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Entries about awaycation winter sun 2022

Awaycation Winter Sun 2022

More overnight stops investigated!

The Ohrex seems to think that the best route down is to go right down the centre of France. The only problem with that is that there seems to be a rabbit hole of aires and places to stop overnight on the non-toll route. Whichever route we take we still need to have four nights in France.

So I have decided to revive my own plan to go down the A20/N20 route towards Toulouse. The first and fourth overnight are unchanged but I have changed the middle ones to make the distances to travel shorter each day. I am looking to travel around 175 miles or so each day between

The revised overnights are probably going to be:

- Evreux
- Chaillac
- Caussade
- Alenya

The overnight at Camping Blanes is booked for the last night on the road before we arrive at the timeshare. The day will mostly be on the AP-7 (which is now toll free) and looks to be about 200 miles. we can't check in until 4pm so I guess we have all day.

Maybe a quick pass through Malgrat de Mar where we went on our first ever holiday to Spain in the late 60's. It was after my grandad Charlie had died and we went as a family with my "nanny" Lily and Aunt Yvonne, as well as mum and dad and Neill. I had to google to see if the Hotel Planamar is still there.... and it is. Although it looks a bit different to the one we stayed in!

I need to get onto the way back soon. We have 9 overnights between the timeshare and the ferry and so there is scope to go deeper down the Med and then turn for home.

Posted by InvictaMoto 12:51 Archived in France Tagged ohrex_satnav ohrex awaycation_winter_sun_2022 Comments (0)

Awaycation Winter Sun 2022

Outward Bound....

I spent a few hours over the bank holiday looking at the route to take from Calais to Alcocebre.

I used the Ohrex to plan a non-toll journey from the channel to the resort in Spain. It seems to be taking the A20/N20 from around Orleans to Toulouse.

As we have 5 nights on the way south before the check in at the resort I have been looking on the Camping Car Parking app for places to overnight. The aires have electric hook-up points (EHU) and I have been looking at those where it seems to have an equal ratio of EHU to pitches! With so many people getting away in the winter I'd rather be guaranteed a hook-up! We do have the LPG gas for cooking and heating. The van can also run the water heater and the ducted air heating from the EHU as well.

As for the cost. The aires I have looked at are generally about €10 to €11 per night. The plus factor on top of the cost is that most look to be open all year. It seems that many French campsites shut up for the year in October! Even on the Mediterranean coast!

The aires I have selected so far involve a few longer days at the start of the trip. Currently I have stops at:

As a compromise to the aire in Alenya I am also looking at a few campsites in the area. There are actually a few open! I have emailed a couple that look okay and that get good reviews to see what is open onsite and nearby when we are in the area.

That leaves one overnight and I didn't like the aires on offer on the apps in Spain and so I resorted to pitchup.com. I plumped for a campsite near Blanes. It gets good reviews both on Pitchup and even from the unpredictable Tripadvisor!

I have emailed them to find out what is open when we are there. Sadly the restaurant is closed, so is the pool, but I reckon we can do without either of them in late November. As long as we can walk along the promenade to the town and get something to eat and drink, then we will be fine.

Another route idea I have been looking at is on the MMM website where they suggest going to Irun and then using Pamplona as the jump off point in Spain - https://www.outandaboutlive.co.uk/motorhomes/articles/travel/the-long-road-south-a-winter-route-to-the-spanish-costas-in-your

Next job will be to have a look on the return journey. We have 9 overnights. And again we need to get Reggie's AHC stamped and his worm pill done.

Posted by InvictaMoto 22:03 Archived in France Tagged awaycation_winter_sun_2022 Comments (0)

Awaycation Winter Sun 2022

Since 1993 I have owned a timeshare week. First jointly with my former partner and when we split up it reverted to me as I had paid for it. The actual apartment is in Tenerife and the first week in December. Although it's getting on for 30 years we have never actually been to the resort. We have always traded it and gone elsewhere. Most of the time to mainland Spain and more recently to the US, staying in Florida and Arizona.

Since covid and the lockdowns we have been unable to use it to travel and a week we had booked in 2020 had to be cancelled as UK and most of Europe had entered the first lockdown.

To make the trade we are members of RCI Europe. There we "bank" our week and then use it to book elsewhere. It's not free, but even with their charge and the maintenance we pay on our ownership in Tenerife it's often less expansive than booking the same accommodation directly with a resort.

With a dog approaching 12yo and after two years of being at home with work, we can't take him to kennels again. He is so used to us being around 24/7 it would be traumatic for him.

So with plans to be away in the Van for three weeks I looked at RCI to see how many resorts are dog friendly, in Spain or even France for our dates. Answer. Two out of twenty-five. It's quite odd as most places we have been in Spain other visitor have had dogs... Maybe they own and are permanent residents?

