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Showing posts from August, 2016

Easy Oleron

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We're on our third visit in two years to Ile D'Oleron, and our eight nights will be our longest stay.
We spent a fortnight in France only five weeks ago and Oleron were our first few nights. We had two other bases further south to split up the holiday and see new places.
But every so often it's nice to return somewhere you know you like and just chill out. Our campsite, Camping Indigo les Chenes Verts, is a two minute walk from the beach and literally the only tourist accommodation in its immediate locality. So there are miles of beach you can get to without effort, and it's quiet.
Oleron is France's second largest island after Corsica. It's around an eight-hour drive from Calais, and connected by bridge to the mainland. For an island holiday it doesn't get much more convenient.
We arrived during the last weekend in August. The queue of traffic crossing the bridge in the opposite direction was a clear sign French holiday season was coming to an end.
At 2pm…

Our favorite aire

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We're back in France for nine nights. We've got a pure beach holiday on Ile d'Oleron. We'll have eight nights there, but as usual our outward journey had to include an overnight stop.
I'm so happy we got so far west as to be able to stay the night at an aire de camping car we found while camping nearby in February last year. It's high up in the village of St Michel Mont Mercure, right next to a church with a golden statue on its tower, archangel St.Michel slaying a dragon with a 9 meter long sword.
The flat gravel site has the view of the church at one end while looking down over fields and the countryside on one side.
We arrived just as the sun was setting a little after 8.30pm. Three other motorhomes were there already, but they'd have been room for 20 more.
I was pleased to see some others, as beautiful as the views are, it can be a little worrying to be alone - safety in numbers, as they say.
Walking around the back of the church brings you to a basic…

Cwmdu 2016

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We couldn't let a summer go by without camping at Cwmdu.
Cwmdu (pronounced Cumdee) is a tiny village in the Black Mountains in south Wales. It's home to a cafe, the Farmers Arms pub, and a campsite I've been coming back to since staying there with my family when I was about 10 years old.
I like Cwmdu campsite for its simplicity and beautiful surroundings. It's just a few fields nestled in a valley of more fields, forests and fields. It's never ridiculously busy, the showers are basic but hot, and more recent developments have seen Wi-Fi become available all over the site.
There's no mobile signal on site so the Wi-Fi is welcome should you wish to stay in touch with the world. It keeps dropping out though so you'll not be having Skype calls or watching Netflix, but it's good enough that you can share a photo or two on Facebook of you getting back to nature.
We arrived at 2.30pm and were off on a walk by 3.30pm. They are dozens of walking routes around …

Our first municipal camp site

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There are around 2,800 cheap and cheerful municipal campsites throughout France, most in or on the edge of towns or villages. They're run by the local authority and promote tourism that benefits local businesses.
You won't generally find swimming pools, snack bars and kids clubs on a municipal site, just basic washing facilities and electrical hookups.
Municipal campsites are well discussed on internet forums and I'm used to seeing campers posting how great this one was and how cheap that one was. Tony suggested one not far from Rouen for our final night. We would spend Saturday doing the bulk of the driving from the south of France, have a leisurely evening sitting in the sun with good food and wine, then have just two and a half hours to drive to the Eurotunnel in the morning.
We stopped at a Super U supermarket five minutes from the motorway to buy our usual boxes of wine and beers to take home and we purchased a large fresh baguette with some pate and goats cheese fo…

France fortnight - food!

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Food is right up there in things that make a holiday memorable. Now we're camping instead of using room-only accommodation we're cooking our own meals rather than eating in restaurants. Taking an average meal for two, including wine, to be around 50 euros, we've saved 700 euros over two weeks. That will pay for tunnel crossings, fuel and site pitches for another holiday. And cooking is not a chore when you're sitting outside somewhere beautiful in the evening sun with a few beers. In our fortnight in France we've made some fabulous meals, all the more enjoyable for having prepared them ourselves on our single electric hob.
We have with us on this holiday three means of cooking, two of which we were unable to utilise because no fires were allowed in the forests in which we were camping. So all food was cooked on our electric hob. An extension lead allows us to use this at a table outside.
You can be as adventurous as you like in French supermarkets. For meat there …

Landes Sud

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The final five nights of our west coast of France fortnight were spent in Landes, the second most southerly department of this coast. Landes means moors or heaths and the Landes forest is the largest maritime-pine forest in Europe. The coast continues to be miles upon miles of beautifully sandy beach punctuated only very occasionally by access over the dune behind.
Our campsite base was Camping Indigo Landes Sud (Landes south). After the noise from the playground at our previous campsite this was a welcome relief. It's a smallish site spread over a wide area. Pine trees tower over the pitches and there's literally nothing else around but pine tree forests. It's a little bit in the middle of nowhere, which is perfect for us.
The location did entail a 16 kilometre bike ride to the beach however. It was mostly flat but there were occasional gradients that made it hard work.
We were allowed to pitch upon arrival at 12.30pm which was nice of the staff since 2pm is the official…

Toiletries

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During our five night stay at Camping Indigo Landes Sud I left my shower gel and conditioner in the shower. I noticed only the next time I went to shower and they weren't in my toiletries bag.
Ordinarily it wouldn't be a problem but the campsites we go to tend to be out of the way and supermarkets aren't always nearby. I was rather annoyed to say the least and so Tony set about periodically checking to see whether anyone left their shower gel or conditioner behind.

I've always found fellow campers to be honest as can be and I happily go to bed leaving our stove and chairs outside all night. But with left-behind toiletries I'm as happy to say 'finders keepers' as whomever now had mine!
So, like the Superdrug version of a magpie, Tony brought back two bottles of shower gel and one bottle of conditioner.
I was suspicious about the conditioner. It was Dutch and so were the labels. I don't understand a single word of Dutch, but I could recognise the marvelo…

Lac d'Hourtin-Carcans

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We packed up the campervan after four nights on the Île d'Oléron and set out two hours south to find our base for the next five nights.
On the journey south we needed to locate a supermarket to take on supplies for the five-night duration; there are often no large supermarkets close to camp and if there are they tend to be expensive, so it's better to find a large Lidl if possible and buy as much as we think we'll need. An electric coolbox in Cleopatra's boot keeps meat and cheese fresh for a few days and vegetables do quite well in or out of the coolbox.
As it was we visited the Lidl just after the bridge from Île d'Oléron; we decided it was easier to visit the one we knew about than hunt out one nearer our destination.
We bought wine and beer, snacks, a few vegetables, some mince and a pack a large sausages. Our traveling larder would allow us to make meals from a little supplementary shopping; in fact we could have lasted just on the larder contents for a week…