European Escapades

Go West My Friends, If You Can!




Go West My Friends, a line from the embryonic railroads in the US of A. Well we are trying to but in France. Unfortunately with this camping card ACSI and the now understood French camping rule, ‘Camping is closed until April’, it seems our preference to limit the journey distances to 80km was proving a little more difficult than we imagined. With the escapade of the closed campsite in Saint-Valery-en-Caux, we wanted to make sure the next campsite we were heading for was open. So before we started our 140km trek westward to what was according to the ASCI book, the only open campsite at that time we made a telephone call first. A quick telephone conversation later, starting with ‘Parlez vous anglais’, confirmed that they were open and they would take a camping car. Great we thought a longer journey that we would have liked, but at least we know we had an open camp site waiting for us when we got there. Sorting out the Sat-Nav to take us on our preferred route was difficult as it seemed to want to take us all the way south to Rouen, before heading west to Caen.

View of the white cliffs in Etretat View of the white cliffs in Étretat

We wanted to go via Le Havre and use the more scenic coastal routes. If we were to travel 140km we at least wanted it to be enjoyable. Heading down to Le Havre via Fécamp is a delight, if somewhat flat. There are one or two points, when you head down into a sleepy little village on an estuary and then have to climb your way back up out of again and when they do pop up they are absolutely beautiful. At one point I remember the Sat-Nav said turn right and I said back “Not on your Nelly” as I proceeded straight ahead passing the proposed right turn leading up a narrow a precariously sloped roadway. Good call on my part as the other main road wound its way not so precariously up the same hill and met the other road at the top. When we finally got up there, the view from the cliff top looking out across the English Channel was stunning.

As we head past the airport in Le Havre I finally understand why the Sat-Nav is still giving us so much trouble. It was down to the fact that I had told it to avoid any ‘péage’ along the way, it still wanted to send us to Rouen. It’s like in the UK trying to get from Rainham in Essex to Dartford in Kent without using the Dartford Crossing whilst trying to avoid the toll bridge. It’s going to send you all around the houses to avoid it. So a bridge toll we can handle. Once sorted the Sat-Nav started to behave more sensibly now and helped us cross through the centre of Le Havre and over the Toll Bridge with no issues at all. Once over we moved back along the coast road towards our destination North of Caen.

Our initial supplies that we had purchased in a supermarket near Abbeville were running low and I had just finished my last bit of bacon from the traditional smoker called ‘Emmetts’ in a very nice bacon butty. It was time to call into a supermarket on the way to ‘Le Point du Jour’ in Merville-Franceville. We found a Super U and proceeded to look for a parking space when disaster struck. OK not disaster but it did make a rather large bang, which scared the hell out of all of us in the van. Me being Mr Cocky decided that going under the canopy roof covering most of the parking lot rather than moving around to the outside, was the best way forward as we looked for a parking space convenient for the Camping Car. Seems I was correct about the initial overhang being over 4metres high but halfway through the canopy dipped by another half metre. Still good I thought, not noticing the horizontal, dark brooding strips of painted red and white metal that were also hanging from the canopy, ready and waiting for a unsuspecting cocky git to come along. As I passed it swiped the corner of my top box with a humongous bang and then rattled as it swung back into its original position to wait for yet another unsuspecting victim. With all the concern we had taken to confirm out height and knowing it was just under 3.3Metres for this to happen so soon in the new Campervan was annoying to say the least. Our top box is now the owner of a small hole about an inch in diameter as well as a few cracks. To fix it some gaffer tape and some adhesive should do the trick, but it’s a job I could have avoided if I had been more thoughtful on where I drove our motorhome.

Just over the hillock from our campsite is the sandy beach that is Merville Franceville Plage Just over the hillock from our campsite is the sandy beach that is Merville-Franceville Plage

Still we managed to purchase whilst in the supermarket a 4 metre European mains cable. So with the adapter I had made whilst at home that allowed me to connect the campervan to a standard UK mains socket, I had the parts to make myself a nice European mains adapter. The rest of our journey was uneventful, and we arrived at ‘Le Point du Jour’ in Merville-Franceville Plage which was nestled adjacent to a long stretch of beautiful sandy beach, but by that time, all we we were ready for was a nice glass of red wine and some dinner.

This entry was posted on Sunday, March 14th, 2010 at 5:32 pm and is filed under Travel Stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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