We left home at 10.30am on 23 July to travel to Folkestone for our first time through the Tunnel, courtesy of Tesco vouchers. The journey to Folkestone was a horrendous 7+ hours for the 278 mile trip. Unfortunately the traffic on the M25, travelling clockwise, was horrendous with frequent delays. Although we had tried to allow for this and we had to catch a later train. We missed our booked train at 16.50hrs but when we arrived at 18.00 were put on the 19.05 train without further charge. We had originally booked the Chunnel for 16.50 as we thought that would give us time to get to our first campsite La Chaumiere in the early evening.
The Eurotunnel terminal was well designed with ample parking, including caravan spaces, and a good range of shops. Our gas bottles were checked at the Eurotunnel check-in but we were waved through passport control without a glance. I was a little apprehensive about the train loading procedures but there was plenty of room to board. I remembered what had been said on Caravan Talk forum about ensuring that there was enough space before moving into the next train carriage and waited accordingly. We were last to board and left in a carriage on our own. Whilst the shuttle was very fast we were not otherwise impressed and decided we MUCH prefer the good old Norfolk Line ferry.
We had booked into Camping La Chaumiere, at Buycherelles for our first night. We had booked in advance from the UK, on the internet, and paid using the site’s PayPal facility. We were charged 21€ per night (including 1€ for the dog) plus a 3€ reservation fee. We had only intended a one night stay for our first night in France with a view to getting a good rest after our 270 mile drive down to Folkestone. We had planned to get away early the morning of Sunday 24 July.
Our late departure from the UK, with the extra hour for French Summer Time, meant we did not arrive in France until nearly 21.00hrs. We phoned La Chaumiere to see if we could still arrive late and owner, Madame Bernadette, said yes, no problem. We drove to La Chaumiere via the A16, D11, D928 and then narrow country roads. The last mile or so was along a VERY narrow road with few passing places. Our late arrival in France meant that we did not reach La Chaumiere until about 21.50hrs. Husband Guy was NOT so helpful and accommodating as his wife and reprimanded us for our late arrival!
The hedged pitch (No 9) we were shown to was large enough for our van and car with room to spare. It had its own 6 amps EHU, rubbish bin, water point and drain. Access was good as it was at a junction of 2 site roads. The pitch was mainly grass with an area of handstanding for the caravan. The hardstanding was, however, very rough and uneven – more like builder’s rubble.
The site is set in open countryside about a mile from the very small village of Buysscheure – a few houses, a Church and no shops. The site is quite small with fairly narrow site roads. The pitches are separated by quite high hedges and lots of trees which make most of the site rather dark and shady. There is a tiny outdoor pool which we did not try and a rather small pond for fishing. There is only one toilet block which does not seem much for the size of site. The bar and restaurant are at the entrance to the site and this, also, serves as reception. The restaurant which, also, has an outdoor terrace with picnic tables is open to non-residents and seemed very popular although we did not use it. There is, also, free wi-fi in the bar area, including the adjacent terrace.
In addition the site has a children’s playground and areas for Boules, badminton and archery. There are 2 CDPs but at the one nearest to our pitches I was directed, by another camper, to the motor home dump point where the grating had to be removed with a metal tool. I have since read that there IS a CDP hidden in the bushes nearby but I didn’t see it. The nearby TGV trains can be clearly heard but we did not find this a problem.
Tired after the ordeal of the day before, we decided we would have an extra night at La Chaumiere to recover from our lengthy journey. On Sunday 24 July we drove over to St Omer to fill up with diesel as we had forgotten to stop for fuel the night before. Fortunately we made it to nearest fuel available on a Sunday – the credit card pump at the Carrefour Hyper Marche at St Omer.
We spent the Sunday afternoon visiting the nearby interesting town of Cassel. This hilltop town is reputedly on the hill which the “Grand Old Duke of York” marched up and down with his 10 thousand men. Its elevated position gives it outstanding views over surrounding flat countryside. It is very picturesque and has some interesting buildings. We visited the historic, working, post windmill set in the hilltop park near the town centre. The guide spoke only French but we were given an information sheet in English. At the end of our visit we were presented with a complimentary bag of flour, milled in the windmill. The extensive cobbled streets were very hard on the car suspension.
On the morning of Monday 25 July we left at 09.00hrs for the first stage of our journey to Brittany. We stopped at Aire de Bai de Somme for a picnic lunch. We parked in the separate, dedicated caravan parking area and used one of the adjacent picnic benches. The main buildings of the Aire can be reached from the caravan parking area by a footpath through the surrounding wetlands. The central buildings include a restaurant, general shop and a shop linked to the local wetlands. There is also a viewing tower which gives an excellent view of the surrounding countryside.
After lunch we continued our journey south on the A16 and then turned onto to the toll-free A28/E402. At the intersection with the toll-autoroute A29/E44 we turned west towards the Pont du Normandie thus avoiding Rouen. We drove over the spectacular Pont du Normandie and on south through eastern Normandy. At the intersection with the E46/A13 we turned southwest towards Caen. We bypassed Caen on its southern side on the N813 before turning southwest on the toll-free A84/E03 towards Avranches.
Our next stop was at the Municipal Campsite at Pont de Farcy.
