If you have a couple of weeks to spare and don't fancy the long trek down to Provence, the Dordogne or the Côte d'Azur, why not take a motorhome holiday and explore Northern France? It's closer to home, and with your own wheels, you can see the sights at your own pace, stopping for a roadside pique-nique of baguette and fromage whenever you like.
We start our journey by taking an Irish Ferry from Dover to Calais. The crossing takes around 90 minutes, and as one of the newest crossing options, it is an enjoyable experience.
We travelled on The Isle of Inishmore, which has recently undergone a complete renovation and offers a range of dining options, so we arrived in France well-fed and ready to pitch up after a short, 25-minute drive to La Bien-Assise.
Guînes - Pas-de-Calais - Nord
Day 1-3 : Camping la Bien-Assise
The first campsite we visited was Camping la Bien-Assise, located near the town of Guînes. The campsite is in a peaceful parkland setting in the grounds of a country house dating back over 500 years. It's a great place to relax and unwind after your ferry journey, with plenty of trees and greenery between the pitches.
The excellent on-site restaurant, "La Ferme Gourmande," is good value and offers a range of traditional dishes. It can get busy, especially in the high season, so it's worth reserving a table. We visited on the second night of our stay, and the pavé de boeuf was particularly good.
During your stay at Camping la Bien-Assise, you can visit the nearby town of Calais. This historic port town is best known to Brits as the gateway to Europe.
Whilst there, you can visit the iconic Calais Lighthouse. This 51-meter-tall lighthouse towers over the old town. The tower is open every day from June to September and on Wednesdays and weekends in the low season.
Also in Calais, Le Musée des beaux-arts is worth a visit, with works by Auguste Rodin, based on his sculpture, "Monument of the Burghers of Calais". The statues can be found outside Calais town hall, or there is a cast in the Victoria Tower gardens in Westminster, London.
Did you know? French law limits the casting of Rodin’s works to twelve dated examples of each size.
Fortress of Mimoyecquesis about a 10-minute drive from Camping La Bien Assise. Built by the Germans, it was intended to be a base for their V-3 cannon, a supergun capable of firing shells at London, over 100 miles away. The fortress is a must-see for anyone interested in military history or World War II.
Today, visitors can explore the fortress and learn about its role in the war. The site is open to the public from April to November, and tours are available in English and French. When the site is closed for Winter, the fortress is home to over 300 bats.
Les Andelys - Eure - Normandy
Day 4-7 : Camping l’Ile des Trois Rois
Next, head to Camping l'Ile des Trois Rois, located near the attractive market town of Les Andelys. This campsite is situated on an island, on one of the many meanders of the Seine River, giving the grounds a tranquil atmosphere.
The site boasts a range of facilities, including an outdoor swimming pool, a children's playground, and a multi-sports field. There are also a small bar, a restaurant, and a small grocery store on-site, selling essentials and making it easy for guests to get everything they need without leaving the campsite.
The picturesque town of Les Andelys is home to the impressive Château Gaillard, built by Richard the Lionheart in the 12th century.
The Château is considered to be an architectural masterpiece of the medieval period. It was built in a relatively short time, between 1196 and 1198, and its design was innovative for its time. The castle featured several defensive features, including a concentric layout with two sets of walls, a dry moat, and a system of defensive towers and gates.
Despite its impressive defences, Chateau Gaillard was captured by the French in 1203 during the reign of King Philip II. The castle changed hands between the French and English several times during the Hundred Years' War. Today, Chateau Gaillard is a popular tourist attraction, open to visitors for exploration.
Central Paris can be reached in a little over an hour from the station at nearby Gare de Gaillon - Aubevoye, a ten-minute drive from the campsite.
Around half an hour away from the campsite you can find Giverny Gardens. It was the home and inspiration for the famous impressionist painter Claude Monet. The gardens are divided into two parts: the water garden and the Clos Normand flower garden.
The Clos Normand is a beautiful flower garden planted with various flowers in different colours and shapes, including tulips, roses, irises, and peonies. The garden is designed formally, with neatly trimmed hedges and paths leading to various parts of the garden.
On the other hand, the water garden is a more informal one centred around a large pond. Weeping willows, bamboo, and various water plants, including water lilies, surround the pond. The water garden is also home to the bridge made famous in Monet's Bridge over a Pond of Water Lilies painting.
Today, Giverny Gardens is open to the public, and visitors can walk through the gardens and enjoy the same beautiful scenery that inspired Monet's paintings. It's a popular tourist destination and attracts thousands of visitors every year.
Saint Aubin des Préaux - Manche - Normandy
Day 8-11 : Château de Lez Eaux
Our third stop at Château de Lez Eaux is on a beautiful campsite offering a unique camping experience. The campsite is situated on the grounds of a stunning 18th-century château, which adds a touch of luxury to the camping experience. The site is located near Saint-Pair-sur-Mer, in the picturesque region of Normandy in France.
