In France it is always worth finding the local Tourist Office in order to stock up on free local maps, tourist leaflets and for information. Walkers and cyclists are often particularly well catered for.

ALLOGNY (18 Cher): Aire Communale

South of Allogny on D944, at the ‘Étang Communale’. This a piece of ‘old road’ with a pleasant picnic area as well as a ‘Borne’ for waste dump and fresh water. The étang is more of a reservoir but it’s a pleasant and reasonably quiet place for an overnight stop. [photo]   [2002]

Amenities: Baker and cafes in the village.

ARBOIS (39 Jura):     Parking and Dégustation

Arbois is a small but well-known wine town. The most suitable parking for a motorhome appears to be at the 'Champ de Mars', which is SP  with a large 'P' placed above an arcade of shops in the main square and is up a very narrow road to the right of here. Market Day is Friday and 1st.Sunday and the market is normally held on the Champ de Mars, so avoid it Thursday night. Markets are also held elsewhere in the town - take careful note of 'Déviation' signs! Opposite the entrance to the Champ de Mars is the 'Fruitière Vinicole d'Arbois' wine co-operative shop: head here for dégustation! Henri Maire, known to the world for 'Vin Fou' but actually a much more serious wine producer, has his shop and tasting centre on the main square. For excellent 'glaces maison' the pâtisserie opposite the Tourist Office (Hôtel de Ville) takes some beating. Bread and croissants in Arbois are provided by the justly-celebrated Boulangerie 'Horbach' on av.Pasteur, reached before coming to the house of Louis Pasteur [photo]. He conducted his experiments on antibiotics here and the house is largely unchanged from his day. Regular guided visits in French (English printed translation available). ATAC supermarket with fuel on route de Besançon. [2004]

BEAUFORT (73 Savoie): Camping

'Les Sources', listed as 5km. out of Beaufort but I think it's less. It is on D925 in the direction of the Col de Méraillet and Lac de Roselend. Too far for an easy walk, the road is steeply uphill in places, but it is open for a longer season than the Municipal which is located before the village proper (when arriving from Albertville). Les Sources has excellent modern heated 'sanitaires' 8/10 and is relatively small. Flat grass mostly with electricity available, in a totally wild location. A splendid base for exploring an area of outstanding natural beauty, walking or cycling for the very fit. [2002]

Amenities: all at Beaufort: cafés -- restaurants -- provisions shops -- cash machines -- weekly market Wednesday -- co-operative cheese producer with visits available.

Recommended: Hotel du Grand-Mont place de l'Église. A Logis which does good Savoyard fare, there is a cash machine just round the corner ---

A driving tour up to the Lac de Roselend and to the Cormet de Roselend 1967m. Even in late May there is snow around and you are likely to find Gentian and Soldanella in flower at this time, as well as the occasional Orchid. When the weather is clear it's possible to see Mont Blanc. The mountain café 'Pierra Menta' , overlooking the lake and barrage on the road which leads back up to the Col du Pré and to Arèches does excellent lunch fare with Savoyard specialities. The road back to Beaufort via Arèches is very picturesque but very narrow in parts without many 'passing places' ---

The Wednesday market in Beaufort for genuine Beaufort cheese, price according to age. Cheese is classed as 'Alpage' if it has been made in the high pastures during spring and summer, or 'winter cheese' if made when the cattle are back down in the farms for the winter. The 'Alpage' is rated more highly.

BELMONT-DE-LA-LOIRE (42 Loire):   Aire Communale

Listed in the Guide as at the Church, and indeed there are signs showing 'dump for camping-cars'. But it was found that while there are two marked spaces in shade at the side of the church, with two water taps and electricity sockets - all apparently free, there is no road-level grating for emptying waste water or toilet. A shame as it's a pleasant little village with several bars and places to eat. See [photo] , showing a car occupying one of the marked spaces. [2004]

BENOUVILLE (14 Calvados): Aire Privée

At Destinea-Leneveu, the Motorhome sales group. It’s well SP from the northbound D514 from Caen, but not from the Ouistreham end. If going south, take the first Benouville exit and Destinea is ahead of you before going under the N road. If travelling north note the roadside advertising signs for Destinea, it’s the last exit for Benouville; this way go under the N road and then turn immediately left SP 'Zone d’Activités'. Marked spaces with free electricity and fresh water, but the proximity of the electricity to the water is a little worrying. Lots of mosquitoes in September. I rate this quite a safe place to stop overnight (better than the quay at Ouistreham) as there are likely to be several other motorhomes in residence. [2002]

Fuel: there is a very large Esso fuel station just off the large roundabout at the south end of Ouistreham where the D514 dual-carriageway begins. This has some pumps which take Euronotes when the kiosk is closed. Intermarché also nearby.

BERCK-PLAGE (62 Pas-de-Calais): Parking

Berck has two locations where overnight parking by MH is tolerated, both are at the south end of the town. Parking on the promenade ('the front') by vehicles over 2.2m in height is not permitted. The main area in use as an 'aire de stationnement' is near the Lighthouse, which can be seen from some distance. Proceed into Berck off the roundabout on the D940/junction with D303 from A16/J25, following SP for 'Hôpital Maritime', but continue ahead at a junction where the road ahead has 'Dead End' signs and the SP for Hôpital Maritime shows right. MH parked among the dunes will probably be visible at the end of the road. The second 'aire' is a parking area [ photo ] outside the Hôpital Maritime on Avenue de St.Exupéry -- follow the SP and MH will probably be parked to the right or left of the hospital entrance, which is on your left about 500m after the junction mentioned above. No facilites at either location. [2005]

Berck is a typical northern France seaside town full of seasonal apartments, cafes, bars and brasseries. Moules, Crepes, snacks and drinks can be had at a multitude of outlets along the promenade, but there are some better restaurants and bistrots as well. We ate at Brasserie 'L'Époque' on Esplanade Parmentier ('the front') , which provided good quality oysters and decent meat dishes as well as mussels ('plats' euro 8-14, dozen oysters euro 15.80). The bars and creperies tend to close fairly early on Sunday evenings whereas the brasseries stay open longer.

Recommended : A visit to the 'Parc Ornithologique du Marquenterre' near Rue about 25km. south of Berck. This is an extremely important international site for ducks and wading birds. It also hosts a breeding colony of Herons, Little Egrets and White Storks which are a joy to behold in early Spring. Well worth a whole day visit, there are marked trails with suggested timing of 1, 2 and 3 hours duration. Access to the site is from the D940 at Rue and it's well signposted from all directions. Charges 2005 euro 9.60 for adults, family tickets available. It opens at 1000hrs., closes 1700 in 'winter season' and 1900hrs. in 'summer season'. It's possible to go out for lunch and return afterwards -- ask for a hand-stamp. There is a café on site serving a range of drinks and snacks, for something more substantial we chose to eat at the Auberge de la Dune at 80550 St.Firmin les Crotoy, located at the road junction of the D4 and the D204. If you have followed the SP for the Parc you will not miss it. Very popular for Sunday lunch, menus euro 18-35 and excellent food.

BOULOGNE-SUR-MER (62 Pas-de-Calais): Parking

Boulogne is in our opinion a far more interesting town to visit than is Calais, but parking a motorhome is a nightmare. The best solution so far discovered is to head for the 'Ville Haute' and find a space at Parking 'Mariette' just outside the walls. This is free and consequently very full, but the marked spaces are completely ignored and as long as you don't block another vehicle's way out it seems usually possible to find space. Mondays are much emptier than other days, due to the number of shops which are closed on Monday. This parking can be approached from the A16 junction with the N1, following SP to 'Ville Haute' and then turning right at the roundabout in front of the gateway in the town walls: take first entrance to your left. If approaching from the bottom of the town or the ferry port, go up the Grande Rue (main shopping street) again following 'Ville Haute' SP and you will see SP to 'Parking Mariette': follow the road around the park and take first entrance on the right into the parking. It's easiest if you have a copy of the Michelin Red Guide, which marks this parking area on the Boulogne town map. There is a rectangular area marked out for 'BUS': it would be wise not to park on this unless there are lots of cars/other vehicles on it already, anyhow most of the buses using it will be British. [2005]

Boulogne has some notable food and clothing shops: the cheesemonger Philippe Olivier is internationally renowned, his shop at 43 rue Thiers is like an Aladdin's Cave of cheeses, all superbly kept. On the rue de Lille at the top of the walled town is an Artisan Boulanger with breads of real taste, and almost opposite a Café/Salon de Thé for a late breakfast -- these two are both open on Mondays. At the bottom of the town 'Bourgeois' on rue de La Lampe is one of the best traiteurs/charcuterie shops (closed Monday), while further up on Grande Rue (opposite the church) are 'Aux Pêcheurs d'Étaples' -- the fish and shellfish restaurant (moules around euro 10, other fish and shellfish 'plats' euro 10-20, menus around euro 20-40 and 'plats de fruits de mer' up to euro 40) -- and two doors up from it 'Dessert aux Desserts', a mouth-watering patisserie shop (closed Monday)

BOURCEFRANC (17 Charente-Maritime): Aire Communale

Pointe du Chapus, the end of the road beyond Bourcefranc which used to connect with ferries to Isle d’Oléron. Now there is a bridge. The area set aside for motorhomes is at the beginning of the former ferry approach road and there is a ‘borne’ adjacent. But this spot is liable to be blocked in by articulated lorries and oyster farmers’ trucks, so some motorhomes park against the sea wall where it is more open. The area is a bit scruffy but there is constant coming-and-going of oyster barges and the views towards Fort Louvois and Isle d’Oléron are interesting. A good area for cycling with specific maps available from Tourist Office on the main square in Bourcefranc, next to La Poste. [photo] [2002]

Amenities: Café – Hotel/Restaurant – Fish Restaurant – Fishing Gear Shop – Supermarket with fuel in Bourcefranc itself.

