Mostly Coastal Normandy and Brittany...
(Vicki and Mark are in their 35th month of RVing in Europe since 2009--first in a Roadtrek Adventurous and now in a European camper. Vicki's write-ups emphasize the practical side of RVing in Europe. Mark's blog at roadeveron.blogspot.com has the more touristy side with photos.)
We did a very leisurely meander along the northern French coast. It is an area we haven't spent much time in before but enjoyed very much. I would heartily recommend it for a warm July as the temperatures have been mostly in the 70s on the coast, where inland there has been a heat wave. It is not yet high season so shops and restaurants are open but not swamped.
We actually spent the last few days of June in the Dunkirk area trying in vain to find someone who could work on the propane part of our refrigerator. AC and DC worked fine but to be able to stay in the free or lost cost aires we had to have the propane working. Everyone was fully booked for a month or more. If you are RVing in Europe you need to have any repairs or maintenance done out of the summer season. So we contacted BW Campers (our 3 month warranty was still in effect) and headed the 250 miles north back to Amsterdam, a morning of repair work, an afternoon of clothes washing etc. at the campground and then back to France. So I will include our first visit to France here, so everything is together.
We wanted to stay at the free aire in Dunkirk N51 03.189 E002 24.864, but when we arrived in mid afternoon it was already totally full. It is extremely popular as it is right on the beach and only a few minutes walk to the boardwalk. Next time we will arrive in mid morning! Instead we stayed at the municipal campground next door (but you can't drive straight from one to the other). If you arrive after 5 pm the charge was only 10E. Even in high season it is reasonable. Again on the beach but with a fence to keep those not camping there from coming in. Besides strolling the beach we went hunting for the art nouveau homes built in this same close-in suburb of Malo les Bains at the turn of the century. Enjoyed it all thoroughly.
We hit crazy traffic trying to get from Dunkirk to Calais. We had run into the ferry strike backup of over a thousand trucks backed up on the main road. Of course our Garmin only wanted to go that way, but we also have a Michelin France Atlas which is worth its weight in gold and finally zigged and zagged through enough back streets to avoid most of the traffic. So we were about 2 hours getting through. Had we stayed on the freeway we would probably have had to spend the night right on the highway. It pays to check local news once in a while and we aren't very good about doing that. We actually didn't even make it to Calais but spent the night at the aire in Philip le Grand (near) Gravelines. We did have good internet as we bought an Orange wifi box though we seemed to run through the gigs awfully fast!
I am afraid I didn't do a very good job of keeping track of the next few days. After visiting Wimereux, which did not have the good art deco we were looking for we spent the night at an aire just short of Boulogne sur Mer for 5E. The next night we wild camped at the Colonne du Legion de Honeur, near Boulogne. It is a monument to Napoleon that his troops erected for the formation of the Grand Army. It is a long story. Anyway it was a pleasant enough spot and we had cell service.
At this point, we headed to Amsterdam and returned. On the way back we detoured to Azincourt to visit the site of the famous battle where Henry V defeated the knights and King of France. Unbelievably, the battlefield itself is still intact though not much to see of course. The town has a rather poor, amateurish museum but they did let us spend the night in the parking lot! I wouldn't really recommend it. Mark disagrees.
Back to the coast we spent a squally afternoon in at Le Touquet-Paris Plage. Famous as one of the first resorts catering to Parisians it is full of Belle Epoch beach architecture and interesting residential neighborhoods that remind one of Pebble Beach in French. It is still a hugely popular beach area and had all sorts of amusement rides, etc. right on the water.
Leaving the Opal Coast we entered Normandy at Ault where we spent the night at the free aire, but there is no access to services. Ault is a sort of backwater but does have good views up and down the coast from its tiny, stony beach. Michelin had mentioned more Belle Epoch homes but we couldn't find them. What we really liked was Mer les Bains just a few kilometers south. Once it was a most fashionable bathing beach for Paris. There is a long beach, and as everywhere else along this coast, huge tides. There is ample free parking right in the center of town and a trip to the Tourist Office gave us a map with the best Belle Epoch homes identified--block after block of amazing three story affairs with every kind of imaginable turret, gewgaw, balcony, dormer, etc. We loved it and then had a lovely lunch on the square at Taverne de Toy. Highly recommended.
Our planned visit to Dieppe was a miss as the aire was already packed at 2 in the afternoon.
