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Emergency Pitching In France


Jayne and Paul

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Hi All

 

Newbie here just returned from our first trip abroad in our Lunar Quasar.

 

It all went very well, but we decided to do the final journey back to the port (St Malo) in one leg, from Mimizan about 1 hour south of Bordeaux.

 

Our Tom Tom calculated the journey time as 6. 5 hours, so I said we needed to be on the road by 9. 00am

 

Well, by the time we had packed up and did some last minute shopping it was nearer 12. 00 midday. ..... ! :rolleyes:

 

So, we didn't arrive at St Malo until 8. 30pm (after a lunch stop etc) by which time all the local camp site offices were closed and the barriers down.

 

I did try to sneak our outfit into one of those camping car sites that proliferate in France (and all free of charge - why is that??) but was told in no uncertain terms by one of the motor homers pitched their that caravans were "strictement interdite!" Very unfair in my humble opinion, but there you go!

 

So what to do?

 

My good lady thought she had read or heard somewhere you could pitch up on Auchan Supermarket Car Parks, much like you can in the USA on Walmart sites, but she wasn't sure.

 

There are the autoroute "Aires" of course, but again my lady thought she had read or heard somewhere that it was illegal to pitch a caravan, and you would probably get mugged anyway.

 

In the end, we discovered there was a small parking area right by the port entrance where some camper vans were already parked up.

 

I asked one of the occupants whether caravans were "interdite" but he didn't know.

 

So we took a chance and pitched up in a double length parking bay, unhitched the car and parked it along side so we didn't cause any obstructions.

 

There was a no waiting sign, with a plate below in French which we couldn't figure out, but I read it to mean that only towing or towed vehicles should be parked in that area, which made sense given the double length spaces.

 

Anyway, we decided to go for it, and as it turned out, nobody bothered us.

 

However, it did occur to me that we can't be the first to find ourselves in that situation, not only abroad but here in the UK as well.

 

So, my question is, did we do right, or should we have done something different?

 

And please don't say we should have set off earlier. ... we already realise that now!

 

Thanks in advance for all advice!

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I assume we are talking about the future now? Can't change what you have already done. Not sure there is a legal regulation about staying in Aires (non motorway)saying that they can't be used by caravans although clearly they are not designed with caravans in mind. If you ask a motorhomer on an Aire you will always get a Mandy Rice-Davies answer, They would say that wouldn't they!!!

 

I appreciate that people want to maximise their holidays but to avoid what you have experienced you need to plan more carefully. Perhaps arrange to do your last minute shopping when you get near the Port, after all most French supermarkets open until quite late, especially the large ones.

 

David

David - Milton Keynes

Bailey Alliance 66-2 Motorhome for holidays and a Kia Venga for home.

 

Caravan Travels

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And please don't say we should have set off earlier. ... we already realise that now!
Having set off later than planned, could you have stopped earlier, and set off again early the next day? OK, hindsight is a great "diagnostic tool", but it may be worth considering should this happen again.

As David said, I don't believe there is any ruling that says you cannot stay in an Aire, though I confess it would not be my first choice. Some ports offer a parking area where you can rest while waiting for ferries, Calais being a case in point, but I don't know the situation at St Malo.

I did try to sneak our outfit into one of those camping car sites that proliferate in France but was told in no uncertain terms by one of the motor homers pitched their that caravans were "strictement interdite!"
It sounds unfair, but I believe it is not permitted both to deter the "Nomads" who wouldn't normally use motorhomes, and because caravans are not normally completely self contained, with fresh water and holding tanks like a MH.

I hope your experience did not detract from your holiday at Mimizan. It's beautiful all around the Archachon Basin and a part of France I have fond memories of.

Gordon.

Fourwinds Hurricane 31D Motorhome. Also MGTF135 1. 8i Roadster (fun) & Volvo V70 3.2Ltr LPG (everyday car)
Unless otherwise stated, my posts will be my personal thoughts and have the same standing as any other member of Caravan and Motorhome Talk.

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Having set off later than planned, could you have stopped earlier, and set off again early the next day? OK, hindsight is a great "diagnostic tool", but it may be worth considering should this happen again.

 

Not an option in this case - the ferry left at 10. 30am the next day.

 

As I said, this was our first experience of caravanning, and we just thought we would be able to find somewhere to pitch somewhere near the port.

 

I hope your experience did not detract from your holiday at Mimizan. It's beautiful all around the Archachon Basin and a part of France I have fond memories of.

 

Not in the least - it was beautiful.

 

We will just adopt a less laxadaisical attitude in future!

 

As it turned out, it was OK anyway - as I said nobidy bothered us.

 

It seems a real shame though if caravanners are perceived in the same way as nomads.

 

We had no intentions of connecting up the water or waste - it was just a case of dropping the corner stabilisers and getting a nights kip!

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Hi Jayne & Paul, May I suggest that when you have planned your trip to download the co-ordinates of campsites that are on the route of your trip onto your Tom Tom, ASCI sites can be downloaded in complete form direct from their website. And it's possible for you to manually download any municipal sites etc that are on your route. The ASCI sites need to be downloaded each year so as to match up with the current book but easy enough and you will always have a plan B at the ready.

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Not an option in this case - the ferry left at 10. 30am the next day.
I understand. Still you'll know nest time :)
We had no intentions of connecting up the water or waste - it was just a case of dropping the corner stabilisers and getting a nights kip!.
Makes perfect sense to me, and infact is exactly what we have done in the past at a CL near Dover, prior to catching an early morning ferry.

Left the car hitched, and just dropped the steadies and got some zeds. Parked the outfit near to the entrance, and in the morning ensured that we only shut the car doors once (very quietly), started the engine and drove off immediately so nobody else was aware of us leaving.

Gordon.

Fourwinds Hurricane 31D Motorhome. Also MGTF135 1. 8i Roadster (fun) & Volvo V70 3.2Ltr LPG (everyday car)
Unless otherwise stated, my posts will be my personal thoughts and have the same standing as any other member of Caravan and Motorhome Talk.

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Makes perfect sense to me, and infact is exactly what we have done in the past at a CL near Dover, prior to catching an early morning ferry.

 

Pardon my ignorance - we are very new to caravanning - what is a CL? :huh:

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Pardon my ignorance - we are very new to caravanning - what is a CL? :huh:

 

Pardon my ignorance - we are very new to caravanning - what is a CL? :huh:

 

 

A Certificated Location - a small (max 5 van) site certified through the Caravan Club. The Camping and Caravanning Club certify their own "CS" sites in the same way. . Only members of the Club in question are allowed to use them. They vary from a basic field, (which must have at least a water tap and toilet disposal) up to 5* equivalent. Prices can be from under £10 complete, per night. Lots of people on this site swear by them, but they're not likely to provide "entertainment", etc

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A Certificated Location - a small (max 5 van) site certified through the Caravan Club. The Camping and Caravanning Club certify their own "CS" sites in the same way. . Only members of the Club in question are allowed to use them. They vary from a basic field, (which must have at least a water tap and toilet disposal) up to 5* equivalent. Prices can be from under £10 complete, per night. Lots of people on this site swear by them, but they're not likely to provide "entertainment", etc

 

Ah. ..... excellent!

 

We did join the Caravan Club.

 

Thanks for the info! ;)

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