Tag Archives: Le Guide Officiel Aires de Services Camping Car

Carro, Bouches du Rhône, Friday 9th August 2013

Standard

 

Motorhome aire at Carro, right by the Mediterranean

Motorhome aire at Carro, right by the Mediterranean

 

 We have made it to the Mediterranean at last and it’s only taken us 5 weeks! We’ve been here for 2 days at the motorhome aire on Quay Vérandy. We thought this aire was actually going to be in Martigues, which is where we were hoping to stay, but after driving around in Martigues looking for it without success, we entered the co-ordinates given on the aires guide book (‘Le Guide Officiel Aires de Services Camping Cars’: Lat 43º 19′ 46” N Long 5º 2′ 23” E) and it brought us here, about 6 or 7 miles further south!

Taking a walk on the rocky landscape

Taking a walk (and a beer) on the rocky landscape – motorhome aire in background

 

The drive from St Remy de Provence was very easy, following the D99 west to join the D570 south to Arles and from there gently south east on N113 and N568. We just had a quick stop at Supermarché to stock up on food and we were here for 12 noon.

 

Carro

Carro beach

 

It’s still hot here, but very windy, maybe experiencing some of that famous Provençal Mistral, so much so that the wind pushed the motorhome off the levelling blocks earlier on when we were actually inside! It definitely rocked us like never before!

 

Cove and beach

Cove and beach – great for snorkelling

 

Still, it’s been very sunny for the last couple of days and we have enjoyed a few swims in the warm Mediterranean sea. We have also made the most of our snorkelling gear and have enjoyed a very peaceful time spotting the various fish around the rocks surrounding the beach. There is something very special and magical about swimming with the fish, oblivious to everything else, listening only to the sound of your breathing: it’s almost like being on another planet.

 

Strange sights at the fish market

Strange sights at the fish market

 

Carro is mainly a fishing village and this morning we bought some mussels directly from one of the port’s fish stalls by the aire. It was definitely the most popular stall in the market and we had to queue for a few minutes to get our kilo, which I cooked à la Marinière for lunch: fresh and delicious!

 

Preparing the mussels for lunch.  Can't get them fresher than that!

Preparing the mussels for lunch. Can’t get them fresher than that!

 

 

We feel really privileged here on this aire right by the sea: we’re a mere 50 metres from the water’s edge and just 5 minutes’ walk from the little beach in the cove, nicely sheltered and supervised during the day. It’s funny, though, how only around the corner from here, in the open sea, it’s really rough and a few people are enjoying windsurfing and body boarding in the strong current and waves.

 

The rough sea round the corner, perfect for windsurfing, etc

The rough sea round the corner, perfect for windsurfing, etc

 

This aire costs 10 a day, payable at the entrance by credit card: same system as in Bourget-du-Lac, and there is no electricity either, but plenty of water.

 

I just like this seagull hovering over the boats

I just like this seagull in the sun

 

Tomorrow we’re heading for a France Passion bull farm in the Camargue, which should be really different to everything we’ve seen so far.

 

Seagulls enjoying a meal

Carro and marina

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

Standard
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

 

Honfleur, Calvados Dept, Sunday 17th February 2013

Standard
Honfleur quaint harbour

Honfleur quaint harbour

 

We have spent a most wonderful day at this very attractive and popular sea-side town of Honfleur in northwest France.  We arrived here shortly after 1 pm following the A16 from Boulogne-sur-Mer to Abbeville, A18 to southwest of Neuchatel-en-Bray and A29, crossing the magnificent and impressive Pont de Normandie.  The Motorhome aire costs €10 a day and it includes electricity and water in the price.  It is within a few minutes walk of the harbour and it commands wonderful views of the Normandy Bridge and surrounding marsh land.

 

Crossing the Pont de Normandie

Crossing the Pont de Normandie

 

We’ve just been for a long walk around the town, its public gardens and quay in the very welcome sunshine and blue skies, which I was so much in need of.

 

Strolling through Honfleur

Strolling through Honfleur

 

The town was heaving with tourists and the café terrazas were full with customers enjoying a drink in the winter sunshine.  We’ve thoroughly enjoyed our gentle stroll around the resort, a favourite amongst painters and affluent Parisians.  It was from here that explorers set sail for the New World and from where the Normans transported their goods back to England.  Samuel de Champlain left here in 1608 on his way to found Quebec City and in 1681 Cavalier de la Salle set off to explore the New World and, finding the mouth of the Mississippi, called the region Louisiana in honour of Louis XIV.

Honfleur Harbour

Honfleur Harbour

 

We loved the harbour and old buildings, as well as the Public Gardens with the Jardin des Personaltiés, where various busts of famous personalities with a connexion to Honfleur are placed within boat-shaped hedges.  We finished our walk with a nice beer in the harbour, sat outside just after 5 pm in the sun and, even though it wasn’t exactly cheap (€8.40 for 2 ½ pints) we felt it was worth every cent.