Detouring from the coast we headed inland about 30 kilometers to visit a place Kathy and Rick Howe had recommended—Les V1 du Val-Ygot (N49 55.019 E 01 16.510). In the middle of the Foret d'Eawy remains the bombed site of one of Hitler's V1 launching pads. Signs remind you to stay on the paths because unexploded ordinance may still be in the area. There are 7 or 8 building shells with explanatory signs in French and English. Of course, the most chilling is the launch ramp itself with a facsimile V1 loaded and aimed at London. We decided to spend the night in the parking lot and were rewarded with a very quiet night as traffic in the woods was very light.
Back to the coast we aimed for the tiny town of Pourville sur Mer just west of Dieppe. But wait, a route de barrier sign, a long line of traffic, and consulting the internet we find that the entire road from Abbeville to Le Havre is closed for the Tour de France. Not knowing how long we could get stuck, we opted to turn around and take an administrative day in the parking lot of the Auchan shopping center. The Auchan was fabulous with all kinds of interesting merchandise, and we added trips to the building supply and shoe store as Mark's back up shoes had literally fallen apart. We finished adding wire molding for the cables for the solar and now all is neat and tidy. Just one more fuse to install for it to be finished. We have found that the 92 amp battery has been adequate so far and the 140 watt panel recharges quickly every sunny day. Most of our power use is keeping our two computers charged. Mark does a lot of blogging. That evening we made it back to Pourville and though there is no official aire there, spent the night at the beach with about 30 other camping cars. We have seen a lot of unofficial aires in France that I'm sure the French camping community learn from the internet, but not available to us since we don't speak French.
We loved this section of the French coast. The hardest part was getting our Garmina to keep to the small coast roads instead of the faster interior ones. Our favorite village was Veules-les-Roses—think Cotswolds without the traffic and by the sea. Really the prettiest village we have seen in all our travels. We also liked the small city of Fecamp where there were 125 RVs parked in the huge port parking lots—all for free. We took the 50 cent Navette bus all over the city and up to viewpoint of the Notre Dame du Salut church where we could see all the way to the arch at Etretat. Also during the hour we were up there three different wedding parties arrived for photos and fun. The abbey church in town is fairly plain but has the longest nave in France and next to it are the ruins of the Duke of Normandy's castle—the place where William the Conqueror feasted his Norman pals after returning from the Battle of Hastings and the conquest of England. Mark enjoyed the Benedictine distillery tour while I went to the laundromat a block from the church. There is a campground there that the little bus went to—up a huge hill with a tiny road. Obviously the small Sprinter size bus fit, but.... The bus though only runs in July and August and it would be a long walk to town.
In Etretat the crowds were as expected for the Sunday of a four day weekend—Bastille day (what Americans call it) coming on Tuesday this year. We decided not to stay in the aire (which amazingly had space until early afternoon) but parked across the street and fixed supper at lunch time while we waited for the rain to end. About four it did and we walked into town and up to the Church overlooking the arches. Lots of steps but not difficult. It is a pretty place and rare on the French coast, so extremely popular. Leaving town we noticed that they had opened a huge field for overflow parking (but with barriers for tall vehicles.) I would say this small town could easily park 1500 cars. With a beach that stretches for only a few blocks between the two chalk cliffs with their arches, you can imagine the crowds. Try to avoid weekends if you can. We spent the night just south of Etretat at an aire near St. Jouin Bruneval N49 39.057 E00 09.791. The aire was nice, though we couldn't get the water to work, but if you want continue on down the road about 2 blocks to the actual oil depot port where there is a flat parking lot, there is room for over a hundred RVs—parking the night was free.
Most tourists probably skip Le Havre noting that it was totally destroyed in WWII and rebuilt in the “modernest” 50s. We certainly had on on previous trips to Normandy. We were intrigued this time by its UNESCO status and a line in Lonely Planet stating that the art museum had the best collection of impressionist paintings in France outside of Paris. We drove straight to the aire which is at the port, two blocks from the art museum and 4 from the beach and city center—a terrific location for 6E a night. N49 29.078 E00 06.428. The city was completely shut down on this Monday before 14th of July with only two restaurants, the Carrefore City and the tourist office open. After a 2 hour walk around the modern quarter, we didn't quite agree with the UNESCO designation, but if you like 50s architecture then perhaps. We almost didn't walk the extra block to see the inside of the modern Saint Joseph cathedral because it was so completely ugly from the outside. But inside, all the many small windows turn out to be stained glass and the view up into the bell tower was awesome and worth the trip all by itself. Our last stop was the art museum. Only 5E to see 6 Monets, 6 Renoir's, Sisley, Pissaro, and huge Dufy and Boudin collections. But the best part was that almost none of these paintings were glassed, there were no ropes, no buzzers if you got as close as an inch to the paintings. There were few enough visitors so you could admire as long as your liked. In Paris to see a Water Lilies is to be trampled by dozens of other people and kept back 3 feet or more. Here you can study the brushwork or lack thereof, up close. Boudin, though not as well known, was a mentor of Monet. This is one of the largest collections of his work, donated by his brother including perhaps a hundred painted sketches so you can see how his studies led to the finished works. Outstanding! That evening we walked the two blocks to the end of the beach to watch the 11 pm fireworks with hundreds of French families.
