Tag Archives: Boulogne-sur-Mer

Clérac, Charente Maritime, Friday 3rd April 2015

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The lovely motorhome aire by pond at Clerac

The lovely motorhome aire by pond at Clerac

It’s been a funny old week during which hardly anything has gone according to plan, in as much as we have a plan.

We set off last Saturday morning and caught an earlier Eurotunnel crossing than anticipated with the hope of getting to Auchan in Boulogne-sur-Mer early in the evening in order to to our weekly shopping, but alas, this is where things started going pear-shaped.

We were surprised to find exit 31 on the A16 closed without prior warning, so we had to carry on to the next available exit at J.29, where we saw a big Leclerc. Not being familiar with the layout of this hypermarket, our shop took a bit longer than expected and I was a bit disappointed at not finding a magazine section to get my ‘must-have’ Marie France to read during the next few days and, as things turned out later on in the week, I really missed.

A wet arrival at Le Portel

A wet arrival at Le Portel

With the shopping out of the way, we carried on to Le portel, as it was off the same J.29, to try the motorhome aire there, which we found very pleasing, even though it was dark and raining quite heavily when we arrived. We quickly got on with warming up our dinner for the night (paella from the delicatessen counter) and had an early night after a long day driving. This aire costs 5, payable at the entrance barrier).  Before leaving on Sunday morning, Adonis enjoyed a very windy walk with Beano on the dramatic seafront, perfect for wind turbines.

Early morning walk on seafront at Le Portel

Early morning walk on seafront at Le Portel

We spent Sunday at lovely Pont de l’Arche, still in the rain, but this cleared by the time I took Beano for his afternoon walk and, unusually, I didn’t come across anybody walking along or fishing by the river, even though it was Sunday. Something to do with the clocks going forward the night before or it being a wet day?

Only the ducks came to say hello today at Pont de l'Arche

Only the ducks came to say hello today at Pont de l’Arche

Our first proper destination for this Easter holiday was Etang Neuf at Neuilly-sur-Eure, where we arrived just after 11 am on Monday morning, but were unable to drive onto the pitch itself due to the wet grass. We first tried our bread crates to help us into position, but our efforts failed, so Adonis went off to get some help and came back with two very nice and friendly young men from the north of England and, with Adonis at the wheel, the crates under the tyres and the 3 of us pushing the van, we got nowhere fast, either forwards or backwards and only succeeded in making a muddy mess on the ground. The next move was to get Didier, the farmer, to tow us in with his 4×4, but this too ended up with the ground churning up below the van and not moving an inch.

Being towed by 4x4

Being towed by 4×4 at Etang Neuf

As a last resort, Didier set off on his 4×4 to fetch his tractor and a few minutes later we were finally into position on our pitch Number 4 hoping it wouldn’t rain and soften the ground even further for the next four days.

Being towed by tractor, this time successfully!

Being towed by tractor, this time successfully!

Luckily, Monday was a mixture of sun and clouds with no rain and we were optimistic enough to put the awning out with the wind-blockers on either side, but the wind picked up in the evening and seemed to turn into a gale-force storm during the night, to the point where the awning was flapping about so much that Adonis had to get up in the wee hours of the morning to put it all away again!!!

Enjoying a drink in the sun at Etang Neuf

Enjoying a drink in the sun at Etang Neuf

Tuesday was still a very windy day, with no chance of me sitting outside after mid morning coffee, to the extent I couldn’t even cycle to the village to get our daily baguette and, although Adonis kindly offered to go himself, he had a puncture on the way up and had to walk the rest of the way and back (about 4 miles altogether). Luckily, he bought a very big baguette that saw us through lunch for the next couple of days.

