After a lie-in from our late night at the Puy du Fou Ciniscene we left Camping Le Breteche on Sunday 24 August and rejoined the A87 travelling in a north easterly direction towards Angers. After bypassing Angers we joined the A11/E501 northwards towards Le Mans. At Le Mans we continued northwards on the A28/E402 to its junction with the A13/E05 near Rouen. From there we followed the route for Calais and Lille which took us around the southern and eastern sides of Rouen, through the Zone Industriel near to the river, and then onto the A28/E402 north of the city. At Abbeville we joined the A16/E402 towards Calais. As it was by then getting rather late in the evening we stopped for the night at Aire de la Baie de Somme. We had travelled 311 miles.

Aire de la Baie de Somme is a good stop for any motorist but it is especially so for caravanners. As well as normal long bays suitable for caravans in the main car park, this aire has a dedicated caravan parking area. If one follows the signs for caravans one is directed down a cul-de-sac well away from the main car park and the autoroute to this special caravan parking area. This caravan area is an elongated oval of roadway around a central grass reservation. There is room for about 8-10 vans and many caravanners overnight here. The oval shape of the roadway means that it is possible to enter and exit this area easily. The area is surrounded by verges with picnic table and then high grassed banks which provide by shelter from both wind and noise. We parked-up in this area, dropped the steadies and spent a peaceful and restful night there sleeping in the 'van. I understand that the Autoroute security service regularly drives around this caravan parking area during the night and so this adds to the security aspect. We have overnighted here several times and never had any problems. The only disadvantages are that one has to be one the toll road to access services and the limited number of spaces in this special area fill up quickly at peak times. An early arrival is recommended, especially during the peak summer season. There are, however, always the long bays in the main car park if the dedicated caravan area is full.

On the road

There is a pleasant path, through the surrounding wetlands, from the caravan area to the main service buildings. In the main buildings as well the usual restaurant, toilets, shop, etc there is, also, a shop dedicated to the surrounding wetlands area of La Baie de Somme. Next to the buildings there is, also, a large viewing tower which gives a lovely view over the surrounding countryside. After a good night's sleep we rose by 07.00 on Monday 25 August and recommenced our journey northwards on the A16 towards Calais.

We continued on the A16 along the north coast, past the turnings for Calais and Dunkerque. At Junction 65 we left the A16 and took the D947 in a northerly direction towards the coastal town of Bray-Dunes and our final Continental campsite of Camping Le Perroquet.

Our pitchThe directions in our "Caravan Europe 1" (2006 edition) Guidebook were incomplete and we got a little lost. The Guidebook should have said "right onto the D60 in the village, TURN LEFT to pass the Railway Station on the left and then continue for over a mile to reach site on the left just before the border with Belgium." (Nowadays we would have found it more easily as we now have "Archie's" POIs on our satnav) Despite the delay from being lost we arrived at the Camping Le Perroquet just before lunchtime on Monday 25 August. We had travelled 101 miles from our night halt at Aire de la Baie de Somme.

This was the first time that we had stayed Camping Le Perroquet. We were looking for good base for the Dunkerque ferry not only for that occasion but for future years too. We had chosen this site from the “Caravan Europe” Guide and phoned ahead to book from Aire de La Baie de Somme.

Camping La Perroquet is located on the outskirts of the town of Bray-Dunes to the east of Dunkerque and near to the beach. It is so far east that the former border post for the border with Belgium is only a few metres past the campsite entrance. Although the site's position means that it is on the opposite side of Dunkerque to the Norfolk Line ferry terminal it is, however, an easy 30 minute drive back along the A16. The staff were friendly and helpful and the man on Reception spoke perfect English. Access and exit to the site was controlled by an unusual rope barrier which the gatekeeper hauled up from inside his hut!

Camping Le Perroquet is absolutely huge. It is shaped like a reversed letter "C" with the vertical part of the "C" being very long and narrow. Our pitch was on the far end of the bottom of the "C" at the quite near to the entrance. Our pitch was absolutely huge, too. It was a hedged pitch and would have easily accommodated 3 'vans like ours. The pitch was at the end of a site road and very quiet. The EHU was adjacent but the drinking water tap, CDP and waste water points were an inconvenient 5 minute walk away at the toilet block. The pitch was grassy with some shade and its own “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” type of lamp standard. The site roads were well made and gave easy access to our pitch.

On the road again

The site is mainly statics and even more permanent holiday homes, including brick-built houses! It has quite a complex network of site roads and it was quite hard to find our way around. During the afternoon we drove from our pitch to the top of the "C” near to the beach. This drive took 10 minutes on the site roads. Adjacent to the beach are a number of buildings which housed a restaurant, grocers, library, nightclub and children’s club with ample car parking. There was, also, wi-fi internet access in this area by way of a card which cost 6€ per hour. I bought an hour card and reception on our laptop was good. The site has a very wide range of sporting facilities on-site. The beach is clean with fine sand but a bit bleak and windswept – it is on the North Sea!!

Outside the gates of the site there is a small general store and a restaurant. On the road near the campsite there is a supermarket with 24 hour petrol station, though that is actually in Belgium. There is a wider range of shops in both De Panne and Bray-Dunes. During the early evening we took a drive the short distance into the Belgian town of De Panne but found the town very busy and congested and were unable to park.

It cost us the equivalent of £15.44 for our one night stay including the 10 amp EHU. I thought that this site was fairly priced and a more than adequate night halt in reasonably close to the Norfolk Line ferry terminal at Dunkerque.

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