We reached the site in the late afternoon having driven 242 miles from Camping La Chaumiere. The site is located south west of Caen just off the A84. It is literally 5 minutes’ drive from junction 39 of the A84, from which it is signposted thus making it ideal as a night halt. We did not book the site but we phoned ahead whilst travelling to ensure they had room.
The site is set in a beautiful wooded valley and on a bend in the River Vire. I think the location may have previously been a boat quay as there are some remnants of this and the river widens into a basin. The site is fairly narrow and extends along the banks of the river with many of the pitches separated from the river bank only by a low fence. There are approximately 50 open grass pitches with plenty of shade from mature trees. The site is a little unkempt in appearance with a number of pitches where the grass was in need of cutting – this was particularly so in the half of the site furthest from the entrance and reception, which was predominantly empty.
There was a large, modern sanitary block with separate male and female toilets and laundry and washing-up area. This block, also, had an upstairs games room but this was not open during our stay. The CDP was located in a tiny, older sanitary block at the far end of the site but the toilets in this block were boarded up. There was a new children’s playground near the toilet block and a number of single pieces of children’s play equipment distributed around the site – although some of these had seen better days. The village tennis courts and crazy golf course are situated next to the gates of the campsite. River fishing was available at the campsite and a card could be purchased from reception. It must be said that the whole site appeared to be in need of a little more loving care but its idyllic location compensated for this.
Another considerable asset was the friendly and helpful lady warden. She spoke some English and was always attentive and keen to please. When we asked what the departure time was she said that we could stay as late as we wished. On our outward journey we stayed until we had eaten our picnic lunch on the riverbank.
We were told to choose our own pitch and chose one right on the bend in the river so that we were able to point the van towards the river and have the views in both directions along the river. The views along the wooded valley were lovely with horses and foals gambolling in the fields on the opposite bank of the river.
There was a nearby water point but a slight disadvantage was that the EHU point was on the opposite side of the site access road so we had to run our hook-up cable across the road. In addition we needed to use our additional hook-up cable to reach the EHU point.
Although roads bordered the site on all 3 sides they were relatively quiet country roads and traffic noise was not obtrusive. Surprisingly, given the site’s closeness to the autoroute, there was no road noise whatsoever from the A84.
The small, picturesque village was 5 minutes’ walk away. It had a baker’s, bar and a petrol station with a very well-stocked food shop. The fuel was, however, very expensive – the dearest purchased during our 4 week holidays. Bread could be ordered and collected from reception. Opposite the campsite was a small “park”, unfortunately a little overgrown, where a WW2 Bailey Bridge had been relocated. We visited this by walking through the village and over the flower-decked bridge on the morning of our departure.
Walking and cycle routes in the Vire Valley were advertised on a large map in the village and the area seemed worthy of further exploration. There was a small town of Tessy-sur-Vire about 5 miles away on the other side of the autoroute
I can highly recommend this rural campsite both as a night halt and for longer stays to explore the area. I hope that this review will help it to get more visitors as it deserves – that might help to smarten it up a bit. At £9.95 per night for the pitch with EHU for the 2 of us and Max the collie it was tremendous bargain, too.
We left after lunch and continued on journey to our first main campsite on at Pleubian on the Cote d’Armor on the northern coast of Brittany.
Leaving Pont Farcy we quickly re-joined the A84 travelling south towards Avranches. At Avranches we took the N175 towards Pontorson. We bypassed Pontorson and joined the N176 westwards towards Dinan. Near Tramain we turned northwest on the N12 towards St Brieuc. After bypassing St Brieuc we turned onto the D6 and then D7 towards Paimpol. Near Paimpol we turned onto the D786 to Lezardrieux and then finally onto the D70 to Pleubian. When we reached the centre of the village of Pleubian we took the D20 to Camping Port La Chaine. We arrived at Port La Chaine at 18.30hrs on Tuesday 27 July, having travelled 150 miles from Pont Farcy.
We had researched a number of sites in northern Brittany as we were keen to find somewhere where we could both have a sea view and access to the sea for our Zodiac inflatable boat. After we had chosen a few possible sites we had email conversations with a number of sites to find suitable ones. Port La Chaine was very helpful, emailing a map of the campsite showing suitable pitches. We booked the site on the internet and paid a deposit of 100€ by credit card earlier in the year.
The male owner, who spoke a little English, seemed concerned as to whether our van would fit on the agreed pitch and suggested we took a look first, providing us with a map of the site showing available pitches. Our carefully chosen, prebooked pitch which was near to the sea, for our boat, and had sea views, was far too tiny for our van – it would not have accommodated a van half the size of ours. This was extremely annoying as in our extended email correspondence with the site owners and had made our requirements, including our van’s size, very clear.
Fortunately, there were other vacant pitches and,after a lot of searching, we managed to find a suitable one with lovely sea views, albeit quite a long way back from the sea shore. The one booked originally had been nearer the sea. Our pitch overlooked the sea with a beautiful view across to the adjacent islands.
Camping Port La Chaine is a sloping site of 200 pitches set in open coastal countryside at the end of the Presqu’ile Sauvage, or wild peninsula north of the village of Pleubian. The higher pitches are laid in a series of terraces which give single width rows of large-sized pitches. Many of the higher pitches have lovely views out over the adjacent sea and small islands. The lower pitches are set in double rows screened from the sea by a bed of, 2 metre high, sea grass. There are lots of attractive mature trees and flowering plants which beautify the site and give shade and the site is very quiet and peaceful.
