Going to France

Discussion in 'Motorhome Chat' started by nickbailey, Sep 23, 2015.

  1. nickbailey

    nickbailey Funster

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    Hi Funsters, We are starting to plan our first trip to France next May and would really appreciate some tips regarding when is the best time to book the Euro Tunnel etc. We plan on staying for about three weeks and will go down the west coast then along the bottom and then back up the east side of France. We will look at booking sites through the Caravan Club. Any advice and tips will be greatly appreciated.
    The Baileys
     
  2. Hollyberry

    Hollyberry Funster

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    May is out of the main season so you probably don't need to book. You're planning to cover a lot of miles. If you've booked then you "have" to get to that site on that day. Do you want to stay on all sites? Plenty of Aires.
    I wouldn't book anything other than the tunnel and maybe your first site if it makes you feel more secure. Then wing it. Go where interests you, stop for longer if you find a spot you really like.

    France is easy motor homing. You'll have a great time and I'm sure you'll enjoy your trip more if you're relaxed and going where you feel that day. It's not a military exercise! (y)
     
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  3. KeithChesterfield

    KeithChesterfield Funster

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    I don't think three weeks is long enough to do the trip you intend doing as it's your first time driving a MH in France.

    You're on holiday - and pounding up and down French roads will leave little time to see and explore everything France has to offer.

    A holiday is for relaxing not watching miles and miles of grey tarmac whizzing beneath the wheels.

    I'd suggest you pick an area that offers what you're interested in (Wine, Châteaus, Seaside pursuits or a hundred other things) and aim for that part of France.

    The days will fly past as you get the hang of MH life in a country that actually likes Motorhomes.

    It took us about three weeks to get to Brittany from Calais last year because there's so much to see and do en-route.

    Booking through the CC will restrict when and where you can go and using the Aires system is an ideal way to explore France for the first timer – you just turn up, kettle on/corkscrew out and relax.
     
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  4. Sas r us

    Sas r us Funster

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    I agree with hollyberry, I've just come back from a 16 day trip and had only a rough idea of where I was going on my way down to the med... It took me two weeks just to get down there..! There is soooo much to see and do.! If this is your first trip I wouldn't put too much emphasis on getting somewhere in a certain time... If you have a good camper sat-nav with sites and poi and an Aires book you can't go wrong, after all my times over there I have learnt that you just have to relax and be prepared to change any plans as when your out there, there is always something around every corner to distract you and make you divert..... It is beautiful and a different world away from England and set your nav to avoid toll roads and you will discover many thing you otherwise won't see on a motorway .... Then you will find your own pace..... Have fun...:france:
     
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  5. Fenman

    Fenman Funster

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    I agree with all the above. France is nigh on three times the size of our island and after visiting for 40 years in cars, camper van and tents and spending 12 weeks a year in our house over there for the last 15 years we are still happily finding new things to see and do.
    As you have got until May next year I would start off by doing all the research into what you want to see or do. Is it old buildings, churches, wine, food, watersports to name but a few?
    Then carry the research into those interests but start the search in the nearer departements like Normandy, Brittany but not forgetting those near the ports which we tend to ignore as we get off the ferry/train and head off into the distance. There's a lot to be said for the northern parts of France.
    Whatever you decide enjoy a magic country to visit.
     
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  6. Teuchter

    Teuchter Funster

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    1st time in France in May - PERFECT!!
    I certainly would not book any sites, by May 99% of sites will be open and none will be full. In France (outside 15 July to 25 August) it is almost never necessary to book and the flexibility of moving on when you want or staying that extra day or two on a particularly nice site is excellent and most relaxing.
    I also agree that 16 days for your proposed trip is, whilst do-able, definitely too ambitious and hence too stressful - as Keith says pick a region or a couple of adjoining regions.
    Relax and explore all the wonderful things France has to offer at your own pace and not one dictated by an itinerary that you have to adhere to.
    Have a great time :)
     
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  7. John Laidler

    John Laidler Funster

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    We've driven every day recently, 20 km yesterday to Audierne then another tyre-smoking 20 km today to Locronan. Means we arrive at aires well before lunch, go for a wander, decide to eat out for lunch, as we did yesterday, or not, as today. :)

    With three weeks you could visit the south of France, belting down there then throttling right back and touring gently. Of course, if you just want to get a feel for France then by all means do a quick circuit and if you haven't been before this isn't such a daft idea as perhaps others have suggested.

