Only In France

Only in France would you arrive at a campsite at their busiest time – early afternoon – to find that they close the barrier for lunch at 12.00 and don’t open it again until 5pm. Oh yes, we’re definitely back!

So this Wednesday it was no more “in a few weeks…”

No more “this time next week…”

No more “nearly there’s…”

That morning we were rudely awakened by the previous occupant of our cabin on the Pont Aven, who’d kindly set the clock radio alarm for 5.00am. Just as well, as the ferry was due to dock in Roscoff, France at six.

We’d had a leisurely run to Plymouth from Yorkshire, staying overnight half way down at a pub stop near Droitwich. The Bridge is a cosy village pub by a canal offering a free and flat car park space for weary motorhome travellers, providing they eat & drink at the pub. It worked for us! We even managed a morning stroll along the towpath in the unseasonably warm weather before heading for the ferry.

Thanks to the post-brexit rules we aren’t allowed to bring any dairy products into the EU. Our first stop therefore after a really quick disembarkation was Roscoff’s nearest supermarket to stock Vince’s fridge. Of course, being France the shops don’t open until 9am so we had ninety minutes just sitting in the car park under a red neon sign flashing “SIN”. I hope the early commuters didn’t think we’d set Vince up as some sort of mobile passion wagon.

Only in France!
It’s a sin!

Shopping completed, we just wanted an easy few days to acclimatise to life abroad in the big fella so we took a short amble to St. Pol de Léon down the coast. For somewhere so close to the port town it was surprisingly well-heeled with Grand Designs houses along the coast and beautiful landscaped gardens. An uphill stroll through the park brought us into town for a coffee stop and a tour of the cathedral. Quickly followed by a downhill stroll back to Vince. I did say we were going to take it easy for a few days… 

Vince’s parking spot was a cracker, overlooking the beach and the causeway to l’Îslot Sainte-Anne, a tiny island connected to the mainland by a causeway. The town seemed to treat it like their local park. There were lawned areas and benches under shady trees as well as short rocky climbs to views over the Channel. We landed lucky with the weather too, 22° and sunny.

On arrival
On arrival…
Sunrise
…and at sunrise the next morning. Sublime!

For this first part of our wanderings we decided that as we’ve seen so much of the Brittany coastline on previous trips, we’d try something different. Waving goodbye to the seaside motorhome aire at St. Pol de Léon (only €8 for 24 hrs) we set off backwards to track the Nantes-Brest Canal through Brittany’s interior. Not driving backwards you understand (although there was one hairy moment when I exited a junction on the wrong side of the road eek!) but going in the Brest-Nantes direction.

The canal was another of Napoleon Bonaparte’s initiatives, so that instead of taking on the fiendish British Navy who were blockading the port, supplies could be moved by inland waterways. The canal isn’t one channel like so many of our own waterways, it’s a series of canals and locks linking natural rivers. This means there’s a diversity of scenery and wildlife to make the journey more interesting for modern-day travellers.

Our first stop last night was at Port-Launay, in little more than a lay-by at the end of a road along the banks of the River Aulne. It’s a popular spot with camper van travellers, but last night there were just two of us. We had an amazing night’s sleep, drifting off to the sound of water cascading over the weir. The couple of afternoon beers in the sunshine may have contributed to the good night’s kip too. 

Only in France
Lay-by with a view

At the Bar Tabac where we stopped for those beers, we had to show our pass sanitaire before we could get served. Covid regulations here mean wearing masks indoors in public places and you have to prove you are fully vaccinated. Fortunately our pre-trip research (I know! Not like us at all…) led to us downloading the EU Covid app Tousanticovid which can import NHS data. So a flash of the phone gets us in anywhere. With luck this will work not only in France, but in Spain too when we get there.

Which leads us to today, and our next stop along the canal at Guerlédan. Here, the river is dammed, and forms a huge lake supplying water to France’s first hydro-electric power station. Well, I say power station but there’s only one turbine which is still a massive achievement for the 1930’s. We discovered all this walking round part of the lake whilst waiting for reception to open at the camp site. The less said about that the better. Except that Vince had to get his elbows out when it finally did open. A number of French motorhomes had arrived during the afternoon and we were dammed (do you see what I did there?) if they were getting in before us. One nil to the Brits!

The Dam
Another damn dam – the Barrage de Guerlédan

We’ll chat again in a few days, hopefully. The weather has been warm and sunny so far but it’s looking cooler and wetter over the weekend. We may push on south. Or we may not. That’s what this kind of trip is all about – just going with the flow. See you soon 🙂

River Aulne
The River Aulne
L’Îlot Sainte-Anne
L’Îlot Sainte-Anne
About Ken Tomlinson 201 Articles
Semi-retired biker, blogger and new-ish grandad. Doesn’t take life too seriously. Discovered motorhoming in 2015, sold up, downsized (twice!) to fund more travels. Now with added Yorkshire.

5 Comments on Only In France

  1. Just catching up with your new adventure. The vaccine passport is what puts me off going abroad at the moment. I’m afraid I will consent. Have a great time.

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