French driving holiday recommendations.

#1
I'm just back from a great few days driving around western France. I've not spent much time there before outside of Paris and battlefield tours.

I enjoyed it so much I'd like to see more so am hoping for some recommendations for other places to visit, good food and wine places and any cultural or historic trips.

In your own time carry on.
 
#2
UK Campsites can be useful for ideas. The posts can be a bit twee though www.ukcampsites.co.uk

If you're Motorhoming then France has got to be one of the best countries in Euroland. Our web-footed chums have a system called "Aires" and these are stop-overs for Motorhomes; have a look at camping-car : The best European guide to motorhome sanistations at least this one's in God's own language.
There are others ie CAMPINGCAR-INFOS is reckoned to be one of the best.

There also campsites termed Municiples. These are sites run for the benefit of a village or town. They're usually well priced. Unfortunately, in recent years a lot of them have been sold off to the private sector
 

jarrod248

LE
Gallery Guru
#3
The Charente coast is beautiful and miles of empty beaches. Cognac of course is a must and some pinueu de Charente makes the day drift by.
 

jim24

LE
Book Reviewer
#4
If you play it right with a motor caravan you can stay in the "Aires de service" which are normally free for about two or three nights and then go on to another,its a great cheap way to have a brilliant holiday, I normally don't bother making plans just go with the flow, the joys of campervan ownership
 
#5
Not an owner of a motor home or a big fan of camping to be honest, but thanks for the pointers.

Just ideas of great areas to visit would be welcome, thanks jarrod, anything particularly in the Charente area I should be on the lookout for? Cognac is top of the list for next spring. :)
 
#6
Some good scenery in the Lozère (Cévennes) but you need a head for hights, lots of up and down twisting small roads. R L Stevenson's Travels with a Donkey is set there. The Ardèche is nice too. Both are good for kayaking/canoeing. Southern central France is still relatively off the beaten tourist track.
 
#8
Here's another useful link for gen on the various regions of France France family holidays and the best tourist attractions From my own experiences, I would have to say that Normandy always seems to be wet. The further South that you go, the better the weather.
The months to avoid seem to be mid July to the end of August. The prices are higher then as most of France seems to be on holiday.



Not an owner of a motor home or a big fan of camping to be honest, but thanks for the pointers.
QUOTE]

I'm sure that Jarrod could make space for you in the Jarrodmobile - he is always on the look out for people to repair it. Here you can see how he has press-ganged some elderly campers into repairing the alternator

View attachment 36259
 
#9
I haven't driven in France before, I am thinking of just taking the car and a tent, only going in hotel or Campsite when I need a clean up, planning to travel as cheaply as possble to have more spare money to spend.

Are they ok with you are there any particularly bad attitude toward British ? do you get hassled ?
Do Aires de Service allow you to pitch a tent up ? as you say its free, no membership required ?
Do MOD 90s get you any freebies etc in France.

I am also thinking of driving round Europe taking advantage of the Shengen border system, further advice about this would be useful thanks
 

jarrod248

LE
Gallery Guru
#10
Ord sgt I'd put la rochelle on your list and Bordeaux. If you like oysters loads of places at the side of the road on the coast. Miles of empty roads stress free driving. Just get a map and head up the coast better than the south and cheaper.
 

jim24

LE
Book Reviewer
#11
Ord sgt I'd put la rochelle on your list and Bordeaux. If you like oysters loads of places at the side of the road on the coast. Miles of empty roads stress free driving. Just get a map and head up the coast better than the south and cheaper.
bin there done that, cooking mussels in a bucket,barbying fresh fish, eating oysters only minutes old and parked on the beach drinking realy good wine that cost pennies for a f@ck off big jerry can full,

Oh and you can hire a Motorhome for about £50 a day, with all the toys already installed, my mate got one it even had an X Box and a WI thingy
 

jarrod248

LE
Gallery Guru
#12
Once you hire one you buy or make one. We hired one in Canada. Can't think of a better way to get around you have all your familiar things and can come and go as you please. I'm thinking of replacing the car with one of the imported vw campers just for weekends.
 

jim24

LE
Book Reviewer
#13
Once you hire one you buy or make one. We hired one in Canada. Can't think of a better way to get around you have all your familiar things and can come and go as you please. I'm thinking of replacing the car with one of the imported vw campers just for weekends.
Since I've had this sight problem it's really screwed up my social life, going away for a few months every summer and then every weekend in the winter with the Motor Caravan club was my idea of heaven, some of the locations they got us into were amazing, race courses meetings, RIAT,the Grand Prix,world Rally championships, Le Mans ect and all for normally less than a tenner a night.bloody brilliant
 
#14
Ord_Sgt, get yourself a copy of the Michelin Green Guide for France - the general one covering the whole country, rather than the regional ones, at least to begin with. They're packed with useful info and maps, including one showing 'touring programmes', with various great driving routes, 'places to stay' (though not individual hotels etc.) and other must-sees. You can pick one up second-hand for three or four quid total from Amazon, AbeBooks or eBay; it doesn't matter if they're a few years old, as the subject-matter doesn't change much, if at all. Once you find a favourite part of France it's worth buying the regional guide as well. I've used them for years in every country of Europe I ever visit, and I've never been disappointed. Highly recommended.
 
