And so we’ve arrived at the second of Tilly’s big trips this year, our 2 week summer trip. Originally we had been intending on heading west to the Netherlands and into Germany and Denmark but looking at the weather forecast it quickly became apparent that our chosen week would only bring us rain and cloud. So it was we headed out from Calais, south west, on what is now a familiar route towards Normandy and the west coast of France.
Originally we had been intending to stay at the free aire at Mesnieres en Bray about 2 hours on from the tunnel but on arriving in the village it turned out we had picked carnival day and the aire was now the location of a village wide car boot sale!
Luckily five minutes down the road is Neufchâtel en Bray and a super aire next to the campsite. Although this is a paid for stop at €11 a night it’s hardly breaking the bank and that includes EHU and a beautifully maintained pitch. As this was a Sunday we were still somewhat short on supplies so took the opportunity of the restaurant next door to round off our first day with some delicious pork and settle down to watch a fabulous sunset.
Next day we were again beholden to the weather as our original planned route down through Orleans, and the free motorway south of that, was forecast for heavy rain and thunderstorms! Not a fan of navigating a high sided square box in the driving wind and rain and given the flexibility Tilly gives us to change our minds, we therefore decided on the slightly longer route south heading west towards Brittany and it’s free motorways down to the Loire.
After a detour to the shops to stock up on groceries, we decided to aim for the village of St Brice en Cogles, a very motorhome friendly area with stops in almost all the surrounding villages, just north of Rennes. After yesterday’s long drive from London we also quite fancied a shorter journey and with the sun now shining we pulled into our home for the night not long after lunchtime. A walk around the town confirmed our suspicions that most things would be closed on a Monday and so after a nose around the church and the tourist office we headed back to Tilly for the evening.
The final stop on the first half of our sun seeking adventure through France was the city of Niort which we had always intended to visit on previous sojourns to Poitou-Charentes but never quite made!
With the weather clouding over again, like the proverbial swallow we continued due south and after a brief lunch stop pulled into Niort about 3pm. The aire is fantastically located on the river about 10 minutes walk from the old town. Theoretically you pay for the location at a price of €9.75 a night but according to the reviews quite often the local police never seem to collect!
Walking across the river it also turned out we had again struck festival time, but on this occasion in place of a car boot sale, there was a rather good light rock band playing against the fabulous backdrop of the city market and medieval castle!
We had been intending on eating in the city but with all the crowds, after a lovely walk around the old city we ended up back in Tilly to enjoy the evening sunshine which had again returned after the rather grey day.
Turned out that luck was also with us when it came to paying, as despite the odd police visits, at no point did they stop and ask anyone for payment!
The next morning, after checking the latest forecast we also made the decision that this trip we would finally abandon our love affair with France and head into Spain. Although it has never been cold, we get enough grey at home and there is a lot to be said for guaranteed sunshine! By all accounts things are also much cheaper down in Spain, even if today was the day when the pound hit a new 8-month low against the euro!