Inspired by Cool Camping France, I have started to put together just a few sites in France that I believe are very special places that have been overlooked by the cool camping guys.
OK I admit this isn’t a camp site but I will list a couple on this route that are worth checking into. The N85 is the route Napoleon took in 1815 with his troops after he landed on the Med coast following exile in Elba. I’m not too hot on the history but I believe he wasn’t very happy with King Louis XV111 who had not been paying him his pension money so he went to Paris to sort it all out, presumably with some violence and general bad feeling involved. He remained Emporer for another 100 days before being defeated by a European Army including the Duke of Wellington in the Battle of Waterloo. apparently, whilst he had been pensioned off in Elba, the rest of Europe began to pick up the pieces after years of war with the French. They were mighty annoyed when Napoleon invaded Belgium again and Europe united to defeat a little man who was a big pain in the butt. It strikes me that throughout history Britain has been part of Europe and that the EU is nothing new, perhaps the second world war has left a legacy of mistrust? Whatever the reasons, I’m proud to be European especially when it boasts such fabulous and spectacular scenery as can be found on the Route Napoleon.
The N85 originated because the existing route to Grenoble was extremely mountainous so Napoleon chose a lower level but no less dramatic route to Grenoble skirting the lower slopes of Parc National Des Ecrins picking its way between summits and using the river and lake valleys where possible. It took Napoleon and his men a week to get to Grenoble, nowadays the whole 325km section of the N85 from Grenoble to the Med can be driven in around 8 hours. I’ve never managed to drive the whole lot in one go yet, it is to beautiful and dramatic in places to hurry through so here’s 2 sites we’ve stayed at along the way:
http://campmouettes.free.fr/menuanglais.html Camping Mouettes
We visited this site in our old Kon-Tiki motor home about 10 years ago. We had just made it up the very long hill from Grenoble, after several stops (along with countless others) due to over heating; the air temperature had registered 39c in Grenoble so the engine fans had been rendered ineffective as we trudged up the hill. Soon after we reached the lakes; 1st Le Grand Lac De Laffrey and then the Lac De Petichet upon whose banks Camping Mouettes is situated. This campsite was in its infancy when we camped there and we were struck by the friendliness and attention to detail the owners invested in this site. Almost all pitches have a wonderful view of the lake and the undulating valleys and mountains beyond. I felt a million miles from anywhere with no road noise and the sun setting on what had been a very hot and balmy day. Even today the prices are reasonable 14.50 euros for pitch and 2 people, 4.50 supplement per extra person. There is a lake beach and swimming but even in August this was not busy and far from the commercial sites in other popular alpine areas. I hope the same owners are still there, from looking at their website and their new toilet block I would hazard a guess they still are. For the scenery, location, lake swimming, relaxed atmosphere, friendly owners, price and cleanliness, this site has to be featured in my Coolest Camping List.
http://www.camping-lacdusautet.fr Camping Lac Du Sautet
Southward on the Route Napoleon you will come to Corps, look to your right and you will see a vivid blue, sparkling lake. That’s what we saw as I followed my brothers with their respective families and caravans, (I had no intention of losing said brothers as I was travelling sans hubby, just me and my boys) the temptation was too great and even though it was only mid day and we hadn’t scheduled a stopover for another few hours, myself and brother the younger headed down the steep lane to the lake – Lac Du Sautet. Brother the elder, wife and 4 children were eager to get down to the Med so continued ahead without us. At the lakeshore we found the campsite and what a find, possibly my all time favourite and a definite stopover if we decide to travel that way again.
For a very reasonable cost you get a pitch with a lake and mountain view, once pitched you can stroll to the terrace bar and whilst the children paddle in the small pool you can sit back, relax with a glass of extremely nice house Rose and enjoy the spectacular view. If all the lazing around gets too much there is lake swimming and a beach along with kayaks and boats to hire. We enjoyed a couple of hours paddling around the lake, although my sister-in-law was terrified of the deep water she has positive memories of paddling around with her nephew (my son). In the evening we took brothers fishing kit, some sketch books and marshmallows down to a pebbly bit of beach and as the sun set, brother fished and the children sketched, I lit a camp fire and we all sat toasting marshmallows in one of the most gorgeous parts of the world. To this day it remains one of my happiest camping memories. The campsite and lake are like Annecy without the crowds and I would not hesitate in recommending it to anyone and at 15 euro for a tent/caravan plus 2 people and a 3 euro (2 euro for children) supplement per person it is an absolute must!