France March 2024

Here is a rough graphic of our journey over two months

29th Feb 2024 

We are on our way to France, but first there is something very important to do, Andy’s Grandson, Riley joined the army a few months ago and has his passing out parade on the 1st of March and so we travelled down to Pirbright army training centre on the 29th Feb and slept in the car park outside the gates. 

1st March

There are no photos or videos on this site for security and privacy reasons but the parade was really good and very emotional to see Riley in his uniform marching and parading along with the military band playing along to keep time. 

After the parade we drove down to Canterbury park and ride for the night, ///winter.tides.pack (£8 over night including facilities).

2nd March

We are on our way to Dover to catch our ferry to Calais today. 

We set off with passports and other essential paperwork at the ready.

The drive to Dover was quite good and we arrived in plenty of time to check in and join the queue. We boarded soon after and enjoyed a fairly rough crossing to Calais with the waves banging and crashing against the side of the ferry. 

Leaving Dover

Arriving at Calais

Sue drove the van off the ferry and down to our first over night park up in France, E. Leclerc Lumbres,  ///worms.grades.fanlike which was quite close to the bunker, La Coupole which we were to visit tomorrow. Andy bought the tickets for the bunker on line, around 8 euros each.

We pulled into the Aire but he services were not obvious so we scouted around the large car park until we found them. The water seemed to be off though but we didn’t need any so that was fine. At least we could empty waste in the morning. We shopped at the large supermarket and returned to the van to wine, pringles and olives whilst watching the Bharain grand prix.

3rd March 

A quiet night, no real road noise and as soon as the supermarket shut the car park emptied. We didn’t get any ‘boy racers’ either as I think that the gates shut in the evening? 

It’s a bit cloudy and looks like rain but at least the wind has died down. We fitted the headlight deflectors and set off for La Coupole, the German WW2 rocket bunker which was about an hour away. ///underwear.unstoppable.dexterity 

Arriving at the bunker we parked and had some refreshments before entering the museum with our headphones attached so that we could hear the descriptions as we walked around the different areas. The stories were horrific, especially when they described how the Jewish POW’s were put to work building the massive dome and assembling the rockets. More info here. 

After an informative 2 or 3 hours we fired the van up and headed for tonight’s park up. We intended to go to a free park up but as we got near to it we found that the roads were blocked, probably due to the flooding after the heavy rain, (there is a lot of standing water in the fields), so we recalculated and ended up at Camp de Loge ///september.glassy.impasses which turned out to be a static site with lots of small static homes. We pulled in and parked on the gravel pitch.

 Andy went to check the advertised services and found that the water supply had been disconnected, probably as a frost protection measure, so no water or waste emptying! However, the sun was out so solar charge was a bonus. We sat and dozed and drank wine and chatted about new / second hand trailers until it was pizza time! After a bit of Youtube we fell into bed to keep warm and enjoyed a very quiet night.

4th March 

Woke to a sunny but still cold morning. Andy put the Trauma gas heating on to take the chill off and put the kettle on for a cuppa and 'un Pain au chocolate' each and then set off to Berck sur Mer to see the seals. 

Berck sur Mer was about a 40 minute drive and on the way we came across the closed roads that we had encountered yesterday but this time we ignored the signs and tip toe’d through the floods after a lorry driver gestured that it was fine to drive though and we made it to the other side of the water but then, as we got to within 100 metres of the aire we found the roads were shut due to road works! 

We followed the detour signs but they were no help so again we ignored them and soon found ourselves pulling into the aire. ///pleads.secret.heartland. 

We went for a walk to see the seals basking on the massive beach. Then we walked along the beach to a café/bar called La Plage where we had a beer and a fish and chips each, (49 Euros) then back to the van to get on our e-bikes to go to Aldi for some groceries and back to chill for the evening.

5th March 

Another quiet night, these park ups are great so far! Out on the bikes to a service station for motorhomes where you can wash the van, fill up with water and empty your waste and even sleep over! ///kites.undervalued.dayroom. The overnight is free and the water is charged at 2 Euros for 10 minutes, plenty of time to fill our 125 litre tank, and EHU at 2 Euros for 90 minutes. We will stop there tomorrow and get some water, we might even park up for a free overnight, watch this space! On the way back to the van we stopped at ‘La Plage’ for a couple of beers and a warm in the sun and then walked along the promenade and back to the van.

6th March 

Andy got the drone out and shot some aerials of the beach and aire before we drove off to find our next spot. 