At the top end of the site near the entrance there is a small complex of buildings. The reception office has a range of brochures and information about local sights. There is, also, a small bar with a pleasant outdoor terrace. Bread can be ordered from the bar. Nearby there is a medium-sized outdoor pool but this was rather cold. There is, also, a games room with table tennis table and arcade machines. There is a children’s playground near this area. Free wi-fi is available in the area near to reception.
The rest of the site is accessed by a steeply sloping tarmac road with the camping pitches on the left and mobile homes on the right. There are 2 large toilet blocks set on this main roadway with an adequate number of toilets and showers, including some child sized WCs, and a CDP point. These blocks, also, house the washing-up and launderettes with sinks, washing machines and tumble dryers.
At the end of the main campsite road there is a large playing field with a volleyball net and from there 2 paths lead through the bank of seagrass to the coast. Near to the playing field there is a selection of outdoor exercise equipment. The adjacent small bay is bounded by a long distance coastal pathway. There is a small lighthouse just a short distance along the coast – this is only the size of a house and does not have a tower.
A couple of miles along the coast there is an interesting geological phenomenon the Sillon de Talbert. The Sillon de Talbert is a long, thin trail of pebbles and sand stretching far out into the Channel. It is only 35mt wide but stretches for 3 kilometres. The Sillon is formed by the currents in the 2 river estuaries it lies between. We walked part of the way along the Sillon. Far out to sea beyond the tip of Sillon can be seen the Phare des Héaux one of the highest lighthouses off the French coast.
The beach is covered with large pebbles and slopes steeply down to what becomes a huge expanse of wet sand at low tide. In the bay there are fixed mooring buoys for small boats but because of the steep slope of the beach these are only accessible at low tide when there is no water for the boats! We drove our Zodiac inflatable down to the sport’s field near to the beach in the car, before inflating it and carrying it down to the beach. We hired one of the camp’s mooring buoys but made little use of it because of the above reasons. This mooring was expensive at £24.00 for a week. We took a few trips out in our boat but found this to be very difficult because of the huge difference between the high and low tides. When the tide was in our mooring was in deep water which made it difficult to reach. In the end we kept the boat on the beach above the high water mark and launched and landed it when the tide was at its highest level.
There are no good sandy beaches adjacent to the site so the site is NOT really suitable for beach holidays. I understand that there are sandy beaches nearby, in driving distance, but we did not visit them. The small town of Pleubian is about 2 miles from the campsite. It has several bars, a baker’s, Tourist Information Office and a small SuperU Express supermarket. We found the SuperU to be adequate for our food shopping and purchased our diesel fuel from its petrol station. There is also a small 8.00 to 8.00 minimarket with a Pharmacy nearby. The Tourist Information office had a good range of information leaflets and an interesting exhibition of photographs of local life.
We visited the nearby river port of Treguier for an interesting day out. The river area is very scenic. Near the river there is a public car park where we parked. There is a large Tourist Information Office near to the car park. Treguier has a number of historical buildings and Rue St Yves which runs from up from the harbour is a street of overhanging half-timbered buildings. In the central Place du Martray there are a number of touristy shops. The beautiful 14th Century cathedral is dedicated to the 6th Century Welsh missionary St Tudwal. The cathedral has some lovely stained glass and a pleasant flower filled cloister adjacent to it. The Cathedral’s slender spire is unusually perforated with playing card patterns – clubs, hearts and diamonds. The town, also, has a number of interesting second hand shops filled with French bric-a-brac. There are several supermarkets, including a Lidl, and a large souvenir store on the western outskirts of the town.
We also took a day trip to the Ile de Brehat. This beautiful archipelago of islands is only 10 minutes by regular passenger ferry from the Pointe de l’Arcouest which is under an hour’s drive from the campsite. The small harbour at Pointe de l’Arcouest is surrounded with large car parks for the numerous day trippers to the Island. The main island is actually 2 islands joined by a small bridge the Pont ar Prat. The southern island has the best beaches whilst the northern one is more rugged and rocky with low tide revealing a shoreline of eroded pink-orange rocks. There are a number of holiday homes on the island and the residents push their shopping and luggage around on hand trolleys.
The ferry from Pointe de l’Arcouest arrives at the small harbour of Port-Clos. The islands have their own micro-climate and are a home to many exotic plants and rare birds. Brehat is car-free and bikes are available for hire near the harbour. About 500mts from the harbour is Brehat’s main village of Le Bourg. Le Bourg is a handful of houses and shops set around a central green. There are, also, a number of restaurants and hotel catering mainly for the tourist visitors.
We spent a very pleasant day walking the lovely flower-decked pathways and taking in the spectacular coastal views to the surrounding islets. We visited the small historic chapel of St Michel set on a picturesque rocky hill and walked to the modern lighthouse on the northern island. There is also a ruined tidal mill which can be visited.
Another of our days out was to Paimpol, about 15 miles away from the campsite is an interesting port town for a day’s visit. Originally a base for a trawler fleet which fished in Icelandic waters it is now mainly a pleasure port. We enjoyed walking around the town’s 2 harbour basins. There are a number of chandlers’ shops servicing the needs of the yachting fraternity and we were able to buy some parts for our Zodiac inflatable boat. In the town centre there a good range of shops and 2 large Hyper Marches. A vintage steam railway runs inland from Paimpol with regular timetable of trips during the summer but it was expensive and we did not take the trip.
