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First Time In France


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hi,

i'm looking to go to the south of france next summer either via dover or from portsmouth to bilbao then down the coast or across to salou.

 

please can you suggest some campsites in southern france or in the salou area i'm aware of sanguli and your opinion the best way to travel .

 

must have good pool complex for the kids and a bar that would be for me.

 

Thanks

David

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You do not mention when you plan to travel, or how long you intend to stay. If you drive through France you need to allow at least 3 days with kids and if taking the Bilbao ferry it will still take a good day or so to get to the Med. Tolls in France are expensive so you may wish to look at slower Route Nationals, in Spain there are fewer toll motorways. Either of the areas you have mentioned are going to be very busy in high season and unfortunately, quite expensive. Site fees can easily range up to €40 per night or even more. If out of the high season then things are much more relaxed and easy. However, France iis still an expensive country to visit and dare I suggest your visit to the bar may make you choke on your beer when you see the bill. Better to do what the rest of us do and shop at the supermarket and sit under the awning. The Salou area is close to Barcelona which is very nice but can be quite wet even in summer due to rain from the Pyrenees. Similarly the Perpignan area can also be cloudy and wet, but just a few miles further north of Perpignan, or south of Salou and the sun is shining, so be flexible. Of course both can be very hot and sunny for weeks. One site you may wish to look at is Ma Prairie in Canet Plage. It is in the CC book and will take Camping Cheque in mid season. It has a good pool complex, a bar and is quiet at night, unless discos are your thing. Another popular site is Vilanova Park at Villanova just south of Barcelona. It also has a good pool complex and bar but 'suffers' the nightly disco.

 

I am sure others can name suitable sites as well.

 

By the way as a ballpark figure look at daily costs of €80-100. This will cover sites, fuel,tolls food and some entertainment. You may be able to improve that if you are careful.

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Unless you're willing to pay huge amounts of money to use the Portsmouth/Bilbao ferry, then I'd tend to take David's advice and stick to France or at least drive down through France, rather than use the longer crossings. You can book a DFDS crossing, at the moment, using the NEC11 code, for just £78. 00 return in high season! The Bilbao crossing will cost about 15 times that much! I would have suggested Cambrils Park in Salou - but unfortunately this no longer takes tourers. It was a great site, though, with lovely pools and grassy areas around them, and a good restaurant, bar, games areas, take-away, supermarket and bread shop - everything you wanted, in fact. We used to manage Salou with two overnight stops, but a very early start. We used to stay around mid-France for our first stop, then around Millau or just on the Mediterranean for our second night, and we'd be down in Salou in the afternoon of the following day. We've done Salou when our boys were younger - and it was an area they, and my nephew and niece also enjoyed.

 

There are some exceptional sites in the south of France. I wouldn't class Ma Prairie as having a 'pool complex' - we were there this year. The pools and bar/restaurant are across the road from the site - OK not a busy road, but you have to use a crossing. There are three pools, but no slides. The site is nicely shady - which was very useful when we were there because it was very very hot, and pitches are mostly irregular, amongst pine and other trees. Toilet blocks were fine, and clean - the restaurant was closed when we were there, as was the bar. We found the road noise quite intrusive, although the really busy road is quite a way off you could still hear it even through the night, and we were well tucked away in the middle of the site, about as far away from the surrounding roads as you could get.

 

David's other comment about the prices of beer in bars isn't true of everywhere. At a previous site (sorry no pool complex) we paid just 1 euro for a glass of wine, and 1. 60 for a beer! Cheaper than our local!

 

I'll leave it to others with children to recommend suitable sites - we're usually on sites in low season, and they can be very different at that time - but there are loads of sites which could fit the bill.

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Unless you're willing to pay huge amounts of money to use the Portsmouth/Bilbao ferry, then I'd tend to take David's advice and stick to France or at least drive down through France, rather than use the longer crossings. You can book a DFDS crossing, at the moment, using the NEC11 code, for just £78. 00 return in high season! The Bilbao crossing will cost about 15 times that much! I would have suggested Cambrils Park in Salou - but unfortunately this no longer takes tourers. It was a great site, though, with lovely pools and grassy areas around them, and a good restaurant, bar, games areas, take-away, supermarket and bread shop - everything you wanted, in fact. We used to manage Salou with two overnight stops, but a very early start. We used to stay around mid-France for our first stop, then around Millau or just on the Mediterranean for our second night, and we'd be down in Salou in the afternoon of the following day. We've done Salou when our boys were younger - and it was an area they, and my nephew and niece also enjoyed.

 

There are some exceptional sites in the south of France. I wouldn't class Ma Prairie as having a 'pool complex' - we were there this year. The pools and bar/restaurant are across the road from the site - OK not a busy road, but you have to use a crossing. There are three pools, but no slides. The site is nicely shady - which was very useful when we were there because it was very very hot, and pitches are mostly irregular, amongst pine and other trees. Toilet blocks were fine, and clean - the restaurant was closed when we were there, as was the bar. We found the road noise quite intrusive, although the really busy road is quite a way off you could still hear it even through the night, and we were well tucked away in the middle of the site, about as far away from the surrounding roads as you could get.