First we needed deisel and pulled into an auto service station. Tank full we headed for the services that we discovered yesterday, and filled the tank with fresh water for 2 euros. We also emptied our grey and black waste for free. We moved the van to a sunny part of the tarmac and switched the trauma water heater on. Andy tidied the rear store and Sue did some ‘House work’ and then we both had a lovely hot shower. 

Time to set off for the next stop as we had decided not to stop here as it was a bit industrialised and we thought it might be a bit noisy. We hadn’t decided on our destination yet but we headed along the coast road passing through villages and towns such as Quend, Froise, Le Crotoy and ended up at Le Treport where we found and Aire for 8 euros for 24 hours. ///fizzles.wishful.wand 

Once we had parked and secured the van we walked down to the Funicular which took us down into town where we sat outside a bar and had a beer each, cheaper here at only 10.40 euros. It was getting cold so we headed back to the van and settled down for the evening.

7th March 

A beautiful sunny morning and it soon warmed the van up. One of the gas bottles is now empty as we have been using the gas heating! We must now try to be more frugal with the gas because we have no way of re-filling the bottle here in France as they use different fittings to the UK!

We hit the road and headed along the beautiful long straight roads which took us down the Normandy coast, and passed through Mesnil val plage, Criel sur mer, Tocqueville sur eu, around Dieppe, Le Bourg-dun and then tried to find the aire near Plage de saint Valert-en-caux but the one way systems and confusing roads beat us and we gave up and chose a different place for tonight at Veulettes sur mer, ///rosemary.delicately.weary. 

It was alongside a car park, Parking du pont rouge. We walked along the promenade and watched the tide recede from the pebble beach before popping into a local shop to buy frozen chips and tonic water for the gin and then back to the van for cheese and ham and eventually chicken omelette.

8th March 

A quiet night and cold morning, it was 7:30 when Andy climbed out of his ‘pit’ so the sun was still struggling to warm us up! 

We had a walk to explore the Memoire d’Albatre B-17 bomber memorial and then up to the German bunker set in the hillside overlooking the commune of Veulettes sur mer where we were parked. 

Then as it was time to go we dropped off our waste and headed for Lidl where we stocked up on essentials which included a visit to a French butcher for some marinaded chicken. Then back on the road to head inland slightly to our free park up on the banks of the Seine at a place called Villequier, ///stirrup.unequal.preps. 

The bikes were made ready and we set off along banks of the Seine, past the power station at Norville and a mile further before turning around and taking the road back.

We spent the evening relaxing in the van with a Leffe each watching the enormous container ships glide past.

9th March 

Actually we had a quiet night considering the park up was next to a road and the movement of the ships along the Seine! We woke up to a beautiful sunrise and it eventually rose high enough to start warming the van. 

A large ship passed us as it navigated it’s way from the Atlantic to an inland dock somewhere to either unload or indeed take on cargo. We spent an hour at breakfast watching Grand parents spending time with their Grand children at the play area opposite until it was time for us to head for the service area up the road to dump our waste. 

We arrived at the service area, ///miles.realist.untold and dumped our grey and black waste for free and then continued to Honfleur, after a detour to the ferry via a very industrialised area. We hadn’t intended to go this way as the ferry wasn’t running anyway but the Sat Nag didn't know this and took us the shortest route! So we did a 180 and got back on track and eventually arrived at Honfleur and found the aire where we parked for the night with lots of other motorhomes and vans next to the basin of the Seine for 14 euros. (An expensive night for France!)

The order of the day was to explore the town, which we did immediately and were amazed at the beautiful architecture of the old buildings. We ended up in a little café bar, L’ Albatros where we enjoyed two beers each (€6 for half litre) sitting by the window watching people come and go before heading back to the van. Andy put the drone up to get a better view of the basin and the mouth of the Seine.

10th March 

(Mother’s day) 

After phoning our Mums to wish them a happy Mother's day we filled the drinking water carrier up and paid at the ticket machine by card and then headed for our next destination, Herouvillette, another aire, this time a free one. 

Trying to leave Honfleur proved stressful as, although we have a specialist motorhome satnag and although we have programmed it with our dimensions including the weight, the bloody thing still insisted on sending us up roads which had 3.5 ton restrictions! So, after much manouvering in busy narrow streets Andy managed to get us back on track and we continued our journey through the Calvados countryside and villages until we eventually pulled into our home for the night at Herouvillette. ///powerful.offroad.frailer. 

