France 2011 with Polly and Izzy.

Friday, 9 September 2011

France 2011 with Polly Sim Mutch and Izzy

Fri Sept 9th

Left home at 7.15pm for an evening run down to Canterbury and with a 30 minute stop on the way down arrived at 12.30. Had a look at the bus park at the rear of Sainsburys but at £10 for 12 hours (and no sleeping signs) decide to go to Dover rd park and ride.As there were a couple of vans parked outside on the bus turn round i opted for there rather than try to get in the aire this late.

Sat Sept 10th

As the buses start early i was away into Canterbury at 6.30 and to Sainsbury’s to change some cash and Morrison’s for a bit of shopping and to meet Polly who had come down via Milton Keynes. We had shopping  etc done for lunch so headed to Dover Rd where we would be spending the night. After parking up we got the bus into town for a pleasant afternoon then back for tea and get ready for the trip down to Dover on the Sunday morning.

Sun Sept 11th

Up for 9 am and filled with water and toilet emptied we are ready for the trip down to catch the 12.15 ferry but the ticket machine would not work so it was a phone call to release the barrier and a free night .  As Polly was on the Dover – Calais and i was on the Dover Dunkirk we had arrange to meet at the aire at Gravelines.

It was a good crossing and i arrived at Gravelines which is fairly busy at 4pm ish Polly is parked up so we have a stroll round the town ,then back for tea and then another walk with Izzy after tea .
gravelines aire

 Gravelines is an ideal stop for your first port of call as you enbark in France . Its half an hour ish from the 2 port crossings of Calais and Dunkirk and the tunnel . Here you will find a Lidl just across the road and an Intermarche within half a mile (for fuel), there is also another aire close by at grande Fort Phillipe. The town itself has a few bars and shops and a couple of cake shops or boulangeries if you only want bread. But when in France you have to check out the cakes . Note that there is a big price difference between the 2 cake shops as i opted for the expensive one and then saw the same cakes cheaper at the second shop 🙂 .  The aire in 2011 was free but now they have put a machine on and i think it is now 8 euro. The water and dump is about a mile away next to the police station but is signposted so not very hard to find .

This was Polly’s first trip in the van to France and as she will not do much more than 100k in a day we are planning to go down the Normandy coast as far as maybe Arromanches as i have done this a few times and i am hoping to visit places i had just bypassed previously.

Monday 12th Sept

Up and ready to go for 9.45 as the buses start early and run past the front of the aire . Our first stop is the aire at Le Crotey. We hit the A16 and get stuck in roadworks traffic which i must admit is a first for me .We arrive at Le Crotey at 12.30 and have lunch here but it doesn’t seem like a very nice place to stop so we decide we will head off to Saint- Valery- Sur- Somme which is only just down the road.
The aire here is barriered all hard standing and 8euro a night and its only a 15 minute walk into the medieval town .

Its a very quaint village with narrow streets a nice prom to walk down and the odd medieval building so very photogenic. So we both had a wonderful time with the camera’s . Just a note between us we took about a 1000 pics on this trip so i will try to get a good mix of mine and Polly’s.

Spent most of the afternoon wandering round the town before heading back to the aire for tea and drinks.

aire at Saint -Valery-sur -Somme
Tues 13th Sept
Next stop is just down the road at Le Treport where we will have lunch and a stroll round the town,

We decide not to stop here and head off for Saint -Valery -en- Caux about 60k away and the aire there which is right on the alabaster cliff s overlooking the sea, we were on the second row of vans and it was very busy. Izzy found a few new friends on the grassed picnic area and again we had a look round the port and town before coming back for tea and wine. The aire itself was 5 euro a night .                                                        Saint-Valery-en-Caux aire

Wed 14th Sept
Next stop is again only 60k away at Fe’camp, here the motor home parking was right on the harbour with additional parking and services just across the road with a jeton available at the tourist office. There’s quite a lot to see here and we visited a couple of churches and the Benedictine Liquer factory. Had a bit of a do with a German and his wife who seemed to think it was ok to use my water that i had just got a jeton for when i went to top my tank up. Overall it was one of best we have stayed up to now and even manage a steak barbecue night .
Fe’camp aire

Thurs 15th Sept

We left around 10am and headed for the chocolate factory just on the edge of town but after a bit of a walk round decided it was very overpriced chocolate so we headed off to Honfluer with a stop at the Normandy toll bridge to take a few pics.

