Lac D’Orient – France 2012 Part 2

aerial lacdorientWe arrived on the sparkling shores of Lac D’Orient refreshed and ready to kick back and chill out.  I had been to site we were heading for before, in my other life, with my ex-husband and 2 small boys in a motorhome.  As we approached I remembered how we’d rented a pedalo with a slide and the fun we’d all had sliding off the back and also the pesky mosquitos’.   It took me back and it always breaks my heart to think of 2 boys that had Mum and Dad together then, through no fault of their own, their world turned upside down.  They are beautiful young men now and suprisingly grounded, their Dad and I have always been amiable but it still makes me sad – as lovely as they are now I miss the days when they were small and I could hold their little hands and a plaster and a cuddle solved most things.  Back to reality, no children little or otherwise and some time to ourselves in the sunshine, life’s not all bad.

I reviewed the campsite, L’Epines Aux Moins,  in Kylas Coolest Camping Part 2 post on this blog, hopefully you will find it here: https://kyla40.wordpress.com/2011/07/page/2/.  The site is on the shores of the Petit Lac and less commercialized than the sites maplacdorientacross the water.  There is now a small shop and snack bar on site and free wi-fi on the terrace.  The pitch sizes are good and we decided to pitch the Outwell instead of just the small 2 man.  For two of us this was luxury once pitched with a bedroom and living area and the option to stand fully upright and pull on your knickers without the 2 man tent tussle. It also meant we could sit inside with just the fly nets up in the evening thus avoiding the mozzies.  To be honest they weren’t as bad as I had remembered probably because although the day had been hot the evening cooled down a lot.  Even so there were a few about and by the end of the 2 nights  we could amuse ourselves comparing bites of varying sizes. Worth it though, the area and lake were as lovely as I remember them and we had the chance to relax and explore a little.

To be honest we did very little exploring for 2 days, choosing to laze about in the sunshine interspersed with the occasional dip in the lake.  On one day we circumnavigated the entire lake, this is excellent cycling country but as we had no bikes (oh what a shame) we took Fugly car instead.  For those who like water-sports there is a marina and water-sports centre near the larger campsites.  We opted for the less active option of a meal and glass of wine in a small bar in one of the towns, Geroudet I believe,  dotted around the lake.  We went to bed early and got up late with nothing to do and no demands – after 2 days we  learned that the weather was turning so decided to break camp and head south early the next morning.  If the sun had continued to shine we would have happily stayed there, sampling champagne and possibly venturing back into Troyes of an evening but we are fickle campers and we hadn’t quite had our full dose of warm, sunny weather.  So on a damp, cool, dismal morning we bundled the tent into the car and headed south for The Ardeche.lacdorient

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Day 12 – Nevers

We left Camping Saint Lambert around 10am and set off for Nevers, to try our first Cool Camping France site in the centre of town on the banks of the river Loire.  We arrived around 5pm and there were plenty of places for tent camping on the lower level but the upper level caravan/motorhome camping seemed to be nearly full.  We found a pitch (you basically pitch where you like) on the lower level and set up camp.  I can see why the guys at Cool Camping recommend this site as it is very easy going and laid back, it’s on the banks of the Loire and the impressive Nevers cathedral is on the opposite bank of the river. This site was the cheapest yet – 27 euro with EHU.  The caravan/motorhome camping on the upper level seemed a bit more formal and this is where the clean toilets and showers are situated – a bit of a trek in the middle of the night but not too bad.

After a gnocchi dinner we took a walk across the bridge and into town in search of tobacco for Bruce.  Other than the bars and restaurants, particularly around the cathedral square, the town was closed and seemed deserted with some shops boarded up.  This seemed strange coming from the forever open south but, although Nevers is a pretty town it seems off the tourist trail, except for night halts to and from the south.  Needless to say we didn’t find a Tabac open and we returned to camp empty handed.

The next morning we returned to town on a Tabac and croissant hunt.  We found a small patisserie slightly to the left when you cross the bridge and I had my first pain au raisin of the holiday ( a favourite of mine but nowhere to be found, except supermarket ones, on the Med).  All the shops were closed and when we stopped for a coffee at a small bar we found out why – the shops are closed every Wednesday!!  We decided to search no more, the clouds were coming over and it was time to move on – our intention being to stop just north of Paris for our last night.