 

David's other comment about the prices of beer in bars isn't true of everywhere. At a previous site (sorry no pool complex) we paid just 1 euro for a glass of wine, and 1. 60 for a beer! Cheaper than our local!

 

I'll leave it to others with children to recommend suitable sites - we're usually on sites in low season, and they can be very different at that time - but there are loads of sites which could fit the bill.

summer late july travelling from newcastle was hoping for 1 stop only

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hi,

i'm looking to go to the south of france next summer either via dover or from portsmouth to bilbao then down the coast or across to salou.

 

please can you suggest some campsites in southern france or in the salou area i'm aware of sanguli and your opinion the best way to travel .

 

must have good pool complex for the kids and a bar that would be for me.

 

Thanks

David

 

 

I think you will get a shock at the price of Brittany Ferries Summer prices for a car and caravan + family cabin from Portsmouth to Bibao.

We use it in the winter off peak and even then its £400+ one way for 2 adults with a car caravan and a cabin .

Summer prices will probably be in the region of £700 one way and at least £100 for food and drinks

Edited by neil and lena
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There is an amazing site just outside carcassonne with a vast pool complex. The restaurant isn't up to much though. You are far too adventurous expecting to tow from newcastle to the south of France with only one stop especially as a first timer. It is a very long way and it is rarely safe to tow over 300 miles a day.

Edited by blueflightmedic
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There is an amazing site just outside carcassonne with a vast pool complex. The restaurant isn't up to much though. You are far too adventurous expecting to tow from newcastle to the south of France with only one stop especially as a first timer. It is a very long way and it is rarely safe to tow over 300 miles a day.

 

Agreed. .. in 25 years towing "sur l'Continent" I have only ever done over 300 miles when almost the whole route was by Motorway/Autoroute!!

 

And then 320 miles tops!!

 

G.

Edited by chapmag
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Agreed. .. in 25 years towing "sur l'Continent" I have only ever done over 300 miles when almost the whole route was by Motorway/Autoroute!!

 

And then 320 miles tops!!

 

G.

 

.

If you are going the toll roads, then sure, you can do some big distances.

it will cost you though, I guess the toll costs are almost as much as the fuel costs, or not far off.

It will be a long day, early to rise, and late to sleep, but 500 miles is OK.

 

However in reality, I can't think of any sensible reason to inflict this on the rest of the family.

If your alone, then OK, just torture yourself.

6 - 7 hours a day towing is enough on the French N roads, it's quite stressfull at times, pulling through the many cities.

From your neck of the woods, I would do Dover to Dunkirk, on DFDS, definatly the cheapest crossing.

As always, the A75 is the way to go, if your heading south, it's a decent enough road for most of it's length.

You have no chance of doing it in 1 day though.

250 miles is a good target.

With the help of Kontiki Kid, and Val, I towed all the way from Barcelona to Dunkirk, without paying a penny in tolls.

If I had money to burn, I would use the toll roads,

 

Graham

Thanks again to Kontiki adn Val.

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Thanks Graham! It's nice to know that people find suggestions useful in practice!

 

Just for the record, the tolls for a car and caravan travelling on (some) toll roads to Salou from Dunkerque (one way):

 

Route 1 - my suggestion but using tolls where they are available: €105. 00 and fuel €158. 64

 

Route 2 - the route viamichelin. fr recommends: which is heading towards Paris for the first stretch, then the A10 to Orleans, then following the route I suggested: €124. 60 and €151. 60 in fuel

 

Route 3 - via Reims/Dijon/Lyon - a route often used by the British - and called 'Route des Anglais' - but toll all the way: €159. 60 and fuel €158. 68

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There is an amazing site just outside carcassonne with a vast pool complex. The restaurant isn't up to much though. You are far too adventurous expecting to tow from newcastle to the south of France with only one stop especially as a first timer. It is a very long way and it is rarely safe to tow over 300 miles a day.

can you name the campsite

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Hi robbo7720,

If you've been to France before you'll be aware of just how good the Autoroute system is ( Peage or not ). I live in France and travel Saumur / Leic's many times in a year. First things first your on holiday! You've already intimated you want the bells and whistles for the kid's,good on Ya, But you also want a bar/restaurant so you can spoil SWMBO,good on Ya. I've got to disagree with earlier suggestions and advise the Portsmouth to Caen crossing. From Newcastle M1-A43-M40-A34 cruise to Portsmouth, if you can take the night boat with cabin, a nights sleep,shower,breakfast on board and off you go down to the Limoge area for a night stopover, then on down to your destination, How easy! Or Down towards Dover, AAAARGH ! then from Dunkirk to the south of France ? and to suggest the Autoroutes are expensive, not when you consider the extra fuel and time on N roads and indeed how many stopovers. Whichever you choose robbo, enjoy, take back nothing but good memories and leave nothing but footprints,Catch ya later,indoors.