Recommended: Fish restaurant ‘Le Grand Bleu’; Hotel ‘Le Terminus’ for a good view --

Cycle to Marennes and La Cayenne for the best oysters I have tasted. The small shed with attached canopy -- about half-way between Marennes and La Cayenne -- does a great choice of platters, there are several more direct sales outlets in La Cayenne itself as well as restaurants.  1-hour boat trips around the oyster beds from the landing stage at the very end of the road.

CAMPIGNY (27 Eure): Aire Communale

South of Pont-Audemer. Authorised for 24hr. stay.

Approaching from the South (St.Georges-du-Vievre) on rural road D29, the village square is roughly triangular with some trees, Cafe-Restaurant to the right. Ahead the village Church. Turn right at the Church (parking spaces on the left in front of it) and immediately before the T-junction (100m.) a drive to the left which goes to the former presbytery house. Sign at the corner. Go through gates, Camper Service Point is immediately on your right -- water point, waste water and black waste dump at ground level. From the North D810 and D29 from Pont-Audemer turn Left immediately on passing the Church and before the tree-lined square. Overnight parking presumed to be in front of the Church, since there is not much space within the presbytery area. A tranquil place. [1998]

Amenities: Café nearby.

CAMPSAS (82 Tarn-et-Garonne): Camping

'La Tisarne'. On the N20 north of Toulouse, a very small 'farm' site populated apparently by single workers and weekenders from Toulouse. Very welcoming owner who speaks English. Literally just off the N20 going north just after the D6 SP 'Verdun-sur-Garonne' and about 3km. S.of the A62 interchange J.10. Not in the village of Campsas at all. Hot showers and washbasins but in a newish breeze-block 'shed' with sheet roof - rather cramped. Rating 4/10. Electricity available - French sockets - but I am not sure I would trust it. Bread van calls at 0900. FFr.50 per night which is probably rather expensive but it was an interesting experience. We were tired and it was fine for an overnight halt. [1998]

CASSEL (59 Nord):     Aire Communale

A non-standard 'borne artisanale' provided by the commune outside the sports centre. It has 3 marked parking places but they are not very obvious. Nor was it evident where waste disposal should be directed but there is a large removeable grating in the middle of a shaped concrete pad at road level, so it is presumed this is it! We did 'bivouac' here but it's not ideal as the road is surprisingly busy. The location is not easy to find: from the main D916 road head for Cassel and turn up towards the town at the compound junction with D948. On the map this road is shown as a series of sharp bends -- it is, and worse still it is all 'pavé' at its worst. It will shake your suspension severely. Just past the small supermarket turn left down a steep road and negotiate two sharp bends before the road levels out a little: the aire is then about 400m on the right beside the sports centre. OK for emptying tanks and possibly a night halt if pressed, but hardly attractive. [2004]

Le CATEAU-CAMBRESIS (59 Nord):    Aire Communale; Matisse Museum and Brewery

A new Aire for 2007, on N43 on eastern edge of the town in the direction of Catillon (q.v.) and La Capelle. On edge of Parc Lucien Dorin, with an information board at the entrance [ photo ], 4 marked MH spaces (there is room for more) and a splendid new full-size Raclet borne - no charge for fresh water nor electricity and ground level dump. Half-way up the hill out of the town, there are small MH Aire signs but they are not very visible. Aire is an easy 10min. walk to centre.

Le Cateau is well worth a visit: a small town but with two important assets, the Matisse Museum (in centre, Palais Fenelon) and the Ancien Brasserie de l'Abbaye (SP as 'Brasserie Historique'). We ate at Hostellerie du Marché (a Logis) on the corner of the crossroads (rue Landrecies) at the top of the town: excellent and very good value; and at 'La Malterie', the brewery tavern, also excellent in an informal bistro style [ photo ] with the bonus of the brewery beers on tap - note that it maintains restricted opening hours: the bar is open Wed & Thurs 1030-1500, Fri 1030-1500 + 1800-2230, Sat 1030-2230 and Sun 1030-1900, but the restaurant is only open Fri & Sat from 1200 and from 1930, plus Wed, Thurs & Sun only open for Lunch from 1200. The whole site is closed all day Mon & Tues. Check their cool website www.brasserielecateau.com !

CATILLON-sur-SAMBRE    (59 Nord):    Aire Privee

A lovely aire beside the canal [ photo ] and on N43, with free electricity and fresh water. Roadside ground-level grating for waste water, but the grid size is very small and I judged it inconsiderate to dump my toilet tank contents onto it. Arriving from the direction of Le Cateau, the Aire is just over the bascule bridge and on the right. Advisable to back into the space chosen and take care not to end up in the canal! Downside is that although there are 6 marked spaces, each space is only 2.0m wide - I measured them - so it's impossible for 6 MHs to park here. 4 is the practical maximum but one French MH parked at the end of the tarmac where the sign reads 'access for authorised vehicles only'. There is a café/bar on the main road and a boulangerie, but not much else.

CAYEUX-SUR-MER (80 Somme): Fresh water and Waste disposal facility

Camping 'La Vieille Eglise' at 1 Route des Canadiens, 80410 Cayeux, south of the main town. This camping is primarily a 'Loisirs' site, but it offers the opportunity for MH to refill their tanks with fresh water and to dump grey water and the contents of toilet holding tanks, at a charge of euro 3.85 [2005] It is extremely useful as there appeared to be no other official water supplies available in the Somme estuary region in early 2005 (see entries under 'Rang-du-Fliers' and 'Saint-Valery-sur-Somme'). The owners are very welcoming. The best access to this site was found to be into Cayeux via the D177 off the D940 at Sallenelle, then Left onto D102. The site is SP from the D3 coast road but this route takes you round the town along the rather bumpy promenade.

CHATEAU-CHINON (58 Nièvre): Campsite

Camping Municipal

At the edge of this small town, near the ‘Sapeurs Pompiers’ and Collège. A pleasant site on the side of a wooded hill, with decent-sized pitches, some slightly sloping. Quiet out of season, rate euro 7.50, which seemed good value. Sanitaires rated 7/10.

Amenities: Cafes – Restaurants – Bakers – Shops – Supermarket with fuel - interesting old town with connections to François Mitterand, who was Mayor 1956-1979 and donated to the town a copy of a Jean Tinguely animated fountain ‘installation’ [ photo ]. It’s well worth stopping in the town just to see this, at Place François Mitterand. Tourist Office on the main square where the main roads meet in the centre of town.  [2002]                                 

Recommended'Brasserie de l’Agriculture on the left just off the main square towards the upper town. There is an excellent ‘patissier-glacier’ on the road which leads through the town gate opposite the tourist office and about 50m. on the right.

CHAVOT-COURCOURT (51 Marne): Aire Privée

South of Epernay - Champagne region.

‘Champagne Lagache-Lecourt’

This is the hard standing area beside the house of a champagne producer, and can accommodate 2 motorhomes. Electricity and water are provided, but the deal is that you buy a bottle of champagne at euro 16 for first night (incl. the bubbly which I found of average quality), then pay euro 5 for a second night if required. It’s possible to dump grey water but we were wary of dumping toilet waste in the ground drain. The owner is very friendly and will gladly show you around his cellars under the house. [Photo]

Access: from the main road D51 - Epernay-Sezanne, take a narrow side road off the by-pass at Pierry SP Chavot. On reaching the village turn left along the main street and keep left at a fork. There will be signs directing to "Champagne Lagache-Lecourt", the grower’s name. Turn sharp right at the end of a high wall enclosing another producer’s cellars, the road is steep and narrow in places. Continue up the hill round a bend and between vineyards for about 500m. Lagache-Lecourt is the building complex on the left, but the turn in is at an angle to the roadway 20m. beyond the large wooden doors (the cellars). Difficult turn in may require a three-point turn.

Stunning views. The excellent ‘Premier Cru’ co-operative Nicolas Feuillatte is nearby at Chouilly (entrance from new by-pass), and the aire is about 30 kilometres from the A26. Chalons-en-Champagne/D3 exit. Good area for champagne tasting at small growers, plenty of cycling/walking opportunities but quite hilly. [2002]

CHENONCEAUX (37 Indre-et-Loire): Aire Privée

Hotel ‘Les Charmilles’: we stayed for free on this Aire at Chisseaux on the D40, about 1.5km. from the Chateau. It is the car park of a somewhat run-down Hotel/Restaurant which we presumed had once served the nearby train station. Minimal facilities - 2 outside toilets, also used by drunks late at night! We thought it polite to eat there and the food was OK (no choice) and not expensive. We need not have bothered as they did not seem to expect it, and there are better places to eat in the village 500m. away. Another time I think we would overnight at the Chateau itself. There is a large MH parking space beyond the car and coach park, and in spite of signs forbidding overnight parking there were at least 6 MHs in the parking when we arrived at 0915, several with silver screens over their windows. The Chateau opens at 0900 and it's well worth arriving for the opening. A small queue of people buying tickets had already formed 15 minutes later, 3 coaches had arrived and this was late May. In July & August it must be horrendous.

If wanting a site, there is a camping sign pointing down a narrow track just before the railway line at the exit of the car park. I take this to be the 'Camp Municipal' listed as at 'Fontaine des Pres' under Chenonceaux in the FFCC Guide 37 Indre-et-Loire. The site named 'Le Moulin Fort' under Chenonceaux isn't really anywhere near the Chateau -- it claims 1.5km. but it's the other side of the river at Chisseaux. [1998]

CIRQUE-DU-FER-A-CHEVAL  (39 Jura):    Aire naturelle

This is a horseshoe rock feature on the D469 south-east of Arbois, covered in deciduous forest and a noted 'viewpoint'. The parking opposite the café of the same name is not very pleasant for motorhomes, but very close by are two excellent places for a lunch stop or possibly (with discretion, use your judgement) for an overnight stop. At the café turn off onto local road SP 'Belvédère de la Madeleine' and within 200m on the right side is a gravel area with a track which leads into the woods. An MH can park here; the narrow rutted overgrown track which goes off to the left from the gravel area leads into a delightful clearing in the woods which is provided with two picnic tables. The other track appears to be part of a GR route.