Kylas Coolest Camping Part 3 – The Med

This isn’t the best photo of the Med, but I am in it (the dot in the middle) and as soon as I saw it today I remembered being there this time last year, bobbing about in the warm sparkling waters of the Med with the sun beating down.  If the photo was a bit clearer you might see St Tropez in the far left of the picture, you’d also see that the blurry yachts and boats  quite obviously belong to the rich and famous and finally you would see that I am in the sea with my beloved green foam banana which has followed me around France for the last 10 years.   The Cote D’Azur has long been a playground of the rich and famous but what is perhaps less well-known, it’s also a campers paradise with campsites that cater for all tastes and some situated right on the beach cuddled up with the millionaires yachts and villas.

Port Grimaud:

Port Grimaud fulfilled the architect Francois Spoerys’ dream to build a Mediterranean village, inspired by the architecture of the area, on a former boggy wasteland.  Construction began in the mid 1960’s and the result is what we see today – Bougainvillea covered pastel coloured villas alongside canals interspersed with leafy squares and the brightly coloured sun shades of restaurants and shops.  It’s a great place to sit people watching as you sip a coffee by the canal or, if you’re feeling more adventurous, hire a little electric boat to explore the canals in.  Be warned though, the steering on the boats takes some getting used to and we’ve often passed the time, standing on a bridge, watching the electric boats weave from side to side narrowly avoiding some expensive looking yachts!

Further information can be found on this site: http://www.grimaud-provence.com/english.php

Along the beach towards Ste Maxime are 3 campsites, each with beach front pitches, where you can walk 20 paces from your pitch and be swimming in the sea.  These are great sites for a beach holiday but expensive and extremely busy in the height of summer, so I’m not going to tell you about them, instead I’m going to tell you about Camping A La Ferme which we happened upon last year when just the 2 of us got 1 week child free and headed off for France in a banger of a Renault Clio and a 3 man dome tent from Tescos’.

The site is situated just a 10 minute walk from the main coast road in Port Grimaud and the biggest campsite Praire De La Mer.  Despite this you could be a million miles away from the general chaos that is the coast road in summer; the campsite is set among the vine yards slightly inland from the coast and it is owned by a very proud and meticulous owner who keeps all facilities spotless.  The pitches aren’t massive but they all have shade and other than the ample shower/toilet facilities and a very small office, there is very little else on this small site.  It is cheaper than the big sites, especially for couples and a perfect oasis of calm at the end of an action packed day at the beach.

The owner’s name is Claude Ferrero, he doesn’t speak English so polish up your French if you want to book ahead.

Address;    Saint-Pons-Les-Mures, 83360 Grimaud.

Tel: 04 94 56 03 30

Port Grimaud is not to be confused with the town of Grimaud, the old town situated on a hillside inland.  This is well worth a visit, the photo (right) shows a lovely restaurant situated in the typical Provencal town with narrow meandering streets and alleyways and old stone houses with brightly painted shutters.  I took this photo just before the wine started having an effect, subsequent photos’ mainly showed peoples feet on the cobblestones.

Bruce (left) on the front of a friends speed boat, dodging the millionaires yachts in the Bay of St. Tropez.  Happy Days!

 

 

 

 

Agay:

Further eastwards along the Med coast, through Ste Maxime, St Aygulf and St Raphael you come to Agay on the Estoril coast.  This is where my last nomination for cooler than cool campsite is situated.  It is called Le Dramont – Campeole .

http://www.campeole.com/camping-campeole-le-dramont-var-10.html

It is a big site, right on the coast, but it has a really laid back feel about it.  I chose this because of the beach; 1 sandy beach and, my favourite, one rocky beach.  The rocky beach is excellent for rock pooling and snorkelling, or just clambering along the rocks to a small marina.  The showers and toilets are plentiful and cleaned regularly and the site is situated near a train station where you can catch a train for Nice or Cannes or just nip into St Raphael.  The red rocks of the Estoril coast are magnificent (best viewed from the sea in a boat) and if you want an adventurous drive you can follow the coast road to Cannes, which bends, twists and undulates all the way there.  I have camped in Cannes before now and disliked it with a passion – a huge road to cross to a shingle beach and all very commercialised.  Le Dramont is a million miles away from this but still within driving distance of the major towns in this part of the Med.