This is a small, busy car park/aire in a small village next to a stream and a play area where Grandparents brought their Grandchildren on a Sunday morning/afternoon to give the parents some ‘time on their own’ for a while! 

We had a walk around the village and then returned to the van to spend a quiet afternoon/evening watching the penultimate weekend of 6 nations rugby.

11th March 

Off on the bikes to Pegasus bridge which was held by the Germans and needed to be taken by the allies to allow a clear path from the Normandy beaches to the German front on D-DAY.

In the museum we saw the photos of the British gliders which landed metres away from their target, the bridge, after being released by their tug planes six miles out from the coast in the pitch black night just after midnight on the 6th June 1944 and then for the 6th Airbourne to scramble out of the wreckage to take on the completely unprepared German soldiers who were guarding the bridge and to take the bridge and hold it until the reinforcements arrived! 

We wondered how most of our young men of today would have taken on that task. The glider pilots had only a matter of weeks training to learn how to fly their aircraft and yet most of them landed with amazing accuracy.  Andy has his Private Pilots Licence and understands just how hard the task of navigating in the dark with just a compass and a stop watch would have been. To land with such accuracy was an amazing feat of airmanship!

There was so much to see and you can go here and see the story for yourself. 

Back to the van, resisting the urge to stop for a beer and packed up to get on the road again. We were heading to Hermanville sur mer ///vitals.banjos.leasheswhere.  

We discovered an aire and we made use of the facilities and filled with fresh water but found that the pitches were just too small for our van so we moved on to Lion sur mer which was a ‘Camping Car park’ aire. ///retraces.sigh.florists and to say we had trouble getting in would be an understatement! 

We had, apparently registered with this ‘club’ whilst in the UK but could not remember the password so Sue re-registered and paid at the barrier terminal which then lifted the barrier to let us in.

 We parked alongside 8 or 9 other vans of various sizes and styles. This is an aire purely for an overnight stop over, not a pretty view sight nor a tranquil wooded picnic area but safe, legal and although some what expensive (compared to our last weeks experiences of aires), for 14 euros we had a place to sleep and facilities too which included electricity if we wanted it. 

We set off for a walk to take in Sword beach, various monuments to the fallen D-day heroes and a tank which helped to clear the beach of mines etc. so that the allies could land in relative safety !!! 

Before returning to the van we opted for refreshments at a bar called "Le Goeland," (not to be confused with LEGO LAND) where we enjoyed a couple of Leffe’s each and a banter with the locals before heading back for a poached Salmon, Mediterranean rice and poached broccoli cheese and egg dinner.

12th March 

A quiet night until the lorries started heading for the ferry at about 5am and drove right past the Aire! 

It rained for most of the night and through the morning. We discussed what to do about our visit to the German bunker near the ferry port as it was raining and we didn’t fancy getting wet so the bikes and walking was not an option and parking the van nearer to the bunker was non-existent. We decided to wait for the rain to stop. Well the rain didn’t really stop and Andy decided that we had seen enough of the WW2 stuff and we should start to head towards Le Teilleul and Sarah and Mils, (Sister and Brother in law's) place so we packed up and hit the road. 

The journey was going to take us about 3 hours so we planned a stop sort of half way. Sue found an Aire in a little town called Saint Remy,  ///huts.notice.funkier where we stayed for free. 

We had a noisy French neighbour who stood right in front of the van and had a loud conversation with his friends for about an hour but they went in to their vans after they had sorted out their problems and all was quiet.  

13th March 

It rained all night but stopped when we woke up so we emptied the grey waste and set off for Teilleul. 

We stopped at a ‘Super U’ supermarket and a fuel station and refuelled as the diesel was at ¼ full. It was a really nice journey through some beautiful villages and towns with lovely buildings, La Remaisiere, La Riviere and Saint Mars-d’Egrenne. The roads were good and ‘Roman’. 

Arriving at the Aire in Teilleul ///allocating.premonition.cracked we parked, got the chairs out and had a sandwich and a wine and then set off to find a bar. 

We found a lovely bar owned by an English couple, Martin and Yolander and it was full of English people! We told them that we were planning to surprise Sarah and Mil and everybody knew them!  Soon after that Fred walked in, Fred used to be a roadie for Andy’s brothers band, ‘Made in England’ and we spent the evening with Fred and his girlfriend Allison drinking and chatting. 

