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LenV

France first timers

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Hi everyone. My Wife and I are thinking of venturing to France for 2 weeks in June. Estimated dates 15th to the 29th. As its our first time touring abroad we do not want to travel too far from Calaise. The furthest south would probably be Tours. We would like to stay at 2 sites spending 7 nights at each one. We like walking and cycling and would want to be reasonably close to a town. Can someone please give us some on advice on known good sites for us. All advice would be appreciated .

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Why not use via Michelin web site to create a driving route. Select the options appropriate - caravan? tolls? Put your commence point in and start with Tours as a destination. Have a look at the route it suggests and see if you fancy the areas abut half way or just under. Then look for camp sites in the areas you have selected. CampsitesUK is a good web site for choosing  sites in France.  ACSI is another good web site and you may decide to purchase the ACSI book and discount card.

There are also sites listed by the Caravan Club and the Camping and Caravanning Club. If you haven't already booked your crossing the have a look at the Clubs offers as they are good at the moment. I always say that the planning phase of a touring holiday is a great part of the holiday. Alternatively as you are going in June, you could go completely on spec' with an ACSI book and card. there is no need to book at that time of the year. 

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Ern, in France (unlike the UK) in June you shouldn't need to book unless you choose a site popular for the overnight ferries.  There are many thousands of us who go to France every year and never book anything. 

 

I'd say 'Don't look for a site which might suit you'.  Look for an area which WILL suit you (for doing all the things you enjoy) and find a nearby site.  We like areas of wild rivers, gorges, hills and beautiful scenery for walking and wildlife, so we would choose a completely diferent type of site to someone who likes visiting historic monuments, chateaux and churches.  You might like to do vineyard tours and see local producers, or do as many cycle rides as possible, in which case you'll need a different area again.  

You could choose a site near Calais - and cycle the canals and flat cycle routes in that area - going into Belgium to Ypres, and Bruges for instances, and then have a second week somewhere further south - or perhaps the WWII beaches in Normandy, Bayeux, and that area, which is also flattish for cycling.

Tell us a bit more about what you like and we can perhaps come up with more personalised suggestions.

 

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Posted (edited)

Hello Len,  Calais to Tours is 322 miles. Will you do that in one day with a caravan or might you perhaps start from a different and closer French arrival port ?  

 

"Good site" means different things to different people.  Close to Tours (15 miles) we ourselves would go to Camping Le Sabot at Azay Le Rideau,  which is 3 star and mid range, but you may prefer somewhere either simpler or grander.  

 

Further along the river and nearer to Saumur we liked Camping Po Dore at Allonnes, and it's another mid range site, very well run and with particularly helpful private owners. 

 

We also would not book in June - you may not like either of those sites and simply wish to move on after a few days.  That's how things are over there.  I hope this helps. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by moorgate

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Sound advice from the two previous posters ! 

 

Dont get hung up about booking a site, out of season you will VERY rarely any site full.

 

Have a Close look at ACSI Camping Card Out of season you can save a fortune in campsite fees. We use it all the time. The cost is recouped after about three nights! There is also an “App” to go with the books, well worth the money as it includes reviews by people who have visited the site! 

 

France is fantastic for caravanning, you will love it and never want to use a U.K. site again! 

 

Andy

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We have been to France for the last 30 odd years and more recently in our own van. One area worth considering is the  Dordogne . Stunning area lots to do Kayaking, walking etc and beautiful castles abound. Its about 520 miles . We stayed near Sarlat and there are plenty of sites around there. We will visit again this year. 

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Le moulin fort campsite not far from tours ,on a river chez with cycle/walking path also good for fishing , plenty of chateau's about and good restaurants , hot air balloons touch and go on the river early mornings if you are lucky to be there when someone has booked a trip , you can Book via caravanclub or acsi , Pete 

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Posted (edited)

If you don’t want to venture too far the “Baie De Somme”  (Crotoy and Valerie Sur Somme) is a simply wonderful area.

 

There is a narrow gauge steam train that goes between the two. Out of season you can take your bikes, so take the train one way and cycle back! It’s dead flat and a dedicated cycle path all the way. 

 

The tide goes out simply firever and you can take guided tours of the mud flats. DONT  be tempted to go on your own, the tide comes in VERY fast and you could easily get cut off.

 

If you like seafood you will be in heaven! There’s rather a lot of it in the area.  Honfleur is worth a visit but don’t be tempted to eat on the harbour side, you will need to remove an internal organ as a DEPOSIT!! Very picturesque indeed. 

 

Andy

Edited by Mr Plodd

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3 minutes ago, Mr Plodd said:

If you don’t want to venture too far the “Baie De Somme”  (Crotoy and Valerie Sur Somme) is a simply wonderful area.

 

There is a narrow gauge steam train that goes between the two. Out of season you can take your bikes, so take the train one way and cycle back! It’s dead flat and a dedicated cycle path all the way. 

 

The tide goes out simply firever and you can take guided tours of the mud flats. DONT  be tempted to go on your own, the tide comes in VERY fast and you could easily get cut off.

 

Andy

Another vote for Crotoy (was on Rick Stein's secret France a while back). We have been visiting for a few years now and love it.

 

The roads around there are easy to navigate too and won't be too busy at that time of year.

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12 hours ago, Joe1002 said:

Another vote for Crotoy (was on Rick Stein's secret France a while back). We have been visiting for a few years now and love it.

 

The roads around there are easy to navigate too and won't be too busy at that time of year.

As well as Seafood the local salt marsh Lamb is great. you can also watch the farmers turning there sheep on to the marshes as the tide goes out, and returning them to higher ground,(the other side of the road) as the tide comes in.