Le Jardin des personalites

Le Jardin des personalites

 

I just loved this fishing boat with its nets drying in the sun

I just loved this fishing boat with its nets drying in the sun

 

A different view of Honfleur harbour

A different view of Honfleur harbour

 

 

The Motorhome aire at Honfleur with the Normandy Bridge in the background

The Motorhome aire at Honfleur with the Normandy Bridge in the background

 

We had another smashing day in Boulogne-sur-Mer yesterday after doing our usual shopping at Auchan (junction 31 off A16).  We stayed at the motorhome aire on the cliff-top as we did 3 years ago when we first started motorhoming in 2010.  The co-ordinates are Lat 50° 44’ 39” N  Long 1° 35’ 50” E.  It’s good I can quote co-ordinates now, as we bought our new Guide Officiel Aires de Services Camping Car 2013, which for the first time includes this very useful information, even though we already knew about this particular one.  The overnight stop cost €5.25, which we paid to the very friendly gendarme who came at around 9 am on Sunday.

 

The motorhome aire on the clifftop at Boulogne-sur-Mer after sunset

The motorhome aire on the clifftop at Boulogne-sur-Mer after sunset

 

Once again, we set off to explore the sea-front promenade and we were delighted to find a couple of seals playing and splashing about in the sea very close to the shore.  I took a few pictures, despite the fact that it was hard to capture the exact moment when they popped out of the water.  We continued our walk all the way past Nausicaá, http://www.nausicaa.co.uk/ the local aquarium, and round back again to capture the most spectacular sunset, which I was very proud to photograph for posterity.  It was very interesting to see all the freshly caught fish stalls by the harbour, so we must remember this for next time we come.  We had already done our shopping, so we didn’t need it this time.

 

Seal playing in the water

Seal playing in the water

 

Seal waving in the water

Seal waving in the water

 

sea-front houses and restaurants at Boulogne-sur-Mer

sea-front houses and restaurants at Boulogne-sur-Mer

 

Nausicaa, the local aquarium

Nausicaa, the local aquarium

 

I loved all the sea birds gathered on the quay

I loved all the sea birds gathered on the quay

 

A cormorant drying its wings in the setting sun

A cormorant drying its wings in the setting sun

 

Spectacular sunset at Boulogne-sur-Mer

Spectacular sunset at Boulogne-sur-Mer

 

This has to be my best picture ever! Priceless sunset at Boulogne-sur-Mer

This has to be my best picture ever! Priceless sunset at Boulogne-sur-Mer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are heading for the landing beaches tomorrow and might make it as far as Utah Beach if time permits.

 

 

 

Créon, Gironde, Friday 28th December 2012

Standard
Amboise 2012 022

Stunning sunrise at Leucate Plage

 

After spending 5 very pleasant and warm days on the Mediterranean coast, including Christmas celebrations with the family, we are now limping back northwest, taking things very easy indeed.

Christmas with the family

Christmas with the family

 

After Portiragnes, we went back to south of Narbonne on Wednesday 26th December and spent the day and night at the motorhome aire on Leucate Plage.  It was a very sunny and warm day and we really enjoyed our two long walks with Sasha on this east-facing beautiful beach.  The aire is divided into two areas, north and south, at Parking du Gallion, and there are loads of parking spaces.  There were only 6 vans when we arrived, but it was quite busy when we left in the morning, with all the spaces facing the sea taken up.  This aire is €7 a day in the summer months, but it’s free this time of year, as the facilities for clean water and electricity are closed.

 

Spectacular sunset

Spectacular sunset

We also enjoyed a spectacular sunset and sunrise and managed to take decent pictures of both.

 

Sunset at Leucate Plage

Sunset at Leucate Plage

 

On Thursday morning we went back on the A9 to Narbonne and west on the A61 past Toulouse and A62 north of this city to J9, where we got off onto the D813 to Moissac and west to St Nicolas de la Grave, where we parked right by the lake on the Country Park of Tan et Garonne.  This was another smashing wild parking/camping spot, but the weather changed and it rained quite heavily in the afternoon, so I didn’t really enjoy it as much as I could have done.  Adonis took Sasha out for her afternoon walk while I was still waking up from my siesta and they were gone for almost an hour, enjoying the herons and the egrets and a good run around.

 

Amboise 2012 023

The Pyrenees: a beautiful backdrop to the motorhome aire at Leucate Plage

 

This morning we stopped at the aire of Valence, just west of St Nicolas-de-la-Grave, still on the D813 to empty toilet cassette and top up with water, where for €4 you get 15 minutes of water, which is more than plenty to fill up.  We really liked this aire for future reference and the town itself was full of character and fascinating buildings.

