Published: August 22nd 2010August 22nd 2010
Arques Aire de service
Our first stop not on a campsite
Nieuwpoort was the last of the pre-booked sites so we were now free to go wherever we want and to start taking advantage of the French Aire-de-Services, if you don't know what an Aire-de-Service is well most towns and even villages in France welcome motorhome travellers by allowing them to stay overnight in designated parking area for 24 or 48 hours, sometimes with no facilities but sometimes with water, electric and waste disposal, they are also very reasonably priced.
The first ADS we stopped at was at Arques just over the border and as the title of this blog suggests we got there by some pretty dodgy back roads, my satnav uses the fastest route possible quite literally and sometimes we have thought that this road doesn't look right for a 3.5t motorhome, anyway we trusted Kate (the satnav voice) and got there easily, it was a nice spot by a lake and apart from the million or so midges a decent parking area so we stayed overnight for 2 euros!
Over the next few days we hit the french coast and even looked across to Dover from Cap Gris-Nez, we didn't want to go back
The Funicular through the cliffs
and stayed at the following places all in Aire-de-services:
15th Aug - Le Touquet Paris Plage - very nice upmarket resort, excellent beach but it was raining whilst we were there so we didn't see it at it's best
16th Aug - Le Treport - a cross between Whitby and Dover, nice harbour and white cliffs, they had a funicular that went up through the cliff to the impressive viewing point at the top.
17th Aug - Saint Valery en Caux - A great Aire, very busy as it was right on the beach, we spent the time on the beach throwing stones and flying the kite as it was sunny with quite strong winds.
18th Aug - We where heading for another Aire but on getting to Etretat we found the municipal campsite so decided to book in there for a few days. Etretat is famous for its rock formations and the fact that Monet used to paint them quite often, we stayed there for 3 nights in the end and as the weather was 28 to 30 degrees we went on the beach (I say beach I mean pebbles the size of golf balls that
The view from the top of the cliffs
no-one can walk on, they killed your feet) watching people trying to get in and out of the water was great, you couldn't walk and the waves were very strong and plenty of people just gave up. The site was nice and we had a great spot, we played plenty of table tennis and table football and chatted to the neighbours, Harry had all the French girls following him around the play area and one gave him her address and number.
21st Aug - Heading further west around the Normandy coast our next stop was Deauville, this meant crossing the Seine at it's mouth over the Pont de Normandie a very impressive bridge, it was also our first use of toll roads as we had hugged the coast all of the way so far on 'A' roads. Harry threw the 1 euro 20 cents into the toll bucket and we headed onto the toll road and over the bridge (5 more euros) and over the Seine and onto Deauville, the site here is expensive but the pool with slides and lazy river etc is something to keep the kids happy, plus there's a good bar and plenty of other
St Valery en Caux
The beach side Aire de Service
sports stuff for the kids to do.
So far France has been great, we've passed through the Nord/Pays de Calais, Picardy and are now in Normandy, the places we've stopped have been nice, the weather had been pacthy up until last Wednesday but it is now more like summer, the fuel is a lot cheaper than home (90 odd pence per litre) there are supermarkets everywhere and we haven't really got lost.
The only down things are that the mozzys are out in force, ask Daniel, I think I've broken a toe (i'm not off to the hospital, it'll fix itself) and internet is hard to come by. We've called home a few times and found out that not much changes apart from my Mum and Dad have bought a laptop and are now on email (well they will be when our Alison teaches them, god help her, they're not the best at technology, my mums still trying to fit VHS tapes into the Betamax machine!!!), we also heard City are as crap as ever, I've not seen or heard a premiership game or score which I'm not missing, but as I'm reading Jellymans thrown a wobbly I wouldn't
St Valery en Caux
Dan displaying his kite skills
mind a Saturday afternoon watching Jeff and the boys on soccer Saturday.
Future plans are onto Bayeux on Wednesday and a look at the tapestry, then Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword beaches for a look at the D-day landing sights and operation Overlord museum, then onto Mont St Michel by 30th Aug and then heading back east to Paris and Disneyland.
Take care all and Au revoir for now.
Neil Daniel and Harry
There are more photos below