Well that is our summer trip from Spain through France to the UK finished.
We were way from home for 3 weeks and 6 days and covered 4613 kilometres.
We consumed 524L of diesel at a cost of €718. This means that we averaged 11.35L/100km or 24.89 MPG.
We stayed for 25 nights in campsites at a cost of €651.
We used the Portsmouth to Caen ferry which cost €557 return.
Cattery fees for Mika for the month were €224.
Tolls in Spain and France totalled €51.50
I have used an exchange rate of 1.114 € to £ and so our trip cost €2211 or £1984. I have not included food costs as we would have spent that anyway.
This is a brief review of the campsites that we visited:
Municipal Camping, Zaragoza, Spain
A municipal site with gravel pitches of reasonable size. Water and electric on pitch. Wifi access free. OK toilet block. Poor on-site restaurant. Score 6/10
Camping Beau Rivage, Navarrenz, France
A nice site with grass pitches and partial shade, close to town. Water and electric on pitch. Only pizzas available in on site restaurant. Score 7.5/10
Camping Du Plan d’Eau, Angouleme, France
We stayed in the Aire parking for the night, gravel pitch with electricity. Unisex toilet block. Central water and waste disposal site. Score 7/10
Ferme Auberge La Maison Nueve, France
A grass field with electric on a farm. Poor unisex toilet block. Water available outside wash block no waste disposal. Score 4/10
Bridge Villa Campsite, Wallingford UK
Large grass pitch with electricity. Water from central point. Free wifi. Good clean wash block. Score 7.5/10
Briarfields Campsite, Cheltenham, UK
A well planned site with concrete hard standing for the motorhome with separate grass and gravel area. Good free wifi and toilet block. Bus stop outside the gate. Score 9/10
Capesthorne Hall, Nr Macclesfield, UK
Very efficient booking system, pre-allocated grass pitch with water and electric. Modern luxury toilet block. Stately home setting. Score 9/10
Dalston Hall Campsite, Dalston Cumbria, UK
Large grass pitch with electric, water and waste. Poor wifi. Adequate toilet block. Score 6.5/10
Manor Farm Campsite,York, UK
A grass pitch on a working farm with electric. Water from a central point and central waste disposal. Toilet block was average. No wifi. Bus stop outside gate. Score 6/10
Delph Bank, Holbeach, UK
A modern luxury site with gravel pitch and all services. Best toilet facilities of all the sites we stayed in, close to village. £3 single night additional fee. Wifi expensive paid for. Score 9/10 (would have been 10/10 but for the 1 night excess charge and wifi paid for)
Amerden Caravan and Camping, Taplow, Maidenhead, UK
A site close to the Thames but also right by the M4 so noisy. Wifi at reception only. Fully serviced pitch even with table and chairs. Toilet block OK. Score 7.5/10
Scotts Farm, East Wittering, UK
A very expensive grass pitch with only electric. Wifi unusable. Ideal for children or tents. Close to village and shops. Toilet block OK. Grey waste disposal a problem. Score 4/10
Portsmouth Truck Stop, Portsmouth, UK
Gravel car park with electric. Poor toilet block. No wifi. Noisy with trucks arriving and leaving at all hours. Convenient for ferry. Score 4/10
Le Vieux Moulin, Nr Le Mans, France
Large grass pitch with water and electric. Very expensive for the facilities. Very quiet close to village. Poor free wifi. Unisex toilet block. Score 6/10
Camping Park du Val de L’Eyre, Salles, France
Large grass pitch with electric and water. Quiet site, great water park on site for children. Unisex toilet block. Supermarket opposite gate, close to A23 motorway. Score 7.5/10
Camping San Jorge, Huesca, Spain
Looks to be a municipal site, in need of maintenance particularly the toilet block. Shaded grass pitches with electric. Central water point and waste disposal. Free wifi needed booster then good. Close to large town and supermarkets. Quiet. Score 5/10
No rain last night and so no light show and a reasonable nights sleep. We packed up and then reversed in to the grey waste disposal point and emptied the grey and black waste and then manoeuvred out of the narrow entrance and out into the car park. We followed the sat nav through the back roads of Huesca to the rear entrance of Carrefour where we filled up with diesel before joining the A23 at about 9.45am and heading south towards Valencia. The road surface on some of the A23 particularly between Huesca and Zaragoza was in poor repair with lots of filled pot holes. This was just a boring run down the two lane motorway with a stop for coffee and again for lunch just before we joined the A7 to head towards Valencia and then Ondara and home. We left the A7 at Ondara and went to the Lo Cost fuel station in the shopping centre to fill up again ready for our next trip. After filling up we headed home towards Orba parked up and unloaded and went home.