We spent a day visiting the outstanding stretch of the North Brittany coast at the Plougrescant Peninsula. This beautiful stretch is coastline is dominated by huge granite boulders. After a picnic on the beach we walked to view the famous tiny 2 story house sandwiched between 2 gigantic granite boulders which often features on posters and in photos in books about Brittany.
For our final trip out we drove along the northern coastline passing through a number of small resorts before we reached the larger towns of Perros-Guirec and Ploumanach. We ended our drive at the beach resort of Tregastel Plage.
The beach here is part of the Cote Granite Rose and is backed with large pink granite boulders which have been eroded into an array of fantastic shapes. We spent a pleasant afternoon on the beach watching an aerial-acrobatic display by a team from the French air force.
The cost of our pitch with EHU for the 2 of us and Max the collie was c£26 per night which I thought was quite expensive for the facilities offered. The owners were quite friendly and helpful and the wife speaks English fluently. We would recommend this site to those who like peaceful rural sites. The lack of a sandy beach makes it unsuitable for a beach-type holiday. It is more suitable for short stays as there was not a lot to do either at the site or in the vicinity. The location was, also, rather remote for travelling to other places. In our opinion it would be more suitable for couples than families for similar reasons. Although it was not the site’s fault we found the weather on the northern coast of Brittany to be much more windy and rainy than Benodet in southern Brittany where have stayed several times.
We left Camping Port La Chaine early on the morning of Tuesday 9 August to travel on to our next campsite, Camping Du Letty in Benodet in southern Brittany. Du Letty was the site we had stayed at on our first camping visit to France in 1994 when our children were young. We all loved the site and our children never wanted to go anywhere else so in the 90’s/early 00’s, we visited Du Letty for a number of consecutive summers. We were initially tenters with a large frame tent before we graduated later to being caravanners.
We had booked a pitch at Du Letty for 15 nights. We were looking forward to our return visit AND to trying out their new water park!! Our previous review of this site was the first one on UKCS and a number of folk commented how our very positive original review had encouraged them to try Camping Du Letty – It’s a pity we’re not on commission for our recommendation! Our last previous visit had been in 2003.
We took the D20 through Pleubian to join the D786 near Treguier. We drove west towards Morlaix. The route near Plestin-les-Greves was along the coast and very scenic. We bypassed to the north of Morlaix before turning onto the D785 southwards. We knew this part of the route well as it was the one that we had used in the past travelling between Benodet and Brittany Ferries at the port of Roscoff. The D785 is a beautifully scenic route over the high moorlands in the centre of Brittany. From near the Montaigne de St Michel there are lovely distant views over the valley and Reservoir de St Michel below. The road is a good quality single carriageway (in both directions) although a few picnic places enroute would be good as we were looked, unsuccessfully, for somewhere to stop and eat our picnic lunch.
Our route passed through the centre of the pretty small town of Brasparts. (A name which always caused much amusement to our children) Soon after Pleyben we turned west onto the N164. After a short distance we turned south onto the N165/E60 near Chateaulin. This dual carriageway took us to the northern outskirts of Quimper and we bypassed the city on its western and southern sides. We then joined the D34 to Benodet a route which we, again, recognised from previous visits. On reaching the roundabout adjacent to the Carrefour store on the outskirts of Benodet we turned left, to avoid the town centre, and followed minor roads to the gates of Camping Du Letty.
We noticed that there had been a considerable amount of residential development since our previous visit 8 years before. There were, also, new-to-us “traffic calming” measures including “speed bumps” which had be carefully negotiated, particularly whilst towing. We arrived at Camping Du Letty in the early afternoon having travelled 115 miles from our previous site at Camping Port La Chaine.
We had booked our pitch in May and asked for a pitch as near to the sea as possible. On arrival we were given a warm welcome by the English speaking staff but the pitch we were directed to, on the pitching paddock Les Bruyeres 10, was a long way from the beach and the sea. We did move our van onto the pitch but after further consideration we returned to Reception and asked if there was nothing nearer to the beach. We were offered a pitch only slightly nearer to the beach but after inspecting this we returned again to reception and spoke with the Manageress Madame Christine Benois-Guyader. She was very assertive and at first insisted that there was nothing available nearer to the beach, complaining that everyone wanted a pitch near the beach. I, however, persisted and in the end was offered a pitch on Les Chardons Bleus which was right behind the new water park complex and much closer to both the beach and Reception. We gratefully accepted this pitch.
Our change of pitch was did not go entirely without a hitch (excuse the pun) as we had problems with our Jockey wheel jamming which meant that we could not unhitch the van and left our outfit blocking the main road through the campsite. The turns from this site road into the pitching areas are very tight and it was necessary to unhitch the van from the car to move it in with the motor mover. A number of other campers came to our assistance and we got the van onto our new pitch. Our problems were not, however, over completely even then as the extended use of the motor mover meant that the caravan battery was becoming rather flat. This in turn meant that the mover struggled to get the van onto a levelling ramp with the tyre slipping against the rollers of the motor mover. Too late I realised that the slipping rollers had damaged the treads of the, almost brand new, caravan tyres.
