Thursday, 21 July 2011

Camping in France

A soggy summer holiday in France.

Sometime ago on the back of the stunning weather we had at Easter we decided to plan and book a camping trip to France as part of our summer holiday.  Having checked the forecast the day before we went we were excited at the prospect of wall to wall summer sun.  Oh how the weather can change in a matter of days!!!  Apart from a few days of intermittent sunshine we spent the majority of the 10 days taking shelter in our tent from the torrential rain.

Day 1

Still recovering from too much sun the day before I felt a bit out of sorts when the alarm clock went off at 5am.  We then had the usual arguments about the car been packed incorrectly, who was going to sort Mimi out & collect the ever mounting pile of must remember items.   

View from our tent looking back at the Château. 

Looking across the lake back towards our tent.

All is well that ends well and we made it to our lovely campsite Le Brevedent in the grounds of a Château with enough time for an afternoon swim. Our pitch was near the swimming pool and over looking the lake.  I would highly recommend this site to anayone looking to camp in France.  Mimi had a fab time.  They have load as of animals and toys for children to play on.  Mimi is obsessed with the guinea pigs which seem to run free.

Poor Mimi was so excited and tired this evening as she didn't have a mid afternoon sleep yesterday or today that she could hardly keep her poor little eyes open.   Although she did make laugh quite a bit when I found her curled up in the washing basket.

Day 2

I should have known that this may have been make or break at 2am when Mimi decided she was going to throw a temper tantrum and scream her head off because she wanted more milk.  I reckon she managed to wake up most of the campsite.  Eventually she went back to sleep but I had to hold her hand.  Every once in a while a little hand would touch my face to check I was still there.
Once the sun came up things didn't improve very much as it proceeded to pour with rain for the majority of the day.  The tent developed some worrying puddles in the roof.  Our trip to Deauville was a bit of a wash out which is a shame as they had lots of lovely shops.  I was tempted by some shoes but with mike in tow and our up and coming trip to Venice I decided against it.

Lots of Muddy Puddles!
Mimi has gone to bed without a squeak, with what I hope is a fully tummy of milk. I think it will be an early night for me and hopefully better weather for the morning.

Day 3

Mimi slept all the way through the night yippee all we had to contend with was the snoring from the next tent.

Early start today as we are moving on further south to see G&A.  Mimi said she has had dreams about the guinea pigs and ducks.  So after feeding the ducks, checking out the guinea pigs, playing ball and in between packing the tent we are finally in the car heading south hopefully to more sunshine.  Luckily it start to rain once we were all packed up.

We attempted to visit Le Mont St Michel which was beautiful although we conceded that if you have a toddler in a buggy then this is probably not the best place to visit during height of season as it is a series of steep narrow cobbled streets and steps which were very crowded with other like minded tourists.  Well worth a visit but maybe not with a toddler.

Le Mont St Michel
Day 4 & 5
Mimi failed to sleep either night and seems to have decided that there is now no need for an afternoon nap.  Drank too much with G&A so made the midnight wake up call seem that much worse.

Day 6 &7
Left G&A after a series hiccups one of which was where we had put our credit cards and money.  Once a near crisis was averted we managed to leave only about an hour behind Mikes start time of 9am!
We caught a ferry over from Royan which G told us would take an hour so after buying a coffee & settling down for the journey we realised it was only about 15mins so we had to neck our coffee, missed our arrival from the deck & had to run for our car which was a bit of a shame.

We arrived at our campsite camping de l'ocean on the Atlantic Coast  just before two which was good.   We set up camp and went to the beach to build sand castles.  We had been promising sand castle building to Mimi since we left home!  Great surf beach, sun was shining and it was lovely & warm. 

Mimi struggled with the concept of bed but once she did eventually go she managed to sleep through the loudest firework display.

Woke up to rain! What a bummer!  Spent the morning visiting Soulac-sur-Mer which was broke the rain up a bit.  A weary Mimi finally fell asleep in the car and we had a peaceful lunch.  Rain cleared enough in the afternoon for a damp trip back to the beach where we watched the French equivalent of the coast guard land and take off in their helicopter.

Mimi had a bath in a bucket of water and when she should have been sleeping emptied all of her clothes bag out and dressed up as a princess.

Mimi as a Princess!!!

Days 8,9& 10

The rain continued and we moved on to Hauteforte and yet another argument about the Sat Nav.  We eventually arrived at our beautiful campsite Belle Vue in the Dordogne which sat on the valley over looking Hautefort Chateau  

View from our tent over the valley
What an amazing campsite with great hosts, when we arrived we were offered a drink and given a guided tour.  All the facilities were spotless and they even have an on site restaurant (which you need to book in in advance).  You can order your croissants and bread the evening before and they are elegantly delivered to your tent the next morning in a basket on a tray.  Shame we weren't so lucky with the weather - it continued to pour with rain for the remainder of the trip although we did managed to get to Hautefort and Sarlat in the dry.

The rain was so loud on the tent that you couldn't hear Mimi talking to you!!

Then a trip back to G&A's with yet more heated discussions about the Suzie Sat Nav and then Home (we managed this without the sat nav as it is a well trodden route from the days of having our house in Deux-Sevres.

We all had a good holiday although obviously the weather was disappointing.  I think that we attempted to cram too much in to too few days and more Mimi had to spend long stints in her car seat - however by moving on every two days it did break up the rain as I think we would have started to run out of things to do. 

Things we would take next time:
  • Dust pan and brush and or a broom - especially if you are going to a sandy beach.
  • Having camped recently and missed my duvet I thought it would be an idea to take this instead of my sleeping bag.  All I can say is don't be tempted when camping a sleeping bag is definitely the way to go.
  • A cool box that actually works.
  • Some form of clothes dryer - if you are going for any length of time with the possibility of rain some way of drying towels/wet clothes etc without pulling the tent down would have been useful.
  • An in car charger for the ipad rather than relying on the iphone charger as it does not provide enough power!
  • Washing powder.

Must Have's
  • Toilet rolls - my husband laughed at me for packing these but they proved very useful especially as camping de l'ocean did not have toilet rolls.
  • Pegs these were invaluable (in between the torrential downpours) to stop our towels from being permanently damp.
  • I have learnt from previous experience if you are planning on going to France Nappies and Baby-wipes are very expensive so definitely bring them from home.  (I saw a special offer of  16 euros for 6 packs of baby wipes this is the equivalent of about £14.00) 

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