Lovely morning light on Wednesday morning at Etang Neuf

Lovely morning light on Wednesday morning at Etang Neuf

Etang Neuf from side nearest the farm house

Etang Neuf from side nearest the farm house

The weather didn’t improve much on Wednesday and I spent most of it inside the motorhome with no internet or 3G connection and NO Marie France magazine: I was really missing it by now… Well, at least I managed to work on my crochet and make a necklace and bracelet set and read my kindle and my brother’s book ‘Huyendo de Occidente’. The best thing that happened was Adonis catching 2 carp in one day. The first one was around 14lb and the second around 20lb, so at least we both got something out of our stay at the lake.

Adonis's first catch

Adonis’s first catch

Adonis's second catch

Adonis’s second catch

As we were feeling a bit dead in the water, we decided to cut our stay short and left a day early on Thursday and once more we had to be pulled away by tractor after packing our very muddy belongings.

Yesterday morning, we bit the bullet and payed for the motorway tolls on A28 from Le Mans to Tours and A10 to south of Poitiers at J.30 for Château Larcher, driving for over 4 hours and skipping lunch, with a quick stop at Super U at Vivonne. We love the motorhome aire at Château Larcher and the walk around the pond and it already felt much warmer with neither wind nor rain. It finally began to feel like the holiday had started at last and my spirits lifted immediately. The local guard came to collect the 5 fee in the evening, a small price to pay for such a charming aire with free water, electricity and very good recycling facilities.

This morning, we left Château Larcher at about 9.30 am and joined the motorway again at Vivonne to head south of Angoulême, where we did another big shop at Auchan at La Couronne and bought 2 spare inner tubes for my bike – just to be sure – as I’ll definitely need it to cycle into Barbotan-les-Thermes from the campsite at Lac de l’Uby, our next big destination.

We wanted to try the motorhome aire at Montlieu-la-Garde, just off the N10, but it was shut, so we’ve come here instead and very nice it is too. This aire at Clérac is lovely and quiet, with a pleasant walk around pond and beyond for Beano and it’s free, very well maintained and with a very large and clean toilet to boot!

Our quiet spot at Clerac motorhome aire

Our quiet spot at Clerac motorhome aire

Barbotan-les-Thermes tomorrow: Oh Yeah!

Quend-Plage-les-Pins, Somme, Saturday 27th December 2014

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Lovely setting for motorhome aire at Quend-Plage-les-Pins

Lovely setting for motorhome aire at Quend-Plage-les-Pins

Here we are on our last trip of the year for just a short 8-day break and the weather hasn’t exactly received us with kindness. It blew a gale last night at Wissant, which kept us up for quite a while, and today it hasn’t been any better.

We got up late due to the disturbed sleep and didn’t make it to Boulogne-sur-Mer for our shop until 10.30am, so instead of going to Pont de l’Arche again as planned, we thought it might be easier and quicker to try this motorhome aire just south of Berck. This is a beautiful stopping place opposite an Eco Village, just a few minutes walk away from the town and beach. It has space for 30 vehicles, a bourne for water and electricity for 2 and the daily fee would cost 7, except that the machine doesn’t seem to be working or maybe it’s been turned off for the winter, as it wasn’t accepting any of the coins I put in. Nobody’s been round to collect the fees, so we might have a free stay!

Walking past the Eco Village and it begins to rain

Walking past the Eco Village and it begins to rain

Very rough weather on the sea front, not pleasant for walking

Very rough weather on the sea front, not pleasant for walking

Getting soaked by rain and waves!

Getting soaked by rain and waves!

We got here for lunch and after siesta we went for a walk on the sea front, but the wind was so strong and cold that it made it very unpleasant to stay there for too long, as it was also raining heavily and Beano seemed to be suffering, pulling back on the lead, so we took the hint and walked back to the van. We were soaked through from waist down as, luckily, we have very good waterproof coats, but our trousers were dripping and are now hanging in the shower room, which is like a sauna when the heating is on. They’ll be dry in the morning for sure.

A very wet husband walking back to safety of van

A very wet husband walking back to safety of van

Shower room becomes drying room!

