Showing posts with label ardres. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ardres. Show all posts

Saturday 30 September 2023

Clères, Songeons, Le Crotoy and back to Ardres

Sunday 30 September 2023

Nido's parked up back at Ardres, which was our first night stop of this trip back on 20 August.  We've eaten, our passports and documents are at the ready and the alarm's set for 0430 tomorrow morning, ready for our Shuttle train back to Folkestone and the long drive home to Anglesey.

We left our pitch by the river Seine, popping up to use the service point in nearby Yvetot, as the one at Mailleraye-sur-Seine was out of order.  Then it was on to the free aire in Clères, north of Rouen.  It's mainly double pitches, separated by high beech hedges, but there was plenty of room, so we had one all to ourselves.  A quick check of my mapping app showed some GR trails nearby, so we enjoyed a walk through a forest, alongside arable fields on the high ground and back along quiet country lanes, nosying at the houses and choosing which one we'd live in!


Thursday morning Cathy had her online Welsh lesson, so Salty and I had a walk around the adjacent park before going into the town centre.  He wasn't very impressed when I had to tie him outside the boulangerie so I could go in and buy a baguette and some patisserie! Our next stop was the vets in Buchy to get Salty checked out and for him to take his worming tablet and have this recorded in his EU (Irish) passport.  For anyone needing a veterinary practice on the way back to the UK, I can recommend them.  You can book an appointment online well in advance, they speak English (although I continued with my very bad French!) and they allow you to give your pet your own tablets (sourced from your UK vet) to keep the price down.

Not happy being tied up outside the boulangerie!

We continued on to the free aire in Songeons.  This is a fairly new and well kept aire, with generous, level, gravel pitches. Once parked up we took the 25 minute walk, along the edge of a forest up to the ancient village of Gerberoy, with its cobbled lanes, old cob houses with colourful timberwork dating to the 17th century and ramparts surrounding the village.  Out of season it was quiet and only a few people were walking around.  Listed in the 'plus beaux villages de France' it has an old world charm, which although quaint and beautiful, felt a little like the 'set in aspic' equivalent of the Cotswold villages of Upper and Lower Slaughter or Bourton-on-the-water; it must get very busy in the summer season. Back at the van I popped into the village to buy a jeton for the service point before cooking some daal, then a quiet night, listening to the stream flowing past the aire.

Songeons aire

One of the gated entrances to Gerberoy village

Friday morning after breakfast, showers and servicing the van, we drove the 65km to our penultimate stopover at Le Crotoy, on the coast.  It's really just a gravel and sand parking area behind some low sand dunes, leading to a shallow flat bay with a narrow beach, with mud flats when the tide recedes for miles.  We had a walk along as the tide went out, watching the kite surfers and letting Salty have some zoomie time, albeit on a long lead.  The rest of the day was spent sheltering from the sea breeze behind the van, then sat inside for supper and an early night.

Le Crotoy

This morning it was bright and sunny and still warm.  I've been in shorts ever since we left home on 19 August, only wearing long trousers for the one night we went out for moules frites. I have jeans ready for the morning though, as it's about 10'C cooler back in the UK.  Our task for today - on the way to Ardres - was to shop for some foodie items to take home, plus a few gifts for our friend and neighbour who have kindly kept an eye on our house and garden.  I also did the last diesel fill up of this trip, so we're now ready for the long journey home.  On arrival in Ardres we had walk along some of the lakes close to the park up and back along the canal. Cathy and Salty returned to the van and I carried on in to the village to buy a baguette to make a sandwich for tomorrow, plus some patisserie (of course!).  On the way back I stopped off at the village Brasserie to use up my last few Euros and put some more money back into the local community - that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!  After sitting in the warm afternoon sunshine, supper was a quiche lorraine from the boulangerie and some salad.  That's us now ready for an early off in the morning. 


Just doing my bit for the local economy

This will teach me to bid unseen on eBay...just working out how to strap it to the top of the van!

It's been another great trip.  When I look back at these posts, I've already forgotten many of the places we'd visited.  It's the main reason I write this blog; my brain is like a sieve these days!  We've had some great weather with very little rain and explored some lovely places.  Many baguettes have been consumed and plenty of patisserie too!  So it's back home tomorrow after six weeks away.  We're both ready to return to pick up our lives and get back into the home routine.  Cathy has a lot of gardening to catch up with and I have lots in the pipeline with Môn Search and Rescue, including studying for a First Responder Emergency Care medics course in November.  We'll have the usual job of emptying the van, cleaning it inside and out and preparing it for semi-hibernation  We don't tend to travel much in the winter, maybe the odd day out, although if there's a decent weather window, there's nothing stopping us throwing a few things in the van and finding somewhere close to home to spend a night away, combining it with a refreshing winter walk.  Next year's trips are to be confirmed.  It won't be France though; we're taking a break from touring here.  It's our 40th wedding anniversary in November and a present to each other is to do a DNA test to trace our ancestry, then use the results and further research to plan future trips.  So who knows where we'll end up next year.  But it should hopefully make for some exciting and interesting travels, with a purpose and aim of returning to some of our family roots.

Until then, stay safe.

Monday 21 August 2023

Start of the 2023 France Trip

Monday 21 August 2023

Nido's parked up with a couple of other vans next to the Canal de la Somme, at Écluse de Sormont.  After a warm day it's cooling down nicely and the sun has set.  The only downside is it's hunting season here in France, so the peace and quiet is regularly broken with nearby gunfire; Salty hates this and is trying to bury a hole in the bed to hide in!

