motorhome in italy
 France 2005

The first visit accross the sea

The one with sunshine

The 2005 family tour in the motorhome
Saturday 2nd July 05
leaving dover  

The first time we had been any distance and this trip would see us head for France.

A first taste of foreign campsites and out temptaion to return with the motorhome fully laded with a years supply of wine and beer.

It also took us into Italy to the Bardonnecchia the home of the Stella Aplina motorcyle rally.

white cliffs in the background of Karen and Paul

Home to Dover, then St Omen (383 miles 6 hours 20m)

9am start seen us down to Dover 2 hours ahead of schedule which allowed us to catch an early ferry for a tenner supplement would give us the chance to do a few miles in France rather than Calais car Park. Arrival in Calais was at 7pm and we touched upon a good site North of St Oman behind some chateau. The site was well equipped with bar and restaurant and given the arrival time of 8.30pm this was to be base and supper for the night.

Paul spots his first pool
Time for a rest

Sunday 3rd July - Troyes (233 miles 4 hours)
municipal camping Troyes, good site about 1.5 miles from town, bread delivery 8am.
Heading south and a place chosen fresh from the Michelin guide and a well rated camp site from the caravaners bible on the edge of town. The miles were ate up quickly on the toll roads and my hate at parting with 33 Euros for 200  miles but they are quick and quiet. We never seen the town, too hot and too nice just to sit outside and take in the sunshine well more like take in some wine. Being a Sunday the local restaurant was closed so camp style it was complete with more wine. 9.30pm and the sun is still shining.

A nice drink in the sunshine

Monday 4th July 05 - No move (0 miles)
We made the decision to stop for 2 nights and take a look round. The shock in the morning was the rain and big rain it was. So the morning was spent looking around the historical Macarthur Glen Shopping mall (over 100 shops all selling last years junk, which did not stop us getting 2 bags full). Which was absolutely massive. The real gem was the look round the town in the afternoon, it was a marvel 100 of historical buildings and fully worth the Michelin top rating. Sadly we were 2 days early to witness the Tour De France cycle race but hope to catch it later. Troyes was like a York only many many times larger.

Some were in need of more repair than the others
the church was in need of work ruins but still fantastic
  the church was in need of work ruins but still fantastic  
  Paul got his wish and ate a lemon we had talked him out of it for weeks, but undeterred he went through with it. First and Last Lemon  

Tuesday 5th July 05 - Beaune (130 miles 646 total )
Camping municipal, Les Cent Vignes, Beaune
A lovely start to the day and sitting outside for breakfast gets the show off to a good start and a chance to catch up with the travel log. This was a wonderful run through the countryside and off the motorway first travelling through the Champagne region and then into Cote d'or in the Burgundy region and some of the biggest vineyards I could ever imagine. The road was excellent and would have been a delight on the bike. As this was a place I visited the previous year and promised to return with more time. Arrival at the campsite for 5 would allow a for a beer lazing in the sun before a visit to the town.

Wednesday 6th July 05 - Annecy (175 Miles 821 total, 4 hours 40 mins)
Camping Municipal La Belvadere, Annecy
 A wet day was the order of events, first a drive along the vineyard trail to Cluny 60 miles slow going but worth the effort. A slight cheat next and 80 miles on the motorway to gain some time. Annecy has a lovely setting in the mountains and looked similar to the lakes in the rain. The camp site looks a real star with fantastic views around. This will be home for the next 2 days so we can explore the area hopefully in the dry. As I have always said if it did not rain it would not look so good.

Campsite with a view and a friend

Thursday 7th July 05 - No move (0 Miles)
Today was a lazy day with sightseeing and lunch and Leffe by the pint at 6.8% proof it was not long before the day looked good. I last visited Annecy back in 2000 on a bike visit but at that time it was in and out and I always promised myself a look around. I have to say it was well worth the wait what lovely scenery and fantastic architecture on display. All good things come to an end and the 1 mile push up the hill back to base camp sorted the Leffe out.