Alternatively, and perhaps more suitable for an overnight stop (but discretion again required), is the track which leads off on the left side of the local road at the same point. Also narrow and rutted, this has a little more clearance (but not that much, if you value your paintwork check before driving down it) and leads off through the scrub to a flattish area of hard standing close to the cliff edge. From this point a narrow unmarked path leads off up to the right through the scrub and eventually comes to a 'belvédère' with probably the best view of all. It's a cliff top so take great care. You will see the tall iron cross well before reaching the viewpoint. The flora in mid-June was a splendid sight, especially carpets of wild thyme. [2004]

CLAIRVAUX-LES-LACS (39 Jura):    Aires Communales

There are in theory three 'aires' at Clairvaux, which is a very popular centre in the 'Lakes' area of Jura. The first, at Bellecroix, is on the D27 out of Clairvaux in the direction of Lons-le-Saunier, just past the ATAC supermarket and opposite the Gendarmerie: it's about 0.75km. from the roundabout at the bottom of the town if arriving from the south on D27. A proper Raclet 'borne' and 3 or 4 spaces for overnight, marked with low hedges. Perfect! but beside a busy road. There is a sign headed 'Chers Amis Camping-Caristes' which informs of the permitted parking for campervans in Clairvaux. What a pity municipalities in UK don't provide such a welcome. Also the entrance to the Aire carries the only sign which I have seen showing 'No Entry - Except for Camping-Cars' -- it's the supermarket exit road!

The second 'aire' is at 'Le Parterre': this turns out to be a large flat tarmac area beside what appears to be the town concert/music hall (probably what the French term 'salle polyvalente'). To locate this follow the signs for 'Genève' around the town centre one-way system and turn right into the large area in front of a yellow-painted building [see photo]: the authorised sign is under the trees on the right. No 'borne' here for waste disposal or fresh water, but it's a little further away from the road. NB Not useable Wednesday night due to Thursday market.

The third is shown as at 'Promenade des Tilleuls', which is on a hill above the town and considerably more difficult to find. A very attractive location at an avenue of elm trees and near a tennis club but there is a sign at one end 'No Camping-Caravanning', and no obvious place to park overnight except on grass verges. We felt uneasy about stopping here as there were no other camping-cars in situ, so returned to the town 'aire' where we joined 4 other 'vans. In high season there might be many other 'vans at this third aire. [2004]

Clairvaux has several attractive campsites as well, located next to each other on the east side of the lake and reasonably close to the town.

Amenities: Shops, Cafés, Banks

A NOTE ABOUT WASTE DUMPS IN THIS AREA: The 'Aire de Service' listed at Orgeval is a 'Camp-Elec' type which can provide fresh water and electricity but has no road-level grating suitable for fixed tanks, nor from what I could see any place for emptying toilet cassettes. The 'aire' outside the campsite at La Tour-du-Meix Surchauffant' at Lac de Vouglans (a fairly expensive high standard site) is similar, no apparent facility to dump from fixed tanks or empty toilet cassettes.

CLUNY (71 Saone-et-Loire): Camping

Camping Municipal 'Saint Vital'

At the southern end of the Voie Verte (see entry for Givry). A very well run municipal site next to the public swimming pool. Large site, some pitches slightly sloping.

Charges euro 11 which is more than most municipal sites in France, but sanitaires 7/10 and it seems good value. The Voie Verte runs behind the site but unfortunately there is not direct access (for security reasons). The TGV line also runs within 200m. at the back of the site but we soon got used to the very frequent trains. [2002]

Amenities: the historic Monastic architecture – Haras National - good cafés and restaurants – the Voie Verte – well-placed for exploring southern Burgundy.

Recommended: Chocolatier ‘Germain’  25 rue Lamartine, very expensive but excellent chocolates: next door they make sumptuous ice-creams which may be eaten in the ‘salon-de-thé’ or taken away at reasonable prices --

‘Brasserie du Nord’ in Place de l’Abbaye, the square in front of the Abbey: large portions and good for watching the world go by –-

‘Café du Centre’ on rue Municipale, the small street between the Abbaye and rue Lamartine: terrific French bistro ambience, very good ‘plats du jour’ –-

‘Hotel de l’Abbaye’ (Logis) on avenue Charles de Gaulle for good food at reasonable prices –-

‘Auberge du Cheval Blanc’, 1 rue Porte de Macon has a pleasant ambience but prices a little elevated.

I suspect ‘Le Potin Gourmand’ at Place du Champ de Foire probably has the best food in Cluny but we couldn’t get a table on our visit. The ‘Vinothèque’ on rue Municipale has an enviable selection of wines, liqueurs and spirits but elevated prices.

CREISSAN (34 Herault): Camping

Camping Municipal, follow SP around the edge of the town as the centre is far too narrow for towed caravans or motorhomes to negotiate.

20 pitches under lots of shade, mostly pine trees, with good clean sanitaires 6/10. At euro 7.80 I thought it good value. During the ‘vendange’ itinerant grape pickers occupy the huts on the site, which is part of a ‘complex’ which includes a junior school, library and small open-air theatre. A lovely place but the frantic housebuilding activity going on around the village suggests its character will soon change. [2002]

Amenities: small town with one baker and one ‘alimentation’ shop. The ‘chateau’ in the centre of the village sells wine direct but only on Wednesday and Saturday between 1700 and 1900hrs.

CUISEAUX (71 Saone-et-Loire): Aire Communale

There is an 'aire' on the Champ de Mars, which is in front of a huge factory below the main street. If arriving from Louhans on D972 turn right in the town after a secondary College on your left, the road slopes down and has a sharp left turn. The parking area is very large, sloping tarmac and the 'borne' is at the bottom corner. On the Michelin 328 Local map the location is marked with a 'Usine' sign. There was not much noise from the factory when we stayed. Not an appealing place to stop the night but useful if en route to somewhere else. [2002]

Amenities: cafés -- restaurants -- shops etc. nearby.

Recommended: Hotel-Restaurant 'Jean Vuillot' whose car park is above the 'aire' and is literally 2 minutes away. Bresse specialities including authentic 'Poulet Bressane', and a wider choice of menu as well. Prices moderately high but quality and ambience to match.

DOUCIER (39 Jura):     Camping

'Les Mérilles', a medium sized commercial campsite located just at the south of the town on D27 [photo], with good facilities 8/10 and a swimming pool [photo]. Excellent washroom facilities for less able persons. Pitches are moderate size but very well marked off by high hedges and there is good shade. Very welcoming, in mid-June the pool temperature was 22C - just about high enough for us! Charges 2004 without electricity euro 11.70 - good value. Doucier is quite tourist-oriented with several hotel/restaurants ranging from a pizzeria to an excellent 'grill' restaurant. There is a regional food promotion shop about 1km. north in the direction of Champagnole. [2004]

Amenities: 'alimentation' -- baker -- cash machine -- fuel station

Recommended:

Grill-Restaurant 'La Sarrazine', south end of town at the junction of D27 with D39. A very good establishment specialising in meat dishes, especially grills; they offer Steak Tartare on the menu, which is increasingly difficult to find even in France. The family owners were previously in business as butchers. 5 minutes walk from 'Les Mérilles'.

This area is a popular tourist destination among the French. The top attraction is the 'Cascades de l'Hérisson', a spectacular series of waterfalls which are well worth visiting [photo]. 'Hérisson' is French for hedgehog but we gathered the name derives from ancient words meaning 'sacred water'. Access from Doucier by the D326 'valley road', which can be easily cycled or is a day's walk as it's mostly flat, passing two lakes on the way. Access to the falls is free but there is a charge for parking where this road ends (and prohibition on motorhomes staying overnight). An alternative is to stay at 'Le Relais de l'Éventail' [photo], a small campsite with a large restaurant attached (not always open) and beyond the parking . Charges 2004 euro 10.80 without electricity -- less good value than Les Mérilles at Doucier but secluded and peaceful out of season. Allow at least a half-day for visiting the falls, the paths are steep and rocky in places. The 'Ferme de l'Aurochs', situated about 1.5km. before the end of the valley road, is a conservation project to maintain stocks of N.American Bison and of Aurochs, a stone-age species of cattle said to be the ancestor of all present domesticated cattle. It is depicted on cave paintings but was finally hunted to extinction in Poland around 1625. The present breed was 'bred-back' from several surviving types, including Highland Cattle, in the early part of C20. Charge to visit euro 5 but it's very interesting, has a 'small animal' farm with the usual (and some unusual) animals and a café/shop with good lunchtime menu using farm produce. The main feature is a farm walk of about 1.5km. to view the cattle, and to see the conservation of 'Jurassic Marais': partially-waterlogged grazing land.

Another possibility is to 'bivouac' at Ilay, from where there is access to the top of the sequence of falls. Turn at the Auberge du Hérisson (reasonable menus) in the direction of Menétrux-en-Joux and there is a large car park on the right side: at the top of this is a flat rocky area used by motorhomes. The paths to the falls start from opposite the entrance to this parking, there are also signs here advertising other eating places. The parking opposite 'Belvédère du Grand Sault' on the D39 Ilay-Doucier road may also be suitable, or a lovely piece of old road just out of Menétrux in the direction of Doucier (care as it may be in use as an access road for logging operations).

ECUISSES (71 Saone-et-Loire): Aire Communale

‘Place du 8 Mai’: this is off the N70 North of Montceau-les-Mines, and alongside the Canal de Bourgogne where there are at least 7 locks within a short distance. In spite of this promising location the aire is just a grating in the base of a public car park next to the 'Sapeurs-Pompiers', with a somewhat battered ‘borne’ adjacent. It’s useful for emptying and filling, but did not appeal for an overnight stop. The village, which is strung out along the side of the canal, appears to have one bar and nothing else. [2002] This 'aire' features in the 'Camping-Car' magazine list of "Readers' favourite Aires" -- personally I can't see why.