The château is surrounded by lush greenery, including trees, bushes, and well-manicured lawns. The gardens and grounds enhance the site's natural beauty, which are all carefully maintained.
The facilities are top-notch, including a swimming pool, playground, sports fields, and a restaurant. The indoor tropical-themed water park, complete with water slides, is a highlight of the campsite, as it is heated and surrounded by sun loungers, making it the perfect place to relax. At the same time, the restaurant serves delicious meals made with fresh, local ingredients.
During your stay at Château de Lez Eaux, a visit to Mont Saint Michel Abbey is a must; initially founded in the 8th century, the current structure was built over several centuries, starting in the 11th century. It is a stunning example of medieval architecture, featuring Gothic and Romanesque styles.
The abbey was once an important pilgrimage site, and its strategic location on a rocky island made it an important fortress during the Hundred Years' War. Today, it is a popular tourist destination, attracting millions of visitors each year.
Visitors can explore the abbey's chapels and cloister gardens and enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding coastline. The abbey is also home to four museums showcasing the site's history.
During the French Revolution, the abbey was used as a prison for political prisoners. At one point, there were over 600 prisoners held there. The prison was eventually closed in the 1860s.
When you think of Normandy, the last thing to spring to mind is probably alligators. But once you tire of the crowds at Mont Saint Michel, then just down the road, you can find Alligator Bay, a reptile and exotic animal park that features over 700 animals from around the world, including alligators, crocodiles, snakes, lizards, and turtles.
Visitors to Alligator Bay can see the animals up close and learn about their habitats, behaviour, and conservation. The park also offers a range of interactive experiences, such as guided tours, feeding demonstrations, and handling sessions with some of the animals.
One of the highlights of Alligator Bay is the crocodile pit, where visitors can see dozens of crocodiles and alligators lounging on rocks and swimming in the water. The park also features tropical greenhouses, where visitors can see a variety of exotic plants and animals, including birds, butterflies, and even giant tortoises.
Overall, Alligator Bay is a fun and educational attraction suitable for all ages. Whether you're a nature lover, animal enthusiast, or just looking for something unique to do in Normandy, it's well worth a visit.
Eperlecques - Pas-de-Calais
Day 12 : Château du Gandspette
Our final stop before we head home is Château du Gandspette, in the town of Éperlecques. The site features a range of accommodation options, including pitches for tents, caravans, and motorhomes, as well as mobile homes to rent.
There are also a variety of facilities available for guests, such as a bar, swimming pool, playground, sports field and an excellent restaurant, where a reservation is essential.
Staying at Château du Gandspette offers visitors the opportunity to explore the surrounding area and nearby attractions, such as the historic town of Saint-Omer, the Blockhaus d'Éperlecques, and the nearby beaches of the Opal Coast.
The Blockhaus was built by the German military during World War II as part of the Atlantic Wall defence system and was intended to house and launch V-2 rockets against England.
Although the bunker was never used to launch V-2 rockets, it served as a site for testing and storing the weapons. After the war, it was partially destroyed by Allied bombing, and much of its machinery and equipment was removed.
The bunker is one of the largest structures built by the Germans during the war, measuring over 200 meters long, 100 meters wide and constructed with over 50,000 cubic meters of reinforced concrete.
Today, the bunker is open to the public as a museum and tourist attraction, offering visitors a chance to explore the underground tunnels and learn about the history of the site and the V-2 rockets.
Attractions and Campsites of Northern France
A motorhome holiday in Northern France is a great way to explore this region's beautiful countryside and historic towns. By staying at several different campsites, you can experience a range of diverse landscapes and attractions.
We hired a motorhome for this trip via Experience Freedom by The Caravan and Motorhome Club. Of course, if you have your own motorhome or caravan, you can follow in our footsteps (or should that tracks?) and enjoy the best Northern France offers. Or, if you prefer, all the sites featured in this article provide a range of alternative accommodation options, including chalets and mobile homes.
Other crossing options are available from The Caravan and Motorhome Club, including Eurotunnel, P&O and DFDS. So why not start planning your trip today?
Editor - Alan Rogers Guides
Rob has been involved in the leisure industry since completing a BTEC in Travel & Tourism in 1993. Previous roles have included the promotion of tourism in Yorkshire and running a motorcycle touring company in the Australian Outback.
He is the General Manager at Alan Rogers Travel Group, responsible for the ongoing development of the Alan Rogers website and the publication of the Alan Rogers Guides and 'Destinations' magazine.
He regularly travels with his wife and young daughter in their Dethleffs 'Campy' caravan. A keen cycling fan, Rob can often be found in a field in Belgium during the 'Spring Classics' season or riding his Royal Enfield Himalayan motorcycle.