I was a little concerned about the damage to the tyre tread and so when we had positioned the van we phoned the Caravan Club’s Red Pennant Insurance service, our travel insurers, for advice. The Red Pennant staff erred on the side of caution and were all for us getting both of the tyres replaced. Knowing, however, from previous experience, the difficulty in sourcing the correct tyres in France I consulted with Tyrecare St Helens, our tyre fitting company, who deal with all our tyre needs back home in St Helens. Stan and his son Jon who run Tyrecare St Helens were wonderful. At their suggestion I emailed them photos of the tyre damage. In a 3 way conference between us, the Red Pennant advisor and Stan of Tyrecare, Stan insisted that the tyres were okay and that the damage to the tread was no more severe than that on many vehicles. Reassured by Stan’s advice we decided not to change the tyres.
At the suggestion of Red Pennant I asked Du Letty’s Madame Christine’s advice on finding a caravan dealer to, also, check the tyres. Christine was, as always, very helpful and arranged for Monsieur Phillipe who hires out caravans at Du Letty to come and check out the tyres on our pitch. Monsieur Phillipe has the additional experience of being a retired Gendarme. With the translation assistance of his wife, only she spoke a little English, Phillipe, also, assured us that the tyres did NOT need replacing. The advice we received was obviously sound as we have continued to use them these tyres to return to our home in the UK and for a good many miles of touring subsequently. We rewarded Stan and Jon with a couple of bottles of French Cider on our return home.
The paddock on which our pitch was located was only big enough for 2 pitches and alongside the main roadway through the site. The pitch was on slightly sandy grass and with some shade from the hedges and mature trees. Unfortunately the drinking water taps for our paddock were on the opposite side to our pitch so we were unable to use our water connection hose for a direct supply, although many other pitches do have access to their own tap. There was a drain for ‘grey’ waste water adjacent to our van. Our pitch was plenty large enough for our van, awning and Kia Sorento. After a LOT of repositioning the dish I was able to get a good signal on our satellite TV system. We were also able to access the site’s free wi-fi from our caravan. The free wi-fi coverage is said to extend to most of the pitches.
The site’s new pool complex is wonderful. The indoor pool has a uniform depth of approximately 1.5mt with a jacuzzi and several other fun features. The water was pleasantly warm and the pool area very well appointed with lovely surrounds with ornate tiling and a range of tropical plants. The outdoor pool is well designed too with slides and a number of other features. There are lots of sun loungers. All these pool facilities are included in the pitch price. It is necessary to have a rubber wrist band to use the pools and these are available at Reception for a 10€ deposit which is refunded on their return. The pool changing area has toilet and shower facilities and changing cubicles. There are, also, key operated lockers which require a, refunded, € coin.
The bar near reception has been extended with an outdoor patio which overlooks the pool complex. Nearby there is the camp mini-market which sells a good range of food and drink and newspapers. There is, also, a food take-away which serves a range of food (including fish and chips!) but we did not use this facility. There is, also, another bar L’Amiral situated near the campsite entrance where there are sometimes discotheques and live musical entertainment. In addition near to reception, there is a very comfortably furnished library which, also, has 4 computers which can be rented on an hourly basis. There is a laundry equipped with several washing machines and tumble driers operated by tokens which can be bought from reception.
The site has an excellent range of sporting facilities. There are outdoor hard tennis courts, an indoor squash court and several table tennis tables both indoor and outdoor. There is, also, a well-equipped gym which can be used without charge. Other activities such as archery are organised during the peak season. For those seeking relaxation there is a Relax Area with hot tubs, saunas, steam baths and a massage room. There are, also, children’s activities but I don’t have any details of these.
As I’m writing for an English audience I better mention the toilets! There are 5 sanitary blocks located around the campsite. These are some of the best I have seen on any campsite. The fully tiled, blocks are modern and extremely well-appointed with individual cubicles with wash basins and both English (seated) and Continental toilets. The hot showers require a token which has to be purchased from reception. These blocks, also, contain dedicated baby bathrooms. One block even has a 2 dog showers. I used one to shower collie Max but he was NOT impressed as he was not fond of water at all!! All of these toilet blocks are kept extremely clean by very frequent cleaning. There is also a room with full size hairdryers. There are a chemical disposal points in small rooms at each sanitary block. Each CDP is well designed with a Continental toilet and a tap fitted with an appropriate length hose for rinsing.
Madame Christine and her staff, who all speak excellent English, were all very helpful throughout our stay. Christie helped me find a supplier for some satellite accessories and arranged for Monsieur Phillipe to check with our caravan tyres. When there was a problem with the site wi-fi Madame Christine gave me a complimentary hour on one of the ‘pay’ PCs in the campsite’s library.
Le Letty beach is adjacent to the site, and with direct access, was much the same as we had found it previously. The sand is very coarse but the beach was less crowded than on previous visits, probably because of the swimming pool complex. The water in the small river adjacent to the site varies from a shallow stream to a fast running torrent depending upon the state of the tide. The water temperature is warmer than the open sea at the mouth of the river. We spent several days lounging on the beach. We, also, swam and snorkelled in the river when the tide was quite low, although we did “cheat” and wore our wet suits for this. There is a bathing platform anchored in the river.
