The trip to France and Spain in our Avante 462 was excellent and went beyond our expectations. An essential for the trip would be an up to date Sat Nav for Western Europe, or alternatively printed, detailed maps from site to site - we only printed the route between Penboch and Logis du Breuil but it would have been far more useful to have each of our journeys printed as our SatNav couldn’t always find the campsites we were staying at.

Whilst away we had some lovely meals, predominantly cooking in the caravan which was perfectly equipped for catering with the fabulous sized oven, grill, microwave, 3 gas hobs and 1 electric hob (which was really useful when we ran out of gas). Supermarkets were well stocked and we enjoyed Dauphinoise potatoes, pasta dishes and generally had a cooked breakfast each day. We often made a picnic for lunch with fresh baguettes which we bought daily. The fridge is a really good size and includes a freezer where we kept chocolate ice cream and lemon sorbet – our favourite dessert! Wine was available very cheaply in the supermarkets and overall we lived very well yet relatively inexpensively.

Thursday

Our adventure began with a stay at Malvern Hills in the Cotswolds which are officially designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. There are 2 neighbouring sites at Malvern Hills, one belonging to the Camping and Caravanning Club and one to the Caravan and Motorhome Club – plenty of people go to the wrong site (12 vans on the day we arrived went to the incorrect site, including us!!). The site was easy to get to and a good stop-off on the way from Yorkshire to the south coast. There are a number of clean toilets and showers, it was quiet with lots of good sized pitches and the surrounding area is lovely. It was a bit showery whilst we were there and a spectacular rainbow appeared. Unfortunately, we were not there for long enough to fully appreciate the area.

Friday

We travelled down to Start Bay which is situated in the English Channel in Devon between the River Dart’s estuary and Start Point. Start Bay is a 15 mile stretch of spectacular coast with stunning views and golden shingle beaches running from Start Point in the south to Warren Point in the north. The Start Bay Caravan and Motorhome Club Site is near to Torcross and is a gem of a site. We got horribly lost looking for the site, (please follow the guidelines in the Caravan and Motorhome Club that advise you not to follow your Sat Nav!) and found ourselves down a country lane only wide enough for one car, a bit tricky considering we had the caravan on the back! When we eventually found the site, Chris and Tina Slater, the wardens at the site, were really helpful and accommodating.

The site is within a short walk of the long shingle beach at Torcross where there is the lovely thatched Start Bay Inn – a really useful shelter for when the heavens opened with a torrential downpour.  A free vintage bus dropped us back at the campsite too. The campsite is an ideal place to stay and has good toilet/shower facilities, a playground for young children and is conveniently located for the Plymouth ferry terminal. We wish we had stayed there for more than one night and would highly recommend the site.

Saturday

We travelled on the overnight crossing which takes 8 hours on Britanny Ferries, crossing from Plymouth to Roscoff. We booked a cabin because Jane is not the best sailor (in fact no-one could be worse at sea!), however we hit lucky as the sea was like a duck pond. The cabin facilities were good, though a little difficult to find in the maze of cabins, and there was entertainment on board - overall it was a very good crossing and well worth paying the extra for a cabin.

Les Prets Verts 

Out of Roscoff we struggled a little to find our way. We had a list of road numbers to follow but many roads did not have any numbers – this is where printed maps would have come in very handy! (Hindsight is a wonderful thing). The SatNav helped us to the region where we were staying but could not get us to the campsite we had booked on. The last 5 miles took over an hour and after contacting Jane’s son, calling at a restaurant and then a flower shop, we eventually arrived.

If we were to do the trip again we would not return to this site, and have surmised the pros and cons below:

Advantages:

  • Situated on a beautiful small and safe sandy beach
  • Within short travelling distance of the lovely town of Concarneau
  • Helpful wardens who spoke English
  • Clean, though basic, toilet block
  • Some good sized pitches

Disadvantages:

  • The showers were only open between 8am and 8pm – they will be switched off even if you are in them!
  • The toilets are basic – you have to take your own toilet paper at night time, and there are no lights (thank you Glossop caravans for the gift of a torch)
  • The site could use some ‘TLC’, and the swimming pool was out of action during our stay.