Just over the Pont de Normandie (6.3E) is the lovely town of Honfleur that we visited in 2013. Again we stayed at the aire for 11E which includes electric if you arrive early enough in the day to secure a receptacle. N49 25.150 E00 14.586 There is room for 100 or more RVs but on weekends you must get there by early afternoon. This time we walked many more streets and enjoyed the wonderful half timbered buildings. Yes, it is always mobbed with tourists but still worth it. We also noticed several campers parked overnight in the free lot just west of town near the lighthouse.
The Cote de Grace road from Honfleur to Trouville is narrow, winding and beautiful. It is marked not over 3.5 ton but used by large buses so not really too bad. We stopped at Cricqueboeuf to admire the 11th century church but were still in Deauville by 9 am. The aire in Deauville is free and includes electric but only has room for about 9 campers. N49 21.436 E00.05.044. If you arrive between 9-11 you can probably find an empty spot or wait for someone to leave. Paid day parking for campers was also available at the train station a block away or down by the marina. Knowing the French, probably lots of campers also spend the night at those spots. Camper parking would be very difficult in the nearby Trouville. These twin towns were lots of fun but it was murderously hot—93, our long day there. Deauville is known for its beautiful Belle Epoch villas and the long beach with the colorful, posh umbrella cabanas. Weirdly we had a difficult time finding a lunch spot. The restaurant we headed for by the marina was closed for the day, so we continued to the beach expecting at least a frites stand. I guess the real estate is too pricey for such, as the choices were ice cream or sit down posh eateries with menus in the 28E and up, up, up range. The next morning we crossed the bridge for the short walk to Trouville to buy seafood at the morning fish market, and we found all the restaurants missing from Deauville!
In the afternoon we drove the Cote Fleurie coast road stopping at the panorama viewpoint just before Houlgate where you can see from Le Havre to the beaches at Arromanches. And the platform itself is perched on a German gun emplacement! Talk about recycling. We almost skipped Dives sur Mer. Michelin had a page on it, but the cathedral sounded interesting and we found easy parking right next to it. The town's streets looked small but we had no trouble getting through. The cathedral was interesting with the oldest part stuck on to the later in a rather incongruous way but two other sights really stood out—the market hall and the William the Conqueror village. The market hall was a pure example of why we love Europe. Mark and I have probably seen 50 or more such spots and yet when I walked into this one all I could think of was WOW! 600 hundred years old and still used every Saturday morning. Again the William the Conqueror village sounded corny but turned out to be a half timbered hostelry from the 1500s which was stunning, and now housed the tourist office and lots of little shops.
We have made several trips to Normandy in the past but had skipped Caen except to visit the Peace Museum in 2013. The description of the city had always emphasized how much destruction had been caused by World War II. We spent two nights in the camping car lot at the Peace Museum and took bus 2 into the city for a full day visiting seven churches, the citadel, and a graveyard worthy of Stephen King. All are described with pictures in Mark's blog. Bottom line, allow a day or more for the city (my pedometer read 14,000 steps) and a day for the Peace Museum. But note that neither our Lonely Planet or Michelin guide told us that the English tours of the Abby for Men only ran Monday to Friday and not on Saturday when we were there! Do not miss the Church Saint-Sauveur and I quote from Beaurepaire in 1896--”Saint-Sauveur church is the most unbelievable, incoherent, extraordinary combination of buildings from different periods, including the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries.” By the way, we think seven churches in one day has got to be a personal best for even us!
