I am always interested at the views expressed by fellow motorhomers on the multitude of methods for getting from European countries back to the UK.
My choice is always the Eurotunnel for a whole variety of reasons. Firstly, living on the Isle of Man I get more than my fair share of opportunities to travel by ferry and invariably I will always pick the quickest. That has largely got to do with Dougal as, very often, he has to remain in the car or Motorhome while we cross. However when it comes to France I have no hesitation in using the Eurotunnel as it takes 34 minutes, has a very efficient "get on and get off" routine and, at either end, you simply drive off and are immediately onto a motorway heading in your direction.
A word here about the Caravan Club. They have a very efficient booking service and I wouldn't go past them. I have two very minor irritations. When you call you have to sit through endless recorded messages telling you that they don't make recommendations and, essentially, you are on your "ownsome" when it comes to making a decision. Then you press 1 and hear another statement about something else. Surely by now they could have a button for "If you have heard all this before" press 9! Just a thought. My other niggle is that the confirmatory emails get sent out overnight and not, as in every other case, immediately.
Still its a valuable service and reliable.
Leaving from La Bien Assise it is no more than a 15 minute drive to get to the terminal where pet owners need to keep an eagle eye for the office you have to report to before you can check in. Then it is the simplest of processes to load up by driving onto the train and waiting for it to leave.
At the other end it is the opposite, drive off and away you go. I usually pass the time by going back and having a lie down on my bed, listen to some music and, sometimes, have a sleep.
I knew what I was letting myself in for with a drive from the Champagne region to Calais. A total of 230 miles but I have to say it was very comfortable on the autoroutes and on arriving at the campsite in Guines there was a deep air of satisfaction.
Le Bien Assie campsite is a very popular one with us. It is where we always start our travels in France and similarly it is the site we always finish up on.
This time the weather was a lot more pleasant than the opening day of our trip and the site had filled up, mostly with GB motorhomes and caravans. We decided to stay 2 nights so that we could do our crossing and drive up through England on Sunday morning, much less traffic.
One of the great things about this trip is the number of times we experienced very pleasant and unexpected surprises. It transpired we weren't finished in that regard as we prepared to quit France for the Eurotunnel.
Today we leave the UK and head into France. Following our two day stop over in Surrey we are well placed to make it down to Folkestone to get onto the Eurotunnel service to Calais. Interestingly most people who travel into Europe seem to favour the cross channel ferry route but, for me, the tunnel is simplicity itself. Drive up, check in and drive on without having to leave your driver's seat. Then 35 minutes later you drive off and straight onto a motorway. A great service and my preferred route.
Anytime we travel through Calais we have always stayed at a campsite in the small town of Guines. It is called La Bien-Assise and is well maintained, friendly and has a fabulous restaurant attached. The facilities are meticulously maintained and we have never had a bad experience. Our problem this time was that they are not officially open until next week. They will, however, let you stay and keep 4 or 5 hard standing pitches available. There are none of the usual facilities operating such as the site shop and Wi Fi. So we decided to try somewhere new. A modicum of research in the Alan Rogers I-Pad app showed me that just a half an hour south of Calais near Boulogne is a site called, Camping L’ Eté Indien. I called ahead, they were open and yes, they had availability and certainly had Wi Fi throughout the site.
Well, it was an easy enough drive down there although the last half mile was on a narrow pot holed road where two vehicles could barely pass. Still I got there and went into the reception to "sign in". It was a shambles. The assurance of Wi Fi given by telephone was simply wrong. They had "a problem" and the machine that issued the passwords had broken and after hanging around for about 20 minutes it was clear that they were not going to be able to provide. Added to that if their system had been working then it was device specific as described in yesterday's blog and would have cost "an arm and a leg". It took little thought on my part to decide to double back to Guines and La Bien-Assise.
On arrival we had the entire site to ourselves. We selected a nice pitch beside the toilet block and ambled off down to the restaurant for a fabulous meal and were able to avail of their Wi Fi in the restaurant to catch up with e-mails.
A huge plus point for us for this site is that they are very dog friendly and Dougal was given pride of place on his rug on the floor beside the table. Then it was back to the Vinny Van and a catch up on the budget chitter chatter.
Tomorrow we head off towards Paris this time stopping at a pretty town called Orvillers-Sorel which has the almost compulsory Chateau, about an hour north of Paris. We have stayed there a couple of times before and from what I read it is now even better. No doubt you will be hearing more about this in the next few days.