Our first meal on the site was a barbeque – not the most successful meal we had. After Steve spent the best part of 2 hours trying to get the flames on the barbecue, we had to cook the sausages and beefburgers on the cooker! It was the first and last barbecue we had!

Le Raguenes-Plage Campsite

This was one of our favourite sites and we would have preferred to have stayed here longer. However we are glad our caravan is not too large as pitching up may be tight on some of the pitches. The site is in a wonderful position and a short walk through a field leads you to a large, fabulous beach. The site has a lovely indoor heated swimming pool with water slides for young children. The toilet and shower facilities are good and there is a small bar which is open at lunch time and early evening, with the option of a take away menu of pizza and pasta. The pizza was delicious – it was a shame we only had one to share! Our only negative of our stay was that Wifi was charged by the hour.

Camping Penboch

We arrived in the pouring rain. There were good instructions to get to the campsite on the roads, although one of the roads was closed for road works which did hinder us. The receptionists were very helpful and spoke English, and fresh bread and croissants could be ordered for the following day. We would imagine it could be awkward to pitch up on some of the pitches without a mover if the site was full/busy. It was a short walk to the sea where there was a small beach when the tide was out. We visited Port Arrogan and it was a lovely walk along the coastline.

Camping Logis du Breuill 

It was a five hour drive from Penboch to Saint-Augustine and we were the last booking of the season. It was very easy to pitch up and we would imagine that would be the case whether the site was busy or not. We would suggest paying for the higher electric amperage because the electric did keep tripping on the 6amp supply. The swimming pool area is lovely and there was an absolutely fabulous heated pool – it was really interesting swimming from the inside to the outside, and there was a spa area, water jets, small children’s area both inside and outside and slides for older children.  The site is about 3km to some lovely beaches/bars/restaurants. Wifi was payable by the hour and only available near reception (not in the caravan).

Vieux de Port – in Messanges

This was a 5* site – very big with every conceivable holiday home you could imagine. The camping area is well shaded by pines and there are lots of amenities including an arena, sports area, entertainment programme, swimming pools, slides, supermarket, bar, restaurant/take-away etc. There really is something for everyone here.

Within a short walk there is a lovely beach and whether the site was busy or not there would be plenty of space as the beach is so long and fairly wide - on a clear day you can see northern Spain. The sea is ideal for surfers but not sure it is safe for young swimmers - Jane went in the sea and the waves were fierce!

Playa Joyel

As we continued on our journey and travelled to Northern Spain the weather took a turn for the worse. We only stayed here for one night as we were informed it was due to close within 2 days and we could not pre-book for 3 nights. Jane would love to return to this site between June and September. You can walk through the site to a beautiful bay which is adjoined to another large beautiful bay; it was a really interesting coastline. The toilet and shower facilities were good and clean, and in our opinion this is a beach babes’ paradise.

Camping Oyambre

This was a smallish site that is open all year. There was a café/bar with reasonably priced drinks and good food served at lunch and evenings – with the option of a take-away. The beaches were a few kilometres away and the site had beautiful views of the mountains and surrounding hills. The coastal road drive to San Vicente from Oyambre beach was superb. San Vincente looked a buzzing area well worth a visit. The pitches were reasonably sized and relatively easy to park, although because we had a considerable amount of rain some were a little muddy. The site is only about 45 minutes drive from the Santander ferry back to England. 

Santander to Plymouth ferry

Jane spent 16 hours of the 24 hours in bed! She was relieved to have a cabin. For those with good sea-legs there is lots to do on board including entertainment, shopping area, bars and cafes.

Bladon chains 

This site is situated on the Blenheim Estate in Woodstock near Oxford. It was a nice site and we were on a lovely dry pitch. The toilets and showers were good, however we did struggle with the wifi unless we were in close proximity to the reception area. We were only there for one night on route home so did not have time to go to Blenheim Palace or Oxford but it was an ideal site to break the journey up on our way home.