Annecy is a delight, and this was Paul's 1st Picture of Mammy and Daddy
Dunking time and playtime

Friday 8th July - Chamonix - Mont Blanc (71 Miles , 1hour 40 mins)
il des Barrettes camping, Chamonix
After an early start we arrived in Chamonix about 11.20am with the intension of having a ganger then pushing onto Val-D'Isere, but the sight of the mountains from Chamonix was too much to leave in a hurry. We were booked on the campsite by 12 ( A wonderful site) and off to explore the town and see what was on offer in the way of mountain trips. sadly the cloud level was on the low side so we settled for a trip on the cog railway and cable car to the glazier, a good trip and back to the town in about 2 hours. I look forward to returning to do the big tour of Mont Blanc a series of cable cars taking you to 3800 mts.

The campsite and town are wonderful
Entrance to the caves and inside
The dog weight was 75kg

Saturday 9th July 05 - Bardonecchia, Italy(155 Miles 3hrs)   
car park opposite the Sommeiller Hotel, Bardonecchia
Well this is what the target was, get to Bardonecchia and the head home. A little cheat again and the decision to use the toll roads to speed the day. The first obstacle was the Mont Blanc Tunnel and after paying 44 euros the barrier system prevents a car leaving until the one in front is 150 metres away the safety here since the fire is well sorted after half of the 12 Km a fire station has been built.

mont blanc tunnel
  A pizza would have been easier  

The run in was pleasant with the sight of the mountains appearing. arrival in Bardonecchia was about 1.30pm and in good time to start the drinking off at the station. We made the decision to park in the car park as the campsite is 3 miles away and the car park is next to the bars. The usual Saturday night onslaught took place civilised meal then drink, no problem. Even Paul manage till after midnight.

Sunday 10th July 05 - No move

Well this is the reason everyone come to ride the bike up the Stella Alpina some 3009m above the bottom, sadly this year I was without bike and for the rest of them the mountain was without snow. However this does not prevent them from trying and getting as far as possible. Most of the usual faces were in attendance although the number overall seemed poor maybe because of the weather. Trevor was in normal form taking as many as possible on sidecar outfit.

Snow at the top , Trevor with Dan Sarah and Ben - George Cherry taking Ben for a spin and the
view for lunch

The normal Sunday afternoon gathering around the station was about to take place when I decided to cross the border back into France with the hope of Paul Having a sleep ready for the evenings entertainment .

Monday 11th July 05 - Susa, Italy ( 30 Miles)
An easy drive through the countryside and a chance to catch up with Anne and John who had flown in to visit family. so we were happy to join in and sample the local cuisine with someone who could read the menu. A excellent meal and fine wine was the order of the evening. Susa has no campsite so a local garage provided all the filling and emptying of relevant tanks and a car park was bed for the night.

Paul was getting better with the photographs, Anne and John happy to pose

Tuesday 12th July 05 - Sisteron, France (115 Miles total 1307 , 3 hrs 10 mins)
This was to be my chance to have a look around Provence, a area I have passed through before but never stopping to spend time to have a look around.

A late start and bye byes to John meant arrival in Sisteron was not until 6pm a good municipal site 2 miles from town. the drive in was outstanding reaching 6100ft crossing the boarder back into France at Montgenevre. followed by a drive along Lake Serre-Poncon before joining Route Napoleon where Napoleon march his men in 1815 on his return from Elba. Exploration of the town will have to take place in the morning, tonight's entertainment will be a barbeque at the campsite. The good weather showed us sunshine and temp of 31c.

Time for a train
Castellane was excellent

Wednesday 13th July 05 - Castellane, Provence France (60 miles , 1 hr 30mins)
A morning to look around Sisteron have lunch and afternoon drive down to Castellane. Sisteron was a delight a lovely small town with a magnificent citadel perched on the hill once again we cheated and took the tourist train to the top. Oh it was hot 33c in the van, thank goodness for the air con. arriving in Castellane some 2 hours later after a fantastic drive through a gorge (make note for future bike ride) we were spoilt for choice for campsites, they must have been 20, we chose a quiet one which was also the closest to town. After a visit into town for supper we decided to stop one more night. The offer of a free firework display for Bastille day was too good to miss, and it was time for a lazy day anyway. Thursday 14th July 05 - no move - Bastille day , viva la France , muchus vino
As energetic as it got today was a walk for bread. This was followed by a lazy lay about the site, it was so peaceful with magnificent views. I could have stopped for the week. But a ride through canyon de Vernon has me interested for Friday. this was also the first day I found a newspaper and read of the terror back home on the London transport.