ENTRE-DEUX-GUIERS  (38 Isère): Camping

'Camping L'Arc en Ciel': in the centre (arriving from the south) right turn immediately before the bridge over the river Guiers and a few metres down a bumpy track. Flat, grassy, part shaded, electricity available. A few hardstandings for campervans. This site adjoins the river and there are prominent notices about evacuation in case of flooding. Reasonable 'sanitaires' which vary in standard 5/10. Some people prefer pitches on the grass river bank. A good area for cycling. [2002]

Amenities: Cafés -- Pizzeria -- Restaurant -- a few shops -- 'alimentation' -- Poste.

Recommended: 'Chez Baron' the Pizzeria on Place Centrale just a few steps from the campsite, does really good food within its range and prices are moderate. Excellent 'Fondue Savoyard' which comes with delicious boiled potatoes (variety 'Roseval') rather than chips. The Bar on the opposite side of the road has a dining room at the rear where madame will take your order, bring your wine, cook your food and bring it to table -- at least that's how it seemed. Good quality within a restricted menu and very inexpensive. It seems unlikely that this eatery, and thousands of others like it in France, will survive into the next generation. More's the pity.

A walk to the village square where 'La Poste' is a superb piece of 1950s French architecture, and the 'Mairie' qualifies as one of the most unnecessarily large and ornate in relation to the size of the village.

ETIVAL  (39 Jura):  Camping

'Le Val d'Été' a small tranquil campsite in a beautiful rural setting. It's a typical small French site mixing some static 'vans with a grass field for tents, caravans and campervans. Very peaceful out of season but it could be busy in high season! Does not open officially until early July. Located at the beginning of the village when arriving on the D118 from Clairvaux. The Lake of Etival [photo] is charming and perfect for walking or cycling around, there are also waymarked paths through the forests and a 'Belvédère' above the lake. From this belvédère an unmarked but well-used path goes up to the right through the woods to even better viewpoints on the cliff edge - Care required as there is no protection from falling over the edge!

Amenities: Etival does not appear to have any 'commerces', not even a bar (may be some in high season); the next hamlet of Les Ronchaux does have a bar and a butcher -- both firmly closed when we were there mid-June. [2004]

FANJEAUX (11 Aude): Aire Communale

SP from main road in the centre of the village, then turn left in front of the shop/bar and continue up to a ‘Calvaire’, where turn left. Space for about a dozen motorhomes but may be busy in high season as it is fairly close to the A61. Excellent overnight stop. [2002]

Amenities: a very old town with Cathar history – Bar – Baker on main road (excellent variety) – Organic wood-fired Baker in old town near Church (very limited opening times Wednesday afternoon) – Fuel Station with mini-market.

FELINES-TERMENES (11 Aude): Aire Communale

At the western end of the town, where buses turn around. The site has some recreational facilities, a public toilet, a waste dump and a fresh water tap. The waste grating is difficult to use as it’s above the level of the tarmac. Care required to avoid parking where buses or taxis might wish to turn. Suitable for overnight stop using discretion. [2002]

Amenities: the village has none, not even a bar as far as I could see.

GERAUDOT (10 Aube):    Aire Communale

'Lac Seine - Forêt d'Orient'. An excellent aire communale with 'borne' sanistation, located opposite the beach area just to the east of Géraudot village on D43 [photo]. Coming from Mesnil St.Père or from Vendeuvre-sur-Barse you can't miss it! The borne works on jetons from the shop beside the beach-side car park. As well as this shop, Géraudot beach has lake swimming, a pizzeria (appears only to open in season) and a mini-golf. There's also a campsite in the trees. The cycle-track around the lake starts from here so it's just as good as the former aire at Mesnil St.Père. Géraudot has a few shops and a bar doing simple meals. There is also an aire listed at Piney, a larger village on the main road about 5km. away. This is beside the former railway station and has a 'borne' as well. There are supposed to be 3 parking spaces for camping-cars here but none are marked out. Piney has better restaurants and facilities including a cash machine at Crédit Agricole. Fuel at an ATAC supermarket at Vendeuvre-sur-Barse -- follow signs for 'P - Centre Commercial', but NB there are 3.5T restrictions at some points in this small town. [2004]

GIBLES (71 Saone-et-Loire): Camping

'Chateau de Montrouant' a listed site SP from the village, from which it is about 1.5km. distant. I have included this as the owner, Jean-Michel Gruel, is one of the friendliest and most helpful site managers I have ever met. He and his wife are true ambassadors for France. The pitches surround his chateau and swimming pool, 'sanitaires' are good 6/10 if in need of a little updating (I believe this is his next project), there is a bar and take-away grill on site with occasional home made pizzas. Some pitches are on terraces and may be a little difficult to access in poor weather, but Jean-Michel and his tractor are always on hand. He has a modest holding of vineyards from which he makes red and white wine without chemical intervention or herbicide, and he will discuss his vinification methods enthusiastically. Brilliant!  The site accepts 'Camping Cheques' in low season. [2002]

Amenities: bar and 'plats' on site -- Baker, Butcher, 'Tabac and Journaux', Café in the village

Recommended: this is a good if somewhat hilly cycling area -- the Chateau de Drée and La Clayette are within cycling distance. Cluny, Chateau de Berzé and Chateau de Pierreclos are a little further afield.

'Louis Callier'  wine merchant and wholesaler at La Clayette: it is behind the 'Sapeurs Pompiers' which is left off the road to Charolles just beyond the roundabout by the Chateau. It looks like the entrance to an industrial estate. Basic very good value Beaujolais (red and white), Regnié and other 'crus'. I found the tasting generous, particularly if M.Callier himself is around. While in La Clayette the cafe 'La Belle Époque' under the plane trees opposite the chateau moat does a good value 'menu du jour'.

Charolles itself is rather too far for an easy cycle ride, but is well worth visiting for its church surrounded by water, its Saturday market and its curious castle mound. In UK I tend to choose Aberdeen Angus or Hereford in preference to Charolais cross beef, but in its place of origin it is sensational -- we bought 'tranches' from 'Debarnot' rue Gambetta 10, in a side street about opposite the front of the church and next to a proper hardware shop. For sheer taste it would be hard to beat this from any source. 2004 update: this butcher has changed hands and the meat did not seem nearly as good. Try 'Courtois' on Ave.Marechal Leclerc instead: a narrowed street a few metres further away from the church. If you park in the 'Place' at the entry to Charolles from N79 East you will walk down Marechal Leclerc to reach the centre.There is a very good café in the street up to the castle on which the tourist office is situated; it's located opposite the fountain, with some tables outside. For a gastronomic experience 'Hotel de la Poste' (not visited in 2002) has very enticing menus, a  Michelin '3 knife&fork' entry and a 'Bib Gourmand'. We did eat at the 'Poste' in 2004 and very good it is. People come just to eat the 'entrecôte' but the table d'hôte menus are interesting, excellent quality and very well presented. French gracious eating at its best!

GIVRY (71 Saone-et-Loire): Aire Communale

near Chalon-sur-Saone - Burgundy region

For me one of the all-time great aires. At the centre of Givry, on the D981 ‘Route des Grands Vins’ turn away from the imposing town gate and go past the Church about 300m. until the roadway narrows. Blue sign on the right "P - Voie Verte". Follow this sign and turn in left at the furthest gap into the gravel car park (i.e. before this road turns sharp right). You will have passed the completely free Raclet ‘Borne’ on your right. No electricity but free fresh water in generous quantities and proper dump facilities. Park up on the gravel alongside the former railway line: [photo] shows local cyclists about to set off. We stopped for two nights but it would probably be acceptable to stay longer.

The railway line is the key to this aire: it was closed in 1967, but in 1997 was reopened as a cycleway and footpath. It is flat concrete or tarmac and runs 44km. from Givry to Cluny further south. If you are really fit ('Tour de France' standard!) you could cycle the return journey in a day. Along the way it passes some of the great vineyards of southern Burgundy. The Conseil General du Saone-et-Loire has done a terrific job of re-instating this route and has erected maps and notice boards at the major stops, as well as providing drinking water, toilets and energy drinks (in a vending machine): [photo] shows the map of the northern part of the route as well as two cycle routes around the area. It’s very popular and much frequented by roller-bladers as well as cyclists. Another attraction is the town of Givry – it has a Thursday morning market, a café-restaurant 'Auberge de la Billebaude' which claims 50 different bottled beers as well as an excellent restaurant and other watering holes. It is a short distance from the main north-south A6 (about 15km from Chalon-Sud exit), and it seems to be ideal. Plenty of opportunity to buy excellent red wine in Givry, but the next stop south on the Voie Verte is Buxy, which has possibly the best co-operative in the whole of France within 100m of the former station, selling good red and better white wines at all – moderate - price levels. They are also very generous with dégustation! It’s 9km from Givry and easily reached within an hour by cycle. The problem of how to carry back wine on a bike is solved by driving to the co-operative when you depart. We also stopped one night on the car park behind Buxy station [ Photo ], this may be problematic in future as the area is due to be redeveloped as a retirement home. [2002] It's still undeveloped in 2004.

Recommended: Restaurant de la Halle, Givry town centre next to the circular ‘halles’: friendly and welcoming –- 2004 update: this restaurant has closed! it was empty and awaiting new ownership. The Hotel du Raisin - not a very original name! - also near the Halle Ronde provides a reasonable meal for low-moderate prices. Restaurant Aux Annees Vins at Buxy, next to the ‘Tour Rouge’ wine-tasting cellar which is (like the restaurant) owned by the Cave Co-operative: excellent food with a very reasonably-priced wine list.