Today was a lazy day initially at the campsite recovering from two fairly challenging and tiring days driving through France. I even put the awning out to protect us from the sun, only the third time it has been out on this holiday. Later, we walked into the centre of Huesca to find a Sabadell bank to get some cash as the campsite has no card facilities and we were running a bit low on Euros. We found a nice pedestrian square with a couple of bars so we stopped for a drink but didn’t fancy anything on their menu for lunch. After we finished our drinks we went for a stroll following Google Maps to a restaurant that had a lot of good reviews, unfortunately, when we got there it was closed but there was another good one opposite with a menu that we fancied and so we took a terrace table there. Restaurant Hervi was certainly a good find with an excellent €16 menu del dia with large portions and a good selection on offer, we even came away with the half bottle of rose wine we hadn’t drunk. We walked back to the campsite and we could tell we were back in Spain with the temperature up to 33 degrees. Once back at the campsite I paid for the second nights stay and we had a quiet rest of the afternoon with the clear blue sky having some large white clouds later in the afternoon, hopefully no storm like yesterday today.
We packed up, emptied the cassette and let ourselves out of the campsite automatic gate and then took the key back to reception. Drove across the road at about 9.15 into the Carrefour to put a splash of expensive French diesel in the van to ensure that we had enough to get into Spain where is much cheaper. We re-joined the A23 heading south and just before the tolls we turned off onto the D roads. These were very quiet and many of them were straight for many kilometres with occasional villages that were all pretty with lots of flowers in baskets, the chicanes at the entrance and exit to the villages were a bit annoying but were a good traffic calming measure. We stopped at a roadside hotel/ bar for morning coffee that was just as expensive as other bars we have stopped in in France. We continued towards Pau and then on towards the Somport tunnel, I just caught sight of one sign that said the tunnel was closed and then the one afterwards said it was open and so we continued towards the tunnel.
On the N134 somewhere near Gurmençon we were stopped at a roundabout by the Gendarme and told that the Somport tunnel was in fact closed due to a serious accident. They re-programmed the sat nav for me to take the best local route over the Pyrenees and so we turned around and headed back the way we had come. As it was just before 1pm we decided to stop for lunch at a LeClerc store with a brasserie, where we had a nice cheap drink and roll for lunch, why can all French bars sell for this price. After lunch we had a walk around the store and found a member of staff who spoke some English, she rang up for us to see if the tunnel had yet re-opened and she was told it was, wrong. So we made our way back and at the same roundabout as before and needless to say it was still closed and so we headed for the diversion route, as a result we wasted yet another half an hour. As the diversion route would take us over the top of the Pyrenees and it looked quite windy and would add some distance to our route I decided to add a bit more fuel. We then followed the diversion back to Oloron and then onto a D road towards Laruns through some small narrow villages climbing all the way. The route through Laruns was narrow and we were then on to the narrow road that led up the mountain. This was very tight in places as you can see from the first half of this video:
We made it through unscathed but we were only travelling in second and third gears most of the time at around 30-35 kph so I was very glad that I had added fuel. We followed a large Spanish lorry for protection a lot of the way up the mountain but he was dropping gravel from his load for a lot of the journey. At a couple of hairpin bends we were passed by some suicidal French motorcyclists totally on the wrong side of the road with no vision and with mud smeared over their rear number plates. We reached the summit and then crossed over into Spain and the road surface and width improved considerably. We stopped for a comfort break at a parking area shortly after the summit. We then continued on towards Huesca where we decided to stay for the night at Camping San Jorge, the sat nav had one last challenge for us a narrow local road with parked cars both sides with just enough room for us down the middle. We parked up at the site on a nice grassy pitch at just after 5pm and settled down with a couple of cold ones. Just as we were having dinner the heavens opened and we had heavy rain thunder and lightning from about 7pm to 10pm. During the course of today’s journey Ingrid took some photos of our trip through the van windows.
We were up early and were packed up and ready to leave just after 8am, just as we left Le Vieux Moulin it started to rain. During the course of the morning it rained off and on, sometimes heavy and sometimes light mizzle. We followed the sat nav down the local roads we had approached the campsite on and over the narrow bridge where we met a 38-tonne artic coming the other way, luckily there was just enough room before the bridge for us to pass each other safely. We then drove around the outskirts of Le Mans and on the D roads in the direction of Poitiers. At ten past nine on one of these D roads a deer ambled across the road just in front of us, the dash cam caught it passing but unfortunately, I didn’t lock the video and it was overwritten later in our journey so we have no video evidence of it. We stopped at a Les Routiers stop for coffee that was very expensive and they didn’t have any croissants or anything light for a mid-morning snack. We went through several picturesque villages and at Poitiers we joined the A10 and this allowed us to eat up the kilometres.
