Holiday France 2010

Having returned from our holiday in France
I decided to blog about what we got up to before normal service is resumed.


Outward journey: Uneventful drive to Eurotunnel crossing; we
arrived early and were able to get on an earlier train. Personally I prefer the
ferry but Eurotunnel can be paid for with Tesco vouchers (the price of the ‘free’
crossing being spending several thousand pounds in Tesco). The first night in
France we again stayed at La Bien Assise near Calais; a site always busy with
transit campers crossing to the UK though it always bemuses me that there are
some folk who choose to spend their holiday there. Why, given all that France
has to offer, travel across the channel and stop near Calais?
(If you want to camp and visit that part of France
drive towards St Omer and stay at Chateau du Grandspette.)  

Summer hol 2010 006 

Burgundy: From
Calais we drove down to Santenay, a
few miles south of Beaune, mostly using peage (with a detour via Dizier which
adds about 20 mins but saves 30 Euros). Camping des Sources was a good choice
with a mix of nationalities. The site has no ‘animations’ (a bonus in my book),
a small shop doing take away food, good facilities (though the shower
temperature could be set a degree or two warmer) and we had views of the hills
from our pitch.  Recently we purchase
bike carriers for the car roof and Santenay is a great place for family cycling,
with lots of purpose made cycleways helping an exploration of the vineyards and
countryside. We also went into Beaune to walk the ramparts and spent some time
wondering round the market.


Summer hol 2010 020 – Loire: Moving further south we travelled to Camping Le
Vaubarlet; now a member of the Kawan camping sites; a good quality open plan
site with grass markers to delineate pitches making for an uncluttered and
relaxed feel (with decent washblocks, small pool, bar, takeaway and lots of
room for ball games). Unlike Burgundy
this area has the feel of countryside which isn’t overly used by tourists. The
predominant nationality of campers was Dutch which, as in previous years, has
made me think I really ought to learn to speak a bit even if it is only to say ‘hello’
and ‘do you speak English’! We spent a fascinating day in Puy en Velay. The
museum had an exhibition about mammoths with material from all over Europe;
which was a test of France
for Lori and I as we tried to give a free translation to the kids. We climbed
up into the old town and the cathedral; Matthew becoming increasingly convinced
that I’m really a Catholic in disguise, a suspicion which was not allayed by my
resume of church history on the way down again as we looked for somewhere to
eat lunch.  

Puy de Dome: Moving onward to our third site was a short 2.5
hour drive to camping Le Clos Auroy in Orcet. The site is fine, with good
facilities and a warm swimming pool; although some guides suggest a problem with
outfit size most pitches are accessible to all but the largest outfits. Our
first trip was to Volvic where they have a small exhibition / tasting area and
you can do a series of country walks. They seemed so surprised and pleased to
have an English family visit they gave us a bag of goodies to take away. We
also went canoeing. It’s the first time we done it as a family and we had a
great, if slightly wet, time navigating our way down the Allier
river; though I’m sure that Health and Safety people would baulk at complete
novices doing some of the fast water sections in the UK.
Again the staff seemed both surprised an pleased to have English visitors,
feeding us drink and cake at the end. Next came a trip to Gergovie, the
volcanic plateau which was the base for Vecingetorix army in their win over
Julius Caesar with an interesting museum build unobtrusively into the hillside.
Our last day we decided to climb Puy de  Dome itself; a stiff walk as it is an
hour long walk with 40% gradient for much of the way but the views are worth
it. They have recently closed it to cars (a good thing) but only because they
are building a railway (which will make it like Snowdo
Summer hol 2010 046n~
a bad thing). 

The last couple of days were then spend driving back to
Manchester, through a fair amount of rain, just to help us readjust to weather
in the North West.


Decompression: Holidays can have a strange effect on you. I
hope that the kids will be able to look back and think they had some good
family holidays, visiting interesting places and doing fun activities but I
suspect as they go through their High School years it will increasingly be seen
as less of a holiday and more of ‘the annual family experience’. Nevertheless it
is good to unwind, normally after a few days I start reading books but this
year I didn’t find the energy until nearer the end. But I’ve now read a good
proportion of Obama’s autobiography with its insights on growing up as an
outsider on the inside (or an insider on the outside). Strangely I often find
that sleep on holiday is filled with dreams, which I’m unaware of in normal
routine; no doubt the effect of various subconscious thoughts rising to the
surface. And then, as we start to make our way back north, thoughts turn back
to life in the UK, plans, aspirations, doubts and the rest which get a brief
airing before being swallowed up in the whirl of activity, demands and drains
of normal routine…… Better get a map out and start planning for next year.

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