GRAND BORNAND  (74 Haute Savoie): Parking

Grand Bornand is a summer walking and winter ski resort situated c. 5km. from La Clusaz on the road which leads up to the Col de la Colombière (closed in winter). Access from Geneva is easy. It has two campsites, L'Escale and Le Clos du Pin, both of which are open for winter and summer seasons. Many French campervans however use the municipal 'parkings' for overnight stops, and this seems to be tolerated in spite of prominent signs on two of them which prohibit use by caravans and camping-cars. The parkings which I have observed in use are: 1): Below the Church adjacent to the 'Borne' stream [Photo taken from just above this parking] -- one on each side of the road. The smaller has glass recycling bins in it, the larger is better lit. 2): c. 200m. beyond the Ice Rink (Patinoire) on the right side of the road, a good parking adjacent to the (winter) Nordic Ski piste. This appears to be the better location. [2002, 2003, 2005]

Both these parking areas are best accessed by taking the right fork road before the beginning of Grand Bornand village: it is SP 'Campings' and 'Espace Grand-Bo' and avoids going into the village. Further on at the roundabout (delightful cows on stilts) take the left road (second exit) and over the river for the first mentioned parkings, take the right road (first exit) for the second mentioned parking. The campsite L'Escale is situated off this roundabout on the right.

It may also be possible to park adjacent to the ski lifts up at Chinaillon (above Grand Bornand on the road to the Col) , but I personally don't see any advantage in this, the available spaces are filled very early in the day and staying overnight may be less tolerated. MH have been observed 'bivouacing' in Chinaillon at the final turn of the one-way road system near the Chatelet chair-lift, just before the bridge over the stream. My observations are based on staying in the village on all-in ski packages. I have not visited in a campervan.

GRANVILLE (50 Manche): Aire Communale

Located above the port at the far end of the promontory, in front of the Aquarium on Boulevard Vaufleury. No signposts for the Aire, take rue du Port, the road which goes along beside the port and at the end goes sharply uphill. At the small roundabout at the top take first exit (right). Payment of euro 4.50 at a machine for overnight parking, but I was told that out of season at weekends it’s unlikely that anyone will come to check. [Photo]  [2002] I have recently noticed a report in 'Camping-Car' magazine that Granville has placed height barriers on many of its parking areas, but has installed an aire de services. [2007]

Amenities: Lots of Bars – Restaurants – Shops, most along the Port.

Granville is very popular with weekenders and the fish restaurants were filling up by 2030hrs or even earlier. Stunning views over the Port from the Aire. We ate at 'La Citadelle' on rue du Port, may need to book or turn up early. There are several other choices on this road. On the D924 road dir. Villedieu is a huge new Leclerc electrical and domestic supermarket, a Leclerc food and clothes shop and other warehouse-type outlets.

GRAVELINES    (59 Nord):    Aire de Service

Coming from the east on A16 leave at Junction 21A - the next one after the SP for 'Port Rapide-Car Ferry' - take SP Gravelines. From the West it's the junction before the Car Ferry, SP dir. Gravelines. After c.2km. continue ahead (slightly left) at the r'bout dir. Gravelines. Aire is on the right in c.500m., set back from the road but you can't really miss it as it's a 'lay-up' area for trucks and fairground vehicles. There is an MH dump sign 'Station Sanitaire' at the entrance. Has a Flot Bleue borne which is painted red! Grating for waste in the roadway in front of the borne. Has electric sockets and slot requesting 3x €0.50 coins beside a small LCD screen, but I've no idea if this works. According to the Guide des Aires there are 5 to 7 MH parking spaces here, but I couldn't see them and I would not judge it a very sensible place to stop overnight. The Guide lists 3 other Aires de Stationnement in Gravelines town which are likely to be preferable, e.g. Quai Vauban.

HONDSCHOOTE (59 Nord):     Parking

This town in north-eastern France is included as a very pleasant spot to rest for a few hours if you have time before catching a Dunkerque or Calais ferry. It is in the triangle between the A25 Dunkerque-Lille road and the A16 Boulogne-Veurne road. Take the D25 SP Bray-Dunes from the A25 at Junction14 (exit northbound only): this cross-country road has a far better surface than the (still un-improved) A25 and although slower it is much more pleasant to drive on. Follow SP 'Centre Ville' on arriving at Hondschoote, a right-turn at traffic lights and a narrow road up to the Church (visible from a great distance). The road opens out into a large square around the church, where parking should be available if not all occupied. A small alternative parking is SP on the left part-way up the narrow road to the town centre: not so easy to negotiate but unlikely to be full. There is a 'Champion' supermarket off the main square (closed lunchtime). [2004]

Allow an hour from here to the Dunkerque 'Port Rapide' car ferry terminal, 1hr.30 minutes to Calais: it all depends on the state of the A16 -- use your own judgement!

Recommended: Cafe/Bar next to the imposing C16 Town Hall; Boulangerie/Patisserie 'Devos' near the small parking area mentioned. Nowhere to have a full meal unless the restaurant to the left of the town hall re-opens (when we visited it was 'closed awaiting new owners'). The Church [photo] is very imposing, with ornate carved pulpit and plaster altar reredos.

HONFLEUR (14 Calvados): Aire Communale

Listed as Open 1 February - 31 October, Payment for Water and Electricity, and Parking. There is a kiosk for an attendant -- you may be asked to pay even if dumping grey/black waste if the attendant is on site. Authorised for 24hr. stay.

Entering the town from the East on D580 from Pont de Normandie or Pont-Audemer, turn right at second roundabout SP Trouville/Deauville D513, then a Right turn before the picturesque centre of Honfleur and over bridges spanning inner harbours. It's on the virtual island in the middle of the commercial harbour. No marked pitches, a large area of uneven tarmac. No shade. There are likely to be a dozen or more other MHs in residence. This 'aire' is really a large vehicle park and the vicinity was being redeveloped in March 2000 so changes may occur. Service Point with water and electricity on a pillar, grey and black waste dump at ground level but may be very mucky. Only MHs near the pillar able to hook up to electricity. There is another 'aire' SP at a roundabout on the eastern edge of the town: not explored and not listed. [1998]

There is also a reasonable campsite: 'Le Phare' on the road which skirts the estuary in the direction of Trouville and Deauville. It does not have much beyond the basic facilities but it is within easy walking distance of the town. A bit noisy due to adjacent road. Listed as open Easter to end September.

Amenities: Picturesque town - Restaurants esp. seafood - Boat trips - Beaches – Architecture - Cider and Calvados Farms in surrounding area - convenient for Le Havre.

Recommended: ‘Au Gars Normand ' 8 quai des Passagers: well-positioned shellfish eatery beside the outer harbour.   ‘Au P’tit Marayeur’ 4 rue Haute: very good value shellfish and wetfish restaurant, fills up quickly most evenings, stated to be closed Mon evening/all day Tue.

ISLE DE NOÉ (32 Gers): Camping

What France does best -- a municipal site under the trees on the back lawn of a C18 Chateau in the course of restoration, which will be stunning when finished. Nothing apart from basic facilities, a pinned-up notice requesting payment of FFr.10 for hot showers by 'Étrangers' but hot water on tap even though there were no other campers and no 'gardien'. 3/10 for this. We didn't pay, there wasn't anyone to pay! It might be different in high season but we would still love to go back there. The village has a very good baker who is really good value. One 'auberge' -- shut, and one bar/café -- open. [1998]

JANS (44 Loire-Atlantique): Aire Communale

At the Mairie: go past the Church and turn right through an entrance immediately past the Mairie. Flat parking area behind the village hall. I didn’t find water or a waste dump although the Guide lists one. A small rural village. [2002]

Amenities: 2 Bars – Baker – Restaurant which has impressive menu but is rarely open as far as I could tell.

There is another Aire (not in Guide) at ‘Isle de Gué’ down a track at the crossroads where the C5 road off N137 reaches the village, SP ‘Aire de Stationnement’. Go down the track with a ‘dead-end’ sign to a grassy turning area beside a river. It’s a delightful picnic place with a play area, very tranquil but also very isolated. Discretion required if considering it for an overnight stop but this is a quiet rural area.

LAC DU DER-CHANTECOQ ( 51 Marne):    Aires Communales

There are several listed 'Aires' at this location, allegedly the largest artificial lake in Europe. It merits more than a day's visit for either walking or cycling. We stayed at the 'Site du Chantecoq', which has a large gravel partly-sloping parking area at the back of the dike [photo]. The large 'Accueil-Service' borne [photo] is placed at the top of this parking, and though readily useable, is positioned rather awkwardly for emptying fixed tanks -- it's about 1.0m away from the roadway and I had to park at an acute angle to achieve gravity discharge. The borne works on jetons available from 6 locations as listed on the borne: it provides 80 litres of fresh water and 1 hour of electricity (both French and IEE-EC sockets) but emptying is free. The other 'parkings' here have height barriers. [2004]

Recommended: walking or (better still) cycling around the lake. This is a prime area for bird-watching at all times of the year and binoculars are essential. Site du Chantecoq itself has an observation hide and a birdlife museum (not always open). A tarmac road around much of the top of the dike provides a cycle path giving excellent views of the lake.

The other listed aire with a 'borne sanitaire' is at Giffaumont (not explored). 'Camping-Car' magazine carried a feature article on this lake in October 2001.

LACAUNE (81 Tarn): Restaurant

‘Chez Calas at the top of the Place Vierge, and listed in the red Michelin guide. This is truly worthy of a detour as the food and ambience are superb. Probably need to book in advance or at least check during the day if a table is available for the evening.

