|Route:||Home – Saint-Palais-sur-Mer|
495 miles (796km) to Harcourt
344 miles (554km) to Saint Palais
839 miles (1,350km)
|Overnight stop:||1. Harcourt (wild camp)|
2. La Puits de L’Auture (ACSI)
|Overnight Costs:||1. €0|
2. €20 per day
|Diesel / litre:||€1.84 (£1.57)|
This trip started as all trips start…. with us eager to get back on the road and desperate to spend some time in the sun. After 2 years of pandemics and lock downs, we had spent our time travelling locally in the UK and we’d seen some gorgeous places. We had also spent 2018 and 2019 in Europe and Morocco partaking in winter sun. So in all, we had spent 4 years in winter sun with very little hot, summer sun. And we realised that we missed it. Totally! Winter sun travel has it’s advantages of some warm days but it is still winter so lots of rain and it can get really cold and in a motorhome that can be quite miserable. We have come to realise that we love the sun, we love having a suntan, we love outdoor life, we love to swim in the sea and lie next to a pool, we love flowers and warmth (although we could possibly do without the mozzies!!) but we equally enjoy sitting in front of a toasty fire at home when the weather is howling, wet and wintery. Well, the decision to go back to spring/summer/autumn travel was really not a difficult one to make!!!! Leaving us time to spend winter at home and Christmas with family and friends. Done!
So when the gorgeous Mr T was seeing the end of his work contract approaching at the end of April, it was a very easy decision to plan a trip to the continent in the hot weather but whilst prices were still reasonable…..and then work asked him to stay on for another 2 months. Luckily they are a progressive company, so after a bit of negotiation, they agreed to him working remotely for 3 days a week. Hence, we are now on the road pootling our way down to coastal Spain, chasing the sun, listening to the birds tweet outside, eating lots of seafood and, on the gorgeous one’s days off, sipping a little chilled white wine, finding a small shack or restaurant selling seafood where we don’t have to wear shoes and bobbing around in the sea.
Week 1 saw us making our way down to Folkestone to pop our chunnel cherry. Never having been on the train deep under the channel, we decided it was time. It also happened that P&O Ferries had done the dirty on the employees and were down to 1 ferry able to cross the channel and severely restricting their use, so swapping our ferry ticket for a train ticket was an easy decision. OMG! All travel across to the continent should be like this: drive onto a carriage, get locked in and 32 minutes later drive onto the French motorway network at Calais and start your adventure.
First stop in Harcourt just south of Rouen for our first wild camp after 300km in France but having driven 800km from home, we were feeling a bit shell-shocked and just needed an early, quiet night – which is what we got. We went to sleep in the sparkling sunshine but woke to a grey day – so much for summer sun travel… A bit of foraging of some very aniseed-y wild fennel and beautifully sweet lilacs which the gorgeous Mr T had to “forage” whilst standing on a rock, lying over a tall hedge and grabbing a branch (from inside a garden) to remove a few springs. “Don’t say I never get you flowers,” says the gorgeous one.
One French tabac and a couple of strong, fabulous cafe au laits later, a browse in the Epicerie for some fresh tomatoes (and a slab of extra dark chocolate that mysteriously leapt into the basket when I wasn’t looking), a visit to the Boulangerie for a couple of fresh croissants, a browse in the Harcourt chateau arboretum and we were refreshed and ready to set off. But only after a breakfast of crispy bacon and freshly sliced tomatoes on a fresh croissant ensuring that any French buried locally to us were turning in their graves!!
It’s funny how how a mundane drive can turn into some not-so-mundane sightseeing when you’re on the road. It was round about lunch time when we decided to pull up into a motorway picnic stop, Aire de Lozay. We stepped out of Kaya into the glorious sunshine and the gorgeous Mr T went for a walk to stretch his legs whilst I made lunch. A few minutes later he was back. “ You have to come and see this”. “This” turned out to be a hidden garden of many surprises. A herb garden (a little unkempt but nonetheless a treasure trove of fresh herbs) and stroll around some Roman art (copies..but still fabulous). Where but in France? At a motorway picnic stop LOL. Herbs secreted about myself, as we left the secret garden I spotted some grape vines. Now, I can’t just walk passed those, so a bunch of fresh vine leaves followed the herbs into my pockets for use later. What a find!!! Culturally and physically full after a lovely lunch stop under the shade of the trees, we left heading for Saint-Palais-sur-Mer to the La Puits de L’Auture ACSI campsite to lay up for the next 5 days so that we could take a break and so that the gorgeous one could head into his 2nd working week.
An uneventful 4 hours later we arrived, in glorious sunshine and at 28degC, at the campsite. We parked Kaya up outside reception and set off to have a look around for a good spot to park up. One of the spots was next to a Scotsman, let’s call him Jock. As we were looking around, I noticed the very tall pine trees above the empty spot and (I am NOT known for my sotto voce!!!) remarked to Mr T (in English, I hasten to note – our French is not quite perfected yet…) that I didn’t like the look of those pine cones and that they would probably end up falling on Kaya in the middle of the night either smashing a hole in a roof light or frightening one (or both of us) to death. During this discussion, Jock had emerged from his awning with a very friendly, “Bonjour,” in his very distinctive Scottish accent. “Non parkeur, here,” he shared, “mon amigo,” (slipping in to his perfect Spanish from his pure French!) and pointing at his friend now also standing next to us, “le pine cones, BOOOOM (the perfect French sound of pine cone smashing onto the top of a caravan…. although it might have been Spanish), not good!”, he shared. “Thanks a million,” I replied in English hoping he would take the hint. “Cheers, appreciate the steer,” from the gorgeous Mr T. Jock was not to be deterred from his French, “Oui, oui!”. We retired as gracefully as we could to a spot further away with a sea view from our back window, near a tap and under the shade of a tree where the pop-up gazebo could be popped up and double as an office in the day and a kitchen at night.
“Please accept our confessions. We have totally abandoned low carb eating for the passed 7 days.” But on the plus side, with us both walking 5km every morning before work (the additional 1 hour ahead is being put to good use) and me cycling to the supermarket every day (another 15km), our waistlines are starting to slowly decrease as our tans increase.
La Isla , a French seafood emporium and take away, in walking distance from the campsite, where you choose your seafood, have it cooked next door and sit on the beach to eat it accompanied by a bottle of chilled white wine for €35
Foraging sea beets along our coastal walk and using it to make a spanakopita €0
A Red-breasted Robin flying into Kaya (quite by accident?) and stealing a piece of croissant (the bird has taste!), priceless!