Shower room becomes drying room!

The Eurotunnel crossing was nice and easy as always and, as we arrived much earlier than anticipated, we paid £30 extra to jump on the next available train, which left at 3.06pm, so we arrived in Calais at about 4.40pm local time and were very pleased to see there was plenty of room at Wissant’s motorhome aire, which we have been avoiding of late, especially in the summer months, for being too crowded, but it was lovely and quiet last night.

We are thinking of spending tomorrow in lovely and reliable Broglie and then La Suze-sur-Sarthe.

Pont-de-l’Arche, Eure Department, Saturday 29th March 2014

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Church of Nôtre Dâme des Arts, Pont de l'Arche

Church of Nôtre Dâme des Arts, Pont de l’Arche

 

We are back at this lovely motorhome aire, one year to the day, and it looks even better today, as the sun’s been shining all day and it’s hot – 24 ºC inside – and very pleasant indeed outside. For the first time this year, we’ve gone out for a walk in shorts and t-shirts and sat outside a café in town and enjoyed a beer in the sun. I hope this will keep up for the next 3 weeks, but that’s too much to hope for…

 

Going for a strol in town in the sun

Going for a stroll in town in the sun

 

Old half-timber houses at Pont-de-l'Arche

Old half-timber houses at Pont-de-l’Arche

 

We left England yesterday evening on the 5.20 pm Eurotunnel crossing as always, which wasn’t very busy at all. We only just made it by the skin of our teeth, for the traffic on the M25 was bad and we had to crawl along for a while. So we were in Calais for 7 pm, local time, and found a very busy aire at Wissant, with only the bus lanes available, which we are loathe to use as you could be moved on, so we parked on the far side from the road by the houses and the little lane leading to the town, which is not a proper bay but not really in the way of traffic flow.

 

Enjoying a beer in town outdoors

Enjoying a beer in town outdoors

 

I had made a pizza at home to cook in the van and, although I kept turning it every few minutes, somehow it managed to catch fire and in a matter of seconds the van was engulfed in smoke and I could hardly see Adonis at the other end. After opening the windows, moving the shelf a bit higher and turning the oven control down, I got busy with a tea-towel waving it and shaking it about in order to clear the smoke. 10 minutes later, we had our lovely home-made pizza, slightly charred at one end on the bottom, but very edible and tasty, which we enjoyed with a bottle of Californian Cabernet-Sauvignon. Must remember to move shelf up next time at the beginning of cooking time, but I believe the pizza base caught fire because I put a generous amount of olive oil when making dough, as it makes it taste a lot better. Live and learn.

 

Old Wall Tower at Pont de l'Arche

Old Wall Tower at Pont de l’Arche

 

We had an early start this morning, as Adonis woke up and came down at 7.30 am and I followed some 15 minutes later and we were ready to leave Wissant by 8.30 am en route to Auchan at Boulogne-sur-Mer, where we tend to do our big shop for the week and fill up with diesel. We were out by 10 am and didn’t stop until we got to Pont-de-l’Arche (just south east of Rouen) at 12.30 pm, so very good going indeed.

 

View of river from the hill

View of river from the hill

 

We were surprised to see that the field adjacent to the motorhome aire had been taken over by travellers and at lunch-time there were quite a few cars and caravans coming in and out of their camp, which was a bit irritating as they turned in and out of it just behind us with a very narrow margin and I feared they might hit us, but luckily they were good drivers and no accident occurred and it’s all quiet now at 5 pm. They were very good neighbours.

 

The river Eure by motorhome aire

The river Eure by motorhome aire

 

This is still a beautiful aire by the river Eure and with lovely views of both, the river bank and the town itself, with the church of Nôtre Dâme des Arts on the hill right above. The campsite at the other end of the aire is open now and it looks very pretty, with lots of blossom on the trees at the moment, so that could be a possibility if the aire is full.