There is no Aire or campsite close-by but it is possible for a motorhome to stop overnight on the car park which is below ‘La Poste’: turn beside the Poste and then left down a ramp to the flattish area under the trees. Reasonably quiet out of season and well lit. [2002]

Amenities: Old town with faded elegance – Fountains - Shops – Cafés – Casino. The casino drew visitors to the town in its heyday but is now more of an amusement facility with ‘machines à sous’. The town also used to be noted for its charcuterie and there is a museum dedicated to this. I however consider the displays here are a deceit, as the production methods used today are no longer in keeping with good animal husbandry or quality production, nor with the traditional methods used in the area. I was told all production is ‘industriel’ and none comes from pigs produced in the open air or by organic methods.

Check a charcuterie label carefully if you don’t want to support factory production: 'Produit Fermier' and 'Production Artisanale' are reasonably safe, 'Issu de l'Agriculture Biologique' with a certification mark is the best guarantee that the animals have been raised sustainably.

LAON    (02 Aisne):    Camping

Municipal Campsite 'La Chenaie'

The directions and signs at the approach from A26 take the visitor through the lower town and the traffic. Best approach is to continue on the N2/N44 ring road around the South side of the town, exit at 'Carrefour de l'Europe' and follow signs in the direction of the town D5 to 'Parc Foch': this takes you along Rue Jean Monnet and Avenue Marechal Foch. At the roundabout at the end of Av.Foch (imposing military-style buildings on right) take third exit following SP 'Camping'. The campsite is at the end of the somewhat dispiriting road bordered by dilapidated buildings. The campsite however is good and has a newly installed Raclet Mini 'borne'. Washing facilities 7/10. No restaurants or shops nearby, and it would be a stiff climb up to the 'plateau' or Upper Town where the sights are. A good night halt not far from the autoroute. The camping has a small shop, bread and croissants can be ordered. Frites and 'croque monsieur' may be available in season. Charges euro 10.00 without electricity [2004]

Amenities: none in the vicinity of the camping; Laon 'plateau' has excellent cafés, restaurants and sights. An unusual monorail system takes visitors up the other side of the plateau from the railway station. It's made by POMA, the ski-tow company, and is SP 'Poma'. Worth a trip for the experience.

Outside the camping is a medium-sized artificial lake which provides some walking exercise (and fishing). Next to it is a large mainly sloping tarmac car park which could with discretion provide an overnight 'bivouac' if the campsite should be full or closed.

LE CROTOY (80 Somme): Aire Communale

near Abbeville. We visited to look at the place and eat lunch. Signs banning MHs at the centre where most of the eateries are, there is an 'Aire Communale' listed on the town map and in the Guide but it's about 1km. from the centre to the North-West up the coast. The road to it was being rebuilt when we visited so we could not access it although it appears to be 'in the middle of nowhere'. We did see two MHs which turned up in the centre and disappeared round a corner to one of the quays so there may be parking possible. Nevertheless we enjoyed a moderately-priced shellfish lunch and Le Crotoy is definitely tourist-oriented and worth visiting. There are 'campings' everywhere on the approaches to the town, most of them looked depressingly 'Loisirs' (statics) and we didn't fancy them. [2000]

LE TOUQUET (62 Pas-de-Calais): Aire Privée

Opale Évasion, Aeroport du Touquet. Open all Year, NO CHARGE. From Etaples cross estuary and follow SP le Touquet, then fork Right at traffic lights with SP 'Aeroport'. Follow SP 'Aeroport' along Avenue du Golf and straight ahead at a roundabout after c. 500m. Turn Right at next main intersection. At a recent visit this was not SP 'Aeroport'. After c. 300m. turn Left at signs for 'Aviation' -- it's not very clear and does not look like an airport road. Opale Évasion is to the left of the Airport buildings, the 'Raclet' Service Point is outside the hangar-like building on the left past the trees. Overnight parking available in front of the trees. Take advantage of the opportunity to scrutinise some continental MHs. The Airport has a '2 knife&fork' restaurant, listed as closed second half November/1st.week December, and on Thursdays outside school holidays. [2000]

Amenities: Motorhomes to view –- Restaurant -- Airport viewing -- Exploring Le Touquet by bike, MHs not welcome in the town or by the sea front.

LYONS-LA-FORET (27 Eure): Camping

'Camping Municipal St.Paul'. Near to Rouen (E) and one of our favourite sites. Well tended with very good washroom facilities 8/10, water (both push button and threaded tap) and electricity available - French sockets - at every pitch (AFAIK). Flat grass pitches, moderate shade and very friendly warden (at least in early season!) FFr.80. Delightful small town nearby with mediaeval covered market and some good eateries. Popular with English visitors though we shared a village café dining room with Dutch, Italian and New Zealand tourists. [1998]

MACON NORD (71 Saone-et-Loire):  Parking

Beside the N6 at the north end of Macon there is a car park area opposite the Municipal Swimming Pool and water-sports centre, which has signs allowing 'PL' (trucks) and 'Car+Caravan' to park up to 24hrs. It appears to be accessible only from the Southbound carriageway - the road here is divided by hedge+barrier. On the town plan in the Michelin red guide it's at the very top where the figure '1' is placed. NB I have not stayed overnight here.

MAZAMET (81 Tarn): Camping

‘Camping Municipal de la Lauze’ on the N112 dir. St.Amans.

The site is on the eastern edge of the town, somewhat too far to walk into the centre easily. It is very well run and secure. The sanitaires are excellent 8/10.

Amenities: a Leclerc hypermarket c. 300m. further out on the main road, plus other factory outlets and a large leather goods shop nearby on the N112. [2002]

MESNIL St.PERE (10 Aube): Aire Communale

near Troyes - Champagne region

Another stunner! About 20 minutes from the main north-south route from Reims to Dijon. It’s in the triangle between the A26 and the A5, at the side of Lac Seine, part of the Parc de la Foret d’Orient. An excellent overnight stop on the way north or south from Burgundy. [2002]

2004 update: alas this aire is no longer available for overnight stops. Prohibition signs have been set up and a height barrier installed at the entrance to the smaller car park at the end. The 'borne' has been removed to a location just outside the campsite about 0.5km in the direction of Géraudot. But see entry for Géraudot for another excellent night halt.

Access: from either the A5 Magnant exit, or the A26 Thennelieres exit, turn off the N19 Troyes to Bar sur Aube at SP Mesnil, and continue through and beyond the village until you reach a large roundabout at the ‘Commanderie’ (the marina authority). Go round to the left and go straight ahead onto the car park beside the marina: the ‘Borne’ sanistation is behind a hedge in the middle of the car park. If you have the Michelin 241 regional map, it’s where the little pictogram of a yacht is.

Free to dump waste, but for fresh water or electricity you need to purchase ‘jetons’ from the Marinka restaurant which is beside the car park. When we visited in late May 2002 they were still listed as FFr.15, so possibly euro 2.50. We parked on a smaller car park which is at the far end of the promenade, as did most of the 15 other motorhomes there at the time, but there were also MH parked (sideways) on the main car park. NB: the Aires guide states that the ‘parking’ is towards the camp site, but this is misleading as the campsite is about 600m further beyond the village, and we saw MH which headed for the campsite but turned round and came back to the marina car park. In high season overnight parking here may be more difficult.

The Marinka has a decent menu, for a real gourmet experience there is  'Le Vieux Pressoir' at Auberge du Lac in the village (10 minutes walk) rated Michelin '3 knives&forks' (prices to match). Stunning views from the marina car park, another fabulous area for easy cycling around the lake and a bird reserve. There is an ‘écomusee’ - Maison du Parc -- in the forest in the direction of Geraudot.

MONTHERMÉ    (08 Ardennes):     Aire de Service and permitted parking; Cycling and Walking

A small town on the river Meuse. The aire is on the river side of rue General de Gaulle, the D1 which comes from Deville and is quite obvious next to the recycling bins. Ground-level dump and EuroRelais Junior borne with free fresh water. I parked below the aire on the road which runs along the river bank but the access turn is sharp and steep. There are a couple of gravel areas on the river bank here which allow parking without inconveniencing anyone. The authorised parking for 24hrs. is on the large tarmac area SP as 'Embarquement Bateaux-Mouches', at the south side of the bridge over the Meuse [ photo ]. A permanent 'Frites' wagon opens here in the evening and it can get quite noisy in the late evening, so I suggest parking some way back towards the bridge. ATM at Credit Agricole at the other end of the town. There is a boulangerie just across the main bridge approach, not great croissants but very close, and several restaurants/pizzerias in the town. Supermarket some way out in the direction of Bogny/Chateau Regnault.

The Meuse towpath extends for miles in both directions, changing sides at Monthermé. Wonderful for softies' cycling. It's also an area known for walking, check out the Tourist Office near the main crossroads in the centre of town.

MONTREUIL (62 Pas-de-Calais): Camping

Camp Municipal 'La Fontaine des Clercs', at the foot of the old town. Another of our favourite sites. Arriving from the north at the junction with the N1 (traffic lights and right filter) take the road towards the town. The street leading to the site is literally 'in the corner' on the right where this main road takes a sharp left just after the railway crossing. Narrow access to be taken slowly. The site is terraced with MHs being sited on the flattish part at the bottom. Rather damp after rain. Tents and trailer tents are placed higher up. Electricity is standard EC Blue sockets -- hooray! Showers and washrooms excellent by our standards 8/10. It's a stiff uphill 500m. to the old town 'Hauts de Montreuil' where are found good restaurants (from medium up to super high prices) and a splendid Saturday Market. It is possible to walk round the ramparts and appreciate what a defensible site this must have once been. [1998] Update 2005: this campsite was found to be CLOSED during the third week of March, one week before Easter. As there were many touring caravans left inside for seasonal use it is hoped that the site will re-open for the season -- no explanation was given for its closure. In both the Guide books and on the French camping website this campsite is listed as 'Open All Year'.

It is not far to Étaples (shellfish eating and possible night stop on the quay) and Le Touquet (I have no idea where to park, there are signs everywhere prohibiting parking by MHs and the road system is a one-way nightmare -- others may disagree, let us know!), but there is Opale Évasion at Le Touquet Airport – see entry for Le Touquet.

