Just a note that this is more a factual record of the trip rather than a blog post as I am writing this nearly a year after the event. We have just had the site built by our son, Jamie, so just trying to keep a complete record of Dave’s travels.
DAVE'S FIRST FRENCH TRIP!
02.09.2017 - Condor Rapide to St Malo - depart 13.50/Arrive 16.45
17.09.2017 - return from St Malo at 12.40, via Jersey - arrive 15.00 - £353.60
02.09.17 - At check-in, realised we didn't have the paper part of our driving licences. Sarah & Herc came to the rescue! Our weight at check-in - 3755. Managed to drive on the Rapide and turn around in one, none of this reversing on nonsense like on Liberation! Left a bit late at 14.10 - calm crossing. Didn't go far, just to Dol de Bretagne(N - Brittany - 5) - on a bit of a slope - convenient for town. Went for a walk around the pretty town. Pizza for tea! (€30) The aire was very quiet, even managed a fairly good sleep. Weather ok, just pleasantly warm.
03.09.17 - Slept quite well. Woke up to rain - and it hasn't stopped! Tea and porridge in bed! Went to Sable sur Sarthe (N - Pays De Loire - 106 / peaceful overlooking the river). Tried to get some fuel at SuperU, but new currency card was declined, maybe it doesn't like MasterCard! Also haven't been able to get any gas today, seems France closes down like Guernsey used to on Sundays! Went for a walk across the bridge into the town - everything closed on Sundays! Church open, lovely stained glass.
04.09.17 - Left Aire about 10am. Managed to get fuel and gas - seems currency card is accepted when there is an actual person to take it, but not at self-service. Went to a random Lidl (€43). Drove about 2 hours to Amboise in the Loire Valley as Martin booked us in on Camping I'Ile d'Or for two nights (€33.40) so we could go hot-air ballooning - which was a present for my birthday last year (€351 for both of us) with Balloon Revolution.
Our 'flight' was at 18.30. We helped to inflate the huge multi-coloured balloon (and put away at end). Six of us in the basket (Clive, Claire and 2 Russians) - along with Kevin - who has been flying balloons for ten years (his assistant was Stefan). Was awesome! Went up to about 1,000m (3,000ft) really quickly. In our hour we flew 25km (usually only goes about 15km). Weather was good, cloudy, so interesting going through and above the clouds. One other balloon up at the same time in the vicinity. Gets really hot on your head when he blasts more gas! Flew low over in and amongst trees. Fairly smooth landing - though not where he wanted to be! Minion Dave came for the ride! Glass of fizz and a certificate to celebrate afterwards. We were lucky with the weather, as they had cancelled the flights the following day as it was due to be misty...Had Bacardi & coke and nuts when we got back about 9pm - too late for tea!
05.09.17 - rained overnight and early morning. Rode into Amboise tourist office and picked up cycle map. We rode for over 27 miles from Amboise and spent a few hours at Chateau de Chenonceau, the most visited private chateau in France (about 1M visitors per annum) - Was €13 each, and very good value - well worth the visit. Spans the river Cher. In second world war, the River Cher corresponded to the line of demarcation, was possible for Resistance to pass large numbers of people into the free zone.
My front wheel was making noises. Martin thought it was the bearings - but a later dose of WD 40 fixed the problem! Weather a bit changeable, raining this morning, cleared by 10ish, and threatened a bit on and off during day. Martin has just done his first BBQ on the Cadac. He wasn't sure the sausages were cooked! Had burgers and avocado salad - wasn't sunny or even warm - but we tried out the awning!
06.09.17 - Emptied/filled Dave for the first time! Not much to report! Left the campsite, parked up Dave and walked into Amboise. Didn't look at chateau, or Clos Luce - place where Leonard de Vinci died. Very pleasant weather, sunny/cloudy.
Drove for a couple of hours. At an aire in Tournon St Martin (N - Centre - 60) - all by ourselves. Right next to river Creuse. Very peaceful, will go bike riding tomorrow weather permitting. Just by chance we're in a national park in Brenne - seems deserted though! No cycle maps to be found at La Mairie, even though it's on a Voie Vert (cycle route!) No films to watch as all Martin's downloads are somehow lost! Looks like a good time to read good old fashioned books! We had a bottle of Lidl's finest sparkling wine - did Martin in and he wanted his bed by 8pm! We tried the double bed - I was too warm, and went back to my single about 1am. We like Freeway, the Lidl version of diet coke (Netto's was not nice!) Lidl 'magnums' also very good and very cheap!
07.09.17 - Walked and bought a baguette and made up lunch. From Tournon went for a 23 mile bike ride through very rural France. Saw actual Benedictine monks at Fontgonbault Abbey! Weather still good.
08.09.17 - This morning looking very average. Drove for about 30mins and parked up at Le Blanc (N - Centre - 62), a bigger town, not so nice. We struggled to find Route 8, just another cycle route taking in a very impressive viaduct. We got lost in rural, rural France a few times, signposts missing or ambiguous! Only about 20 miles ride, Le Blanc to Ruffec and back. Managed a Lidl shop on our bikes on way home (€20), it had just started to rain, so well timed!
