My laptop is being mended today as we were out all day yesterday. I’m writing this on my phone while it is hammering it down with rain, but at least it’s warm. Will update tonightall being well.
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:
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.
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.
In the beginning…..
For a few years I holidayed around the world in 4* hotels, neatly packaged and thoroughly sterilized from the airport departure lounge to the Welcome Reception and Drinks by the pool. The last package holiday involved myself, husband and two young boys staying in an “All Inclusive”, fully karaoked, Rep ridden hell hole in Cyprus where we were wrist-banded up and our free will was handed in at reception; needless to say I hated it. I realized how lucky I was to be able to see so much of the world but it always seemed a shame that although I saw the world, I didn’t feel it, I understood little of the locals way of life and absorbed little of the atmosphere and culture. I longed for the freedom of my own child hood holidays, spent mainly caravaning in the UK and on one occasion camping in France, St Jean Du Mont to be exact. I wanted my children to be free to explore their natural surroundings, to eat local and feel the pleasure of tasting their first real shandy by the sea with a packet of plain crisps; I wanted them to walk through the pine forests on the Vendee coast and marvel at the little bugs that glow green in the night. And as for my first sip of Orangina………. I love the outdoors, dislike cities and crave open spaces and have no time for rules or regulations, especially on holiday. I wanted to start camping again but there was one obstacle in my way – my husband.
Our only attempt at camping had been aborted as I had begun to unpack the tent from the car on a lovely cliff top camp site near Cromer. My husband had such an aversion to camping he refused to move from the car, went a funny colour of green and demanded we left immediately. We never attempted it again but roll on a few years, after we married and our two boys were just starting school, we met some friends who spent every year in France in their old motor home. Cutting a long story short, I eventually persuaded the hubby to buy a motorhome on the grounds he would have his own shower and bed and it wasn’t camping at all. Even now I can’t believe I got away with it, but I did, and Lightening our beloved Swift Kontiki Motorhome was born.
From the moment I saw Lightening (named by our sons because of it’s speed…..very slow) I was in love, but it took the hubby a while to begin enjoying it. The summer that we bought it, we booked a ferry and travelled to France and I have never looked back. The freedom, the weather, the open roads, the people and culture all combined to create the perfect holiday. My boredom threshold, which had been severely tested on package holidays, would never be tested again; when we tired of a place, we moved on. Holidays once again became a big adventure and myself and my two boys loved them with a passion.
Moving forward a few years and the Hubby and I agreed to divorce, which we managed amicably but with a great deal of sadness. Our Kon-Tiki had been stolen 2 years before our divorce (I don’t think the loss of KonTiki and our subsequent divorce were related but who knows?) and it had been replaced by a lovely Hymer with fixed bunk beds for the boys. I was awarded custody of the Hymer but, due to a huge change in my financial situation, I had to sell her. I began the year of 2008 penniless and motorhomeless with little prospect of returning to France for the summer – how wrong I was!
New Man and Wind
In January I met Bruce, by February we were an item, by March our children had met – my two boys and his son and daughter. By Easter we had all pitched a £100 trailer tent in the snow and spent, quite possibly, the coldest and most uncomfortable night of my life under canvas! In June Bruce and I worked for Greenpeace at Glastonbury and shared our new huge tent with the rest of the security crew – unbelievably not only did we go to Glasto for free but we got fed and paid – spot on. Spending the summer in France still seemed a million miles off, we quite simply had no money and no way of conjuring up the money to take us to France. And then something marvelous happened and in the space of a short phone call we were all going to France. Bruces’s friends had bought a small piece of land near Carcassonne and had pitched a Yurt on it. They had a well for water but no electricity and had asked Bruce (who is very handy at all things gadgetry/technology/Electric etc) to find them a suitable wind turbine to generate electricity. In July we all set off – a car, 6 passengers, wind turbine on the roof, trailer tent (tent bit had been removed and large tunnel tent plus all equipment , clothes, food etc could be stored in the trailer) 6 bikes and two batteries all set off for the south of France. Our hosts were paying for the diesel and we were to camp for free on their land, perfect, I couldn’t believe my luck. The holiday was a great success and we partied through the night once we had the wind turbine up and running.
Three years on we are all under one roof, except my step daughter who visits and stays with us often. My eldest boy G is coming up to 16years old in July and I am aware he may not want to holiday with us anymore so I am determined to take us all for a last family camping holiday in France. I have booked the ferry for the 21st July and have a budget of £100 per day for all 6 of us (not including fuel and tolls) This is where this blog comes in, I hope to record our journey and whether we manage to keep within our budget – the adventure starts here………………………………………..