Time to get back to the van and to sleep off the beers!  

14th March 

A quiet night, the road noise was not a problem once the nearby yards had shut. We decided to go for a bike ride as Sarah and Mil were in their studio for most of the day and we didn’t want to just turn up. (Andy had been messaging Sarah for a few days for updates and she was still unaware that we were in France let alone in the town where they lived!)

We rode out to the country roads for about 3 miles and eventually returned to the town and found ourselves passing their house so we decided to just ‘go for it’ and knocked on the door. Sarah opened the door and nearly fell backwards with shock at seeing us! She led us through to the lounge where Mil was recording a track on the guitar and he was shocked to see us too. After a tour of the house we sat in the garden in the sun whilst Sarah and Mil prepared a lovely lunch for us and we enjoyed an hour chatting, eating and drinking. They invited us to have dinner with them later that night so we set off back to the van saying that we would return at around 7pm when they had finished the recording for the day. 

We got back to the van and sat in the sun, listening to music and radio plays until it got cold and we packed away the chairs and retreated indoors. 

15th March 

Rain and strong wind all night but the sun came out as we were having breakfast at 10:30!!! We definitely needed our sleep last night! 

We got the bikes sorted out and made the van ready for the road as we were going to Saint Hilaire to do our washing at the ‘Revolution’ machines. We have described these in previous blogs and on previous trips but for newbies these are launderettes which are usually in a car park of a fuel station or large supermarket. 

The washer takes 18Kg which is very convenient. So, we put the washing on and sat in the van and had a brunch of cold meats, cheeses and fresh bread whilst the washing was on. 

(The 18Kg wash at 40 degrees costs 12 euros and the smaller machine 6 euros). 

Washing done and after a quick browse around the super market we headed of to La Mazurie, Andy’s brothers home for around 15 years. Andy walked around the property and returned to the van in tears as it brought back memories of the times that he had spent with his brother in the fields, harvesting onions etc. and sitting in the sun drinking beer and playing guitars. 

Chris passed away 4 years ago as we write this and this will be the last time that we see La Mazurie as Sarah has put it up for sale. 

So, back to the aire at Le Teilleul to put the newly washed clothes away and then a walk to the bar in town as Andy fancied a few beers! 

16th March 

We walked down the hill to Sarah and Mils to have a coffee with them and to say Au revoiur as it was time to move on. We intended to pop in to see Steve Bell, Guitarist for Andy’s brothers band, Made in England so we phoned him and checked that he was free. 

We arrived at Steve’s and he met us and welcomed us into his newly fitted kitchen, which he was building when we were last there for the rehearsal of Chris’s memorial gig. 

We had a coffee and a chat and he showed us some of the guitars that he was building for some of his clients.

After a really nice hour with Steve we said our farewells and hit the road as we were heading for Mont Saint Michel on the North west coast of Normandy and an Aire that we had found to stop over night. ///quickest.obtaining.placidly. 

We arrived at the Aire which is next to a restaurant,                           L’ Archange, and parked up with a view of the Mont St Michel across the fields. The aire was advertised at €5 a night but there was no one at the restaurant to pay so we decided to try again in the morning.

We were the only ones here at the moment and we settled down and watched the last France v England 6 nations match before bed. 

17th March 

Another rainy night but the sun came out after breakfast so we got the bikes out and cycled to the Mont Saint Michel across the causeway. 

The views as we approached the Mont were spectacular. As we got close to the to the entrance we met an English couple, Steve and Monique and chatted about vans and discovered that they will be at the Van life festival at the end of May so we arranged to meet them there. 

We locked the bikes up and wandered around the narrow streets admiring the buildings on the ‘Mont’ for an hour or so and then returned to the bikes to head for a bar. 

After trying a couple, none of which sold beer we ended up back at the Aire and the restaurant where we had Moules mariniere and frites with a beer each for £32. 

After a lovely meal we returned to the van and cleaned the bikes before getting the chairs out and sitting in the sun for an hour  and then the sun went in, and it got cold so we retreated indoors to catch up with the blog and a bit of Youtube.  

18th March 

We are off to another free Aire today which also has free services. This one is in a little town called Chateaubourg, ///absorber.cogent.circles.  

We pulled into the Aire after about and hours drive through the undulating countryside and beautiful villages. The Aire was basically a motorhome parking space, not pretty and nearly full. There were nine other vans parked up when we arrived and we parked away from the crowd after dumping our waste and taking on some clean water. There was an animal protection facility a few hundred metres away and the dogs barked continuously except at night, thankfully! 

