Ah, the allure of the open road, the scent of adventure hanging in the air! As I stood on the cusp of a journey that would take me across the English Channel to the enchanting landscapes of France, I couldn't help but feel a mix of excitement and trepidation.
The night before setting sail, I decided to stay the night at the Caravan and Motorhome Club Black Horse Campsite, strategically positioning myself for an early morning departure to the continent. The warm welcome from the campsite managers instantly put me at ease. They had reserved a particular area for ferry-bound travellers like myself, ensuring a serene rest before the upcoming voyage. Facilities were clean and top-notch, complete with printed directions to Dover Port – a helpful touch.
As I approached the Port of Dover the following day, my heartbeat quickened. Navigating check-in, customs and queuing up for the ferry required a focused mind. I quickly found myself aboard the vessel, Dora the Explora, snugly parked up and ready to set sail. Opting for the Club lounge, I enjoyed good food and pleasant surroundings.
Returning to the motorhome, I realised I hadn't noted my deck number. Panic gnawed at me until I remembered the dogs below deck. Following their barks like breadcrumbs, I was reunited with Dora, a lesson learned about capturing deck numbers on camera.
Driving in France was initially intimidating, but gradually, I found my rhythm. "Keep right", my mantra whispered, my Garmin guiding me with its French Maps feature, easing me onto unfamiliar roads. A short countryside drive brought me to my first stop, the charming La Bien Assise, a campsite handpicked from my trusted Alan Rogers Guide.
GUINES - PAS-DE-CALAIS
Upon arrival at La Bien Assise, my hesitant schoolgirl French was met with warm hospitality. A picturesque pitch surrounded by trees awaited me. Exploring revealed pristine shower facilities, a refreshing pool, and a quaint café.
An evening at the site's restaurant brought forth culinary delights. Savouring steak and chips, I realised I had ventured forth, crossing the threshold into France.
Morning sunlight heralded a classic French breakfast: a baguette, berries, butter, apricot jam, and a steaming pot of coffee. Basking in this simple yet sublime moment, I was ready for the adventures ahead.
On my trusty e-bike, I pedalled through landscapes that whispered of history and charm. St. Joseph Village, a Gallic time capsule, beckoned with its peculiar allure, a delight to explore on wheels.
The croissant quest. The next morning, a missed pre-order taught me to prepare and order my breakfast with the reception the evening before. Coffee and the remains of yesterday's baguette would have to suffice for today.
Next, I journeyed to Le Champ Neuf, and while toll booths and navigation tested me, I savoured the countryside's tranquillity. Reflecting on the history of Somme was humbling as I traversed regions tinged with wartime echoes, humbled by the sacrifice of yesteryear.
Camping Le Champ Neuf's amenities were a delight, including a lively pool, complete with slides and the joyous clamour of families, and my first Moules Marinière in the excellent restaurant.
Cycling around the region, I revelled in coastal gems like Cayeux-Sur-Mer, its history woven into every corner. Le Crotoy's Bay stole my heart, where vast sands stretched endlessly at low tide.
Le Marqueval, a Normandy gem, stole the spotlight with lakeside serenity. The well-kept site with crisp showers and a serene pitch welcomed me.
Ordering breakfast treasures and exploring pop-up market stalls became my routine. A swimming pool united holidaymakers, while Boules united locals and visitors in spirited competition.
Nearby, Pourville's beauty was mesmerizing. Dieppe's castle atop a hill was challenging, but the views were worth it.
Chateau de Miromesnil's tour and gardens were captivating, where Beechgroves and hidden chapels whispered stories of ages past. A guided tour was available in French, so I was relieved they also handed out folders in English. The prolific French author Guy de Maupassant was born there.
If you have a couple of weeks to spare and don't fancy the long trek to Provence, the Dordogne or the Côte d’Azur, why not take a motorhome holiday and explore Northern France? 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.