#15
Try the main truck route through southern Belgium/ northern France and Luxembourg out to Strasbourg: along the way there are, among other things, V2 launch site, space museum, river canoeing (including a bit through caves), the Champagne region, great roadside cafes and truckstops, US/German memorials and cemeteries around Bastogne etc.

Strasbourg itself is interesting, but hot in summer, and a stroll across the bridge and you're in Germany. Head south towards Switzerland then turn west through the Vosges mountains.

Miles of nearly empty A roads (stay off the toll roads, expensive), lovely countryside and the natives are friendly. Most can't or won't speak English, but a bit of French will keep you fed and watered, and around Strasbourg/Luxembourg most of them speak German too.

Do watch your speed near Calais, as les Flics WILL impound your car on the spot if you can't pay their on-the-spot fine. Take your time, mooch off onto side roads, and relax and enjoy.
 

jarrod248

LE
Gallery Guru
#16
Since I've had this sight problem it's really screwed up my social life, going away for a few months every summer and then every weekend in the winter with the Motor Caravan club was my idea of heaven, some of the locations they got us into were amazing, race courses meetings, RIAT,the Grand Prix,world Rally championships, Le Mans ect and all for normally less than a tenner a night.bloody brilliant
Jim, Hope you can make the ARRSE camping meet next May and I hope your sight improves.
 

jarrod248

LE
Gallery Guru
#18
Here's another useful link for gen on the various regions of France France family holidays and the best tourist attractions From my own experiences, I would have to say that Normandy always seems to be wet. The further South that you go, the better the weather.
The months to avoid seem to be mid July to the end of August. The prices are higher then as most of France seems to be on holiday.



Not an owner of a motor home or a big fan of camping to be honest, but thanks for the pointers.
QUOTE]

I'm sure that Jarrod could make space for you in the Jarrodmobile - he is always on the look out for people to repair it. Here you can see how he has press-ganged some elderly campers into repairing the alternator

View attachment 36259
It's good for old people to keep active and it saved me getting my hands dirty.
 
#19
Are they ok with you are there any particularly bad attitude toward British ?
Very very rare - once in 35 years of travelling there

do you get hassled ?
Hasn't happened yet

Do Aires de Service allow you to pitch a tent up ?
No - no caravans either: Motorhomes only. I have seen a caravan turn up and he got turfed-off by the motorhome owners already there

as you say its free, no membership required ?
I have rarely encountered "free" Sires de Service. They vary from just a point at which you can drop off waste "grey" and "black" water and take on fresh through to Aires that even have (limited) electric hook-ups. Also, you are not supposed put out tables and chairs
Typical Aires with over nighting
Aires 1.jpg
Inland, there more likely to be free Aires but near the coast then you can expect pay a small charge.eg at Caraoul near Erquy it is €4 per night and your van is checked by the Civil Police. They are pretty good natured about people not paying but will suggest that you get a ticket - if you don't, then they can get unpleasant.
Places like Mont St Michel can be as much as €10 per night

Aires 2.jpg
This is fairly typical service point
Please remember that lots of Aires are drop off areas only with no over-night parking.
The French are much more tolerant of Motorhomes than this country and I have never had any trouble parking up.

Some Aires are dogging spots or worse and can be really fecking grim. The unofficial one at Place du Commando in St Nazaire can be an education :)

Do MOD 90s get you any freebies etc in France.
Not sure about this but entrance to "attractions" such as the D-Day museums are very much more reasonable than their UK equivalents
 
#20
France is quite a big country, lots of different sorts of countryside from the Alps to great & often deserted beaches! It also has some of the best, IMHO, wines in the world! A couple of years ago I did a great trip taking in Rheims ( for the Champagne), & Burgundy (for the incredible variety of fantastic red & white wines). Finishing up on The Somme for a quick look at the old battlefield. We had a great time, it obviously helps if you have a smattering of French. There are loads of opportunities in the wine producing areas to sample lots of different wines in the various cellars, normally for free, ensure one of your party doesnt drink or you can easily finish up incapable of driving after a few different cellars! Travel is good on the Autoroutes even if the tolls can cost a bit, but they are quicker than the old Route National's! I normally used to get the AA 5 star breakdown cover before I went and went to my local library to read up for free some of the travel guides, this normally gave details of hotels/sites to see/wine cellars etc!
 

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