Michelin rated the Chateau Fontaine-Henry at two stars and as it was more or less on the way to Bayeux we decided to stop. The village of Fontaine-Henry was hilly with narrow streets and we managed to see just about all of them trying to find the Chateau whose directional sign had faded into obscurity. Arriving at 1pm we first toured the very nice village church. The chateau was sponsoring a children's fete that weekend and cars began arriving in mass about 2 before the opening at 2:30. We thought we would wait until all the children got in and then go. Bad idea—at 3 the line was still long as we discovered they had exactly one cashier. The chateau offers 3 tours a day. The guides do speak English but the tour is in French. I think on a none fete day the tour groups would be smaller and non French speakers would get more out of it. But absolutely see the English av presentation in the chateau chapel before going on the tour. All in all we find ourselves much less interested in the French chateaus than we are in the English manors. Partly this is the language barrier but also we just don't know French history as well as we know English history. It certainly looked possible to spend the night in the parking lot/picnic area outside the chateau grounds. N49 16.508 E 00 27.152 We decided to drive on to Bayeaux.
Though we have the latest Vicarious Aires of France book, when we arrived at the center ville aire in Bayeux there was a large sign posted that the aire had been moved and vehicles longer than 5 meters would be towed. Of course, there were about 18 campers parked there on a Sunday evening anyway. We tried to enter the coordinates for the aire in our GPS but the data included a negative sign and extra digits and though our Garmin is also new, we could find no corresponding GPS type. We ended up in the next parking lot a block away where there was no signage and another motor home parked. The next morning we hoped to get it all sorted out at the tourist office but never made it that far. Instead we did the wash at a convenient laundromat and then spent a good bit of time admiring the cathedral, visiting the lace making center, and walking part of the Michelin walking tour. The cathedral was excellent with more of the silly, weird, carved heads that we had seen on the churches in Caen and then at the village church at Fontaine-Henry. These are particular to the Normandy region but can also occasionally be found in the south of England. What were they thinking? Parking in the lot was a Euro per hour from 9-12 and 2-7 so having seen the Bayeaux tapestry 4 times before, we headed out to the Cotentin penisula in search of an aire for water and dumping. We really like our European camper but to keep weight at under 3.5 tons, smaller European campers only carry 20 gallons of water. For us this means we need a fill up about every 3 days. We are finding that some of aires no longer have working water taps though you can almost always dump the gray and the cassette toilet. Other aires require a token that has to be purchased from the Marie (city hall) or a local business. We now have bought extra tokens for the two major aire suppliers in France to have on hand.
We decided to stop first at Isigny sur Mer not expecting to be able to spend the night with only 5 places. The water turned out to be free and there was a overflow area where camper car parking was allowed from 6 pm to 10am. Next morning after walking to the grocery, we moved to an official site and just decided to take a day off. There is little traffic there right on a canal near the beach. Our Orange wifi box was slow but Mark could still post to the blog so he was happy.
Heading north we stopped briefly at Utah Beach which with Omaha shared the American landings on D Day. Having visited the other areas several times, we only stopped long enough for a few pictures and headed north along the coast and detoured slightly inland to see the Nazi gun battery at Crisbecq. By the way, the Cotentin peninsula is very rural and any detour including most of the beachside roads means single lane with some pull offs and high hedges. Great practice for driving in Ireland or Greece but occasionally heart stopping for me. In St. Vaast la Hougue. Mark parked near the entrance to the harbor (illegally) and quickly ran into the oyster store (since 1878 ) for a dozen. Michelin claims St. Vaast oysters are renowned throughout France—I don't eat much seafood, but Mark thought they were really good. In Barfleur we parked just at the harbor and frankly I was somewhat disappointed. It is supposed to be one of France's 100 beautiful villages. Maybe because of its location spread along a peninsula? We have seen lots prettier.
Just before Cherbourg we spotted a picnic area on the beach at Bretteville and spent at quiet night with a VW camper. The Nazi gun emplacements loomed over us. N49 40.098 W001 30.613. Before heading into Cherbourg we detoured slightly inland to our first megalithic site of this trip—a 4000 year old allee couverte—covered passage grave. N49 38.819 W 001 30.613. There was room there in the parking lot to spend the night, but it might be kind of spooky. In Cherbourg we parked at the harbor at the Cite de Mer after several fights with our Garmin who insisted we needed to drive through the car ferry parking area to get to it. Just follow the signs. By the way, lots of campers were obviously spending the night at the car ferry parking lot and there were lots more in the aire adjacent to the Cite de Mer. The Cite de Mer was the train terminal and cruise ship terminal but today has been converted mostly into an aquarium and submersible museum. We enjoyed the exhibits in the huge lobby and seeing France's first nuclear sub. To go inside was 17E and we were really there just to see the Cite iself—a huge, excellent example of Art Deco. It is only a short walk from there to the city of Cherbourg but Michelin and Lonely Planet listed nothing of interest to see—it really was wiped out by the Germans.
