MotorhomeTravel Blog

MotorhomeTravel Blog

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The blog is about places where we have stayed and been able to pursue our main activities of walking & cycling. It is not intended as a guidebook or detailed description of places which we have visited.

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Normandy Escorted Trip or Independent Travel

FrancePosted by normanbaker Sat, February 11, 2017 11:58:17


Escorted Motorhome Tour versus Independent Tour

We look at the cost of an escorted tour to Normandy with one of the main UK camping clubs and compare it with the alternatives.

Well you are the proud owner of your new motorhome and you want to make your first foreign venture, so do you choose an escorted trip with one of the main camping clubs or do you do your own thing. Or perhaps you are attracted to the added features of the escorted tour.

Well let’s have a look at what is on offer by one of the major UK camping clubs on its trip to Normandy.

Like all travel companies, it is in the marketing and bearing in mind that these are profit making organisations, you have to decide whether the added value excursions etc are worth the premium that you will have to pay. Gone are the days when these are organisations run by members for benefits of members, though this can still be found in events such as rallies and temporary meets, so I do not have to keep my cynical head on all of the time.

So what do you get for your 11 day escorted trip for just under £1000. For a starter you do not get your cross channel ferry fares.

You do get 10 days of campsite fees but given that you will struggle to pay over 20 euros a night, a total of £170 for the trip, this will be a small proportion of your £1000. The club makes virtues that it is using pre Brexit exchange rates but if you use a decent credit card, you can avoid fees and mitigate against these exchange rate movements, by getting the better exchange rates offered by Visa or Mastercard.

So let’s look at the added value trips, which in this case focuses on the Normandy battlefield tours.

The trip includes a shared tour of the battlefields which you should be able to pick up at about 110 euros each, total 220 euros or £187

www.ddaybattletours.com

If you want to do the British sector then try:

www.normandy-sightseeing-tours

This will set you back about the same, 220 euros or £187

So for half the cost you can do it yourself. Sorry I forgot the welcome meal, well for 80 euros or £68 you can eat like a king.

Even more fun is to camp next to the landing beaches and do your own thing. Get hold of the ACSI guide from your camping club for about £13, which will give you a whole list of sites for under 19 euros a night. There is loads of information available without a guide and you will save nearly £400 for two.

Also France is motorhome friendly so for instance if you wanted to go to Pegasus Bridge there is loads of parking. You could stay at the campsites at Merville Franceville Plage and take the 30 minute off road cycle route to the bridge.

Or get it directly from www.campingcard.com

I get mine sent annually and it costs even less.

Campsite at Bayeux

http://m.camping-bayeux.fr/en/home-sp21.php

This is a municipal site which often offer excellent value and good facilities and this one is no exception and the ideal base for the battlefield tours and of course a visit to the Bayeux Tapestry.

Campsite at Honfleur

http://www.campinglabriquerie.com/mobileapp/index.php

Though this site is a little way from the centre it is a better site than the more centrally situated one and it is on a bus route to Honfleur. Moreover it is a low season ACSI discount site.

So the bottom line is do you want to pay £1000 for a trip you could do for half of that on a like for like basis or for £200 or less if you set out to explore yourself.

If you are still hell bent on an escorted tour check out the ACSI tours, which appear at first sight to offer better value than the main UK camping clubs.

Escorted or Independent Tour

Pros Escorted

The tour escorts will hold your hand

You will travel with fellow Brits, group camaraderie

All organised for you, campsites etc and added value trips and dinners

Coach trips possibly suitable for people with restricted mobility

Cons Escorted

Very Expensive

Lack of flexibility, if you like somewhere or want to stay longer, you have to
move on with the itinerary.

Danger that you will not mix with other motorhomers outside of your group







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Canal de Bourgogne

FrancePosted by normanbaker Mon, November 26, 2012 18:18:45

After leaving the Roman town of Autun, we headed back north via the Burgundy Canal, with the aim of tracing it to its starting point at Migennes. Following the Roman theme our first stop was at Venarey Les Laumes,adjacent to Alise Sainte Reine which is below Mount Auxois and the alleged site of the battle of Alesia.

In 52BC Julius Caesar with the aid of elaborate encircling fortifications besieged a Gaul army, under the celebrated Vercingetorix ,four times larger than his own. The end result, amidst much brutality, as is common with the Roman army is that the Gauls came second. Vercingetorix surrendered not before evicting his women and children who became entrapped between the two armies and were left to starve. Vercingetorix was taken back to Rome, paraded as the defefeated enemy before being executed 5 years later.