We left home early on Saturday morning and arrived at our daughter's house in Leighton Buzzard at about midday.  Having just returned from living in the USA for six years, she'd just moved back into her house after renting it out and wanted some help to 'fettle' the front garden.  Jobs done, we made the most of a shoreside shower before enjoying a delicious Korean meal, cooked by her partner Neal, who's American but with Korean heritage.  We were able to park the van directly outside her house so we slept there overnight, our first night away on this six week trip.

After breakfast on Sunday we said our farewells and drove the three hours around the M1, M25 and M2 to spend a few hours at a car park at Farthing Common.  Although the nearby road was quite busy, there was a lovely countryside walk over the chalk downs, with the channel in the distance.  The Battle of Britain Memorial Museum isn't far away and we watched a couple of Spitfires flying and rolling over the Kent countryside.  We arrived at the Shuttle check in at about 6.15pm and were able to get a train an hour earlier than our booking at no extra cost.  The crossing was uneventful and the drive to our first stopover in France - in Ardres - took about thirty minutes.  We stayed here last year and it's an easy stop with plenty of room, next to a canal and some lakes.  We settled down to sleep with a firework party firing off nearby, which freaked Salty out.  The hunters then started shooting at about 5am, so it was an interrupted night's sleep!

Today was planned as an admin day, to do some food shopping, fill up with diesel and find somewhere to relax and get into the France routine.  We stopped at a huge shopping complex with an Auchan in Arras, but couldn't park there due to height barriers.  I parked in the adjacent Leroy Merlin car park as I needed some electric anti-corrosion spray.  The previous night the toilet SOG fan had stopped working, quickly followed by the toilet flush giving up.  On arrival at Ardres I checked the fuse that's sited in the toilet cassette compartment; it was oxidised and so I replaced this, but the fuse section needed a clean and a spray to reduce corrosion - Leroy Merlin had the stuff I needed!  I used this later in the fuse compartment and on the micro-switch that operates the SOG fan.  Both now seem to be working OK.  As Auchan was a non-starter I drove on to a nearby Le Clerc supermarket, where we topped up with food and diesel.  Both were very expensive, which seems the norm now.

The drive to Écluse de Sormont took an hour and we parked up in the shade overlooking the canal, followed by a quick lunch sat under the trees by the water. We had a walk along the canal before crossing the bridge and walking on the other side, with glimpses of the lakes and waterways that make up 80 hectares of wetlands.  It was here the hunters have taken to punts and are now blasting away at anything that moves!

There's currently a heatwave in France, mainly in the middle and the south, and it's due to last for a few days.  So we'll take a slow meander, heading first for the Champagne region before turning south towards our planned destination of the Auvergne department, to explore this volcanic region.  Although we stopped in that area on our first motorhome trip to France in 2013, we only stayed one night.  We want to spend some time exploring that area, so long as the climate allows us to enjoy it.  But, as always, we may just wander around as the mood take us, checking out different places as we come across them.

Farthing Common Viewpoint car park

Écluse de Sormont, by the Canal de la Somme

Lunch spot

Wednesday 24 August 2022

Alongside the River Somme

Wednesday 24 August 2022

Nido's parked up on an aire in the village of Long, next to the river Somme.  The aire's managed by the adjacent municipal campsite. The pitches are grass, separated by small hedges and there's plenty of room to have the awning out for shade and the table and chairs.  'Camping behaviour' isn't always allowed on aires, but it's clearly tolerated here and everyone is doing it.  It's been a very hot day - up to 33ºC - and only now at 8.30pm is it starting to cool down.  Having come from North Wales, we're not acclimatised so are suffering a bit - cold water showers in the van and plenty of water are the order of the day!

Salty's Irish EU Pet Passport was accepted at the Eurotunnel Pet Reception; it's good to know one member of the family still has full Freedom of Movement!  Our crossing was delayed by an hour or so due to a broken down train in the tunnel, so we didn't get to last night's park-up until about 10pm.  It was just a large but quiet parking area alongside a canal in Ardres, about 30 minutes drive from Calais.  Having eaten our meal in the Eurotunnel car park, it was a quick dog-walk then sleep. We were all shattered after two days of travelling.

This morning, after a welcome shower and a cup of tea, we walked along the lakes behind our park up before heading off to a nearby Le Clerc supermarket for some groceries, diesel and to use the onsite motorhome service point - free fresh water and loo emptying. Breakfast was some watermelon as we drove to this aire. The drive down was through small hamlets, rolling countryside and arable fields.  Everywhere is dry and dusty as expected, but the forests seem to be holding up.

We enjoyed our afternoon meal sat under the awning before taking an evening walk along the river Somme. The water was very clear with lots healthy weeds and Salty enjoyed several cooling swims! It was still very hot on the walk so we're now enjoying the cooling air as we sit outside this evening.  Today was really just refuelling (food and diesel) and trying to get back into the routine of van life in France.  The next few days are forecast hot and sunny so the challenge is to find somewhere relatively shady to stay if we can.  The plan is to keep heading West, tracking south of Rouen, towards Brittany.  This area doesn't have too many aires (lots of campsites though) so we may head a little further north to increase our options and benefit from coastal breeze.

Making shade

River Somme