We didn't take any pictures of the Aire as it was just a car park and not very interesting. It was also just a stop over for the night and we hadn't planned any trips out.

We met some lovely young French children who were on holiday with their Nanny and we practised our French with them and they tried some English. 

We had a walk into the town and saw the apple processing plant, this was Calvados country after all, and then the church before settling down outside a bar for an hour with a beer or two whilst watching the traffic pass by before heading back to the van for the evening.  

19th March 

As the castle in Vitre was closed today we decided to continue west and head for Vannes where we had found an Aire which had EHU included in the price. We stopped at a super market half way there to stock up and as we were having a lovely brunch in the car park a car went by with a completely flat tyre, it seemed that the driver was unaware that he had a problem and just carried on! 

We continued to Vannes and got to theAire 

///clan.bonds.sleeping  before dark and drove over the drain to empty waste and filled with clean water. We paid 36 euros for 48 hours and choose spot number 43, plugged in and started charging everything. 

We decided to splash out on the most expensive Aire so far so that we could get some hot water and give the van a good clean and have a shower each! (Saving our precious gas)  

20th March 

We awoke to a cloudy morning and light rain but as we got the bikes ready it eased off and the afternoon brightened into a scorcher. 

After a bike ride into Vannes marina and a quick beer we got back to the van and had lunch in the sun whilst listening to some old Beatles tracks from Rubber soul and The White album followed by a walk to aid the digestion then back to the van for more sunbathing before eventually heading indoors to settle down for the evening. 

21st March 

We decided to stay until 4pm as we had paid until then so we went for another bike ride into the old town and sat by the library and the church who’s bells started ringing for midday. 

Once back at the Aire Andy got the tool kit out as Sue’s bike had lost power on the journey to the old town. He dismantled the loom from the relay and cleaned all of the electrical connections before re-assembling it and sealing the compartment with Sikaflex. 

Then we got the van ready to go and used the service point to empty waste and get some drinking water before heading off at about 4pm towards our next stop at Carnac where there were hundreds of Neolithic stone alignments. 

We found the Aire at Menhir  ///material.boggles.heap and parked in the sun and as it was teatime we settled indoors for the evening. There were two other vans with us for the night but they were quiet enough.

22nd March 

We had a very quiet night and woke up to a cloudy morning but that wouldn’t stop us and after breakfast we set off to walk around the stone alignments. They stretch for about 4Km!

The stones were up to 5000 years old and laid in lines. You can find out more information about the history of the stones here Visiting the Carnac standing stones | OT Carnac ( as it would take too long to blog it here and do it justice. 

We walked as far as the viewing tower where the stones continued as far east and west as the eye could see!

Before heading back to the van we thought that we would see if the information centre was open, (it was) and it was free to enter at this time of year. After a short browse around the displays and shop we sat and watched an informative film about the history of the stones and the area before returning to the van to relax in the sun.  

Whilst we were sunbathing an English couple drove in and parked their van (Eva) next to ours and came and had a chat. They went off to check out the stones and then returned 20 minutes later and left the Aire for their next stop.

We left the Aire later and headed for Saint Nazaire where there was a very famous German submarine base which was attacked by the British marines in operation Chariot in 1942 St Nazaire Raid - Wikipedia. 

We found an Aire which was out of town at Montoir de Bretagne ///pets.prompts.revise as we had heard that Saint Nazaire was a bit rough and had a lot of homeless immigrants and drug dealers so we didn’t want to take our van anywhere near that. 

The Aire was 6 euros per night including EHU but we couldn’t find anyone to pay as the 'Marie' was closed for the weekend. 

It was getting late when we arrived so we stayed in the van planning to bike into Saint Nazaire tomorrow.  

23rd March 

A lovely sunny morning as we got ready to explore the submarine base. We set off on the bikes, it was about 30 minutes ride, and it took us through the back streets and over the motorway bridge to the submarine base. 

As we approached the base we were astonished at the size of the building and how much concrete which must have been used to build it. It was obvious that a raid from the air would not succeed in destroying the base, it was far too strong. 

We parked our bikes in a lockable cupboard at the entrance to the base and walked around to the surviving submarine, the Espadon, where we got the chance of going inside the sub with an audio guide through headphones. Very impressive but also scary and eerie to see how the sailors had to live and work on board. 

