Saturday 10 October 2009

France in a Motorhome - the Planning Continues


THE PLANNING CONTINUES: A vital part of our planning was a visit to the Boat & Caravan Show at the NEC in February, where we purchased a book entitled All The French Aires (well - all the ones they know about that is) from Vicarious Books. Aires are a network of stopping places specifically designed for motorhomes or camping cars (aka motorhomes to us Brits) They are usually run by the local town council or ‘Mairie’. Aires for camping cars are all over France in towns, villages, supermarket car parks and we knew we were going to try at least one. (These Aires are different from the rest Aires on the motorways. Do not overnight on the motorway)

We visited the ASCI Stand and paid £10 for an ASCI camping card. This came with a book giving details of all the participating camp sites. With an ASCI card off season, your pitch is set price which is a reduction on the normal fee. Also at the show were Tourist Information stands from many areas of France. We acquired a guide for Charente-Maritime, the region where the Ile de Re is situated, to from a delightful French lady (Mr. Snail was instantly in love I think). A read of this made us realise just how many campsites there are on the Ile de Re and we decided it was not necessary to book anything in advance there.

Another purchase was the Camping and Caravanning Club site book equivalent to the Caravan Club one. A huge pile of books and ideas came home with us from the show, together with impatience that we had to wait a few months before it would all come to fruition and we would be there.

A must-read for us are all the motorhome magazines and for some time I have saved all the campsite reviews including articles on France in a folder. I learned that France has thousands of Municipal sites and basically most towns have one however I did not find a publication or website that features them all. One motorhomes magazine had a readers article on a site in Epernay. This looked exactly right for us: in the town, clean facilities and hook-up. Mr. Snail used for working out distances and decided that Dunkirk to Epernay was achievable for the first leg of our journey, still leaving enough time in the afternoon to explore the town and drink the local wine. That was our first night sorted.

Now, where to go from there? On perusing the
Camping and Caravanning Club site book I found a site in the Loire region boasting access to 180 miles of cycle paths to use to visit the many Chateaux in the region. Co-incidentally, this was also the location for a club rally being held on our first weekend in France. Why not book on the rally? So we did. This saved us money on the site fees, because the price included all the facilities of the site and hook-up. As newbies abroad, attending a rally seemed a good way of finding people who’s brains we could pick for tips or advice. A comfort thing for a worrier such as I.

So, all the booking and site planning we felt necessary to do was now done. Next, we needed to prepare the motorhome for her Big Adventure ...............................



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