European Escapades

I’m Surtain Ville Get There




With all the fun we had been having so far, we decided to stay in Merville-Franceville for a few days to catch our breaths, and to decide how we proceeded, as the next campsite ACSI was suggesting was a staggering 150kms away in Surtainville, nearly double our preferred distance away. We felt by this time that we were looking in the wrong book and needed another way to find campsites. It seems the only reason ACSI sites give discounts are because none of the facilities are actually open or usable at the time. Not that I would want to use the open air pools at this time of year, but the bar open would be nice if there were no other facilities around. But there you go, we had internet access here, well sitting in the corner of the reception, you had internet.

But beggars can’t be choosers I guess, and I still hadn’t managed to look into the local 3G dongle situation for the laptop. One of the issues we hit when we arrived was that there seemed to be no electricity at the plot we were allocated. This meant another trip to reception to find out why. As I was heading down, I spotted a British van conversion a few plots along, and there was the standard 16 Connection I had, but it also had a small adapter lead as well. Was I doing something stupid with my connection, or was this another issue I had yet to come across in France? There was only one way to find out and that was to ask I guess, so I walked up to the van and knocked on the door. I was greeted by a very nice couple John and Anne who were only too happy to help me. John said no, nothing strange in the electrics but it was reverse polarity at this site and the homemade adapter sorted it for them. I had heard about this but could not understand what all the fuss was about and after talking to John for a short while, I gained a better understanding of the issue.

‘Tekkie Talk’ I’m not a qualified electrician, but I have worked with electrics so I will do a little research and give you my take on reverse polarity and if it is an issue.

Bottom line was that we had no electric. It was sorted in five seconds by their site maintenance guy, who reset the circuit breaker. One of the good things to come out of the chat was also some helpful advice on camping books. John and Anne had a few we didn’t know about and advised that a book in town, although in French would be more suitable to us as the ACSI seemed to focus on the more expensive campsites, with all the facilities that we did not currently need. So after a walk off into town and a beer or two later we had in our possession ‘Le Guide Official 2010 Camping Caravanning’ from the Federation Francaise de Camping et de Caravaning. It contains over 10’000 campsites and we were happy to note that over 1500 of these were open all year round. Had we found our new book?

The watermill in Bayeux The watermill in Bayeux

Seems maybe we had, as we started on our journey to Carentan, via Bayeux. After a pleasant drive we were ready for some lunch and a tour of a museum in Bayeux. We ended up parking in the standard car park as opposed to the Coach park next door, and wandered up the scenic pedestrian area that ran along the town’s river. Once passed the quaint riverside restaurant, the ‘Moulon de la Galette which had a working watermill, we proceeded up pass the Hôspital de Bayeux and into the Museum. You must know what we came to see in the Mueum de Bayeux? I hope so anyway. We are here to see the famous Bayeux tapestry of course. The tapestry is a 70 metre long embroidered cloth – so not an actual tapestry — which depicts the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England, as well as the events of the invasion itself. The Bayeux Tapestry is annotated in Latin so we were not going to be reading that, the French is hard enough for me thank you. We ended up with half a telephone receiver that spoke us through the unfolding events of the tapestry, as we walked along the length of this medieval masterpiece. I know that most people will be familiar with the tapestry, but to see it in its full glory, a piece of embroidery that was completed over 1000 years ago. It still instils a sense of wonderment and is probably the most important pictorial image of the 11th century that we have. After walking the entire length and listening to the story of the 75 separate scenes we head into the museum shop which is full of history books and other paraphernalia. From there we head up the street to the north and find another part of the mystical tale of William the Conqueror as we step into the Bayeux cathedral. The site is an ancient one and was once occupied by Roman sanctuaries. The present cathedral was consecrated on 14 July 1077 in the presence of William, Duke of Normandy and King of England. It was here that William forced Harold to take the oath, the breaking of which lead to the Norman conquest of England as depicted in the tapestry.

The Cathedral in Bayeux The Cathedral in Bayeux

History lesson over, we head to our chosen campsite ‘Le Haut Dick’. You will be surprised to hear that it was, yes closed. The sign said it was open and the dates were all there for the world to see. But phoning the camp site as we sat in the campervan outside, it seems the owners did not see; they were shut. A frantic look into the new book and we found another campsite open all year round at ‘Sainte-Mere-Eglise’ which was just over 15Km north of Caretan. We head there and are equally bemused by the sign saying ‘Ouvert’ and one saying ‘Ferme’ just below it. What are you meant to do? Can we not trust any of these books in relation to the campsites opening dates? Do you need to phone every one before setting off, until the eagerly awaited 1st of April? I guess we do. Three phone calls later, I’m not going anywhere until I know we have somewhere to go, we finally hit gold. So off we head, to our open camp site in sunny Surtainville. We ended up in the place we had dismissed as too far at the start of our day’s journey.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 16th, 2010 at 5:28 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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