We started off with 12G of data, but we had already used up 6G. Turned off all our updates, and limited use! I drove for about two hours (on the ring road around Poitiers!) and we stayed at another car park in Vivonne (S - Poitou - 66). Seems a bit of a dump, decided we wouldn't give them our money for food after having had a look around! Chicken and veg stir fry for us!
09.09.17 - Woke up to find the market just on our door step - how did they set that up without me hearing?! On route to boulangerie this morning saw men with a fish about five foot long and quite fat - was at market later! Bought a new frying/sauté pan with detachable handle for future Dave adventures (€31.50 down from €35). Decided to drive towards La Rochelle. Took about three hours. La Rochelle 1 (S - Poitou - 101) - Aire that was supposed to be free was €15 per 24 hours, with no services either. Had another cup of tea, and drove off - unsuccessful! Not sure where we are now is any better! Angoulins sur Mer (S - Poitou - 104). Our Co-Pilot system should never have allowed us to drive here at over 3.5t! Very narrow roads and tight corners and quite a few expletives! We're now parked on a slope in a muddy park up. Poor Dave now has muddy feet! The beach is only a few minutes' walk away, but rather windy! Warm out of wind though. Once again eating in. Courtesy of Lidl, ravioli with pesto sauce for less than €2! Services are 1km away. Think tomorrow we'll have to head more inland as most Aires near coast are busy and cost to stay! Despite not doing much it's all good and a steep learning curve! Bought more diesel and GPL today - not too sure about that, it's freezing and seems quite an art to get it in the van! We're taking our cat/dog fixes whenever we find one that's friendly!
10.09.17 - the weather seemed ok, so went to the service station for Angoulins Sur Mer. Sadly I did drive down a one way street the wrong way! In my defence Martin said we were going in the wrong direction as the Co-Pilot hadn't picked up satellite yet, so I reversed and went back! Anyway, was only a few meters! This new place was tarmac and seemed much nicer. Watered up, couldn't dump toilet waste as it was overflowing - so typically French! Decided we would ride into La Rochelle as it wasn't too far away. Well, once again, no map - didn't go the most direct route - but got there! Found Tourist Office and picked up maps. Rode around the old town and ports and generally just looked around. Had made up baguette sitting in burning hot sun, then within minutes clouded over and looked very much like rain! Weather decidedly changeable. Found the market, bought one sweet potato for tea. I can't quite understand the love of markets the French seem to have, as I think most things are quite expensive - was €2.40 for our one potato! Rode back to Dave, only 18 miles. Both a bit underwhelmed by La Rochelle, apart from the Old Port. Martin drove for about 2 hours to Ste Flaive des Loups (N - Pays De Loire - 227), just below La Roche Sur Yon. Aire should have been free according to book. Changed from July 2016 (after book was updated) and you now have to pay - not what we want to do! No wonder there was no one else there! Martin dumped toilet waste. Was smelling all of our journey - don't really know why. Moved onto Le Girouard (N - Pays De Loire - 229). Very pleasant, we were the only ones there, then another French van turned up, but kept well away! Went for a walk around the town. Really small, not even a boulangerie. However there was a machine for bread, so I put my €1 in, and out came a very decent baguette! The sweet potato fries took about an hour to cook, but at least we know the oven works! We're a bit concerned as the engine smelt different when we stopped, no alarms came up, but there is clear liquid dripping out - hopefully something from the air conditioning - but have to keep an eye on it.
11.09.17 - rained heavily about 2 am, but lovely and sunny when we woke up. Went for a walk around Le P'tit Val Gaillard, just on our doorstep - only about 3/4 hour, but quite nice. Took advantage of their being no one about and tried our 'washing machine' to do our towels, then watered up and Martin washed Dave! I drove, only a couple of hours. Stopped off at a SuperU - all because we needed milk. (€35) That's another thing the French don't seem to do, convenience shops - or fresh milk! We're now in Bourgneuf en Retz (N - Pays De Loire - 191), near the coast I believe, but haven't seen it yet. Made a couple of attempts to reverse park in what I consider a fairly tight space, with nasty low wooden posts on one side. Steep learning curve! Once weather clears up, will go for a wander. Not looking good for eating out - only managed it once so far on first night! There are so many mohos around here. Good job we parked up early, lots more have been driving around looking for a space, but none left! Went for a wander, another town without much to offer. There was a restaurant, but closed on Mondays! Spag bol for tea instead! Very windy, and showery.