These 2 sites conclude my Coolest Camping list for now – I will try to add a few more at a later date however it’s now only 2 weeks to go until we leave for France and to say I’m getting excited is an understatement.  We’ve plenty to do in the next few weeks but I will try to keep the blog updated as I go.

Kyla’s Coolest Camping France Part 2

We often travel to the south of France using the following route (ish) Reims, Troyes, Annecy, Route Napoleon, Mediterranean Sea and have found a number of campsites that most definitely fit my kind of ‘cool’ criteria, here’s a couple to start you off:

Lake Annecy

One of my favourite sites is on Lake Annecy near the village of St Jorioz.  It is called Camping Univers and, just to set the scene, it has a solar system logo on an old and tatty sign.  From the start we christened this Camping Paradiso, for those of you who have ever watched Bottom you will understand why.  The campsite is a field with a part dilapidated brick shed type building in the middle, these are the toilets.  The toilets are clean but come complete with cobwebs and spiders, they reminded me of my great-grans outside loo which was only to be used when absolutely desperate in case the monster spider in the corner decided he was hungry and you looked edible.  Fortunately, having read Charlottes’ Web, I am now completely free of any spider phobia but I do have a phobia of dead birds, if anyone knows of a good book which may cure my phobia please let me know.  Electric hook-up is available and can be shackle up from the owners on site cabin, therefore you have to camp near the cabin if you want to charge the laptop.  Despite it’s obvious short comings regarding health and safety I absolutely adore this site, it is unpretentious in the extreme yet almost a stones throw from the shores of the beautiful Lake Annecy.  The cycle track is within spitting distance and the village is a ten minute walk away with its totally tempting patisserie for the odd million calorie cake or tart (promise yourself you will cycle around the lake and you can eat your treat guilt free and then, like me, you can forget all about your promise and go back to camp for a snooze))  Considering it’s so convenient for all Lake Annecy has to offer, it feels a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of the more touristy sites and places of interest. If you want the next best thing to wild camping on the shores of the Lake, then Camping Univers is for you, if you don’t like spiders in your shower it might be a good idea to stay else where.

Camping Univers

180, Impasse de la Tuilerie, 74410 Saint-Jorioz

04 50 68 98 25

The picture of the campsite (right) says it all, a very special place.

 

Troyes Lac D’Orient

As you may have realized by now, I have a thing for being near water, whether it be a lake, river or the sea, I love the water especially if it has good skinny dipping opportunities. This love of water probably stems from the fact that I live in the middle of the country, quite possibly the furthest point in the country from the sea (actually I think that’s Nuneaton but don’t quote me) 

 In France you don’t have to drive far from the channel ports (4 – 5 hours) to find a huge lake and it’s smaller companions in  the Parc Natural de la Foret Orient.  I’m not mad keen of forests, they’re just a bit too foresty for me, but the dense fir forest is interspersed with wide open spaces and of course the lakes.  Most people head for the 4 star Camping Lac D’Orient (www.camping-lacdorient.com) on the shores of the biggest lake Orient.  But for those who don’t need the all singing and dancing type site then you might like to follow in our footsteps and try Camping L’Epines Aux Moines (http://www.pnr-foret-orient.fr/fr/pdf/oti/camping/lepine_aux_moines.pdf) on the shores of Anse Du Petit Orient.  The campsite has shaded pitches and clean toilets (no man-eating spiders here), it also has a play area and from memory a small shop.  The location is excellent, just a few metres from a lake beach which also hires out pedalos with slides off the back.  We had an excellent time on the lake diving and sliding in off the pedalos.  There are sailing schools nearby, Troyes is just up the road and it is excellent cycling country.  We were originally using it as an overnight stop but ended up staying 2 nights so we could mess about on the lake.  On our first night an elderly couple emerged from their caravan in long trousers and tops, sat in their deck chairs and faced our pitch, as if they were waiting for the entertainment.  It was very hot and I just thought them a bit odd, little did I know what was to come. About 10 minutes later we realised why the elderly couple were dressed from head to toe: mosquitos!  Before we had a chance to find the swatter and light our anti-mosquito candle the little blood sucking buggers were having a lovely evening meal -us!  The couple looked on amused as we retreated to the motorhome, shutting the fly-nets and muttering obscenities.  It didn’t put us off staying another night, we just did as the elderly couple did and covered ourselves from head to toe.  You have been warned but this is still a pretty cool campsite in a beautiful area.

Part 3 – The Med………to be continued.