Across the river from the site there is the Mer Blanche a very long sand bar with the open sea on the far side. The Mer Blanche can be reached by crossing the river and a lot of campers cross to this bar as the sand is less coarse. It is important to choose one’s crossing time for when the river is low or otherwise a boat or swim is necessary.
As always campers had lots of boats moored in the river ranging from small inflatables to largish motor cruisers. We inflated our 3 metre Zodiac and moored it out on the river. (We had originally bought this second hand from a French camper at Du Letty about 12 years ago!) We used our boat several times for trips along the river and out into the sea beyond the river mouth. The sea just out of the river mouth is ideal for sailing, windsurfing, etc. Kayaks are available for hire from Monsieur Philippe who has a base near reception.
The town of Benodet is about 30 minutes’, mainly flat, walk from the campsite and is very pleasant.
Benodet has a large, tree lined, promenade and beautiful beach of fine sand. There is a children’s club on the main town beach. Benodet has a limited range of shops and restaurants and a weekly market on the main car park. There is a small carrefour supermarket on the outskirts of the town and this, also, has the town’s only petrol station. There is a large tourist information office on the main road leading to the sea from the town’s outskirts with helpful staff who speak excellent English and a comprehensive range of tourist leaflets. There is also a post office and several banks with outside cash dispensers.
The Intercontinental Church Society runs family Church services in English at St Thomas Catholic Church near the harbour every Sunday morning during the months of July and August. We went to these services, as we have done in previous years, and enjoyed the warm welcome we received.
From the harbour the boat company Vedettes de L’Odet run boat trips, in their large motor cruisers, along the River Odet to Quimper and to the offshore Iles de Glennan archipelago. We have taken the 10 mile trip to the Iles de Glennan in previous years.
There is a little on the main Island of St Nicolas, the tourist boat destination, other than sailing school and diving schools, a restaurant and some holiday cottages. There is a lighthouse and a small fort on some of the other islands but these are not accessible without one’s own boat. The white sand beaches and emerald green seas of these low-lying islands are, however, spectacular and the islands are a popular destination for summer day trippers from Benodet and several other local ports.
Vedettes de L’Odet, also, has a glass-bottomed catamaran, with undersea viewing windows, which operates trips to the Iles de Glennan. The tickets for the glass-bottomed boat are VERY expensive and we have never taken this trip. For the more energetic there are, also, organised kayak expeditions to the Iles de Glennan, advertised at Du Letty. I believe that the kayak expeditions are accompanied by a motor boat.
Across the estuary from Benodet is the picturesque small port of Sainte Marine. This can be reached by a passenger ferry during the day or by driving over the high level bridge over the River Odet. The view from the bridge over the river estuary and marina is really spectacular. The harbour at St Marine is surrounded by a number of bars and restaurants with outdoor terraces. We enjoyed a pleasant evening meal at an outside table at a small pizzeria that we have visited previously. The moonlit view over the river estuary to Benodet was magical.
The annual celebration of the Feast of the Assumption in Benodet on 15 August is not to be missed. There is a night time procession of illuminated ships followed by a magnificent firework display launched from a platform in the bay. On the festival night there is live music and other outdoor entertainment in the centre of the town but it gets very busy and crowded with many visitors travelling into the town from other areas. On the night of the Feast of Assumption we walked along the beach from the campsite and then the Corniche de La Mer and found a vantage point overlooking the bay.
From this vantage point we were able to watch the illuminated procession of ships and then the spectacular firework display which is launched from a platform in the bay. As in previous years the firework display was one of the best we have seen anywhere.
There are a number of interesting places to visit nearby. The Cathedral city of Quimper about 15 miles away has a lovely centre with flower decked bridges over the river Odet and an interesting Cathedral. There are also several large hypermarkets with adjacent Centre Commercial (shopping centres) as well as a range of smaller shops including a Lidl supermarket, around the city. We visited the Lidl and large hypermarkets for some of our food shopping.
On our final Sunday, 21 July, we went to the English language Church service at Nevez. Whilst in Benodet we had been chatting via “Caravan Talk” with forum moderator Gordon and his family. They were holidaying in their luxurious motorhome on a pitch at a campsite in Raguenes Plage. Gordon very kindly invited us to lunch. We met Gordon and his family at the Church service, as we had arranged, and followed them to their huge and stunning motorhome where we were treated to a delicious barbecue.
After lunch we took the opportunity of visiting the picturesque riverside port of Pont Aven, formerly a haunt of impressionist painters. Pont Aven is built along a river valley and in its industrial heyday had more than 7 water mills. These mills have now been converted into restaurants, shops and art galleries and the riverside walk and bridges are bedecked with geraniums. We walked around the town and along the riverside walk. Pont Aven, also, has an ancient public toilet near the main bridge, which is justifiably famous!
That evening we drove on from Pont Aven to the fishing port of Concarneau to visit the final night of that town’s annual Fillet Bleu Festival. Concarneau is a pleasant town and its historic Ville Close on an island in the harbour is worth a visit. The Ville Close is mainly one street lined with restaurants and souvenir shops and surrounded by ancient castellated walls. During the Fillet Bleu Festival there is traditional outdoor musical entertainment and a spectacular firework display over the harbour. On previous family visits to Benodet we had treated the Fillet Bleu Festival’s final night as a holiday grand finale. We would dine out at one of the pavement restaurants in the Ville Close and watch the firework display overhead. Unfortunately this year the restaurants had all closed earlier and we were reduced to a take-away kebab and chips from a stall before joining the crowds standing on the quayside to watch the fireworks. The fireworks were good but not as good as the Benodet ones.
