Arriving at Camping La Coccinelle was the start of our last week and hopefully the start of a bit of Rest & Relaxation. We arrived and it was blowing a hooley. Shown to a pitch we decided against putting the canopy up and quickly retreated inside the caravan. We were feeling a bit of a nip in the air after melting in Italy last week, this was a bit of a culture shock and a reminder of the climate we would be returning to in a weeks time.
Finishing off the last of the cheap, but very palatable, wine we gladly retreated under the quilt to sleep and whilst the caravan continued to rock in the wind during the night we stay snuggled under 13 togs of loveliness.
A lovely long leisurely lie in, we throw a salad together for a quick lunch, then, from the warmth of the caravan, watch the wind blow the clouds away. Jumpers on, five weeks since I last wore a jumper, back in Germany. Feels a bit alien wearing sleeves after the heat we’ve had recently. A short walk to explore the local village, Le Blot l’Eglise. A bit of a ghost town, very few people pottering about. In fact no people at all. I had a mission though. A few things I needed to see. The church stands prominently and rather grandly in the centre of the village with a war memorial to the two great wars opposite. Round the back, the church looks a bit neglected and in need of repair with a few broken stained glass windows and missing tiles.
L’Huilerie du Blot came highly recommended on the site reviews so in we go. Shelves lined with oils flavoured in every way possible, after a couple of tasters we decided on a hazelnut oil, bottle of local beer and a bar of soap, we like to buy local when we can, but local prices rarely agree with ‘our budget’.
Next stop was the local shop. Also recommended on the site review. An Aladdin’s cave of literally everything you could want. Not a word of English spoken, we manage to make ourselves understood by pointing at the rows and rows of vin rouge, vin Blanc isn’t an option, just the odd bottle with a price tag not comparable in the slightest to Le vin rouge. By now the clouds have started to part, cardy’s off and tied round my waist. I’m starting to wilt. In the space of half an hour summer returned.
Quite an odd evening, after six weeks of occasional conversations, today, about six people walk to our pitch ‘just’ to talk to us. It’s as if the owners have said “The Brits look lonely, go talk to them”. Belgium, Dutch, Scottish, French and German, hardly any spoke any English, especially the Scots (only joking) so the conversations were quite comical as either party got excited to understand any word the other said.
Legs up and on the road by 10am. Having realised we have entered the final week of our trip, we have also realised we should be slightly nearer to Hampshire, UK than we currently are. Oooops. The Boss decides we should do one mega drive and give ourselves the longest stay, six nights, at the final site. So maybe this wasn’t the drive to test out the ‘non-toll’ method of driving across France. Let us be clear, France is a bloody big place, after a hundred miles of normal roads the satnav is still saying three hundred miles to go, ETA went from 17:00 to 18:00 to 19:00, “Trust me”, he says, but I can tell from the look on his face he is doubting the growing gap between his expectations and the satnav’s ongoing predictions.
We see toll road debates all the time, so will give you our opinion. If you have a Motorhome and plenty of time, never ever pay tolls, French roads are beautiful, fairly clear, and towns are easily traversed. If you have a Caravan and plenty of time our advise is the same but be aware that in towns it often gets very narrow compared to UK towns and there will also be trucks avoiding tolls in the opposite direction. If you are on a two week holiday, just pay up and get on the motorways because France will be bigger than you expect and you need to maximise your holiday. If your caravan is one of the new 8ft wide jobbies, good luck and bon voyage, you will manage, but will have some ‘moments’.
Eventually the reality was somewhere between satnav and expectation. The Boss got the distance one hundred miles less than the satnav, which had the last laugh by getting the eight hour thirty minute journey correct. We literally staggered into the campsite reception, too exhausted to remember any French, “Do you have a pitch please ………?”
A link to La Coccinelle site review HERE
A link to Huillerie du Blot HERE