 

Campsite by the river Eure at Pont-de-l'Arche

Pretty Campsite by the river Eure at Pont-de-l’Arche

 

 

We are going to Meung-sur-Loire tomorrow, south of Orleans, a new route for us and I am really excited about going to a new place.

 

 

 

Le Crotoy in a Different Light, Thursday 2nd January 2014

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Magnificent sunset

Magnificent sunset

 

 

We have been here many times and this quaint little fishing town still remains one of our favourite spots in western France. The amazing thing about it is that it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve seen it, it always looks different with the changing of the tides and the light reflected in the bay of the Somme. It is simply a beautiful and relaxing way to finish our holiday, taking a long stroll over the sand dunes above the marshes and along the pier back into town.

 

A gentle stroll on the sand dunes

A gentle stroll on the sand dunes

 

If you have a motorhome, you simply must come here. The aire is just by the bay and the marina for only 5€ a day and you’ll be spoilt for choice of fish restaurants, all very reasonably priced. Even in January, there are about 20 campervans staying at the motorhome aire, and it’s not just the motorhomers, whole families with children of all ages come out in the afternoon to enjoy this glorious sight and the sun.

 

The marshes on the Bay of the Somme

The marshes on the Bay of the Somme

 

We did not make it to Normandy, as we stayed that extra day at Lake Bounty, but still no fish! So we headed for Brogley on Wednesday to take Beano to the vet’s first thing on Thursday morning before coming to Le Crotoy. Tomorrow is shopping at Au Chan at Boulogne-sur-Mer (exit 31 on A16) and then back to Wissant, where we are hoping to enjoy a nice long and no doubt windy walk on the beach again.  It will be an early start on Saturday morning for our crossing back to England in the Channel Tunnel.

 

Beano enjoying his first wakl on the Bay of the Somme

Beano enjoying his first wakl on the Bay of the Somme

 

Not sure if we’ll come back in February.  I feel I’d like to wait till the weather warms up a bit at Easter time and we’ll have more time to go further down south. We’ll see.

 

I hope you enjoy the pictures.

 

The ever changing sands on the Bay of the Somme

The ever changing sands on the Bay of the Somme

 

I simply love this boat

I simply love this boat

 

The Marina and town in the background

The Marina and town in the background with lens flare 

 

I love this one too!

I love this one too!  Just look at that sun!

 

From a different angle

From a different angle

 

The Marina bathed in the light of the setting sun

The Marina bathed in the light of the setting sun

 

I just couldn't stop taking pictures

I just couldn’t stop taking pictures

 

 

Just one more!

Just one more!

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Embry, Pas de Calais, Thursday 30th May 2013

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The pinic area at Embry motorhome aire

The pinic area and stunning views at Embry motorhome aire

 

 We are now at one of the loveliest motorhome aires we have come across yet, right in the middle of some stunning countryside in Pas de Calais with only the sound of birdsong to keep us company. We’ve been here since 11.30 am and, although there is room for 8 motorhomes, we are the only ones here.

 

The motorhome aire with the pitches separated by flower containers

The motorhome aire with the pitches separated by flower containers and Flot Bleu service point  on the right

 

The generous pitches are separated by flower containers planted with both, flowers and culinary herbs like chives and thyme, and there’s one with strawberries too! There is an immaculate shower/toilet block and a Flot Bleu service point which operates with jetons (tokens) available from a machine at 2.50 each. This machine in turn operates with credit cards. The aire itself costs 6 a night and we are waiting for Dominique to come and collect the fee between 5.45 and 6.45 pm, as it says on the notice-board. I do like the personal touch of letting us know the name of our hostess. It’s now 5.30 pm so she can’t be long.

Shower, toilet and information block

Shower, toilet and information block

 

In the shower block there are lots of information leaflets, local maps and magazines in French and English. The showers also operate with a jeton and they will run for 12 minutes. Adonis enjoyed one earlier on and he was very impressed with the large cubicles, the free toiletries (shower gel and shampoo) and the temperature of the water – not too hot and not too cold, but just right. Where have I head that before?