We very much enjoyed our return visit to Camping Du Letty – so much so that we booked 4 weeks for summer 2012 as soon as the 2012 booking opened in November 2011. Camping Du Letty is NOT a very cheap site but we feel that it’s many free facilities and its ideal location make it very worthwhile. We paid 508€ for our 15 night stay which at that time was equivalent to a total of £447.19 or an average of £29.81 per night. That was for the 2 of us, Max the collie and a 10amp EHU. (The site offers different sized electricity supplies at various prices by fitting different sized contact breakers in its EHU boxes.)
Another English caravanner kindly gave us some spare Daily Mirror discount vouchers which gave us a 30% discount off 2 nights of our stay. That discount is included in the above prices. Our stay was partly in the peak season and partly in the mid-season tariff wise.
We highly recommend this site although we’re still not on commission!?? For anyone considering the possibility of visiting Camping Du Letty the campsite’s website is excellent and includes an online booking facility. The increased popularity of the site does mean that the management have now changed the booking procedures. Previously it was possible to just turn up and get a pitch or book in advance without any deposit. For Summer 2012 onwards it is necessary to give firm dates and pay a non-refundable deposit of 30% of the cost of the booking. In addition the first row of pitches, fronting onto the beach, have been named as premium pitches with prices to match!
In 2011, as already explained, we drove down from Calais stopping off overnight at the Municipal Campsite at Pont Farcy on the outward and return journeys. For 2012 we have booked a crossing with Brittany Ferries from Plymouth to Roscoff. We have got a good fare through the Caravan Club for the 2 of us, car and van. We included 7 camping cheques in the package as this lowered the price – I hope to sell those on as we cannot use them ourselves them as our visit has to be in the School Holiday peak season. Although the ferry crossing is much more expensive than our usual Norfolkline/DFDS Dover to Dunkerque crossing this will be partly balanced out by the lower fuel costs in France and the additional benefit of avoiding the M25 during the Olympic season!
On the morning of Wednesday 24 August we departed from Camping Du Letty on our homeward journey. We had deflated the boat, taken down the awning and packed the car the previous day. We gave Madame Christine a bouquet of flowers and a box of chocolates for the other staff because we had had such a super holiday.
We left Camping du Letty on the morning of Wednesday 24 August to begin our journey home.
We followed the D44 through Fouesnant to join the main N165/E60 and turned south-east towards Lorient. Bypassing to the north of Lorient we turned onto the N24 towards Rennes. On the south western outskirts of Rennes, we took the N136 to bypass Rennes on the western and northern periphery. We then joined the A84/E03 toll-free autoroute north towards Caen.
At Junction 39, we left the autoroute for the 5 minute drive to Camping Pont Farcy. Seeing the amount of spare places on our outward journey we did not bother phoning ahead but just arrived. We were again given a friendly welcome by the lady warden who came out to open the high level barrier to admit us. We arrived mid-afternoon having driven 216 miles from Camping Du Letty.
We were again allowed to choose our own pitch and were again to park our van with the front window overlooking the river and again enjoy the lovely pastoral views over the river and fields beyond. The weather was good and we were able to sit out on the river bank to read and later enjoy our evening meal. We spent a peaceful night at Pont Farcy before leaving the next morning, Thursday 25 August, to continue our journey northwards. Unfortunately we missed our turning onto the A84 and had to continue along the relatively narrow roads to the small town of Tessy-sur-Vire.
At Tessy-sur-Vire we were able to find a junction large enough us to allow us to turn around and retrace our steps back to Junction 39 of the A84. Our unintentional diversion was a round trip of nearly 8 miles.
We continued our journey northwards on the A84. We bypassed Caen on its southern and eastern outskirts. We then turned west onto the N613 to avoid using the toll A13 road. Just west of Boisney we turned north east on the D438.
South of Rouen we joined the A131/E46 to bypass Rouen. We had intended to pick up the route through industrial zone to the east of Rouen but we missed our turning and ending up bypassing Rouen along the ridge further to the east of the town. This route to the east of Rouen was a little more complicated but our satnav helped us through. North of Rouen we joined the A28/E402 autoroute in a north easterly direction towards Abbeville. At the end of the A28 we turned onto the A16 Toll road and stopped at the Aire de Baie de Somme for lunch. We had travelled approximately 190 miles from Pont Farcy. We were fortunate to find a space in the dedicated caravan parking area.
After lunch, we continued our journey northwards joining the N901 northwards towards Boulogne. East of Boulogne we turned east onto the N42 towards St Omer. We passed through St Omer and took the D928 alongside the canal before turning following minor roads to Camping La Chaumiere at Buysscheure.
We arrived at Camping La Chaumiere late in the afternoon of Thursday 25 August we had travelled 272 miles from Pont Farcy. Guy the owner was as brusque as we had found him on our stay at Camping La Chaumiere on our outward journey a month earlier. Guy showed us to a rather dark and shady pitch at the far end of the site. The pitch was a good size and we connected our Aquasmart system to the pitch’s tap giving us direct running water – the only time on this holiday. Guy remained as unhelpful as ever. An outstanding example of this was when, soon after our arrival, Cary walked back to reception to order some bread for the next day. Guy took her order but demanded her pitch number despite the fact that he had just taken us to the pitch a few moments previously.
