Thursday, 19 July 2012

Aires, spaces and overnight places.

A few days ago we hit Contis Plage. It’s a small holiday town on the south west coast of France with a few bars, a fruit stall, a boulangerie for our daily croissants, a few surf shops, a great pizzeria and a couple of what we would call in England, ‘bucket and spade shops’. It took us about two weeks to get there from home, but we are not particularly counting. We've been taking things as they come.
But the reason for this post is to talk about where we have stayed so far. These include Cool Camping sites, aires de camping cars and local campsites.
The least we have paid for an overnight stop is nothing, which was our first night in Roscoff. The aire was overcrowded but we had a lovely welcome in the form of a Belgian couple who had seen my TV show and recognised the van. They came over, said hello, had a chat and gave us some water as we had none to make tea. We got caught out in that respect as our guide to the aires from Vicarious Books said that there was water there. Never mind, 'All The Aires France' is still an excellent traveling companion.
Our most expensive stay was in Hourtin Plage at a really great campsite that cost us a little over 60 Euros a night. We couldn’t quite believe how much it was but, with pools, waterslides, a great playpark and lots of space between pitches, it was a touch of luxury after an overnight stop on an aire in Jard Sur Mer the previous night. With no facilities other than a tap and drain we had to endure the full scale usage of the porta potti. A little luxury was well deserved. The site at Hourtin was great but after a couple of days of having to take my own toilet paper to the loo, pay for internet and fork out for chilling my wine in a communal fridge, I began to resent the cost of it all. Surely, at that price, they could throw in a few sheets of bog roll?
Paper came free at another site, the Panorama Du Pilat adjacent to Europe's biggest sand dune. At just over 50 Euros it was a little cheaper but felt overcrowded, with a little too much white plastic hardware for my liking. Mind you, it goes in the Cool Camping book for a reason: the views from our pitch were spectacular. Even so, we still hankered after our favourite overnight stop so far, the aire at Plage Viviers at Biscarosse. Deep in the pine forest, the aire had just a self cleaning toilet (don’t be too long or the door will open on you) and a few picnic tables. To walk to the beach took just about 5 minutes whilst cycling into town took about ten minutes on a flat cycle lane. The atmosphere was jolly and friendly, with lots of families enjoying a cheap and mellow stay in the woods. At just 12 Euros per night we spent less for three nights than one at any camp site, which is why we were keen to get on the aire at Contis Plage. It’s just 11 per night and worth every cent. There is even a shower and washing up facilities, and it's just 300 metres to the beach.

Finally a few top lines on a few other spots:

Camping Indigo, Ile De Noirmoutier: superb site in brilliant location right on the beach. A few caravans and families set up for the summer. Swimming at high tide and cockle picking at low.
Camping de Kermaltero at Primelin, Brittany: a municipal site with big, hedged pitches (some were rosemary)and the cleanest showers and toilet of any campsite we had been to. A bargain at 12 Euros.
Camping Le Letty, Benodet, Brittany: wonderful location right next to the beach with some pitches almost on the sand. Great pools for the kids and a bar that sells beer. Pity it was raining. 50 Euros a night so a bit steep but toilet paper was included.

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