 

Gorgeous view from our pitch

Gorgeous view from our pitch

 

You can also order a baguette, or indeed a whole breakfast basket with croissants and pastries for 5 from Dominique, but as we’re doing our big shop in Boulogne-sur-Mer tomorrow morning, we won’t be taking advantage of this thoughtful service this time, but we certainly will in future when we’re heading south and not going back home.

 

A delightful flower border at motorhome aire

A delightful flower border at motorhome aire

 

Same flower border from a distance

Same flower border from a distance

 

The journey here was very pleasant, especially after yesterday’s nightmarish drive on the Paris Peripherique road. We left Conty at 9 am on the D920 west to Poix-de-Picardie, where we joined the D901 north to just south east of Abbeville, where the road crosses the river Somme at Pont-Remy. From there we took the minor road D183 north, passing St Riquier and Domvast and then the D928 to Hesdin, passed the woods and left on the D108 to Embry (NO tomtom this time!!!).

 

Some very old houses in the village

Some very old houses in the village

 

A bit closer

A bit closer.  How on earth is it still standing?

 

This house is over 400 years old!

This house is nearly 400 years old!

 

 

If houses could talk!  I wonder what this one has seen in nearly 4 centuries!

If houses could talk! I wonder what this one has seen in nearly 4 centuries!

 

It’s a shame the weather has turned cooler and grey again, as there are some picnic tables available here too, as well as a barbecue, so we hope we’ll be able to enjoy these on our next visit, which will probably be in August!

 

Pont-de-L’Arche, Eure, Friday 29th March 2013

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Motorhome aire at Pont-de-L'Arche

Motorhome aire at Pont-de-L’Arche

 

We’re on the banks of the river Eure, just south of Rouen, after driving on the first sunny day (did I say sunny???) we’ve seen for a long time.  We saw this very pleasant motorhome aire when we crossed the bridge north of the town on our way to what we thought would be our final destination for the day at Le Vaudreuil (lat 49° 15’ 29” N Long 1° 12’ 30” E), but we didn’t find the aire there all that attractive or welcoming – although it might have been alright in an emergency- and turned back to Pont-de-L’Arche hoping to find a space, as it was already 2 pm.  We were lucky another motorhome left soon after we arrived and we were quick to move and take over this prime spot with a wonderful view of the river and the church of Nôtre Dame des Arts on the hill.  The aire doesn’t appear on the Guide Officiel aires de Services Camping Cars, but it does exist and it’s free!

 

Prime parking spot right by the river Eure

Prime parking spot right by the river Eure

 

View of motorhome aire at Pont-de-L'Arche form above

View of motorhome aire at Pont-de-L’Arche form above

 

We’ve just come back from a walk around the small town in the sun (yes, in the sun!) – if still only 4°C – and had a look inside the impressive Gothic church I’ve just mentioned.  We also enjoyed the half-timbered houses, so old and rickety and typical of this area, and took a few pictures of all these quaint sights.

 

The Church of Notre Dame des Arts

The Church of Notre Dame des Arts

 

Impressive stained-glass window in church

Impressive stained-glass window in church

 

Half timbered houses

Half timbered houses

 

half timbered houses

half timbered houses

 

Half timbered houses.

Half timbered houses.

 

 

For the first time ever, we were delayed by a whole hour at the Eurotunnel terminal, as there seemed to be a technical fault of some sort in the tunnel itself, so we didn’t leave England till about 7.45 pm and arrived in Calais at 9.20 pm local time, being one hour ahead of GMT.  We drove down to the aire at Wissant and luckily there were still a few spaces left, so we quickly parked and heated up our pizza in the oven for a very late supper.

We were a bit tired after such a long day and went to bed after pizza without even bothering to do the washing up (very much unlike me!)