We stayed at Camping Chaumiere for 3 nights prior to our booking with Eurotunnel on Sunday 28 August. On Friday 26 we spent the whole day visiting the Ypres area. This was something I had been keen to do for a while. We drove through Cassel on the D933 and then took the N38 into Belgium to Ypres. We first visited the Flanders Fields Museum in the centre of the City.
The centre of Flanders is filled with beautiful buildings all the more amazing because they are reconstructions of the original which were reduced to rubble during the First World War. The Museum using a variety of audio visual and other special effects to tell the story of the World War One battles fought in the area. Museum visitors could assume the identity of a character from the World War One period and follow a computerised trail through the Museum. I was given character of Noel Chavas. This was particularly moving for me as I already knew the story of this doctor son of a former Bishop of Liverpool who was won twice won the Victoria Cross for his valour in rescuing wounded soldiers under enemy fire. I had previously used his story in one of my sermons.
After leaving the Museum we followed the Flanders’ Fields car trail. Using the booklet we had bought in the Museum and the special road signs we spent the afternoon following this trail which talk us to many of the battlefields and War cemeteries of the Flanders area. Neither the booklet nor the road signs were always clear but we with help of our satnav and Michelin France Atlas we managed. Destinations on the trail included the dressing station where Canadian Military Doctor is thought to have written his poignant poem:
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We, also, visited the York Trench, a recently excavated section of World War One trench and bunkers ironically now surrounded by industrial units. A particularly moving destination that we visited was the large Tyne Cot Cemetery near the village of Passchendaele. The rows upon rows of white headstones set on manicured lawns brought home the enormity of the sacrifice of so many young men.
We planned our tour of the Flanders Fields World War One Sites Tour so that returned to the Menin Gate in Ypres for the daily Last Post Ceremony which takes place at the huge Menin Gate every evening at 8pm. The police halt the traffic passing through the gate and 4 members of the local volunteer fire brigade sound the last post at 8pm precisely as they and their predecessors have done every night since 2 July 1928, apart from when the town was occupied by German forces during the 2nd World War.
We parked our car in the town centre and walked to join the crowd for this short but moving ceremony. After the ceremony we spent some time looking at the memorial gate itself. This huge triumphal arch is inscribed with the names of 55,896 Commonwealth soldiers who were killed but have no known grave. It seems the Menin Gate memorial was actually found to be too small to record the names of all the missing Commonwealth soldiers and there are a further 34,948 missing soldiers inscribed on the memorial at Tyne Cot Cemetery. Ypres is a beautiful city architecturally although the World War aspect a little over commercialised with Flanders Fields everything including bars of chocolate with the poem printed on the wrapper.
On Saturday 27 August we took Max to the vet in St Omer to have the have the necessary treatment and to have his pet passport completed ready for his return to the UK. Madame Bernadette, from Camping La Chaumiere, is a receptionist at this veterinary practice and arranges appointments for many of her pet-owning visitors. The vet spoke fluent English and was friendly and efficient.
We spent the rest of the morning looking around the city of St Omer including browsing the large outdoor market and the beautiful central Jardins Public (Public Gardens). During the afternoon we visited the pretty canal-side village of Watten. We also visited several supermarkets to buy approximately 50 bottles of Cidre de Normandie doux. This is a favourite tipple of ours and we always bring home a large number of bottles to last us until our next visit to France!
On morning of Sunday 28 August we left Camping La Chaumiere and travelled to St Omer. From there we joined the N943 to the Eurotunnel Terminal at Coquelles, near Calais. Our departure time was 10.50hrs and we arrived in time to get Max’s pet passport checked. On arriving at the Eurotunnel we followed the animal paw to the special pet check-in. There was parking outside this building but not for caravan outfits and we had to overhang 2 car spaces. Max’s passport was okay and so we moved on to the vehicle check. We parked in the departure waiting area and took it in turns to go into the terminal buildings to the loos. Our loading onto the train was uneventful and again our outfit was the only one in the coach. This short journey to the Eurotunnel Terminal was 42 miles.
We arrived back in the UK and drove smoothly out of the Eurotunnel terminal and onto the M20. When we reached the M25 turned west and negotiated it in a clockwise direction as we were visiting Cary’s Dad in Ruislip as we usually do. We made good time to Wyatts Covert Caravan Club site at Denham and arrived just after lunch time. The journey from the Eurotunnel Terminal had been 102 miles. We spent a couple of days visiting Cary’s Dad and then on the morning of Tuesday 30 August continued home via the M40, M6 toll and M6. We arrived safely back in St Helens in the early evening. The last leg of our journey was 208 miles.
- Total diesel consumption: 506.07 litres
- Total mileage: 2174 miles
- Total diesel costs: £609.72
- Total nights away: 36 nights
- Average diesel costs £0.28/mile
- Average diesel costs per litre £1.196
- Average miles per litre: 4.296miles
- Average miles gallon: 19.53 miles
Article Provided by Tim Irwin for CaravanTalk