To save losing the £181 in exchange fees that have been held in "credit" for over two years us the banked week the expires at the end of 2022, I have booked one of the two.

The choices were Habitat Playa Romano near Castellon, or one near Roquetas de Mar in Almeria. Almeria is a bit too far on this trip. Maybe another year we can go to the south of Spain and maybe Portugal.

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The Playa Romano stay is the middle week of the trip. We have five days to get from Calais to Castellon. Google Maps has it at around 900 miles using toll-free routes. That will need careful planning to get across the Pyrenees. It's always easier at both ends (Biscay or Mediterranean) than across the middle. Again it is weather dependent.

Google would have a Pyrenees crossing via the Somport Tunnel. Weather check required!

As usual. Comments and advice welcomed.

Posted by InvictaMoto 11:51 Archived in Spain Tagged awaycation_winter_sun_2022 Comments (0)

Awaycation Winter Sun

I have a rough route planned down from Calais to the Franco-Spanish border. The last trip where we used the toll motorways at the start and then occasionally during the fortnight cost us around £55 in tolls.

We should land in France around 1220pm. So I think we'll realistically only have three to four hours on the road to the first stop. As I mentioned previously I have been looking at "Aires", free to stay "wild camping" sites and also Camping-Car Parks. The latter are bookable in advance and cost around €10 per night. This is primarily because looking at the various camping site booking websites it looks as though the French campsite industry packs up in October! Even many on the Mediterranean are closed up for the winter.

I have joined Camping-Car Parks for a nominal fee and have the membership card. Whether I'll pre-pay with it I haven't decided. Booking looks to be the right solution though. And you can book through the phone app on the same day. Once reserved you are then admitted through the barrier and onto the site. it is supposed to mean that once booked you are guaranteed a pitch! we'll see f the practice matches the theory maybe!

In November the days will be shorter and so fewer hours on the road. Something to think about. The Camping-Car site has the Aires they manage plus a lot of campsites they have taken over. Sadly it seems that these have no facilities after the end of October either! I don't mind not having a shower, but a toilet is pretty much essential!!!

There has been a lot of "discussion" on the Motorhome Fun forum about campsites in France. In the end as far as I can see it is personal choice. On our last trip we stayed in a variety of sites. Some that were pretty sparse and nearer to nature (although with leccy and ablution facilities) and some a bit too much like holiday camps! There is no right answer. Some hate the idea, and some love them.

I understand that many people pay £50000 (and a lot more!) for a motorhome with its included lav and shower. I understand they want to stop somewhere scenic and camp there. Good luck to them. I'd do that if I knew that I wasn't going to have a knock on the door from the local police to bugger off half way through the night. Or a visit from the other side of the law coin.

I also don't want to spend my holiday cheek by jowl in a glorified car-park with my neighbours every utterance or fart sounding as though they were sitting in my van on my settee! I have passed aires whilst on the bike and thought that it wasn't for me. Vans and caravans squeezed in nice and tight with barely enough room to open the habitation door! Not for me!

So for a first night I think it will be the Camping-Car site near Evreux or the one nearby at St Andre, both to the south of Rouen. Both around €10 a night.

The route down from Calais is made up of a large amount of dual carriageway roads. After the shock (we knew if would be a large-ish cost!) of using the toll motorways on the last trip, we are looking to save a few quid and plan routes that are toll-free. Evreux and St Andre can be booked on the hoof as it were and so can decide once we have hit the beach at Calais.

Where from there? It does depend on where the Camping-Car aires are and whether they are easily accessible. There is one to the north of Limoges at Saint-Pardoux that looks about 250 miles for the day. A lot of it on the D2020 (The old N20) and the A20.

Received wisdom is that the most westerly route so I have had a look along that route as well and Saint-Genis is to the north of Bordeaux.

Ideally if the target is to cross into Spain from the Med then this will need us to cross France to the north of the Pyrenees!

Posted by InvictaMoto 16:52 Archived in France Tagged awaycation_winter_sun_2022 Comments (0)

Awaycation Winter Sun - Revisited

Ferry Booked!

The first step to an adventure was to book the ferry. After checking a few sources we have opted for the P&O Dover-Calais-Dover service in late November, returning mid-December.

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It cost extra to go in the Pet Lounge but for us it is worth it rather than have Reggie left to his own devices in the Van. I am sure that he will be okay and will sleep for the crossing but who knows? He might bark all the time and get stressed. By the time we go across he will be 12 years old. He has a heart murmur as well.

Next job is to decide where we are heading towards. I would prefer to give Spain a try. The experts on Motorhomefun agree that the west coast plod across France will be the warmest and less chance of ice and even snow. To get to the Med from there will require a run across France to the north of the Pyrenees and then across the border south of Perpignan.

I think we need to do this over a number of days, maybe three or four overnights on the way down. It's an adventure not a race. No prizes for high miles a day.