 

Amboise 2012 001

Motorhome aire at Leucate Plage

 

 

Motorhome aire at Leucate Plage

Motorhome aire at Leucate Plage

 

We were hoping to stop for the day on the banks of the Garonne and we tried several aires listed in the book, but luck wasn’t on our side and we only found this aire at Créon, about 10 km north of the river, at 3 o’clock this afternoon.

 

Leucate Plage

Leucate Plage

He first place we tried was St Martin de Sescas on the D113, west of La Réole, which according to the official motorhome guide (Guide Officiel Aires de services Camping Car), should be open all year round, but when we got there the farmer told us it was closed for the winter.  So we carried on further west to Langon, where we found parking right on the river at a large car park, where a market was being held.  We were just finishing our lunch when a gendarme came and told us they were going to put the barrier down and we couldn’t stay there the night, so we moved on towards Cadillac, on the D10 northwest of Langon.  We didn’t really like the aire at Cadillac and, checking the map again, we chose to try Créon, even though it is not on the river.  This is far more pleasant and we have free electricity, even though there are signs on the borne saying it’s been switched off.  According to the guide it costs €3 a day.  The aire is on Boulevard Victor Hugo, Station de Vélo, and it has a lovely cycle and walking lane that goes on for miles, all the way to Bordeaux!

We are hoping to stay by the Charente tomorrow, but we shall see how we get on…

 

Sasha enjoying a sniff on the Mediterranean coast at Lecuate

Sasha enjoying a sniff on the Mediterranean coast at Leucate

 

Leucate Plage

Leucate Plage

 

 

Gruissan, Aude, Saturday 22nd December 2012

Standard

We’ve made it to the Mediterranean at last after a week on the road from Calais.  It is the first day of sun and blue skies since we left England and it’s also very warm (18°C inside the van at 5 pm!).  I am just loving the eastern light and the fact that we’re facing the sea, where the sun is going down gradually and bouncing off the terracotta and yellow painted buildings: a sight for sore eyes indeed.  We’re just north of the Pyrenees too, in the Languedoc Roussillon region, and we can also see the snow-capped mountain tops, just to make a perfect picture.

Gruissan 036

 

We’ve just been for a long walk around the marina and admired the luxury yachts as well as the holiday homes and tranquility of the place in the winter, but I can imagine that it must be mayhem in the height of summer.

 

Enjoying a walk around the Marina at Gruissan

Enjoying a walk around the Marina at Gruissan

 

Gruissan is just southeast of Narbonne, one of the principal Roman cities in France, and usually a very windy place, but today there isn’t a hint of it anywhere.  We’re off to Portiragnes tomorrow to spend the Christmas holidays with Adonis’s family, but we’re thinking about coming back here afterwards, as it is so idyllic.

 

The huge motorhome aire at Gruissan beach

The huge motorhome aire at Gruissan beach

 

Parked right by the sea with beautiful views of the Pyrennes

Parked right by the sea with beautiful views of the Pyrennes

 

 

Sign at motorhome aire

Sign at motorhome aire, free in the winter

 

 

Yesterday we spent the day in Grisolles, north of Toulouse (junction 68 off the A20 and then south on D820), where we found a motorhome aire not listed on the official guide (Le Guide Officiel Aires de Services Camping Car), just behind the community hall by the Garonne canal.  It had lots of spaces for motorhomes, a water tap and facilities to empty grey water and toilet, but no electricity, and it’s FREE!

 

Walking along the Garonne canal at Grisolles

Walking along the Garonne canal at Grisolles

 

We went back there after deciding that the aire at Grenade, just a few kilometres down the road from Grisolles, wasn’t really appropriate, being in a small car park by the cemetery, made worse by some road works going, with one side of the road being closed.  It didn’t really feel all that attractive or welcoming at all, so once again it paid off being flexible about our destinations.  So we made a u-turn and were very pleased with our decision.  There were only 4 motorhomes at the aire in Grisolles this morning, including ours, very different from where we are at the moment, which is also huge, but a lot busier: it must be something to do with the Mediterranean weather…

It was absolutely pouring down with rain all day yesterday and we got soaked walking Sasha along the canal, so we really appreciate the dry and warmer weather down here and will be sad to leave this region.

 

The Marina at Gruissan

The Marina at Gruissan

 

We used mainly motorways coming down from Uzerche and it’s good to know that the A20 is largely free until past Brive La Gaillarde at J.54 to Montauban, which was only a couple of euros.  The A61 from south of Toulouse to Narbonne was €20, but we didn’t mind paying for this, as all the motorhomes aires so far have been free, with exception of the €3 at La Suthe-sur-Sarthe, so we can afford to splash on better and faster roads.

 

The Marina

The Marina

 

The Marina

The Marina

 

Gruissan

Gruissan