It’s been quite an interesting ride since we left Pamplona yesterday morning. There was no problem following the Carretera de Irún, or N121A, north, which is wonderful, but no good if you don’t like tunnels, of which there are many and long on this stretch of the road. We enjoyed the mountain landscape again and the lovely Basque country houses or Caseríos, very pretty and picturesque. We also did a very cheap shop at Mercadona just down the road from the campsite on the way to Pamplona to stock up on Spanish products to bring home.
Once in France, we followed the A63 past Bayonne to junction 7 and D810 towards Vieux-Boucau-les-Bains. This was a terrible mistake on my part, as the stretch of road from Capbreton to Seignosse-le-Penon was jam packed with traffic, not made any easier by the absurd number of roundabouts that seem to appear every 200 metres or so and made the experience even more tiresome and irritating. Add to this pedestrian and cycle crossings and you’ll get a picture of the frustration of not getting anywhere fast!
We somehow arrived at the aire at Vieux-Boucau-les-Bains for midday and had to take a ticket to get in at the barrier. A quick drive around showed us that there were hardly any spaces available and we squeezed ourselves between 2 vans parked parallel to the access road, but after taking Beano out for a quick trot and putting van on blocks, we realised we couldn’t connect to the electricity hook-ups, which was supposed to be included in the price, as they were all in use. Taking everything into consideration, – being packed like sardines, parked by a busy road, no chance of getting table, chairs or awning out and no electricity – we decided to leave, but to our dismay we still had to pay the €12 daily fee, as we had stayed there longer than 5 minutes! We found this terribly unfair, as just driving around to find a space takes longer than that and feel like writing to the Council about it. Surely there should be a longer period before they start charging, at least 15 minutes, to give people a chance to have a good look around and decide whether to stay or not.
Annoyed, we put it down to experience and decided to go back to reliable and trusted Étang de Léon, about 10 miles north east, and were pleasantly surprised to find a much emptier road (D652) and motorhome aire, with loads of space, shade and right by the lake at the lower price of €10 a day, but no electricity. Much happier then, we had our late lunch and rest before walking Beano in the woods and a swim in lovely lake.
This morning, we joined the A63 at Castets (J.12) all the way to north of Bordeaux and paid the €15.62 toll, just like last year. After crossing the Garonne and Dordogne rivers, we joined the free A10 to J40a and D137 to St Vivien-de-Blaye’s motorhome aire, which stands by the church and a lovely pond and seemed quite adequate, but Adonis thought the bells ringing might be a problem and, after going for a walk round pond, we thought we could try this other aire just 3 or 4 miles north and we are delighted with our choice.
The motorhome aire at St Christoly de Blaye is free, with toilets, a shower and free water and, again, right by the lake and a wonderful woods walk around it. There is also a sort of ‘animal farm’ nearby with exotic creatures like camels and llamas, as well as horses, pigs, geese and chickens, and offering pony rides and pedal cars for families. We love it here and I wouldn’t mind staying another day. In fact, I would be very happy to pay £12 here instead of that awful aire at Vieux-Boucau-les-Bains!!!