Back to the bikes and the van for tea and bed, we were shattered.  

24th March 

Andy decided that he wanted to see more of the base and the operation chariot memorial and the evidence of the raid, so we drove the van into Saint Nazaire and Sue opted to stay with it whilst Andy continued the tour alone. 

Firstly, he climbed the many stairs to the top of the sub marine base and got some videos of the docks and surroundings. There were homeless people sleeping rough in the corners and one chap had two large dogs who took a dislike to Andy, who made a hasty retreat! 

Then he walked around the rear of the Espadon dock where he found the memorial to the marines and the dock gates where the Campbeltown came to rest before exploding and wrecking the dock successfully! 

Once Andy got back to the van we headed for our next stop at the Aire Chemin des Pinettes ///gaggles.ethic.teacups driving over the very impressive Pont de Saint Nazaire bridge. 

We pulled up to the barriers at the Aire and recharged our card with some euros at the automatic machine. We choose a parking spot in the sun and stuck the offside on ramps to level the van up. 

Andy got the EHU connected, and we put everything on charge. 

After a while we went for a walk along the promenade and checked out some more WW2 history before retiring to a bar for an hour. Back to the van for dinner and bed.  

25th March 

We had a slow start this morning, Andy had a cuppa tea in bed and we put the water heater on electric and both had a shower. Andy did some laptop work and tried to catch up with the blog for the website and uploaded some media from phones to hard drive then we got on the bikes and went exploring. 

We noticed that most of the newer properties in this area were of a Mediterranean style with terracota roof tiles and mainly white walls. 

We walked along the beach and marvelled at the small birds, (we think that they were Sand Pipers) as they rushed back and forth in time with the waves.

We cycled along the coast and then went inland to a super Marché where we stocked up with essentials and then back to the van for soup and bread, delicious!

26th March 

Andy got the bikes loaded and the van set for the road as it started raining! We had charged everything up so we disconnected the EHU and got the van off the ramps and drove over to empty the grey waste. 

Sue swiped our card and the barrier lifted and we drove out. These ‘Camping car parks’ are a great find. You can book via the app or on the web and top up the membership card with money or do it at the barrier machine when you arrive! The sites are sometimes just a carpark but they all have 6 amp EHU (included in the price of the camping fee). 

So we are off to La Rochelle but as it is about 3 hours away we decided to stop half way and visit Fougeres, a little more inland where we had found a free Aire with services! ///topcoat.bouquet.atrium  

We pulled into a Lidl’s car park after an hour to have a break and eat some French bread and cheese and then on to Fougeres where we found the Aire with no trouble at all. 

We parked up and Andy went over to the services to clean our shoes and boots which got sandy at the last Aire. Then we settled down to rest for a while before deciding whether to go and explore or just vegetate in the van with a beer. We decided on the later and settled down to watch the rain and the comings and goings of the locals and then a chap came to collect a cherry picker, which was the highlight of the day!

27th March 

We woke up to rain and the temperature had dropped considerably! We took our time waking up and eventually it stopped raining for just long enough for us to get the van ready for the road. 

We put half a tank of clean water in and emptied all waste before setting off for an Aire on the island near La Rochelle, ile de Re, called Camping car park Saint Martin de Re. ///catchy.expectanct.albatrosses 

We stopped at a shop to pick up some bread and milk and soon we were paying the 8 euro toll to drive over the bridge which spanned the water between La Rochelle on the mainland and the Ile de Re. 

Twenty minutes later we pulled into the Aire, after negotiating some narrow streets in the village, and parked up. Bread and soup and a coffee whilst Andy updated the blog etc. 

Then onto the bikes to explore. We cycled along the sea wall which was actually part of the old town fortifications. 

More information here.

The fortifications of Saint-Martin-de-Ré | Destination Ile de Ré | Official Website of the Tourist Office (

The harbour was pretty and there was a multitude of bars, restaurants and shops. We popped into a bar and discovered a 1964 VW Beetle in the back room. The barman, who spoke good English told us all about the bar and the Beetle which, he said, still runs! 

We sat and listened to the music for an hour before returning to the van for the night and watched as the lightning and a storm approached and the rain began.

28th March 

WOW! What a storm, all night the van was rocked by high, gusting wind and rain but we survived, and the van didn’t leak! 

It is still very windy as we woke up and the rain continued through breakfast as we decided what to do with the day. 