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Portsmouth/Caen crossings are good if you're heading to Western or South Western France but still a very long way to Salou! :unsure:

The tolls are €124. 40 from Caen to Salou, fuel €131. 60 and the cost of a Portsmouth/Caen crossing in July, with car and caravan, is a massive £923. 00 with overnight crossings, and cabins both ways! That's an awful lot to save one extra day, and one extra night on a campsite at perhaps 20/30 euros for the four of you - especially as at the moment you can book a return Dover/Dunkerque crossing for car and caravan, in high season, for just £78. 00 using the code NEC11.

 

Additionally whilst Caen to Limoges is around the six hours driving you wanted, Limoges to Salou is a much longer drive, of around 9 to 10 hours, with a caravan, and is around 500 miles which is a long way to tow in one day.

 

Could the campsite outside Carcassonne be this one: Domaine d'Arnauteille, http://www. camping-a. ..ssonne-aude-uk/?

 

You could save the money on the Portsmouth/Caen crossing, and some of the drive as far as Salou, and consider an expensive campsite such as Le Brasilia, http://www. yellohvil. ..CFY4htAod1iKJOg which has a super pool complex, and is right on the beach. :)

Edited by ValA
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Hi all,

Could we have a comparison costing and travel time, Newcastle-Dover-Dunkirk-Salou. Newcastle-Portsmouth-Caen-Salou. BTW I do belong to Brit / Ferries Owners Club and don't pay anywhere near £900 for crossings. If robbo7720 wished to make a saving he could take a day boat and stop off for night at Ouisterham. Catch ya later,indoors.

NB: Forgive me but I've looked at it many times wishing to do an efficiency run Saumur-Leic's and return ( solo or towing ) and the cash differance is about £ 30-00. It's a no brainer, I can leave Saumur 7-00pm Sunday evening,take the night boat and be in Hinckley by 10-00 am Monday morning,Having a nights sleep a shower and breakfast on board. Leaving here in Saumur at the same time Sunday evening what time will I get a boat at Dunkirk and indeed what time will I arrive at Hinckley completely crackered. ?

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This year we spent €155 on tolls from Calais to Cartagena in Spain. We tend to use the A20 as it is a non toll motorway and the cross country route through Chartres. Avoid Paris as the tolls seem to be much higher anywhere near the city.

 

I agree Ma prairie does not have a pool complex per se, but it does have a separate kiddies pool and you can usually get a swim in the main pool. We have stayed at Yello Villages where there was a big pool complex but you could only stand as there was so many people in the damn thing at any one time. Spain is much cheaper on costs but you have to go south of Barcelona to see any difference from France.

 

As you are travelling from Newcastle you may wish to check out DFDS on your doorstep as they do a lot of caravan free crossings. Also P&O will do the same to Zeebrugge if you check the day. The extra costs can be balanced by the driving to Dover, although not completely.

 

As mentioned by others do not go mad on thre daily driving, it is suppsed to be a holiday and getting all stressed up will do you no favours. If time is short then consider not going so far, possibly the Dordogne which can be also very hot and has a load of attractive sites and scenery.

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I agree, Indoors, but don't forget the timings to and from Newcastle are very different. We live in the North of England, and traffic hold-ups can be a nightmare on the way to Portsmouth - and don't forget if we miss a Dover ferry there's another along in an hour or so. Newcastle/Dover compared to Newcastle/Portsmouth is not very much different in timings/fuel costs.

 

At the moment you can get a DFDS crossing for car and caravan in peak season, any sailing, any dates, for just £78. 00 return or £54. 00 in low season for car and caravan. When I costed Brittany Ferries for July outward, August return it was a massive £923. 00 return, including cabin both ways. Now to my mind you could stay one extra night on a campsite through France for 20/30 euros, spend an extra 50 euros in fuel, with one extra campsite night, and still save a fortune on the longer crossing.

 

I think to Leicester to Saumur is very different from doing Newcastle to Salou - and whilst I do accept that the western crossings are suitable for some, at current prices they are extortionately expensive for most people, who don't have the benefits of 'Owners Clubs'. Even at 30% off though, that's is still £600 for a return crossing, compared to £58 to £78.

 

I have friends who live in France/England, and who always used the longer crossings, until they realised just how cheap the short crossings are now. They now do Dover/Dunkerque, with (occasionally) an overnight stop on their way to Sauze Vaussais where they have a house!

Edited by ValA
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You are far too adventurous expecting to tow from newcastle to the south of France with only one stop especially as a first timer. It is a very long way and it is rarely safe to tow over 300 miles a day.

 

agree with that - especially as OP David says "still searching for my first van" so will be pretty inexperienced tower. suggest keep it simpler for the first excursion into france - have alook at sites around Royan area which are reachable from the ports in 1 or 2 days fairly easy driving.

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can you name the campsite

My guess would be Domaine d'Arnauteille. We stayed there in June 2008. Quite a steep climb from reception to the pitching area, but still an excellent site. Super pools on the hillside, Showers and toilets in what could only be described as a Roman Villa, but modern and clean. Site is surrounded by vineyards. Easy access to Carcasonne (both old and new) and many Cathar castles n the surrounding hills. We had a pleasant meal in the small restaurant there.

 

Try this link.

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Thanks, John, beat me to it. I had forgotten that climb!

Edited by blueflightmedic
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