There is a museum which also displays an example of the considerable formidable fortifications but there is a snag. There is some dispute whether this is the actual site of the battle, there is a challenger, Chaux des Crotenay in the Jura and amidst the competing claims, there are accusations of skulduggery and the fact that the French have spent a lot of money on the museum, has nothing to do with the fact that Alise has the support of the authorities, as the official site, ever since Napoleon 3rd in 1860 who commissioned a massive statue of Vercingetorix.

Further details of the competing claims can be found at:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-19167600

Anyway our main aim was to cycle the canal and chill out. We stayed at the excellent, appropriately named Camping Municipal Alesia which was a pleasant site with spacious pitches and many surrounded by hedges. It was very clean and as normal very reasonably priced.

The canal is a very short ride from the site and in one direction south to Pouilly en Auxois. It is well surfaced and is a steady climb and we passed 45 locks in about 15 miles. No problem for boat owners here, not that there were many, as the locks are operated by lock keepers who beetle up and down the towpath on their mopeds covering the locks that they are responsible for. Many lock keepers also appear to compete with each other to see who has either the best gardens or in some cases the most bizarre.

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Roman History in Autun

FrancePosted by normanbaker Sat, November 24, 2012 18:59:56

We were on our way from Chalon sur Saone to cycle the Burgundy Canal when we decided to take a detour for a bit of culture.

We stopped at the excellent ex municipal site, just outside of the town but committed the cardinal error of arriving at lunchtime but never mind, we filled up at the spacious motorhomeservice point, so no tricky reversing and then found ourselves a very spacious pitch, surrounded by hedges and overlooking the meadow and the town at the back. We settled down to lunch and met the warden afterwards and settled up, all very relaxed as is so common in France. No rules and regulations to contend with and at 19 euros a night with EHU and very clean sanitary facilities, who can argue.

A short walk from the site takes you across the Roman river crossing to the Porte d'Aroux and to the entrance of the Roman garrison town of Augustinium.

A circular walk from this bridge,takes you to the other river crossing and the other impressive Roman ruin, 'The Temple of Janus'

To visit the town, you have to retrace your steps and go back through the Roman gate; do not be put off by the 15 minute walk through the outskirts of the town which are promisingly unimpressive.

You soon arrive in the attractive historical square, the main shopping area, which is a good spot for refreshments and chilling.The pattisseries and chocolate shops are definitely worth stopping for. A short walk up takes you to the equally impressive St Lazarus cathedral, apparently his relics are in the cathedral. There are some very atmospheric restaurants in the high town. The town also has a very impressive Roman theatre,which can be reached by signpost from the high town. Unfortunately when we were there, it was the subject of a somewhat plasticky French Spectacle, plastic gladiators and chariots but the town has to make its money somewhere. You continue to walk down to the other well preserved if somewhat altered Roman gate, Porte St Andre. After you have negotiated the town outskirts you will find the town is very appealing and soon grows on you, it is reasonably compact yet at the same time having plenty to occupy you. If you do want to stay free, the town does have an aire, at the top of the town and the town is certainly worth a visit, not just for its well preserved Roman walls and remains, though they are undoubtedly a big attraction.

St Lazarus cathedral from the excellent 'municipal' site on the outskirts of town

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Camping Municipal Joigny

FrancePosted by normanbaker Wed, August 29, 2012 16:47:08

We discovered this superb municipal site by accident. Our aim was to cycle along the Burgundy Canal from Migennes, where the canal joins the river Yonne and we had hoped it would have been possible to cycle from Migennes to Joigny, along the river Yonne.

Though technicaly it would have been possible to cycle along the main road to Joigny, we discounted this, as it is a reasonably busy main road and we equally discounted the minor roads route, as this according to the locals necessitated a climb out of Migennes, Bradley Wiggins we are not.

So we made the short trip to Joigny which is a very attractive riverside town on the Yonne. The medieval town can be toured easily in half a day and has a good selection of restaurants and shops.

The real gem is the campsite which is along the riverbank with secluded pitches, water and drainage nearby, electricity, a modern and scrupulously clean sanitary block, a dedicated motorhomeservice point and free wi fi all for the princely sum of 8 euros. I also have to add that there was also a very friendly welcome.

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