    The Mediterranean coast can be very crowded but there will be room in May.
    French side of the Pyrenees spectacular but wetter than the Spanish side.
    The South West coast is flat and has enormous beaches and lots of pine trees.
    Brittany is full of interest and an ancient history, Celts will feel at home here. We are there now, but unless you live in Shetland you don't come here for the weather.
    Lots of more recent history all along the north coast. Old battlefields and cemeteries which if they don't move you, check your pulse.
    Lots of bumpy bits in the middle.

    If you want warmth in France in May I suggest Provence. Lots to see with coast,interesting cities, towns and villages and some high mountains where it will be cooler if the coast is to hot.
     
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  8. rb62

    rb62 Funster

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    So much to see in France,I think you would be better to chose an area to explore rather than the whole country! As has been said campsites will be quieter in May and even into June,may be worth getting an ACSI book for a reduction.
     
  9. George Clayton

    George Clayton Funster

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    It's an exciting time planning your first visit to France. Although May next year might seem a way off it gives you time to plan. The route you are considering is around 4000 Km which is going to mean you have to travel each day or have longer days on the road. As much as driving in France is a pleasure compared to driving in UK do stop and enjoy as you go rather than be chasing that next destination. All the previous posts have offered good advice but why tie yourself down by pre-booking sites. Leave yourself flexible so that if you find somewhere you would like to stay longer, you can. Consider an ACSI book for about £12 you will get lots of choice of camp sites at discounted prices out of season and there really is no need to book. Consider using 'aires'. these are overnight stopping places which also have service points for water and toilet emptying. There's lots of free advice on line and poi's that can be downloaded to your satnav. I will admit that when starting out in France campsites do offer that bit of extra security at night, but, under no circumstances consider over-nighting on motorway services. They can and do attract thieves. As a beginner I would suggest planning a route through Normandy and Brittany as there are some fabulous places to stay and to visit, maybe planning to travel along the Atlantic coast to say La Rochelle. That's 3 weeks filled without even trying. I first visited France when I was 12, on a school trip and now I'm 69 I'm still discovering things about France and that's in spite of living in France for the last 9 years. France is a country that enjoys a good fete or festival and there are lots of them throughout the year. Look out for 'brocantes' and vide greniers', the equivalent of our car boot sales which are hosted by a different town or village each week mainly from Easter. If you see a travelling fairground in a town, there will usually be other events going on such as a dance or a good value meal. Do leave enough time at the end of the day when you have finished driving for the day to sample some of the French wine and beer. It's excellent quality and ridiculously low prices, it would be rude not to. I always consider Aldi and Lidl to be my wine merchants when in France and leave some room to load up before crossing the channel back to UK. France needs to enjoyed in a slow, lazy way and by doing so will repay you in much pleasure.
     
  10. magicsurfbus

    magicsurfbus Funster

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    No part of France is more than 2 days' drive from any other part, albeit 2 days' solid driving. A week for each 'side' as proposed by the OP would give them a good taste of what the country has to offer, including exploring some places in detail. We did a 3 week 2,000 mile figure of 8 tour of France last month that took in South, West and North - all very relaxing I can assure you.

    Surely a holiday is whatever the individual wants it to be - some choose to focus on touring a limited area, some choose one favourite site and stay put for weeks, some like to make use of the vehicle's wheels and travel around a bit.

    I'd echo what others have said about not booking in advance. Just turn up at campsites or maybe even dip into the odd aire or two.

    My personal recommendation is when you get off that ferry and head west keep driving past Normandy and Brittany if you want to see parts of France that are substantially different to SW England and which enjoy better weather, especially in spring. Start around Loire-Atlantique and head south towards Biarritz.

    It's a large and hugely varied country - enjoy finding out what's different about it.
     
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  11. FIDGET

    FIDGET Funster

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    Hi, I agree with most of what has been said, personally I would choose an area i.e. loire or brittany for starters (1s t trip) We've just done 16 days in Brittany still need to go back to see some parts we scooted thru. 16 nights 47 euro's only 2 c/sites mostly free aires.
    We tried a similar idea to yours back in 2008 our 3 week trip to france , dunkirk, down to Loire Saumur, Ile de Re, Cognac, Millau bridge, Ardeche , Annecy & Dijon / Troyes. 3 weeks. Did the trip but really didn't see all what we wanted too.so now have to go back each year to various areas to appreciate it. We use mostly aires (I do quite a bit of research as to suitability i.e. FREE by a lake,canal, beach, or somewhere we need to be) only use c/sites every 4 or 5 th night for showers & any washing etc. Keeps the cost down and you do see something of the local village /town, when buying your baguette etc in the morning.
     
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