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Our journey crossed the Channel at Calais and then wandered down through France to the beautiful Dordogne area where we spent a week with fellow Carthago owners, Mike and Cath, Ken and Georgina at Mike and Cath’s lovely house at Liorac- sur- Louyre (try saying that when you are pickled!). On the return journey we visited the spectacular Puy Du Fou park which was just amazing. The map below shows our route and the places that we stopped overnight.
2015 - France / Dordogne
First stop was one of our old favourites, Forges-les-Eaux (2). This is a lovely, large aire with electric hook up provided. Alongside the parking is a delightful grass area where you can get out your tables and chairs and relax. Forges-les-Eaux is a spa town and can be reached from Calais in about 2 hours if you use the autoroutes. At the entrances to the town there are 3.5 tonne weight restrictions but the roads are wide and there is no problem if you are accessing the camping area. Across the road from the aire is a municipal campsite but this was closed up when we were there. It looked as if it was due a good renovation. We stayed here for 2 nights as we wanted to explore the Greenway (a cycle route on the tarmac surface of the old railway line from Dieppe to Paris). The Greenway starts just a few hundred metres from the aire and you can cycle north to Neufchatel-en- Bray through beautiful countryside. The route continues north to Dieppe or south to Les Andeleys on the Seine. Eventually, it is intended to have a Greenway cycle route from London to Paris. The French are well advanced but you may be surprised to know that the Brits have not yet started !!!
(above left) relaxing at the aire in Forges les Eaux (above right) The well maintained Greenway cycle track During our cycle trip we stopped at a wayside café and met a group of young, English people who were cycling from London to Paris in 3 days. It was all for charity - good for them!! Back at the aire we got talking to a French/Italian couple who were browsing through a Carthago brochure. We asked if they would like to have a look inside our motorhome. They were very grateful and impressed so, we think Carthago have a new customer! --------------------------------------------------------- We left Forges-les-Eaux and travelled south for just over an hour to Les Andeleys (3) and stopped for another 2 days at L’Isle des Trois Rois campsite. This is a wonderful location on the banks of the Seine. (below left) campsite taken from castle. You can spot our motorhome just above the blue van and if you look carefully, the pink colour just under our cab window is Desnée in her sun lounger! (below right) the reverse view, from the motorhome looking up at the castle.
L’Isle des Trois Rois is a very pleasant campsite with a good outdoor pool and just a short walk along the riverbank into town. There was a village fete underway with all the usual side shows and craft stalls. There was also a small bandstand which had some traditional music being played on old instruments and a particularly bad female singer - every note was flat! One rather nice attraction was a childrens roundabout that was powered by the owner pedalling on a cycle type device where instead of powering the back wheel the chain went forward and drove the roundabout. In addition to his pedalling the owner,sheltering from the sun under a red umbrella, played a guitar and mouth organ as the merrygoround rotated. Enchanting and very French! (see below)
You can cycle along the riverbank, downstream, through some very pretty scenery and past some very expensive and impressive riverside properties. George cycled to the village of Muids along very peaceful country lanes and riverside paths and passing some very ancient thatched houses. (right) one of the charming, thatched cottages along the Seine valley (below) just one of the many riverside mansions that line the riverbank in Les Andeleys. Passing cyclists photographing their back gardens from the riverbank did not seem to be very welcome!
Chateau Gaillard dominates Les Andeleys. The castle was built by Richard the Lionheart in 1196. It is now just another ruined castle but the views from the ramparts are worth the steep 90m climb from the town. (look up Chateau Gaillard in Wikipedia for more information) (below) the view from the castle looking over the village and downstream towards Rouen. The chalk cliffs make a spectacular backdrop to the valley. The domed building, middle right of photo, used to be a hospital and is now a retirement home. George’s cycle ride followed the right bank of the river and off into the distance.
Both Forges-les-Eaux and Les Andeleys are lovely locations and easy to reach from the coast. Anyone wishing to venture to France with their motorhome for the first time and feeling a little nervous about it, would be well advised to visit these two towns and would not be disappointed. Neither do you have to drive through any busy towns. ------------------------------------------------ Time for us to move on again and a long day’s drive down to Amboise (4) on La Loire. We have stopped here before when we visited Leonardo Da Vinci’s chateau, which is in the town. The camping is on an island in the middle of La Loire and just a short walk from the town. You have a choice of campsite or aire, they are next to each other. The campsite offers shady, defined pitches whereas the aire is unshaded and you are closer together. Both have electricity so take your pick. However, if you have satellite TV and you are a TV addict, then opt for the aire. Amboise is a pleasant town to visit and is always busy with tourists. Well worth a visit if you are in the area. (below) a view of the Royal Palace in Amboise as seen from the camping island.
We only stopped for one night and left the following morning. However, leaving the aire was not as straightforward as we expected. The aire was secured by both a gate and inside that a barrier. When we arrived we took a ticket and both opened. When leaving they do both open but at different speeds. The barrier opens immediately but the gate takes time. If you wait for the gate to open fully then the barrier will close again before you exit. Big problem because the machine has swallowed your ticket. The art is to go half through the barrier to keep it open and then wait for the gate! Much amusement watching everyone get caught out and getting very cross!