I’m in danger of forgetting all the stops we’ve made over the course of our journey so far so I thought I’d make a quick list here in the hope that some of this information may help some hapless motorhomer who, like us, set off with no real idea of what they’re doing or where they’re going. To those of you not intending to go off motorhoming around Europe in January the following may be of limited interest.
First stop – Dover.
Motorhomes are allowed to park along the front. This road is known, I believe, as Marine Esplanade. It goes without saying there are no facilities, it is just a road. Free.
Second stop – Disneyland Paris
This is just an enormous car park that you pay 20 euros a night to stay in, although after our first night no one came to ask us for more money. I think they pitied us. There are absolutely no (official) facilities in winter but if you’re sneaky you might get away with having a shower in the coach drivers’ block. In summer, there is water available and a waste water dump.
Third stop – Les Montils
Very quiet and rural spot. Some may say eerily quiet in winter. Pitches are next to a river where allegedly beavers can sometimes be spotted. You pay at a machine to get in, I think it was around 8 euros. There was a waste water dump, loo dump and fresh water. We hadn’t realised how rare and precious a thing fresh water was at this point. I imagine that in spring and summer Les Montils is a peach of a spot. There is a small supermarket in the town nearby but little else.
Fourth stop – Valencay
Neat car park type thing in the middle of a sweet little town. Although it had a loo dump and waste water dump the water was turned off for the winter. This proved to be a widespread thing. There was a generator nearby that was slightly irritating but on the whole it wasn’t too noisy. The town had a couple of little grocery stores and the usual boulangerie and patisserie. It also had a chateau, but this was shut. Free.
Fifth stop – Pageas
This would have been a really nice little aire if it hadn’t been winter as there was a restaurant, picnic tables and a pretty little stream right next to the site. However, as it was winter it was all a bit bleak. No water, of course, a frozen pond and a little village that was shut. It’s also next to a fairly busy road, which wasn’t a problem until about 6.30am when all the trucks started trundling by. Free.
Sixth stop – Ferme de le Brauge
A proper campsite! Our first since leaving home and a delight. It was a bit hairy to get to, mostly because we weren’t sure exactly where it was and we ended up driving down what seemed an impossibly narrow track into the woods just as night was falling. I had visions of me trying to reverse Colin back down a couple of miles of winding lane in the pitch black, which brought on a minor panic attack. All was well in the end though when we found the site and were able to actually wash in hot showers and fill our water tank up. The campsite owners were lovely and only seemed a little surprised to see us. As morning dawned it revealed a view, a load of cows and chickens and even some rudimentary play equipment. Needless to say, the boys couldn’t believe their luck. Up to now they’d had to make do with icy puddles and scraping the frost off the inside of the windows for entertainment, now they were really living it up. This site cost 17 euros but was worth every cent. It’s worth mentioning here that we were originally going to park at the aire at Les Eyzies but again there was no running water and we were a bit fed up with washing with wet wipes. It was a nice enough spot though, next to the river and would have been great when they turn the water on in late spring. The aire would have been free.
Seventh stop – Temple Sur Lot
A pleasant aire in a pleasant little town. Again, pretty close to a main road but with a grassy play area just next to the parking spaces. There were also some toilets that were open at this one, which were well maintained but again, no water for the tank. Free
Eight stop (I think!) – Soorts Hossegor
This was a lovely aire in a pretty nice spot. You paid a small fee to a machine to get in – 6 euros maybe? – and then there was running water (hurray!), toilets and picnic tables. All really clean and tidy with lovely trees all around. The boys had an ace time collecting loads and loads of giant pine cones. We were tempted to stay another night here but thought we should move on. That turned out to be a bit of a mistake…
Ninth stop – St Jean de Luz
I don’t think we saw this place at its best as it was blowing a gale, a real one with winds of up to 70km gusts and lashings of rain when we got there. Even so, I’m not sure it would be a favourite place to stop, sandwiched as it is between a railway line and a very busy and very noisy main road. The aire is free but again there was no running water. St Jean de Luz is a resort town and supposedly very nice in season. We didn’t wait to find out as we wanted to get out of there as fast as we could!
Tenth stop – Vitoria Gasteiz (Spain)
Um…not sure what to say about this one without sounding rude. It’s a big car park on the outskirts of town. It was raining when we arrived and raining when we left. As far as I can tell it rains a whole lot, hence why it is known as the Green capital of the North. Maybe. Rob wandered around on the night before his birthday for hours looking for a suitable grocery shop. None was to be found. Both boys seemed a little depressed by the prospect of sleeping there so we whacked on some Katy Perry, followed by the Frozen soundtrack and that seemed to do the trick. It was a little harder to create a cheery atmosphere when poor Rob woke up in this car park on his 40th birthday with water falling all around us. Needless to say we scarpered pretty quickly. Free
Tenth stop – Salamanca
Our book told us that there was a big car park that doubled as an aire here, but it was incorrect which would have been a problem if we hadn’t noticed a motorhome parked just over the road from said car park. It seems that motorhome parking is tolerated just next to the river by the bridge. This was free but I’m still not sure if it’s ‘official’. It’s perfectly placed though for a small walk into what is arguably one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. There should be a post on that coming up…
There are more to come but this already quite a long post – more soon!