Thursday, 31 December 2009

Cheverney to Ile de Ré


So, on the sixth morning, we departed Camping Les Saules and headed west for Ile de Ré in extreme wind and heavy rain. A journey of approx 200 miles

As we crossed the beautiful bridge over the Atlantic from La Rochelle we could see golden sand on both sides of the island and a welcome brightening of the sky.

Travelling down through France, the peages which had previously accepted our pre-loaded Travelex Cash Passport (a pre-paid MasterCard) stopped accepting it. Thank goodness, therefore that we’d had the foresight to also carry a Visa card, which was accepted. So it is a good idea to have a least 2 different credit cards with you just in case.

We had nothing booked on the Ile de Re. Mr Snail had picked the campsite - La Grainetiere, Route de Saint-Martin, F- 17630, La Flotte from our ASCI book (see earlier blog for details) as our first base. This made our pitch cheaper, so the saving we made using this card over the full pitch price covered our joining the scheme. It was chosen because it was near the town of La Flotte and had lots of level cycle paths nearby.

Another delightful lady manned Reception and her English was considerably better than my French. We wanted flexibility – maybe 4 or 5 nights. “No problem, just come and pay the day before you want to leave”. Most campsite receptions, like most of France, are shut for lunch between midday and 15:00 hrs. Arriving before noon was not a problem (unlike many campsites in the UK).

The site’s warm swimming pool was used by the Snails every day. The site had a café, bar, wi-fi in reception at a reasonable charge, and freshly baked bread and croissants.

The unisex toilet/shower facilities were extremely clean and warm because there was a door! Hurray. There were the usual sinks for pot and food prep and interestingly one specifically for washing fish and seafood. How unusual. However, the Ile de R é has an abundance of fresh seafood so this facility was well used, with queues on occasions!

The site had huge trees to provide shade, for which we were very glad; the pitches were not very clearly marked. But once a lady who was to become our neighbour showed us the little concrete domes in the ground we could see where we had to be.

NB: Bridge toll was 9 Euros for a motorhome, increasing to 16 Euros in June 09 for the summer season.

Image above: La Grainetiere Campsite, Ile de Ré

Copyright 2009


Tuesday, 15 December 2009

The Snails in France - Epernay to Chevernay


Epernay to Chevenay: 192 miles

On arrival at Camping Les Saules, Route de Contres, Cheverney, we were greeted by a delightful young lady who spoke excellent English. We were booked onto the Camping and Caravan Club International Rally. We were pointed in the direction of the Stewards, Pat and Muttley (yes – really!) They made us feel very welcome and Muttley helped us choose a pleasant pitch on the edge of the camping area with an open field to one side and a lake behind. We were here for five nights, so plenty of time to relax.

The site had a swimming pool, games room with free wi-fi, a bar and snack area. Bread requirements could be ordered on a sheet left in the games room daily and bread was collected at reception the next morning. The toilet facilities were cleaned at least 3 times a day. The only problem was that the building wasn’t warm as there was no external door on the block. So showering was a tad chilly.

Despite being on a rally, we had full access to all the site facilities including electric hook up. The only problem was that the electric hook up wasn’t much cop as the fridge spent most of its time on gas. Mr Snail worried whether our gas would last - Calor Propane is not available in France. This made him uncharacteristically stingy with the temperature I was allowed to set the motorhome’s heating at and I had to put another layer on.

The site was great for easy cycling to nearby chateaux, using maps provided by reception. After a couple of lovely days, heavy rain arrived. To prevent cabin fever, we took the motorhome to Blois and parking was no problem. Following directions in the Vicarious Book, we arrived at the Blois Aire at the edge of the river and parked there. It was perfectly safe.

Next day, more rain. We drove to the chateau at Chambord and followed the motorhome/coach parking signs into a huge car park. To park a 3m high van in France is no problem. This was our last night, tomorrow we were heading for Ile de Re, on the Atlantic west coast ……………………….

Above image: Camping Les Saules.

Copyright 2009

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