We were ready to spend time abroad for Christmas 2011 and into the New Year for 2012. Our unplanned trip was to take us from the Isle of Man traveling through the UK and then over to France heading south to Spain and eventually into Portugal, we did not book anything in advance choosing to mix the trip with wild camping, campsites and Aires.
Christmas 2011 at the Campsite “Les Terrasses” in Igoville, Rouen France (nice private bays with handy adjacent toilet and washroom)
The trip did not get of to a good start as we had to wait several days for the gail force winds to calm before the Isle of Man Steam Packet ferry would set sail to Heysham in the UK just to find we would be sitting in the Irish Sea for an extra 4 hours before we could dock that was a total of nine hours sailing time and a very late arrival and to make matter worse the snow was heading our way so after checking and trusting the weather forecast we were off to sunny Goole for a few days to see an old friend before heading south to avoid the bad weather which turned out to be a smart decision in the end looking at the snow laid motorways on the TV’s weather forecast.
We needed to get an LPG system fitted to our motorhome before we headed of to France so we set of to Southdown’s Motorhomes in West Sussex only to find they had all the kit we needed but no one to fit it so it was off to Premier Motorhomes in West Sussex, they had someone to fit the Gaslow system but not all the parts in stock… it was getting late in the day and we were tiered so we found a nice country pub and parked in their car park for the night and as luck would have it they had free wifi so after a couple of beers and a internet search we made a quick call to BCS Motorhomes in Herne Bay they offered to order the parts next day delivery and get us sorted out, we set off early the next day to get the LPG system fitted, got to take my hat off the Paul & Graham at BCS Motorhomes for there professionalism and 1st class service, they even gave us a courtesy car to do some shopping whilst they got to work on our motorhome and then washed our Burstner before letting us go their number is 01227 374544
We booked the channel tunnel on this trip and were pleasantly surprised to find they had a free service point for motorhomes just before entering the waiting lanes, great because we were full up on grey and empty on fresh water, things were starting to go our way at last apart from the snow starting to fall fast when we got to Calais there was no snow, hurray!
After a very cold night at Calais we set off the next day thinking we had avoided the snow and cold whoops this did not go to plan, 2 days later France see’s a flurry of snow all the way heading south, we made it just south of Rennes before been forced to use an Aires for a few days until the snow ploughs could do their stuff and to be fair they were out in force, the journey south was a slow one whilst the main roads were clear of snow the side roads remained snow laden for a few more days so we had to choose which Aires to stay at very carefully, eventually we made it to Soustons Aires when we could ride the snow and cold weather out.
Well after a few days with the sun shining and no snow around we made the hop across into Spain we were amazed by the amount of snow covering the Pyrenees but luckily the roads were clear, we drove south stopping at Burgos and decided to stay at Burgos Campsite to see in the New Year, it was fireworks for hours that night and a bit of a hangover the next day, Happy New Year!
Problem was it was still cold so it was off further south to find some heat, Marbella was the destination stopping only at one service station on the way, finally reached Puerto Banus and had a good look around as i was there on holiday some 30 years ago, how the place has changed, ended up just down the road at a campsite in Marbella for a few nights rest from the driving, feeling tiered but it was warm at last…
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Merville Franceville Plage, A tiny aires set off the main road but no view at all 😦 we watched many motorhomes coming and going as there is just not enough room in this aires, only room for 6 vans with no space between us for privacy but still a quite and peaceful stopover, the seaside town is very nice and not spoiled like most seaside resorts keeping a very traditional feel to it, the area is worth a visit.
Merville Franceville Plage, Coordinates N 49 17.091 W 000 12.601
Wissant Aires, Quite spot just of main road, Grey and brown waste dump point but no water at all? very strange. Handy spot to rest before you cross the channel the next day if you’re heading north, but we decided to skip Calais and head on to Belgium to get some cheap tobacco and find better quality supermarkets that sell real bacon 🙂
Wissant Aires, Coordinates N 50 53.200 E 001 40.213
Gravelines, Nice area overlooking the river and marina, the village is pretty with a preserved fort that you can look around for free 🙂 We did a huge laundry run just down the road at Grand-Fort-Philippe and managed to check emails and update our blog after finding a free wifi connection near the marina!
Gravelines Aires Coordinates N 50 59.267 E 002 07.340
Isigny Sur Mur, A great spot to stay if you can find an empty bay! we stayed here heading south in the winter and decided to stop off again on the way back, room for 6 motorhomes but not over 7 meters, you can get water from the boat water point just over the road for free, you can also pick up free wifi at this locatation from the local school.
Isigny Sur Mur Coordinates N 49 19.281 W 1 06.258
Calcale, We thought we would stay at some places that we could actually pronounce! so we ended up in Calcale… Welcome to motorhome city 🙂 Great free aires with lots of room, next to Super U and includes a laundry self service with large machines ideal for duvets and sheets which we did the whole wash in one day.
Calcale Coordinates N 48 40.724 W 1 51.899
Bains Sur Oust, Staying just around the corner from the village square, went out to the local for a couple of chillout beers, nice town and managed to get free a wifi connection from the local intenet school, ok for for one nights stay, think we have been spoilt with our recent stopovers making this one not feel so special
Bains Sur Oust Coordinates N 47 42.321 W 002 04.162