12.09.17 - didn't bother with the services at Bourgneuf en Retz, too many mohos everywhere waiting! Bought a baguette and moved on. We're really surprised at how different the bread is from town to town, some crunchy, some chewy etc. Martin drove about 2 hrs to Jans (124), again we ended up being the only people at the aire there. Martin went to bed after lunch for a couple of hours. Red wine from night (NZ Oyster Bay) before had the better of him! Later went for a walk around the town. Really pretty, but absolutely nothing alive about the place, the restaurant had cobwebs in the windows! Even the church was closed, and the boulangerie was serve yourself machine! Gave up and drove into Chateaubriant 2 (SN - Pays De Loire - 124). We were parked on the outskirts and we're a bit concerned about not finding our way back to the very nice park we were in once we walked in. Found a Mairie and a map! Wandered around towards the Chateau, and realized we'd seen it last year! Walked back to Dave for a drink before walking back into town for a lovely pizza - 2nd meal out in ten days! Over 11,000 steps on pedometer just there and back twice...
13.09.17 - rain, and nothing but rain all day - the ducks in the lake seemed happy! We braved the weather to walk into town again as it was market day. Bought a pumpkin seed boule, which ended up very heavy going! Martin bought a new cap (€19)... Left about 3pm and drove to Pire sur Seiche (234), just to use their facilities and have a change in scenery. Again, another lovely aire with no one there. Drove to Ypo.Camp (near Rennes), ready for Dave to have his two hour habitation check at 9am tomorrow. Parked up on the roadside on an industrial sort of area - very salubrious! Will probably drive towards St Brieuc tomorrow, and hope that the weather will be a little better.
14.09.17 - Took Dave in at 9am for his check. Whilst we were waiting, looked around lots of other mohos for sale. We're biased, but still feel Dave was the right choice for us. Some of the Carthagos are much better quality woodwork, but at over €150,000 - not worth the extra money! Lots of the other ones with the drop down bed also squeak, so not just ours! Anyway, Dave passed his habitation check. Martin tried to pay with his card - and failed! Was €129, just about had enough cash! Stopped off at an Intermarche (€33) in Pordic on route and got some more cash out. Drove to Binic (N - Brittany - 44). Aire takes about 40 mohos, not that pretty, and water not available using hose! Walk into sea side town only about ten minutes. Very pretty, quite similar to Guernsey in many ways. Enjoyed a walk all around and on the beach. Was a lovely 4 month old puppy who looked very much like Stevie that we got acquainted with! The weather feels so much colder, must be getting closer to home! Jeans weather instead of shorts! Was the first morning that Dave was full of condensation. Had a drink in Dave in the evening and walked back into town. Martin was determined to get his moules frites! I asked them for an omelette, obviously a difficult request for the waitress, but the man behind the bar said it's not a problem. We're sure the Brittany accent is very different! Quite difficult to find places around Paimpol which have services, free or otherwise.
15.09.17 - really showery weather all day - really heavy at times. Walked back into town and bought a Brittany seagull stuffed toy which appealed to both of us, he's now called Wilbur (sort of from film Rescuers Down Under) and is a companion for Dave! - but he won't usurp him! Left aire and I drove to Port Plerin, which looked lovely, but couldn't park up. Since guide was written, they've put a 1.5m height restriction on the parking place. Drove onto Tremuson (N - Brittany - 40), was only good for a lunch stop and a quick look around. Have come further inland again. As it seems all around, or near the coast the Aires are either paid for, but most of them don't have any services available. Arrived at Quintin (N - Brittany - 287), and Brian Gabriel with his partner Kate and their dog are here. They came inside and we had a good chat. Nice to speak English again! Wandered into the town, but was already 5.30 ish, tourist office and Chateau were closed! No really nice looking restaurants, so eating in again! Think there are menhirs near here, will have a look tomorrow before moving off for our last day.
16.09.17 - Aire for the night was Pleslin Trigavou (N - Brittany - 20). Weather in morning was average - but had to do something! Got the bikes out and found a very nice cycle path on the old railway that took us into Dinan - about 40 mins. Had a drink there. I wandered up the hill to a jewellery shop I visited years ago - they no longer sell the 'satellite' necklaces - but bought a pretty purple coloured one (€19). As we left, it just started to rain, got a little wet, but by the time we were 'home' we'd almost dried out again - about 16 miles?
17.09.17 - the Aire was fairly close to St Malo, so just packed up and drove to the ferry. Sadly ferry went via Jersey, but crossing was fine.
All in all, a very good first adventure in Dave. Probably could go three days maximum without needing to top up water or empty loo - but better to do more frequently if possible! Used very little gas. The Aires books were brilliant. Didn't pay for any Aires, or any of the services the whole time we were there.
Fuel/diesel - from € 1.179 - Intermarche to €1.297 - Total and GPL 0.719/litre
We've got stories from all over Europe. We could tell you about the highlights, the lows and sometimes just the mundane reality of being on the move all the time. We love writing about our experiences, we hope you'll love reading about them too!
Martin and Kay Dumont from Guernsey, first time motorhomers and ready to travel. ‘Dave’ is our Mobilvetta K Yacht 85, purchased in 2017 and travelled all the way from Italy. After following Jason and Julie Buckley’s blog 'Ourtour' for years I just couldn’t get the name ‘Dave’ out of my head. So the Mobilvetta had to be another 'Dave’.