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Périgueux Camping le Bois du Coderc

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For the second time this year we let the weather determine our holiday destination for our October getaway. While Bavaria had been our initial plan, nearer to departure the long-range forecast had us rethink and focus on southern France.
It was also the second time this year we mixed up our Eurotunnel booking. Two weeks prior to our holiday I went to check the time of our crossing, discovering in horror that we were departing from Calais instead of Folkestone. Again! You'd have thought the last time it happened we'd have checked the remaining bookings. 
Fortunately Tony was able to get it sorted out the next morning, getting or incorrect booking cancelled and, by some miracle, organising two reasonably timed crossings out and back in.
We arrived at the Folkestone terminal 29 minutes before our crossing and were allocated a slot on the booked train. We drove straight to passport control and from there immediately onto the train - the quickest turnaround we've ever experien…

French Island Hopping vlog part five

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French Island Hopping vlog part four

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French Island Hopping vlog part three

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French Island Hopping vlog part two

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French Island Hopping vlog part one

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Noirmoutier

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I spotted the white turrets of Noirmoutier castle almost as soon as we crossed the bridge to Noirmoutier island. Pointing it out to Tony I said it was something we should visit one day during our stay. We'd quickly discover that the island is so small and flat that the castle can be seen from almost everywhere. Oh, and our campsite, Huttopia, was less than a ten-minute cycle ride from the castle which is in the centre of Noirmoutier town.
Huttopia Noirmoutier, we were pleased to find, is a lovely site along the sandy beach. The site is long and narrow, so you're not far from the sea on any of the pitches dotted around beneath the pine trees. The sea front pitches cost extra and none were available when we booked about two months in advance.
Arriving to stay for the last six nights in August, we paid one night at peak-season rates and five at off peak. The site was less than half full.
With most of the afternoon still at our disposal we decided to visit the main town, hopeful o…

Île d'Oléron in peak season

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What a difference a day makes! This was our fourth stay at Huttopia Chenes Verts and we'd never seen it so busy but, on our last Saturday, there was a mass departure leaving the site only about a third full.
I think we've always stayed during the last week of UK school holidays whereas we checked in during the second to last on this occasion. It just goes to demonstrate the shortness of the French camping season and why many sites only open for a couple of months.
We return to Île d'Oléron year after year after falling in love with its laid-back atmosphere, its miles of sandy beach and network of cycleways. This year it was the only familiar island of the four we would visit over or six-week island hopping adventure. Being back felt like being enveloped in a favourite jumper and we quickly relaxed into our usual routine.
We cycled ten minutes to Plage Les Allassins once we'd pitched on the first afternoon and then cycled right across the island to the beach near Sauze…

Huttopia Île de Ré Cote Sauvage

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Once we'd altered our initial mindset that our week on Île de Ré was going to be a beach holiday we started to enjoy it more. With the beaches either overcrowded or quiet but rocky we decided to cycle and sightsee instead, with a couple of hours of beach in the afternoon.
We cycled to all the major towns, Loix and its peninsula a particular highlight. We never did find a beach that was quiet and swimmable.
Our campsite is one of two Huttopia sites on Île de Ré and we choose this one for its proximity to the beach. In hindsight I think the other would have been preferable, inland but with a pool. The beach is inaccessible from the campsite and you have to leave the site and walk around to it. Only a handful of pitches have a view of the sea with the rest a boring line of privacy-hedge separated rectangles.
The facilities were more than adequate, exactly as you'd expect from a Huttopia site. Our nearest block was small but saved walking to the bigger central block. Little nigg…

Learning to like Île de Ré

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As I mentioned in the previous blog post, Île de Ré hasn't immediately endeared itself to us. There are just too many cyclists, the beaches are too crowded and we've also found large sections of the sandy beaches where it's impossible to swim because of vast expanses of rock at the water's edge. On the small sections where there's no rock, sunbathers are packed in like sardines. We were hoping to love Île de Ré as much as we like the neighbouring island of Oleron, but we don't.
We always make the best of where we travel to though and so on day two we went back to a beach that showed promise, in Couarde. We were first to lock up our bikes as we'd determined to beat the chaotic bicycle traffic on the cycleways by leaving the campsite early. Settling ourselves well away from the beach's entry point, so we'd not become sardines later in the day, we did the usual beach-day stuff - not really much, apart from reading our books.
As the tide went out it re…