Just beyond Cherbourg in Querqueville we stopped to see the 10th century church—no carving and you are not able to go inside. We then veered inland to Tollevast for a heavily carved 11 century church. Mark loves the strange faces and animals—but a rather harrowing drive in my opinion. Then back many of those same tiny roads to reach the end of the peninsula at Goury. We were especially impressed with the bay at Baie d'Ecalgrain and the marvelous views of the English Channel Islands at Nez de Jobourg. We could have spent the night at the free aire there (no services) but instead choose the free aire further south at Siouville-Hague only about a block from a huge sandy beach.
Mont St. Michael flew by as we have been there and done that three times. We did, however, decide to follow the coast road and so got very well acquainted with the polder. Much like the area west of Amsterdam, the wide flat fields have been reclaimed from the marsh and sea. Fairly boring until we came again to the actual natural coast.
We spent the night at the Super U in Cancale—in fact two nights as we had a lot of rain. The Point is a great place to visit but not in that weather. We had driven by St. Malo before, this time we parked at N48 38.871 W 02 00.716. Parking for a camper is not easy so go in the morning in season. I enjoyed walking some of the walls, but the city itself is really pretty boring even though it has been reconstructed from the extensive war damage. Once will be enough for us. We tried to drive through Dinard to see some of the Belle Epoch mansions but got caught in a maze of one way streets and aborted the idea.
We continued west, looking at a variety of megalithic structures, old churches, the “House Between the Rocks,” the beautiful coastline, all the way to the Great Cairn of Barnanez, the largest known megalithic structure. All this is covered in the blog.
We decided it was time to turn back east. We have been to the far west of Brittany to see Carnac and its standing stones, various megaliths, and even Gavrinis on an isle in the Gulf of Morbihan several times. We will certainly go back again but it was time to turn back east. We had skipped Dinan on the way west and decided to stop. We stayed at the aire by the river port. Lovely spot and free after 7 pm. N8 27.252 W02 02.309. It is a climb up to the town but a walk along a street filled with half timbered houses and artisans' shops.
The cathedral was again one of the schizophrenic ones with gothic, romanesqe, and flamboyant all competing with each other—we loved it. Be sure to walk behind the cathedral for a lovely view of the river and valley. Dinner was at the port and we sat outside enjoying moules, steak and frites watching the locals socialize while their children chased each other along the quay. When I see such sights I often think of the contrast with my life. Most Europeans live in the towns they grew up in with grandparents down the street and lifetime friends on the block. My father was in road construction and we moved every two years. Even as an adult Mark and I have lived in Tallahassee, Boston, Columbus, Dallas, Missoula and near San Francisco. No wonder I love to travel, I don't have much in the way of roots.
We had never been to Rennes but read that it had the second largest market in France on Saturday mornings. The aire is right outside the campground and was free. Our aire book had not recommended parking there—no reason supplied but since the lot serves those wanting to stay out late or leave early when the campground barrier is down, there can be excessive noise. We took the bus for 1.5E into the city and enjoyed both the walk through the medieval center and the market. The market was excellent but we were surprised that it was only a food market. They must have strict regulations as we have been to dozens of markets an they all have had stalls selling clothes, housewares, etc. Again we enjoyed all the half timbered houses—this time up to six stories high! Unfortunately, after a late lunch back at the aire the camper wouldn't start. We were lucky to get a jump start but this was our third in two weeks, so we hurried to find a place to buy a new battery. Our GPS was able to help and the second place we went to actually had a woman who spoke English. Forty-five minutes and 192E later we are back on the road. We are so happy the dollar is a $1.10! Later BW Camper reimbursed us for the wholesale battery cost even though he was under no obligation to do so. We are really very happy with the camper purchase and Rene's service.
Vitre is recommended for being a smaller and less touristed medieval city similar to Dinan. The chateau indeed looked exactly as a castle should, with huge towers, walls, gates. The town has many interesting half timbered buildings and a wonderful street of half timbered porch houses. Certainly world the 2-3 hour stop. Much, however, is undergoing restoration as the town becomes more of a tourist destination and there is money to repair those hundreds of year old dwellings. There are no aires near Vitre so in early afternoon we drove another hour to Fougeres to the free aire at. The day was hot—in the upper 80s so we decided to tour the town the next morning. The aire was practically at the walled gate and actually afforded some spots with shade—a rarity. Fougeres was a great small city. The walled castle/chateau has 17 towers. We skipped the inside 8.5E tour and took the Michelin walk up through the “high town”, the gardens and then the medieval quarter. Not nearly as many half timbered houses but still interesting. I particularity liked the stained glass in Eglise St. Leonard church. In the Calvary chapel a medallion of 12th century glass has been set inside a later window. The glass has the famous “Chartres blue” colors and was removed from St. Denis in Paris and sold during the revolution. A special treat to see it. We spent a second night at the other free aire in Fougeres. Lots of room and free water, etc. though you can't use a hose. All in all these two small cities are well worth a visit.
