This was another quiet afternoon, followed by a delicious Parmentier de Canard bought at Auchan, which only required heating up in the oven.

 

From Montbizot, we carried on south to our main destination of this break at tried and tested and very much loved Lac des Varennes, near Château-du-Loir on the D338 and D305.

 

Beautiful and reliable Lac des Varennes

Beautiful and reliable Lac des Varennes and Adonis inspecting his ‘swim’

 

As this is our seventh visit to this wonderful campsite and Base de Loisirs, there is nothing much new to say except that this time John and Julie, whom we met in the summer holidays at the aire in Bourget-du-Lac, came to meet us there and we spent 3 wonderful days with them and their daughter, Hannah, and her boyfriend, Adrian. So we shared some lovely food, including a most delicious Confit de Canard with Saute Potatoes courtesy of our friends, and, of course, plenty of cheese and wine!

 

A very happy Adonis with his 19lb (9kg) carp.  Photo courtesy of John D.  Southworth

A very happy Adonis with his 19lb (9kg) carp. Photo courtesy of John D. Southworth

 

On Tuesday night, at around 11 pm, Adonis finally caught a 19lb carp (roughly 9 Kg), which made it even more special for him, as he hadn’t caught anything at Easter or in the summer holidays. Unfortunately the flash on my camera went on strike and I had to rely on John to take pictures with his mobile phone.  Thank you John!

 

Enjoying the warm sun at Lac des Varennes

Enjoying the warm sun at Lac des Varennes

 

Wednesday was quite a warm day and we spent it outdoors most of the time, just enjoying the sun and the peace of the place this time of year, when Beano can run freely as there’s no-one around.

 

Beano running freely and chasing his ball at Lac des Varennes

Beano running freely and chasing his ball at Lac des Varennes

 

Yesterday started overcast but it cleared after lunch and Adrian, Hannah and Julie enjoyed a paddle in our inflatable boat around the lake, of which we are very pleased, as we hadn’t used it yet on this holiday. That was followed by some refreshing beers and snacks by John and Julie’s pitch, where we decided to move from our usual fishing area when Adonis decided he didn’t want to fish any more. So we packed the van and up we drove to the drier area near the only open shower block closer to the reception area.

 

Adrian and Hannah enjoying a paddle in the lake

Adrian and Hannah enjoying a paddle in the lake

 

We left this morning after saying our goodbyes and hoping to meet up at Easter again and we were on the road again for 9.30 am. We did a quick shop at Leclerc in Château-du-Loir and headed slightly south west on D766 past north of Angers on A11 to J. 20 with the intention of stopping at the aire at Le Celier, which is supposed to be behind the church and have room for 5 motorhomes but it is non existent. We were annoyed at this, as it was already 1 pm and we hadn’t stopped at all since leaving Leclerc, so we turned back on our heels on D723 to Oudon and here we are, right by the river Loire and just outside the 2* campsite of La Tour, which is now shut until June 14.

 

The Tour at Oudon, seen from Camping de la Tour

The Tour at Oudon, seen from Camping de la Tour

 

There is a well-maintained motorhome aire at the entrance of the campsite with running water and emptying facilities and it’s free but we are in the general car park, closer to the river, only a few metres from the aire itself.

 

Parked outside Camping de la Tour

Parked outside Camping de la Tour

 

I enjoyed a walk with Beano around the campsite and down to the river bank, which seems to be very popular with the locals.

 

Exploring the walk path at Oudon along the River Loire

Exploring the walk path at Oudon along the River Loire

 

Tomorrow, we’re heading for Carnac on our first ever visit to Brittany. I am really looking forward to discovering a new region in this beautiful and amazing country.

 

 

Le Crotoy, Somme, Wednesday 28th August 2013

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Charming Le Crotoy - Let the light speak for itself

Charming Le Crotoy – Let the light speak for itself

 

 This is our last day of this superb summer holiday and we can’t think of a better place to spend it than at this jewel of a fishing town on the bay of the Somme. Another regular in our travels, it never ceases to charm and delight us in equal measure and yet, every time we see it, it seems to be different, perhaps due to that brilliant light reflected on the water changing with the seasons.

 

I never tire of looking at this view

I never tire of looking at this view

 

The shimmering light

Varennes & Le Crotoy Aug 13 045

The shimmering light

 

 

The wonderful motorhome aire right on the bay still only costs €5 a day and the borne for water and electricity €2, which we don’t need. This is the ideal spot to set off for long walks around the bay, along the beach or into town. We have done all these and today it seemed a bit sad not to have a dog with us to join us in our rambles, but still very enjoyable all the same.

 

The motorhome aire, right of the Bay of the Somme

The motorhome aire, right of the Bay of the Somme

 

Motorhome aire from a distance on the Bay

Motorhome aire from a distance on the Bay

 

One of the aspects we like the most about this town is all the various fish restaurants and today we decided to treat ourselves to a nice meal out, being our last day and all. So we went to the popular ‘Le Saint Pierre’ (pure coincidence, of course) on 30 Quay Courbet, right on the sea front and where everything is happening. We had some delicious mussels in Roquefort sauce followed by king prawns, all very fresh and served in very generous portions. Adonis couldn’t really manage the king prawns, so all the more for me! All that, with a bottle of Muscadet, a coffee and a cognac only came up to €44.50, and what a perfect way to finish the holiday!

 

Le Crotoy: full of treasures

Le Crotoy: full of treasures

 

Yesterday, we spent the day at equally quaint and picturesque Broglie, just south of Bernay in the Eure Department, where I enjoyed a stroll along the aquatic gardens and, even tough most of the plants are coming to the end of their flowering period and glory, it is still a very pleasant, charming and relaxing way to spend half and hour or so.  The aire here still stands at €5, plus a borne for water which operates with a token (jeton) for €2.50 to be bought from the Mairie or from the caretakers who come round to collect the daily fee in the evening.

 

Magnificent Broglie, from the Aquatic Gardens

Magnificent Broglie, from the Aquatic Gardens

 

Aquatic Gardens, Broglie

Aquatic Gardens, Broglie

Aquatic Gardens, Broglie

Aquatic Gardens, Broglie

 

Bullrushes

Bullrushes

 

 

Water reeds

Water reeds

 

We are going home tomorrow, 2 days earlier than planned, in order to pick up our new puppy, Beano, a Jack Russell Terrier born on 24th June. It is always nice to have something special to look forward to after a marvellous holiday.

 

Broglie

Broglie