This is actually the route we are taking, for the most part, when my brother and I go to Aragon for MotoGP. Except we will get almost to Biarritz and then head over the mountains. That will be a no-no in the van!

The only fixed dates at the moment are the ferries in and out of France.

Where to stop. In November and December?

I do like the idea of "aires" but looking at the various apps and websites there are so many that are getting one star out of five reviews. Loads shown as overnights are in fact height barrier to mean we can't get in or they aren't very nice and a haven for yobs. But they are free.

So instead I have thought that Camping-Car Park sites look a better bet. I posted about them on the forum and someone replied to say that they would be too tight to pay for an overnight..... I guess after spending £45k or more for a van you need to save a tenner a night? Actually €10 at a lot of sites.

In "Awaycation France" in June and July this year I wanted to pack as much into the fortnight plus including some longer stays at sights for R&R. I found that what would be easy in car or even on a motorcycle was actually too long a distance in a larger vehicle like the Van.

I have currently only set a target of the France/Spain border on the Mediterranean at Le Perthus to see the route that Google Maps will produce. Non-Toll and definitely no unpaved! From Calais Port it is around 800 miles so we'll need to break that up in manageable chunks.

Posted by InvictaMoto 21:26 Archived in France Tagged france awaycation awaycation_winter_sun_2022 Comments (0)

Awaycation Winter Sun - Revisited

"Head for the Med!"

I have seen on a couple of travel websites and forums that P&O have introduced a "pet lounge" onto the short Channel crossings. So I had a look. To use it requires an extra payment of £5 per dog and per person that want to use it, each way. For us that would add £30 over leaving Reggie to fend for himself for 90 minutes in the Van.

I have no idea how it will work though. How big is the lounge. Given that many dogs, and Reggie is one of them, that actually don't like many other dogs it could get fraught. How can we know if someone is taking a pug or French bulldog on the same ferry? He hates flat nose dogs! It's not just the little pig like snuffling sounds it is their lack of facial expression. Their little bulgy eyes don't help!

Food for thought. It still works out around £110 cheaper than going with Eurotunnel.

I am looking at late November to go across and stay away for three weeks. That would mean on a rolling six months basis that I will have been in the Schengen area for 45 days out of the 90 I am allowed when we return and Claire will only have chalked up 37. Reggie doesn't seem to have a time limit other than the 4 months his AHC will be valid for.

What are the limitations? I plan to be away during the farce that is the football World Cup being played in a country with little of no basis of football history. And it is being played in their winter and therefore cocking up all the main European Leagues. The last Arsenal home game is 29th October. So we could go the day after that. But. My first love and schoolboy team, Oldham Athletic, recently relegated out of the English Football League after 107 years, are playing locally in Maidstone. My brother Neill and I want to go. It's 19th November. So we could go on the 20th?

Maybe a day or two later. We need to be back for Christmas. It's not that we do all that much but it's hard to break the tradition of eating too much at home and then watching TV for 18 hours a day solidly. Maybe next year?

We also have the Marlowe Theatre Panto - Sleeping Beauty on the 23rd December. I'd hate to miss that as it is my "birthday treat".

Claire is more sceptical about the weather conditions in France on the way down to the Med and back. We saw a recent YouTube series of short movies from a couple that went for 8 weeks into Spain and they went in January. They encountered snow only on one day in central Spain as they bypassed Madrid. In Britain we tend to have the worst that winter can throw at us in January and February. Googling shows some fairly reasonable temperatures in France and Spain. I have been a few times in February (half-term) to Spain around Murcia and it has always been pleasant.

Of course the locals are all wearing hats, coats and scarves but for us previously sun starved Britons it's t-shirt weather! Okay, a jumper for the evening!

So what is my idea?

  • Crossing either P&O or Eurotunnel. I am leaning towards P&O simply because the money saved on the fare will buy a lot of diesel for Suki to consume at about 30 miles to every gallon.
  • A non-toll route in both directions unless there is a problem and we need to make up time.

Eventually get to Spain and spend some time on a site or maybe hop along the coast with 2 nights at any one place before heading home.

I still have to work out a few things and see how many days I can allocate to "getting there" through France. Also which route will be determined to some extent on where the Camping-Car sites are available. I expect that in November and December there may be quite a few.

Suggestions from the MoHo community on a few forums would suggest the "western" route south would be the best. As it will be warmer day and night. That is pretty much the way that my brother and I will be taking when we ride to Aragon in September for the MotoGP. I expect the route he has planned will be toll-free as well. I'll take a look. His route does involve a pass across the Pyrenees that will be open for definite in September.... but November? Mmmm.

So the drawing board is open for business.

Any suggestions for a route or campsites to visit welcomed. Leave a comment?