At about 1pm it finally stopped raining and the road started to dry out and the temperature climbed for 18 degreed to 24 degrees but the sky was still grey and cloudy. We stopped for lunch at a service area on the A10 but Ingrid didn’t fancy what they had on offer and so we only had a short stop. By 2.30 as we approached Bordeaux the grey sky had started to clear and there were patches of blue and the temperature rose again. The traffic around Bordeaux was slow but it kept moving and we turned on to the A63 heading towards San Sebastian. At 3pm we stopped at a service area for an afternoon coffee and snack and looked at the various apps to find a campsite for the night. We found one in Salles some 25km from where we were. By the time we re-joined the motorway the traffic in the direction of Bordeaux was virtually stationary and it was like this for some 20 km or so. We turned off the A63 and followed the sat nav into Salles and to the campsite (Camping Park du Val de L’Eyre) where we arrived just after 4pm and it was 33 degrees! It took some 30 minutes or so to get checked in as the laid-back owner was chatting to some other customers and with a bit of Franglais between us I eventually got checked in. We parked up on a large grass pitch and plugged in and settled with a cold one.
We got up late this morning recovering from a poor sleep the night before and a long day yesterday. Before lunch we explored the campsite and went for a walk by the river Sarthe just outside the campsite and then walked in to the village. As it was Sunday lunchtime all the shops were closed and very few people were about and so it gave us the chance to take a few photos. We returned to the campsite and had a quiet afternoon. We have decided to head on early tomorrow morning and just head for Orba and when we have had enough travelling we will find somewhere to stop. A quiet evening this evening eating some salad and maybe watch a film.
We were up at 6am as we had the early ferry from Portsmouth, we had a bit of a disturbed sleep with the noise at the Truckstop. We ended up leaving the Truckstop at 6.45 and stopped at the Shell station at the end of the road to top off with diesel due to the cost of it in France. After queuing in the petrol station we fuelled up and left at 7am and arrived at the ferry terminal 10 minutes later. There was quite a queue to check in which we did and we were then directed to the front of one of the lanes, we were only stationary for a short while before being called forward to board the ship, we followed a couple of other motorhomes and we were put very close to the front of the ship not like the trip across to the UK. We were in the cafe onboard drinking coffee by 7.45am! The ferry was late leaving possibly due to the arrival of two Japanese naval vessels and so we didn’t set off until 8.45am. We had a smooth crossing and arrived in Caen 30 minutes late and we disembarked at about 3.40pm. In Caen motorhomes can only pass through passport control in one of the 3 lanes and with cars pushing in it took an hour to get through passport control for us.
We left the port at about 4.45pm and followed the sat nav around the local roads and on to Caen and around the the ring motorway to the east of Caen and then onto the D roads rather than the toll motorway heading towards Le Mans. We went through some lovely picturesque villages and across open farmland with a lot of fields of sweetcorn. We saw some interesting roadside sculptures made from straw bales and some large chateau in amongst some of the trees. We stopped to stretch our legs in a parking area for 10 minutes if we had carried on for two more minutes we would have come to a frittes stall with outside seating, typical. We had an uneventful run to the outskirts of Le Mans and then saw proper road signs pointing the way to Le Vieux Moulin campsite. We followed the local roads to the campsite having to cross a narrow bridge that was about 50m long. We were shown around the campsite which is right by the River Sarthe, it is very quiet and peaceful here as was recommended. Arriving at 7pm we set up quickly and had a drink in the late afternoon sunshine followed by a snack for dinner and an early night.
We had a lazy morning around the campsite with the family and at lunchtime we walked into East Wittering and had a nice meal, first cod and chips of the trip, in one of the local restaurants. Just as we were finishing lunch it started to rain but luckily only fairly light. After we left the restaurant we did a little bit of shopping in the local shops and then walked back to the campsite. We did a bit of tidying up and looked after Harry and George whilst Paul and Jen did some tidying up of the tent. Just before 4pm as we were about to finish breaking down the heavens opened. Luckily it turned to light drizzle at about 4.20 and so we finished tidying up and said goodbye to the family. We stopped at the toilet block to empty black waste and to top off with some drinking water and the family all came running up to say goodbye again in the drizzle. We then drove round to reception and they moved their golf cart and opened a drain for us to dump our grey waste into. We finally left the campsite at 4.45 and headed up towards Chichester and the A27 and then turned off into the Portsmouth Truck Stop just off the A27 for the night as the ferry is early in the morning.
We had an undisturbed nights sleep with George not waking up until 8.45am. We had a lazy morning with a couple of light showers and at about 11am we walked down to East Wittering and then onto the beach where Paul, Jen and Ingrid bought a pot of shrimps each and ate them on the sea front. We walked a little way back into the main part of the town and did some food shopping and went back to the campsite for a late lunch.
We had a quiet afternoon and then Jen cooked a nice BBQ. As the temperature dropped we all ate dessert in the motorhome. George decided he wanted to sleep on the van and so he and Jen had the front bed again.