We had planned on going from Fougeres to Paris for 3 days, but the weather was turning hot with Paris temps in the 90s, so that's a no-go for us. We spent three months in Paris last year so no rush to get back though we do love it. Instead we headed for Rouen wanting to do the long drive while temperatures were in the 70s. We really haven't missed coach AC but we do miss it in the cab. We stopped at lunch just before Alencon with a slight detour to St. Ceneri le Garei—one of the hundred beautiful villages of France. Just before the village was a sign warning no further for over 2 meters width. We turned into the little park by the river and continued the short distance on foot. The park would be a pretty place to spend the night. N48 22984 W 00 3.239. I was more taken with the village than Mark, but we both liked the small church which had a good deal of primitive painting on the walls in the apse. There was no information in English and the TI was closed on Mondays and Tuesdays but the painting looked several hundred years old. I also really liked the modern metal sculptures that they had for the stations of the cross. Turns out the sculpture had a gallery in town—very impressed with his work.
We have been to Rouen twice before but not spent the night. Each time parking and driving in the city was very difficult. Rouen is very hilly, very big, full of traffic, tunnels, bridges etc. There are no aires and I had found a campground on line but our Garmin did not like the address. Where she finally took us was down an alley in the city. Sigh. We decided just to skip it and headed out of town on the east side. Lo and behold a campground sign appeared. We followed and ended up in Camping L'Aubette—the very campground I had found on line. N49 25.846 E 001 09.280. This is not a fancy place but we just filled with water and used our own showers, though theirs looked fine. Levelers are definitely needed but it was cheap at 10E a night without electric. Take bus 20 into the city, but write down the campground stop and show it to the driver when you come back. Bus 20 also goes clear to the north end of town—which we did and added an hour to our trip back to the camp.
Did all the usual Rouen stuff including this time going to the Museum of Beaux Arts. I particularly liked the the other big church in town—Abbey Church St. Ouen. It is incredibly light filled with huge windows on all three levels. Most are 15th and 16th century stained glass but there are some in the chapels from the 13th.
On to Amiens for a brief re-look at the Cathedral. The tourist office two years ago said we could spend the night in the free parking lot at Boulevard Garibaldi and Rue de Defontaine. We did park there—it is less than a mile to the Cathedral, but went on north to the aire in the small town of Doullens N50 09.238 E002 20.535. Amiens is the largest gothic cathedral in France—but not much stained glass. The west entrance has been completely restored and it is known for its amazing sculptures. You do feel like the cathedral was just completed, but that actually lessened the experience for me. It all just looks so new and fixed up—I like a few missing arms and heads, some worn down gargolyes. But still if you like cathedrals at all it is a must stop.
For those of you who would like to know what all this costs, here is a breakdown of our expenses for 37 days. Campgrounds 4 nights: $41. Aires: 34 nights all were free except Honfleur which was $11 and we spent about $20 on buying water at aires. Food: $550 Eating Out: $275 Diesel and Bus Fares: $330 Admissions: $60 Propane: $25 Internet: $100 plus cost of box which can also be used in Great Britain. The Euro averaged about $1.11 during the 37 days. This is an extremely economical part of Europe to travel in because of all the free aires and most of the sights are free cathedrals, churches and coastal scenery. Also we had visited some of the most expensive things already like the WWII war museums, etc. So this is a great area to escape some of summer's heat and high season prices. Just remember that August will be more crowded and as they say in Thailand “Get there earlier,” if you want a spot in a free aire.
So we are done in France and also with this year's European trip. Just a quick stop in Belgium to stock up on chocolate for gifts and then cleaning and packing our rig for storage in Amsterdam. We have decided to store with the company where we bought the camper. It is more expensive but I know he will plug the camper in monthly to keep the batteries maintained, and he will have the vehicle inspection, insurance, and registration all done when we get there next spring. Some things are worth the money. Till next spring. Vicki and Mark