NAJAC  (12 Aveyron): Camping

Camping Municipal. Situated at the foot of the rock below the castle. SP from the village, sharp left turn in the first, newer square and continue down towards the river. Campsite adjoins the river. A delightful site, stated to be open late-May to early-September. Sanitaires 6/10. Binoculars are useful to view kingfishers from your pitch: the pitches next to the river are the more desirable, some shade, flat grass. The village is a steep walk up through the trees opposite the campsite, or a longer walk round up the road. It's worth the effort, the village is delightful. [1998]

Amenities: Cafés -- restaurants -- scenery -- historic village -- castle -- sports facilities adjacent to campsite -- swimming pool across river.

Recommended: the Chateau, stunning views --

'Hotel Belle Rive'  turn left out of the campsite, cross the river and turn right past the derelict mill buildings. Almost a stone's throw. May need to book, quality food, delicious Gaillac méthode champenoise, and 'service-en-plein-air' in good weather --

'Oustal del Barry' at the top of the older square, excellent food and a very good dryish house cocktail. Also service outdoors in suitable weather, more expensive than Belle Rive but well worth it.

NOZAY (44 Loire-Atlantique): Aire Communale

‘Etang de Loisirs’, best reached via D121 from the north exit off the N137. Part flat, part sloping, gravel or grassy base. In September 2002 there were construction works to improve the area, which is beside a large lake and is quite picturesque although somewhat isolated. Free electricity was available. About 15 mins. walk to the centre of the town. [2002]

Amenities: Bars – Restaurants – Pizzeria – Shops – Bank – ATAC Supermarket with Fuel - pleasant cobbled town centre with interesting hotel/restaurant opposite the Mairie and a Logis on the south side road in from Nantes. Saturday market.

Recommended: Pizzeria at the far end of the town from the Aire, on the route de Nantes (fork right at the junction): good for a French pizzeria.

PESMES (70 Haute-Saone):    Camping

'La Colombière', a delightful small site situated on the D475 at the foot of the rock outcrop on which the town is situated, and just over the river. The camping is located in and beyond the trees which are shown on the other side of the river Ognon in the photo. Main 'sanitaires' adequate 5/10 but the washrooms beside the reception 8/10. Pitches on two separated areas, a large field to the right of the reception and a smaller area (which has some statics) to the left. The smaller area includes some pitches beside the river. A very warm welcome from the English couple who operate the site on behalf of the municipality. Charges 2004: euro 6.70 high season, electricity 6A euro 2.30. Information from campcolombiere@aol.com 

The town of Pesmes is well worth a visit: it is an unspoiled defensive town with pleasant views from the ramparts across the surrounding countryside. The church has a most interesting chapel decorated with carved wood. The town is on a route via Vesoul to Dole used by tourists from Netherlands and Germany who are heading for Burgundy and the South of France.

Amenities: 'alimentation', pleasant cafés, several restaurants, fuel station

Recommended: the restaurant of the Hotel de France, a Logis situated on the main road which runs around the upper town. This is a traditional family-owned hotel which serves regional food at very reasonable prices. The sommelier (apparently madame's husband) has a novel trick with wine corks on the more expensive bottles [2004]

PLANCHEZ (58 Nievre): Camping

Camping Municipal 'du Renard', listed open 1 June to 15 September

This site has good-sized pitches which are mostly flat, it’s constructed on a hillside above a small artificial lake; plenty of shade, many pitches have water and electricity. ‘Sanitaires’ reasonable standard 5/10. Out of season it’s dead, we were almost the only people on-site and the office was firmly closed. At least the site was open and we paid euro 7.50 at the Mairie next morning. They seemed grateful. The area has wonderful scenery when the weather is good but in September 2002 it wasn’t – thick mist. [2002]

Amenities: café – baker – restaurant, all in the village.

PORT des BARQUES (17 Charente-Maritime): Aire Communale

There are 3 Aires here, all at or close to the ‘Pointe’ where the beaches are. On arriving in the town, turn right into the large parking area and check the notice boards which give information about where motorhomes may and may not stop. A causeway ‘Passe aux Boeufs’ allows vehicles to drive to Ile Madame at low tide. [2002]

The most desirable aire seems to be against the sea wall behind the ‘Calvaire’ at the point, another is adjacent to the campsite entrance and allows campsite facilities to be used. Neither of these have waste and fresh water facilities, but the third aire is where the ‘borne’ is; this is opposite the sports complex which is inland from the campsite and can be reached from the ‘point’ by taking first left beyond the campsite. All the aires are supposed to have a parking fee of euro 4.50, but outside high season it is doubtful if anyone collects it. The campsite ‘La Garenne’ is of moderate standard, sanitaires 5/10, charges euro 8.32 including electricity but has a totally dead feel out of season.

Amenities: Bakers – Cafés – Shops – Restaurants : all in Port des Barques town

RANG DU FLIERS (62 Pas de Calais): Aire de Service pour Camping-Cars

Situated behind the 'RestauMarché' at the Centre Commercial Intermarché -- at the west end of this small town on D917 and conveniently close to A16/J25. Slightly easier access from the direction of Berck and the D940. Follow SP for 'Centre Commercial'. This facility is easy to find, with large yellow plastic banners proclaiming 'Accueil Camping-Car', and for a charge it provides fresh water and the ability to dump waste water and toilet waste. Parking is free and it is inside a large tarmac compound. But at the third week in March 2005 it was securely padlocked! See Photo of the banner, and photo of the padlocked gate. Hopefully it will be opened for 'the season', but there was no explanation for its closure at the time we visited in need of fresh water. [2005]

ROCAMADOUR (46 Lot): Camping

'Le Relais du Campeur', behind a small hotel at L'Hospitalet, which is about 1km. from the principal site and overlooks it. Very good washrooms and showers 7/10, separate showers and toilets but unisex clothes and crockery wash basins which overlook the men's washroom. An interesting small bird nesting on top of a supporting pillar in the washroom. I have yet to identify it but think it was a nightingale. Most sites slightly sloping but easy levelling. Electricity available - French sockets. A medium-large site with lots of places to eat nearby. FFr.60 per night, which seemed good value. Pilgrim road down to the site of Rocamadour itself, which to me is a tourist trap but was probably no different in mediaeval times. [2000]

N.B. There are several sites at L'Hospitalet, and several more 'Camping à la Ferme' or 'Aire Naturelle' sites. As far as we could see only 'Le Relais du Campeur' and 'Les Cigales' are actually within walking distance of Rocamadour.

Amenities: the Site – Black Madonna – cafés – restaurants – tourist shops – walking.

Recommended: ‘Auberge du Chateau’ across the free car park from the castle on the plateau at the top of the site: can be very busy with coach parties but the food is good.

ROCHERS DE SIDOBRE (81 Tarn): Aire Communale

Located at the Tourist Office [ photo ], Sidobre and SP from the D622 c. 15km. East of Castres. [2002]

An aire with crushed marble parking places in a superb location. Quite suitable for an overnight stop but it is isolated, so care may be required in high season. The Tourist Office won an award for architecture in marble and the whole area is dotted with marble quarries.

I didn’t find a place to fill with fresh water nor a waste dump. The noted ‘Escargot’ and ‘Peyro-Clabado’ [ photo ] rocks are close by.

ROQUEFORT-sur-SOULZON (12 Aveyron): Aire Communale

Located at the entrance to the village beside the new Tourist Office. Borne and road-level grating located rather awkwardly but the position has splendid views and is convenient for visiting the village and cheese factories – production is on an industrial scale. 'Papillon' is a free visit, 'Société' charges, 'Gabriel Coulet' has a small exhibition as well as tasting. Check with Tourist Office for visiting times and other producers. There are subtle differences in taste and texture between the cheeses from different producers. Quite suitable for an overnight stay. [Photo]  [2002]

ROUEN (27 Eure): Camping

South of Rouen

‘Les Deux Amants' at Leroy-Poses, in FFCC Camping Guide under 'Poses'. Flat, shady, grass. Took some finding but 'camping' signs got us there eventually. Next to the River Seine (possible midges). Adequate but rather dead mid-week out of season. Lots of 'statics'. Electricity available (French sockets). Hot Showers etc. 5/10, adequate but rather elderly facilities. [1998]

Amenities: only the artificial lakes and River Seine close-by, no ‘commerces’.

Saint CAPRAIS de BLAYE (33 Gironde): Aire Communale

Right beside the N137, a splendid installation with toilets, (cold) showers and electricity + water for all the marked motorhome spaces. Electricity requires payment at nearby Tourist Office or Café/Restaurant. [Photo]   [2002]

Amenities: Tourist Office – Café – Restaurant – Pizzeria, all beside the parking area. Out of season only the Tourist Office was open which was a pity as the restaurant menu looked inviting. In high season I would expect everything to be open as this is a major route for French holidaymakers. Other ‘commerces’ in the town of St.Caprais which is c. 300m. away.

Saint-EMILION (33 Gironde): Camping

‘Domaine de Barbanne’, actually nearer Montagne St.Emilion. A good site with grass and shade. Very welcoming (they also use the Caravan Club advance booking scheme) and good information. Poorly stocked site shop (at least in low season). Swimming pool with water chute, crazy golf and probably restaurant and more in high season. Electricity available (French sockets I think but not certain). Hot Showers etc. moderately good (6/10 on our scale - shower cubicles a bit small and not all open in mid-season -- some refurbishment going on). Wonderful bird song early morning, and we saw coypu in the lake which the site surrounds. The site runs a free mini-bus service to the town of St.Emilion several times a day each way (must book), but it's a pleasant walk through the vineyards.

We liked this site. Proper camping-car service point just inside the entrance. Charges FFr.82.20 [2000]

Amenities: Saint-Emilion! – Restaurants – Église Souterrain – Marché aux Vins – le Petit Train de St.Emilion; Montagne St.Emilion – Restaurant – Wine Museum – walks through vineyards.