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Another vote for Moulin Fort. Get a riverside pitch if you can. Short stroll along the Cher to pass Chenonceau on the ‘other side’was a daily walk for us with the dog. Lots of beautiful chateaux to see in the area. Tours not far, Amboise a must visit, Villandry with the vegetable formal gardens, the list goes on.

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Posted (edited)

Le Crotoy has been our last stop in France before the Tunnel = 68 miles, and have done for many many years, and I agree with everything that Mr Plodd says, a wonderful  area but the weather can be similar to the South of England

Edited by Les Medes

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Posted (edited)

I love Normandy and we have stayed at le Colombier. However it looks like it has been taken on by Huttopia and no longer has the beautiful outdoor swimming pool.

 

Edit: New pool opening for end of June.

 

 

 

Edited by SteveMilner

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Thank you everyone. Lots of nice things to investigate before we decide. Its good that we will not need to book in advance. Its good to get advice from people who have been visiting France for a long time. As we will still be in the EU until the end of the year is seems an ideal time to go.  Len

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We are off to Saint Valerie sur Somme in February but not with the van. We’ve visited briefly before en route to Normandy hence us making another visit as we liked the area.  We haven’t visited Crotoy but it sounds like it’s a place to visit.  Does the train go from Saint Valerie to Crotoy and do you know if it runs so early in the year?  

Any other recommendations of where to visit in this area would be welcome.  

 

Beegamo

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6 hours ago, Bergamo said:

We are off to Saint Valerie sur Somme in February but not with the van. We’ve visited briefly before en route to Normandy hence us making another visit as we liked the area.  We haven’t visited Crotoy but it sounds like it’s a place to visit.  Does the train go from Saint Valerie to Crotoy and do you know if it runs so early in the year?  

Any other recommendations of where to visit in this area would be welcome.  

 

Beegamo

 

https://www.chemindefer-baiedesomme.fr/fr/bienvenue-sur-le-reseau-des-bains-de-mer

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Posted (edited)

The train certainly runs between the two towns (details in the above link provided by MGB) the station at Crotoy is about 10 minutes level walk from the sea front. Not all of the trains are steam powered, especially out of season. The station at Valerie is right on the harbour side.

 

Of the two towns our favourite by far is Valerie, don’t know why, it just is and it’s  a place that just “feels” right. We love visiting it at any time of the year. If you get to the harbourside face the water and turn left you can walk for miles along a good footpath that skirts the estuary. If you are into bird watching there are a lot there, along with the odd seal!

 

There is an ACSI site at Valerie Sur Somme it’s about a 20 minute walk from the town. The old part of the town is well worth wandering round, loads of eateries along the harbourside at all price levels, however at this time of year they won’t all be open, same in Crotoy.

There is a bit of beach at Crotoy but none at Valerie (just mud) 

Both towns have markets but I can’t recall on which days

 

Andy

Edited by Mr Plodd

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We are off to Saint Valerie sur Somme in February but not with the van. We’ve visited briefly before en route to Normandy hence us making another visit as we liked the area.  We haven’t visited Crotoy but it sounds like it’s a place to visit.  Does the train go from Saint Valerie to Crotoy and do you know if it runs so early in the year?  

Any other recommendations of where to visit in this area would be welcome.  

 

Beegamo

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Also both Valerie and Crotoy have some great restaurants, if you love fish, this is the best place, you can see the catch being unloaded and put straight on sale at Crotoy, as soon as the boats return the restaurant owners are there to greet them to commandeer the best fish

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Good morning,

 

Thanks for replies and link.  I’ve just looked at this which is full of useful information with fabulous photos.

Looking forward to the visit now!

 

Bergamo

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19 minutes ago, Bergamo said:Good morning,

 

Thanks for replies and link.  I’ve just looked at this which is full of useful information with fabulous photos.

Looking forward to the visit now!

 

Bergamo

 

Just be aware that if the weather is “iffy” it is a bit bleak!!

 

If you head down the coast a short way Ault is worth as visit as is Le Tréport/Mers  Le Bain. The sea front at Mers has many beautiful Art Deco properties most of which have been lovingly restored to their former glory. Nice funicular at Le Tréport. There is a municipal campsite at Le Tréport with a small cafe that serves excellent food at excellent prices. 

 

Head North  and there’s Le Touquet, another bastion of Art Deco. 

 

It a lovely area! 

 

Andy

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Posted (edited)

........since it is the OP's first time in France, is going for 2 weeks and does not want to travel far then I would use the Portsmouth-Ouistreham ferry and spend the two weeks in Normandy.

There is now little difference in the ferry cost as compared with the Dover crossings and Normandy has hundreds of campsites to chose from with no need to book in June.

There is so much to see and do in a relatively small area that you will be kept busy and if the weather is kind there are some wonderful beaches.

 

Edited by WilliamJames

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Also, if you wish to eat out, look for places that the locals eat out at.  Lovely.  Try looking at Castels & Camping campsites, beautiful sites, although can be a little pricey, but one thing they have in common, are the buildings are manor houses, chateaux, etc.  Also, get your fuel at supermarkets, like here, mostly cheaper.  Another thing that we did once, was get our car serviced there.  We had a Peugeot 407 at the time, and it was coming up for a main service.  In this country, the cost at the time was a bit over £400.  When we arrived at St Emelion in the Dordogne, we went to the main Peugeot dealer, and the cost for the exact same service was £106.00.  You can guess where we had our service done.  Apparently, nearly all cars (doesn't need to be French), were a lot cheaper to service than in this country, and you still get your book stamped, so worth considering, and you don't need to book it in for the day, its usually two hours +/-

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