 

We were woken up this morning by one of the buses that usually park there for the night, blaring out some horrendous ‘circus-type’ music at the tender hour of 6.30 am.  I couldn’t go back to sleep after that, but stayed in the warmth under the bed covers until 8 am and still the temperature was only 5°C.  I let Adonis do his usual chores ‘downstairs’ first and put the heating on, so when I finally ventured down to the living quarters it was already a balmy 10°C.  Thank God our Elddis Autostratus has such an effective and fast gas heater!  I couldn’t do this otherwise in the winter (I know it’s spring, but the temperatures haven’t caught up yet with the dates).

 

We left Wissant just before 9 am and headed for Auchan at Boulogne-sur-Mer as usual for our big shop to see us through the Easter weekend.  We were on the road again by 10.45 am and followed the A16 to Abbeville and A28 to northeast of Rouen, where we found that the Matilda bridge is still shut (3 months now!), so we took the D6015 south, which runs alongside the river Seine, and very beautiful it was too and a nice and welcome change to our usual route.

Tomorrow we’ll be heading for Marbué in the Eure et Loir department; it should take just under 3 hours.

 

Pont-de-l'Arche

Pont-de-l’Arche

 

St Valerie-en-Caux and Le Crotoy, Thursday 21st Feb 2013

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Le Crotoy

Le Crotoy Quay with motorhome aire in background

 

It looks like fate has brought us back to this lovely town of Le Crotoy again, as our intention was to stop for the day and spend the night at Le Tréport, about 20 miles further south, but the motorhome aire on top of the cliff by the cable lift, or funicular, was a bit too exposed to the elements – if with beautiful views and good facilities – and being such a  bitterly cold day, we thought we might be better off at sea level, so here we are again, protected from the wind by the sand dunes and the town within easy reach.

Sea-side houses on Le Crotoy beach

Sea-side houses on Le Crotoy beach

 

How is this for a holiday resort home?  Le Crotoy sea-front

How is this for a holiday resort home? Right out of a fairy tale.  Le Crotoy sea-front

 

We’ve just been for a long walk along the beach and through the town, as it’s more sheltered than the marshes.  Back on 3rd of January, when we last came here, we had Sasha the Saluki with us and I can almost see her leaping about in the marshes, chasing the birds.  I am saddened that we no longer have her, as she turned out to be so destructive in the house when we were back at work.  Still, it’s just Adonis and I again doing the long walks, like in the good old days.

 

Le Crotoy beach

Le Crotoy beach

 

Yesterday, we stopped the night at the magnificent aire on the pier at St Valerie-en-Caux (free off season), right below the cliffs that remind me so much of Dover.  Again, it was a brilliant sunny, if cold, day and we enjoyed a long walk on the sea front and the marina.

 

St Valerie-en-Caux motorhome aire

St Valerie-en-Caux motorhome aire

 

St Valeir-en-Caux motorhome aire and lighthouse

St Valeir-en-Caux motorhome aire and lighthouse

 

 In the evening, we went for a wonderful meal at ‘Le Restaurant du Port’, run by Véronique et Olivier Warin, on 18 Quai d’Amont, right opposite where the fishing boats moor.  Earlier on in our walk we’d seen the fishermen arrive and unload their catch, so we knew the seafood served at the restaurant would be very fresh.  The restaurant is very pleasant indeed, smartly but simply decorated.  The hostess/waitress was charming and very friendly and efficient and the food was absolutely superb and delicious.  I had the Flan aux Poireaux (leek and smoked fish mousse) followed by the Poisson du Marché (or catch of the day), which consisted of 3 different kinds of fish (cod, sea bream and tuna) and to finish I had the mouth-watering crème brulée.  Adonis had a paté made of pig’s trotters and black pudding in a vinaigrette sauce, followed by scallops and a selection of cheeses.  We couldn’t have hoped for a better meal or setting and it was just the perfect treat to see us on our way back home.