Posted by InvictaMoto 22:06 Archived in France Tagged awaycation_winter_sun_2022 Comments (0)

Awaycation Winter Sun - Revisited

Ferries? Where to go?

I have ruled out Brittany Ferries. The dates I am looking at don't have any pet friendly cabins available and I don't fancy putting Reggie in a kennel for what looks to be a 30 hour crossing!

I am looking at the weeks that the World Cup is on. I have an Arsenal season ticket and the English Premiership is having a break as most clubs will be very short of players! Seems like a good time to be away then!

As it will be November and December I doubt that climate change will have brought the "mediterranean climate" to southern England and Northern France as was claimed some years ago would be here by now. Although we had record breaking heat in the UK this week (July) with the highest ever temperatures recorded at over 40 °C, I doubt that we will have December temperatures hovering between 6 °C to 14 °C like they do in Nice or Barcelona.

It will take some will power to leave Reggie in the Van on the short crossing to Calais or Dunkirk. Eurotunnel is in the region of £360 for the return journey. DFDS is no change, from when I looked last week, at £218. Both include the charge for the checking of the Pet AHC.

The savings over the Shuttle are enough to fill the Van's diesel tank 1.5 times. That would give us about 750 miles of driving. Possibly even more now that fuel prices are starting to come down again!

DFDS have some information on their site about taking pets away - https://www.dfds.com/en-gb/passenger-ferries/passenger-information/pet-travel

I have been looking at places to stay when we are away. If we choose the Côte d'Azur as the destination then we need to go down the eastern side of France. The distance from Calais port to Nice is about 750 miles. Choosing a place further west, such as Narbonne is around 675 miles. Although that route goes right down the middle where it might get a little on the cold side!

So that's another consideration. More to come!

Posted by InvictaMoto 18:41 Archived in France Tagged awaycation_winter_sun_2022 Comments (0)

Awaycation Winter Sun - Revisited

After the rather expensive experience with Eurotunnel I have been looking at the alternatives.

The ferries from Dover to Calais or Dunkerque are much cheaper than the Shuttle even in November when there are less likely to be throngs of holidaymakers in their car and motorhomes making their way across. I have been looking at midweek fares.

Maybe booking through the Caravan and Motorhome Club (CAMC) might get a discount as it did when we went in June.

At the moment for (roughly) the same dates and times the different crossings (with dog!) work out at:

DFDS - Dover/Calais £218 inc Reggie.
Irish Ferries - Can't book anything beyond October '22
Eurotunnel - £351 inc Reggie!

I haven't bothered to check what P&O Ferries could offer as I don't feel I can travel with them after the mass sacking of over 800 UK based seafarers in the Spring. Saying that, Irish Ferries did the same a few years ago and it seems they have been let off the hook!

The difference is quite startling. We went on the last trip with Eurotunnel with Reggie in the van to avoid him being left alone in the van on the crossing. personally I don't think he'll be that bothered. We'll have to see what we can arrange. The price difference of £133 would pay for a week's campsite fees!

Hopefully by then the cost of fuel will have come down. Considering that crude oil prices are back to the level they were before the Russians decided to invade the Ukraine. We'll see eh? Profiteering was illegal during the Second World War, about time that the allied governments applied the same rules now.

We still have to decide where to go. I was thinking of a "dash" of one night stays along the non-toll route down the west side of France towards Spain. Too late in the year and the more central routes will be cold and maybe even icy. But that would put us on the "wrong" side of France for the Cote d'Azur?

So maybe a "dash" down the eastern side to Lyon and beyond would work?

Suggestions and recommendations invited.....

Posted by InvictaMoto 16:53 Archived in France Tagged caravan_club awaycation_winter_sun_2022 Comments (0)

Awaycation Winter Sun

Planning ahead!

The football World Cup takes place in November and December and that means that there will be no English Premier League games for that duration. I don't think Arsenal will play at home at all in November and not until December 26th! A day when there is virtually no public transport!

So I have been thinking about another "adventure" away in Suki. It will be cold in the UK. So maybe a lot further south might fit the bill?

We have LPG that will run the cooker, fridge and heating if we need it. Maybe be less extravagant with campsites and choose ones that don't offer bars and pools and therefore will be cheaper? Then again it will be late November and northern France will be cold so pools will defo be out of the question.

The wisdom of the Motorhomefun suggest that Spain should be okay for a winter break. But getting there? How? Brittany Ferries from the UK directly to Spain work out quite expensive but they have no pet accommodation for any dates that are acceptable to me. So it would be a drive to Spain or maybe the Cote d'Azur?

Oddly the distance between driving to Nice (for example) or Lloret de Mar in Spain is about the same! Non-toll routes that is.

So more on this later in the year.

Posted by InvictaMoto 19:33 Archived in France Tagged awaycation_winter_sun_2022 Comments (0)

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