Périgueux Camping le Bois du Coderc
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 our 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 experienced.
It was 8.30pm local time when we drove off the Eurotunnel in France. We resolved to make a decision on how far to continue based on how tired we felt a little later. We have favourite aires near Reims or Dijon. If we'd continued as far south as Dijon it would shorten the drive on Saturday, but we decided Reims was quite far enough and to sleep but get up early.
The aire in the village of St Imoges was busy but there was still space for Cleopatra to park alongside another campervan and about 10 motorhomes.
Early on during the drive the next morning we altered our plans again and, rather than continue south after Reims we set a course south west based on the latest 10-day weather forecast which indicated the west coast would continue having warm, sunny days longer into the week. I suggested a campsite I'd only briefly looked at earlier in the week and Tony seemed happy to go with the flow.
Camping le Bois du Coderc listed a dozen or so walks on its website and this was encouragement enough to make it our destination without any of the usual research, checking Trip Advisor reviews excepted.
We arrived fifteen minutes after the campsite reception closed for lunch but nevertheless a man in a golf cart pulled up, opened up the reception and checked us in. Tony went back to Cleopatra for the passports during which time I'd asked to stay eight nights, longer than Tony had anticipated. I assured him there was plenty to do to keep us in days out, and so we paid and went to select a pitch. It's a small campsite with pitches split between a wooded area and field. We selected a pitch in the field with maximum sun potential - that was, after all, the reason for switching plans to have our holiday here.
In about half an hour we were set up for our stay and set off on our bikes to find a supermarket. Hyper U was half way between the campsite and the town of Périgueux. Unfortunately it means cycling along the main road. There's then cycle paths all the rest of the way into the town but the N21 is the only direct route for the first portion of the route.
We cycled to Périgueux twice during our stay. The cycle way section is pretty, running alongside the river L'Isle, and the town itself is striking. The first glimpse, of its cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, greets you from across the river. The surrounding streets are full of medieval character and you don't have to explore far to find some of the town's many Roman remains. Don't do as we did and visit on a Monday which seemed to be a closing day for many of the shops. We went back on the Wednesday to find the stores open and a large street market.
The campsite's website was correct in its listing of many local walks. Probably the most enjoyable was the castle loop, taking in views of three castles, two now private residences and one a hospital. During this walk the path meanders right through Huttopia Lanmary. Huttopia is our go-to camping chain in France but, infuriatingly, so many of its sites are closed for our February, Easter and October holidays. Walking through it in a sunny autumn week where temperatures were in the mid twenties it seemed bonkers this campsite was closed.
The Chapel Saint-Michel d'Auberoche was the destination of our second walk. The first portion of the walk ascends the tree-covered hills across the river behind the campsite. Once at the top, looking down on the countryside below you feel on top of the world. I was surprised to find so many little communities up there and we dreamed of living on a small parcel of land on one of the hills up there. The chapel was closed but it was worth the walk to see it perched perilously close to the edge of a rocky cliff.
Our third and final walk, the Path of Resistance, featured thirteen sculptures, on stone and wood, marking the French resistance against German occupation.
We cycled on our other days, particularly enjoying a ride further along the river after Périgueux to have a picnic between river and lake by the golf course. We bought a baguette, camembert cheese, a bottle of rosé wine and some plastic flutes from Netto and sat in the sun until 3pm.
The weather held out until Friday. We had six gloriously sunny days without a cloud in the sky. We recovered from our daytime walks or cycle rides by sitting in the evening sun in the field at the back of the campsite by the river and field of cows. Occasionally we shared the field with two or three other campers. We all moved around as the sun shifted, low in the sky, between the trees, into small pockets of sunny grass.
Although we'd have booked Huttopia Lanmary had it been open, we'd have no regrets recommending camping Le Bois du Coderc. The welcome was friendly, the site small and intimate and the facilities warm and clean. It's a lovely part of France to explore whether you're hiking or biking.