 

Henry IV house and museum at St Valerie-en-Caux

Henry IV house and museum at St Valerie-en-Caux near Marina

 

St Valerie-en-Caux port and fishing boats

St Valerie-en-Caux port and fishing boats bringing in their catch

 

St Valerie-en-Caux Marina

St Valerie-en-Caux Marina

 

We reluctantly left the warmth of the restaurant to face the chilly night on our way back to the motorhome aire and slept peacefully all night, to be woken up by the sound of seagulls and the rising sun: total bliss!

 

Motorhome aire on cliff top at Le Treport

Motorhome aire on cliff top at Le Treport

 

It was an easy drive this morning from St Valerie-en-Caux to Le Crotoy, following the D925, past Dieppe and Le Tréport, where we only stopped for coffee and to fill up with water at the aire on the cliff top.  It was handy that payment at the services borne is done with credit cards and there is a choice of several services (stopping for 24 hours, 48 hours or just use the water and electricity for 1 hour for only €2.

 

Le Treport seen from cliff top

Le Treport seen from cliff top

 

So, after coffee and a few moments to enjoy the scenery and take pictures of marvellous view, we were on our merry way again and got here soon after midday.  It’s going to be another spectacular sunset today, as it’s been the whole week, ever since last Saturday at Boulogne-sur-Mer, where we’re heading for our final shop at huge Auchan once more tomorrow.

 

Le Treport from cliff top by funicular

Le Treport from cliff top by funicular

It will be Wissant’s aire (free all year round, but no water or electricity available) again after that for an early rise and departure from the Eurotunnel back to England on Saturday morning.

We’ll be back at Easter, so watch this space…

Le Crotoy, Thursday 3rd January 2013

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Le Crotoy as seen from motorhome aire.

Le Crotoy as seen from motorhome aire.

 

My first entry of the year happens to be on the Bay of the Somme on a misty, but warmish afternoon.  The thermometer in the van reads 17 °C and, as we haven’t had the heating on since 1.30 pm and it’s 4.45 pm now, the temperature inside can’t be very different from the outside.

 

Motorhome aire as seen from the Bay of the Somme

Motorhome aire as seen from the Bay of the Somme

 

We’ve just come back from a long walk with Sasha around the bay and the marshes and Sasha had a whale of a time leaping about, chasing the seagulls and the ducks.  I took lots of pictures all the way as I never tire of the beautiful sight of the town of Le Crotoy from the motorhome aire and the marshes.

 

Sasha enjoying herself on the marshes of the Bay of the Somme

Sasha enjoying herself on the marshes of the Bay of the Somme

 

 

Enjoying a long walk around the Bay

Enjoying a long walk and a run around the Bay

 

The aire still costs €5, plus €2 for the water and electricity borne if needed.  There are 8 vans here at the moment and it’s hard to imagine now how busy it was in the summer, with hardly any spaces left, even though the parking area is quite big, with room for 200 vehicles!

 

The Bay of the Somme

The Bay of the Somme

 

The Bay of the Somme

The Bay of the Somme and Le Crotoy

 

We thoroughly enjoyed our break at Amboise, as always, and left on 1st January for Montbizot, north of Le Mans, following mainly the D938/338 from the north of Tours.  Montbizot has a little aire with enough room for 6 motorhomes, but the water and electricity supply borne was switched off for the winter, but as we had topped up in Amboise, it didn’t really matter.  Again, the river Sarthe was overflowing and the walking area and path were waterlogged and flooded in parts, so walking was difficult and Wellington boots were a must!

After Montbizot, we carried on north on the D338 past Alenҫon and D438 to Broglie, where once again we had made an appointment with the vet to have Sasha wormed and checked before returning to England.  The guard came early in the evening to collect the €5 fee and we also bought a jeton (token) for water for €2.50 to last us until the end of the journey.  We were glad to see that everything was in working order.

