Our first week away:
Home – Dunkirk – Motreuil
Left home 7am
Made good time to the ferry which was trouble free – when we arrived in Dunkirk one noteworthy addition to the port were 10ft fences topped with barbed wire.
The weather was bright and sunny and the crossing was smooth.
Poor Bertie didn’t really know what was going on – checkout his blog later!
Stopped for a bike ride outside Watten – then on to Montreuil for the night. Aire was full of students and coaches…
We strolled around the town square and checked out access to the ramparts… decided it was not wise to tackle the ramparts without a torch in pitch darkness!
Hit our first bottle of wine courtesy of our neighbours Tony and Jackie, and settled down for a good night’s sleep…we didn’t have any last night!
Montreuil – Cambremer
Slept late… very late! Decided to hit the ramparts walk around the town as the sun was shining!
Fell in love with a house on the way – reminded us of Gru’s house in Despicable Me! Found a potters house locally Susan Glaysher pottery – lovely planters at front:
Ran a bit low on fuel on the journey to Cambremer, did 10k with diesel light on – Nick didn’t panic – MUCH!!! Did a small shop 53 euros and fuelled up at Super U – our FX card wasn’t accepted though, slightly worrying!
Resolved not to drive quite so far tomorrow – Bertie didn’t much like so many miles! Arrived in Cambremer 18.30 only 2 in Aire. Really nice little town totally based on Apples, cider and Calvados! The journey took in loads of beautiful villages of traditional houses – quite stunning.
Telly worked! it was a bit rainy in the evening – and we woke to drizzle and grey skies.
Cambremer – Arromanches
Captain Bligh is back! Nick is in one of those moods this morning…. Before breakfast we walked around the village – very pretty! Flowerpot men seem to be the order of the day here – they’re everywhere!
Calvados distillery opposite the Aire – unfortunately closed… P. HUET A.C. Pays de Auge
Bread and sausages for breakfast (good buy – Merguez sausages 3.50 euro). Heading to the Overlord beaches today – shame the weather has turned overcast and rainy!
We took in Juno Beach, and Gold Beach, then on to Arromanches. Parked at Arromanche3 – a free aire one street back from the beach, which is in the centre of the Mulberry harbour – quite eerie. The floating concrete harbour is largely still there… rain stopped play as it got quite unpleasant. No dogs allowed on the beach either. Apparently there are plans to site 75 wind turbines in front of Juno Gold and Arromanches beaches, which are being fought locally at the moment… Can see the benefits – but it certainly would change the atmosphere of the place. We got drenched – very wet walk!
Used the rest of the merguez sausages for a casserole for supper with proper crusty bread! Rained constantly into the night – dry when we woke – even some sunshine 3 degrees outside.
Twenty Eighth Jan
Short walk with Bertie and then off for more Normandy landing beaches, it’s clear 6th June 1944 is a very important day in these parts – everything is named after it from bars to launderettes! Got a visual migraine followed by a stonking headache today…
Ended up at Point du Hoc and did the whole tour.
This is where a team of Rangers landed. We did the whole tour and seeing the devastation from aerial bombing and naval support over such a small area in support of the troops who scaled the cliffs here is quite sombre. Thinking of the 100’s of tons of earth and concrete displaced with each of the airstrikes…. seeing the craters and tons of concrete tossed about – beggars belief that a small force of rangers (225) conquered these cliffs…. only 90 were able to bear arms 2 days later. Photos show bunkers, bulletholes and sniper points.
Had brekky at 12 – Nick took Bertie out on the bike – then we set of for Le Mont St Michel… We found it – lots of dead ends for Camper Vans though – so we followed the route to car parks near the Mont.Found a camping car park with a sign in neon green saying “Libre” so we took the ticket, broke out the bikes and cycled to the Mont with Bert. The sun was shining brilliantly and Bert loved the run. Back to the van we decided to cut south to St Nazaire – having bickered a bit over where to stay, we attempted to leave… only to be faced with a screen at the barrier telling us to pay 17.50 euros! Nick found a yellowcoat who told us this was quite correct. Apparently we should have read the small print (very small) on the entry ticket machine, which said 30 minutes was free “Libre” and anything more was 17.50 for up to 24 hours!!! Guess where we stayed the night!
MORAL OF STORY: Read the small print… le Mont St Michel is a rip off! There were not even any services… 🙁
We had a lot of fun watching another poor sap who looked at our bus, decided we were nice and level, and tried to reproduce it by parking about seven times looking for the elusive level spot! not realising that we had self-levelling. Cheered Nick up no end!
LE-MONT ST MICHEL – PIRIAC SUR MER
Our first stop today was services at Beauvoir (nr Pontorson) to empty waste. 2nd stop Intermarche for break for lunch. Need to take on water now. Beauvoir wanted 3 euros for water but wouldn’t take our bloody card again!We still have 1/3 of a tank so we can cope. Refuelled at Herbignac only 97c a litre. Saw a Challenger in the carpark and looked to see if it was a Brit…. but it was a french plate. Decided to stay north of St Nazaire for the night and get down there the following morning. Chose Piriac Sur Mer – 3 nice aires to choose from. All had Urba FluxTall barriers – NONE OF WHICH wanted our FX card or our Barclaycards! so we headed for
La Turballe muncipal aire to try there. It looked dire… didn’t want to stay there. We had been followed for a while by another camper – and when we looked it was the same Challenger we’d seen at Herbignac. The guy came over to talk to us and lo and behold he WAS a brit. He wanted to find one of the Piriac aires that we’d already failed to enter – and as we knew where it was we made a deal that he’d pay with his french bank card and we’d both stay there. Off we went again, with them following us back to the first one, Parking Brambel. right opposite the sea – beautiful. On this occasion the barrier accepted our Barclaycard and we were in. Had a natter over a couple of bottles of wine with Brian, Dee and Oliver the golden lab, before dinner and sleep.
Brian turned out to be a former Royal Oilfield owner and had done a spot of sailing so we had lots to natter about! Supper was a drunken late affair and we hit the sack at 11.
PIRIAC SUR MER – SOUBISE
Slept badly but woke at 9 with rain still persisting down. Decided we couldn’t do a lot but drive today, so off to St Nazaire to check out the submarine pens – what colossal structures! The rain just didn’t let up so we headed for La Rochelle – stopped for lunch and a spot of shopping- Nick passed by no fewer than 3 McDonalds which made me crazy (I’m suffering Faceburp withdrawal symptoms). We couldn’t find an aire we liked the look of at La Rochelle which was pretty non-camper friendly! so we carried on to Rochefort, then a little beyond to Soubise – where we found a lovely creekside aire for 7 euros a night including electricity and all services… Tried to pay and the machine wasn’t working – so all in all an aire to be recommended! Free electricity water and services – what can you do? Nick had a very wet walk with Bertie, whilst yours truly made a chicken and vegetable curry for supper. Everywhere down here is sooooo wet, every waterway is full to the brim… if it keeps on raining, the levy’s gonna break!
Can’t believe we could be in the Pyrenees within forty-eight hours. sorry to spell the words but Nick’s bloody notepad doesn’t have a working eight key….
Night for now – have an appointment with a nice bottle of Roche Mazei Merlot!