Andy updated the photos and blog for the web site and after breakfast we decided to go for a walk to explore the Island. We had found out that the ile de Re is home to the largest maximum security prison in France and once housed Henri Charriere (Papillon), and we were parked just down the road from it. It took us a while to warm up today, the storm had brought cold air from the north so we decided that it would be better to be out exploring than to sit in the cold van. 

We set off on the bikes after paying for a second 24 hours and headed for the beach, Le Bois plage en Re on the opposite side of the island which looked out to the bay of Biscay which is renowned for rough seas and they were rough today! We cycled through some lovely villages and narrow streets to get to the beach and when we arrived we could hear the crashing waves from streets away! Bikes locked up we walked through the dunes to the beach and captured the crashing waves and a massive golden beach which stretched into the distance for miles (kilometres). 

Andy warned Sue that we didn’t need any more driftwood as she was showing a lot of interest in lumps of distressed branches which had been washed up after the storm last night. 

Back to the van for pizzas and a bit of a relax in front of the TV.

29th March 

We were having our second morning cuppa when this enormous overlander turned up and parked next to us, what a beaut! 

We got the van ready and dumped our waste before heading for the next island, ile de Oleron and the Aire de la Chateaux D’Oleron. ///toasters.denominator.makeover 

It cost us 30 euros (£25) for two nights with ALL facilities including 10-amp EHU!!! 

We parked on a pretty level slab after filling the clean water tank up and plugged in the EHU cable and switched on the water heater. Time to chill for a while with a cuppa and pain du chocolate before deciding where to explore first. 

We got on to the bikes and set off to the Citadel du Chateuax d’Oleron, the remains of the  fortified wall and emplacements which protected the chateaux d’Oleron from invaders over the years. Read more below. 

Citadel of Château-d'Oléron - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 We walked around the wall sfor about an hour and took in the views of the forts, Boyard, made famous by the TV show starring Leslie Grantham,

Fort Boyard (monument) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 

and Fort Enet, 

Fort Énet - Wikipedia 

before heading back to the van to eat, drink and be merry! 

We watched a film call ‘T.I.M.’ about an out-of-control robot man servant. 6/10. 

Sue noticed that the red ‘reversed polarity’ warning light was illuminated on our control unit. This happens in Europe because they sometimes wire their plugs differently to us in the UK and this makes it potentially dangerous to use 230v in the van. 

Andy unplugged the EHU cable from the supply for the night and decided to rewire it tomorrow.

30th March 

Andy got up early today and rewired our EHU cable to reverse the reverse polarity problem by: 

  • Disconnecting the EHU cable from the supply
  • Undoing the commando plug at the ‘van’ end of the cable to expose the wiring.
  • Reversing the blue and the brown wires as shown below.

Once the plug was back together again Andy plugged us in and all was well. We must try to buy a converter as soon as we can!

We went for another bike ride towards the end of the island but it was very much like Dungeness, barren and wind swept so after a couple of Kilometres we turned back and found a bar next to the open-air market and sat and fed a black and white pigeon who came right up and took peanuts from our hands! 

Then it was off to the shop for wine and beer and pringles before dossing in the van for a few hours. What a life! 

Later that afternoon we went for a walk along the beach in front of the Aire and ended up back into the fortifications and the church marvelling at the quaint streets and homes before completing the circle around the camp site next door and returning to the van. 

We will move on tomorrow and head south we think towards the Bordeaux area.

31st March 

HAPPY EASTER! It’s Easter Sunday and the clocks went forward last night so we didn’t get up very early, (according to our clocks). We had paid until around 3pm so we were not in a hurry today, but we do need to get a place to stay tonight. 

We made sure that we had charged everything up before packing stuff away and making the van ready for the road. 

We drove over to the facilities and dumped our waste and decided that as we were going to be staying at a FREE Aire with services we would fill up with fresh water when we got there.

The journey was smooth and after stopping for diesel just after crossing the bridge, (Pont d’ Oleron), we continued through the countryside and soon arrived at St Porchaire village and parked at the Aire. ///kangaroo.return.enraging. 

We took on 50 litres of clean water and went for a walk, exploring the local church on the way. 

Back at the van we got our chairs out and sat in the sunshine with a beer and wine and relaxed. During the evening a few other motorhomes arrived, some stayed and some just used the free services before continuing their journeys.

Now go to "FRANCE APRIL 2024" page 

to continue the adventure!