The aire at Honfluer was very busy as usual but at 9euro with electric its not too bad as its just a stroll from here into the harbour. It was very warm and we decide we will stay here for a couple of days. Had a few trips into the harbour area for drinks while we were here also a stroll round the parks .Had a hangover on the fri due to to many beers mixed with wine and also got bit for the first time with midges (my fault as i was sat in a harbour bar with shorts on) also a bit of sun stroke so not a very pleasant couple of days.

Honfluer aire

Sat 17th Sept
Todays destination is Arromanches with a stop at the canadian cemetry of beny-sur-mer where my eldest sister’s father was buried and also Juno beach .

We were lucky at Arromanches because as we drove into the aire in the town there were 2 vans coming out so we were able to get decent spots.There is a campsite at the back of the aire and the car park in front is used as an overflow and there is also an aire just out of town on the cliffs overlooking the beach .(i have stopped on the clifftop in the past and had to move as i thought the high winds would tip the van). Arromanches is a great place to stop if you want to get an insight of the WW2 battles as it was the site of the main British onslaught and has a museum, and 360 degree cinema (on the clifftop but with a small train running from the town). It also has the remnants of the mulberry harbours on the beach and some nice bars shops and café’s.

Arromanches aire
Sun 18th Sept
Weather has not been to good last day or so we have had a bit of rain but cant complain really. A local cider farmer arrived on the aire early so i bought a few bottles to top up the supply then it was off in the direction of Deauville /Trouville. I had stopped here the previous year and it was glorious sunshine and spent a few days on the beach but this was another experience as it was torrential rain,  we did manage a quick look round Trouville and to get to a local bar despite getting drenched but a tour of the area was declined .

Deauville aire
Monday 19th Sept
The rain had ceased so we had a tour of the very expensive shops in Douville and then down to the beach where we found the Casino with the most expensive drink prices i have ever seen.

From here we set off for Rouen but not the centre as there is a small free aire at Oissel just on the outskirts so we head to that with the intention of sightseeing Rouen on the tuesday. Oissel has dedicated parking for 4 sub 6metre vans and if your over that you will get stick from the neighbourhood watch .There are more parking places and at quiet times i would think it would be ok to use these. The aire is right on the river so plenty to see ,a country park estate just down the road and a large supermarket not far away.

Oissel aire

Tues Sept 20th

Left Oissel for the 45 minute run down to Rouen and parked on the quayside opposite the centre and then had a good 3 hour trip around the centre taking in the tourist sites and even a trip to Mcdonalds.

From Rouen we are heading back up the coast as Polly will need to get Izzy to the vet before we go back. So we head off to Port -Mahon -Plage which is a nice seaside town with sandy beach. The aire is amongst the sandunes just off the main street so its sheltered from the elements and in 2010 it was 8 euro a night. We arrive about 3pm and have a walk down to the beach before coming back for a barbeque  for tea. One thing we did find was that when we went to a bar at 9pm for a last drink all the bars were shut ,maybe due to the fact it was the end of september.
Fort-Mahon- Plage aire

Wed 21st Sept

From here we headed up to calais to spend the day parking facing the marina, and as i had never been round the town we ended up going for a drink in the centre and from here Polly could take Izzy for her injections the following morning.

Thurs 22nd Sept

We both drove down to the vets which was about 20 mile from Calais but as she had to go back a couple of hours later i left here there and headed up to Gravelines where we would spend our last night before getting our individual ferrys back home on the Friday.

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