It felt very strange this time round not to have Bramble with us, as we’ve been here so many times with him, especially during the walk along the Charentonne river.  Even the vet asked about him.  Still, Sasha loved the walk too and I hope it will be the first of many happy walks in this lovely village.

The vet was booked for 8.30 am, so we made an early start this morning and got here for 12.30 pm, following the A28, joining it at junction 14 north of Bernay and on past Rouen, but we had to take the A150 for a little while as the bridge was still closed on the Eastern side of the city and the traffic was diverted westwards.  We joined the A28 again at J.11 and followed the usual route past Abbeville to J.1 and D40 to Le Crotoy without any further disturbances to the traffic.

 

Le Crotoy

Le Crotoy

 

Various aquatic birds at the Bay of the Somme

Various aquatic birds at the Bay of the Somme

 

We are off to Auchan at Boulogne-sur-Mer for our final big shop to stock up on wine and beer before our final overnight stop at Wissant and going home.

We’ll be back in February!

Our parking spot at the motorhome aire of Le Crotoy

Our parking spot at the motorhome aire of Le Crotoy

 

 

Épagne, Canal du Somme, Thursday 7th June 2012

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Le Canal du Somme by Epagne bridge

It has been a very rainy day, with just a few breaks of sun every now and then.

We packed everything in the van last night – groundsheet, chairs, etc – before we went out for our French meal treat.  We gently strolled into the village of Le Petit Andely and settled for the Mistral restaurant, offering specialities from Provence.  It was a very enjoyable evening with very friendly service who spoke English, but we insisted with our improving French.  I had a ‘Terrine de volaille’ with salad in a vinaigrette for starter and a rabbit stew for main course and Adonis had the warm goat’s cheese with honey followed by a beef stiffado  served with some sort of macaroni cheese, which Adon couldn’t manage.  We thought this to be a weird combination, but I suppose this is the beauty of travelling and trying new and unusual things.  We finished with a lemon tart and a coffee and slowly wandered back to the campsite, enjoying the evening sun along the river Seine.  A perfect finish to a relaxing day.

Le Canal du Somme

 

We were ready to leave by 9.30 this morning and joined the D316 from Le Grand Andely and D6014 northwest to Rouen and back on the A28 before the tunnel at J13 all the way to J5, where we got off to join the D928 northeast to Abbeville and try our luck at finding a wild spot to spend the day by the canal du Somme.  Our efforts paid off and we found a charming, quiet parking place by the bridge at Épagne, where we’ve been since lunchtime.

We had a very wet dog walk along the canal and managed to take a few pictures of this great find.  We can really appreciate how wonderful it is now that the sun has finally broken through.

A view whilst walking the dog by Le Canal du Somme

 

It must be said that the weather hasn’t been on our side at all during this break and only enjoyed one very hot day on the day we arrived at Les Andelys last Saturday.  The rest of the time has been mainly cloudy and windy with a few showers for good measure.  Still, it’s been very relaxing and, as always, L’Île des Trois Rois is a fantastic campsite to chill by the river Seine, with very friendly and helpful staff and excellent facilities.

Adonis was happy because he caught 2 carp, which always helps to make it a successful trip, but he forgot to bring his ‘other’ landing net for quick fishing and can’t fish tonight as he can’t be bothered to get the bikes off the rack and climb on top of the van, where he keeps his fishing rods and other related paraphernalia.

We’re off to Boulogne-sur-Mer tomorrow morning for our ritual shopping trip before returning home on Saturday morning after spending Friday night at very convenient aire at Wissant, just 20 minutes south of the Eurotunnel terminal at Calais.

So, we’ll celebrate tonight with some Toulouse sausages, chips, French stick and Baron de Lestac Bordeaux.

Next time we write it will be during our summer holidays in early July!  Until then, cheers!

Le Canal du Somme by Epagne bridge