Camping Castellane

a lovely backdrop on the campsite The evening was spent watching one of the best firework displays I have ever seen, something for Bastille day I presume it was a spectacle set against the rock all the street lights out and off it went 30 minutes of pleasure. The town continued to party and Paul managed a dance to grease after midnight.

  Friday 15th July 05 - Greoux-Le-Bains (70Miles, 3 hours slow very slow driving)
Car park outside Thermal baths, Greoux (free) The decision has been made now to plan my way home so have for the first time on this trip planned ahead. The GPS is all set and all the days programmed ahead, the GPS has proved once again to be invaluable it just saves so much time and trouble. While also taking you on some roads that would have been very difficult to navigate on paper maps. also saving on many fights with the navigator. We tried to walk to the top of the rock, stations of the cross to the church, Karen was keen I was so so Paul was No No. The ground was too rocky for the buggy. In the local tourist info centre I asked the girl a couple of questions then asked her what part of England she was from, South Shields she replied, One mile from us. The drive to Greoux was via the right bank of the canyon a slow road very tight with some of the best drop offs I have ever seen, so many opportunities for photographs. But none better than than the bungee jumping from the bridge 185 metres above the canyon. For 90 the ride of your life if you had the guts and boy had mine deserted me, I shall leave the thrill of this for Paul in a few years time.

Karen is pictured below and not on the wall above " the girl above has shorts on"
On route we pasted through Moustiers Ste Marie a fantastic small town all be it all uphill and definitely one for the future. The sights were fantastic.

Greoux was not until 7pm and the campsite looked a little out of town so we (I) decided to park in the car park outside the baths, even checking with the local police that it would be okay. The town seemed a little quiet on the way in but by the time we found the main centre the party had started street traders and music everywhere, fantastic. Saturday 16th July 05 - Orange (90 Miles , 3 hours total 1530)
Le Jonquier campsite, Orange, France
We awoke in the morning in our luxury and by now crowded car park, what a popular baths these must be. Off I went for a wonder and there was a constant stream of people heading for the baths, magic water they claim and a whole lot of treatments to match at about 250 for 6 treatments. what a business and people queuing for them wonderful. The drive to orange was as equally as slow as the previous day, however the scenery had started to dry up a little, it was good but we had been spoilt. The campsite was good quiet and easy to find after a test of the brakes when I noticed the bridge ahead was 2 foot shorter than the van. The pool was the order of the day as the temperature on site was 38c and too hot for me. The pool at 22c was even like a bath.

2 choices on the campsite information board 38c or the wine, You can do both

Orange was a spectacle one of the best collection of roman artefacts I have witnessed even a amphitheatre which holds 9000 It had a concert on that evening, starting at 10 when the sun set. The town was buzzing 9000 people eating and drinking before the show and all prepared with cushions. I guess the Romans did not go in much for padded seats. At prices up to 200 a seat and in a language I do not understand I decided to give this a miss.

  Described by some as the best Amphitheatre ever built (photo on the right  

Sunday 17th July 05 - No Move

Sitting waiting for the pool to open and the wine tasting to start this is a no go day.


Campsite Le Jonquier, Orange - even free internet connection
  The wine tasting was well worth the visit, even Paul sneaked a few under the table. My men with the samples  

Monday 18th July 05 - Langres ( 290 Miles , total 1820 )
Homeward bound 1000 miles north, it does not matter how much you spread it out once you turn round you feel like you are heading home. The miles were all completed on the motorway (peage) despite my hate of them, no feature and expensive, however the only way to get the miles out of the way.


Campsite was in excellent location within the walls of the city, and at 11euros one of the cheapest.
Karen was on a high when she walked into the Irish bar serving strongbow cider.
It was not until I rounded a corner and seen a hotel called De La Poste did I realise that I had been here before ( memory gone or what ).

Tuesday 19th July 05 - Arras ( 260 Miles, total 2080 )
Almost back to the ferry and it feels like it, the miles once again eating up in 4 hours using the motorway. The campsite not the best in the world, probably one step up from a car park. However its cheap has electric and we are in a good location. Since this is the last time to shop, that's what we shall be doing.

Wednesday 20th July 05 - Calais, 14.15 ferry, Newark, Halfway home via ferry (280 miles)

stop off at Newark at the caravan club site "milestone" and what a beauty.

Thursday 21st July 05 - Home (150 miles total mileage 2520)