Recommended: the Église Souterrain church in the rock, it’s really spectacular –--

the Tower opposite the wine emporium and tourist office, fine views of the town ---

restaurant ‘Francis Goulée’ on rue Guadet (narrow and busy street) –--

Le Petit Train from near the tourist office (see all the famous ‘crus’ chateaux)

Saint FLOUR (15 Cantal): Camping

Camping Municipal 'Les Orgues'

Very poorly signposted, it is about 500m. on the left of Ave.du Docteur Mallet, the main road which leads away from the roundabout at the top of the town, direction l'Aubrac and Chaudes Aigues. There is a 2.00m. barrier at the entrance which is kept closed (possibly not in high season) and it is necessary to walk down to the bureau to ask for it to be opened. Stopping on the road in order to do this could be difficult. The site itself is moderate size mainly sloping, some shaded areas without clearly defined pitches. Electricity available in some locations. Charges off-season euro 8.00. Sanitaires reasonable 5/10. [2002]

The other campsite is some distance out-of-town on the approach road from the (southbound) A75, and is in my opinion too far to walk but very close to A75 Junction 28. Motorhomes appear to stay overnight on the car parks in the upper town known as ‘Allées Georges Pompidou’, straight ahead at the roundabout mentioned above. The right side is preferred, opposite the ‘Parking Bus’. The Guide lists two Aires Communale, but I didn’t find either. The town map shows a 'borne' for waste disposal on Cours Chazerat, first right after a left turn at the main roundabout in the upper town.

Amenities: Cafés – Restaurants – Shops – Bakers. An interesting old town which has an ‘upper’ and a ‘lower’ personality. Many cutlery and knife shops in the upper town. A lot of coach parties visit the town.

Recommended: in the upper town ‘Chez Geneviève’ (closed when we visited) and ‘Hotel du Nord’ (not visited), both on Rue des Lacs, have interesting menus ---

The lower town boasts ‘Hotel l’Étape’ on ave. de la Republique, which does not look much from the outside but provides superlative food in a modernist atmosphere.

Saint LARY-DE-SOULAIN (65 Haut-Pyrenees): Campsite

The municipal site, which is right in the town itself but overlooked by apartment blocks. It felt like camping on someone's front lawn. Rather too organised for our liking, somewhat like a Caravan Club site where we were placed (nobody else eating outside, all tucked up in their truckle beds by 2130 -- my prejudices). The site does have a less organised part but this goes up a slope to the rear away from the road, some areas here could be quite difficult to level an MH on. Electricity available - French sockets. Showers etc. 6/10 -- they were state of the art about 10 years ago and are reminiscent of a tropical house at Kew Gardens, but now seem a bit cramped in the cubicles. Also work on 'jetons', of which you get one per person for starters (adequate length of time, 6 min) but have to pay if you like frequent showers. Site is rated 4 stars -- I'd give it 3 grudgingly. Rather expensive for a municipal site but super-convenient if you want to see the town or are en route for Spain via the Bielsa Tunnel. [2000]

Amenities: good baker in a modern building in the pedestrianised centre, with café next door. Buy your croissants in the baker and eat them with your coffee in the café.

Saint VALERY-sur-SOMME (80 Somme): Aire Communale

A splendidly laid-out almost flat gravel area with low bushes separating parking areas, this facility is SP 'Aire de Stationnement pour Camping-Cars' from several parts of the town [ photo ]. Charges 2005 of euro 4.50 for 24 hours - parking meter. The best approach found from Abbeville/Noyelles-sur-Mer was to proceed on the D940 past the 'Saint-Valery' SP until the junction with the D2, then turn right SP 'P Centre Ville'; in about 1.5km. there is an SP right turn 'Aire de Stationnment Camping-Cars'. The Aire is about 500m. along this road, on the left, and is unmissable. At night it is lit by four large yellow globes on a 10m. high pole, visible from some distance. It can also be reached SP from the 'Quai' in the town centre, but the road is narrow, cobbled and very busy with pedestrians; it's also a longer route than the one recommended above. There is a fresh water 'borne' on the right just inside the entrance, which should dispense 100 litres for euro 1.00 (cheap!) but it was out of order when we visited - annoying. In front of it there is a plastic grating in the road for waste disposal -- I judge that an extension hose would be required as it's small in diameter. A bread van with baguettes etc. calls on Sunday morning at about 0930 -- probably on other days as well. The aire is a 10-15 minute walk from the quayside, with SP showing 'Pedestrians - Centre Ville', mostly downhill (so it's uphill on the return!). To return from the old town take the road which runs alongside the cemetery, then right at the top of the hill. [2005]

We thought Saint Valery a delightful town in which to spend a day or two. The 'Ville Fortifiée' has a good view of the estuary and some interesting architecture [ photo ], but apparently no decent restaurants. It's the quayside and the rue de la Ferte behind it which are packed with places to eat fish and shellfish, also salt-marsh lamb in season. We ate a good evening meal (expect menus euro 22-30) at 'Hotel du Port et des Bains' 1 Quai Blavet (behind the Tourist Office where the road splits), and excellent crêpes (euro 2.50 to 5) at 'Les Galettes de Tante Olympe' at 36 rue de le Ferte. Also worth inspecting on the same street are restaurant 'Le Nichol's' which honestly states on its menu when various dishes are 'in season', and 'Le Globe' crêperie/restaurant. The 'Bleu Marine' fish restaurant almost next door to the latter appears interesting but wasn't well patronised when we looked. Between April and September a tourist train goes from Saint Valery to Noyelles and on to Le Crotoy around the Somme estuary -- this would make a splendid day out as Le Crotoy also has lots of fish/shellfish restaurants.

Recommended : A visit to the 'Parc Ornithologique du Marquenterre' near Rue about 20km. north of Saint-Valery via Le Crotoy. This is an extremely important international site for ducks and wading birds. It also hosts a breeding colony of Herons, Little Egrets and White Storks which are a joy to behold in early Spring. Well worth a whole day visit, there are marked trails with suggested timing of 1, 2 and 3 hours duration. Access to the site is from the D940 at Rue and it's well signposted from all directions. Charges 2005 euro 9.60 for adults, family tickets available. It opens at 1000hrs., closes 1700 in 'winter season' and 1900hrs. in 'summer season'. It's possible to go out for lunch and return afterwards -- ask for a hand-stamp. There is a café on site serving a range of drinks and snacks, for something more substantial we chose to eat at the Auberge de la Dune at 80550 St.Firmin les Crotoy, located at the road junction of the D4 and the D204. If you have followed the SP for the Parc you will not miss it. Very popular for Sunday lunch, menus euro 18-35 and excellent food.

Saint VIVIEN-de-BLAYE (33 Gironde): Aire Privée

‘Clos Maine-Gravereau’, situated in the Premieres Cotes de Blaye. Coming from Bordeaux/St.Andre-de-Cubzac approach from main northbound N137 is at a nasty Right turn in a belt of trees c.1km. after the hamlet of Le Fassier and c. 500m. before a main crossroads with SP Teuillac. There is a small brown SP to ‘Clos Maine-Gravereau’ at the right turn but the N137 is notoriously dangerous and it’s advisable to find somewhere safe to turn around if you miss it. About 1km. down this side road turn left at a Church where there is another SP. It’s possible to reach the ‘Clos’ from the other direction at St.Savin but the route is very winding and involves many unsigned turns.

What is it? A vigneron who uses organic methods and produces excellent Cotes de Bourg and Premieres Cotes de Blaye wines: wine with real Claret ‘nose’, in a lighter style than the other side of the Gironde estuary but with real taste of ‘terroir’. He’s happy for motorhomes to stay overnight on the gravel outside his ‘chai’ and his prices are very reasonable for the quality of the wine. He is a total enthusiast and unless fully occupied in the vineyards will happily spend an hour with you discussing his methods and tasting his wine. Wonderful! I don’t think that fresh water or waste disposal are available. [Photo]  [2002]

SAMPANS (39 Jura):    Aire de Service

at 'Caravanes Bidaut' on N5 just north of the village: a good Fiamma installation and free of charge. Located near Dole, the access to this dealer is by a narrow road set at an acute angle to the main N5. Arriving from Sampans village the access road is a right turn about 200m. before the main compound which will be seen from the main road -- there is no suitable turning point for about 1km. if missed. From the north on the N5 the access road is about 400m. after the bridge over the autoroute and after the main compound full of caravans -- this is a very sharp turn left. The exit turning north from the access road is even worse. The installation is in a separate concrete enclosure on the left before the entrance to the dealership: mostly Hymer and Laika motorhomes. [2004]

SANCERRE (18 Cher): Camping

Camping Municipal 'Le Rene Folzer' at Saint-Satur below the hill of Sancerre

On the West bank of the Loire just before (or after) the road bridge over the river. Flat some grass and sand, some shade. Children's play area. Reasonable sanitaires 5/10. Well placed for visiting Sancerre and the surrounding area. Tourist Office in 'Nouvelle Place', the main square of Sancerre. [1997]

Amenities: in Saint-Satur: cafés -- restaurants -- small shops; in Sancerre: more cafés and restaurants -- 'caves'

Recommended: a walk up the hill of Sancerre through the vineyards and along the former railway track ---

a walking tour of the town of Sancerre, map from the tourist office. This is SP and includes some of the better known vignerons' caves ---

Restaurant 'le Verger Fleuri'  rue Basse des Moulins 22, located in a back street of Saint-Satur in an old rambling manorial house ---

Caves Vacheron et fils, good value Sancerre. Their Rosé from Pinot Noir is a particularly good match for poached salmon.

SEVERAC-le-CHATEAU (12 Aveyron): Camping

Camping Municipal 'Les Calquières'

Adjacent to the sports centre on ave. Jean Moulin and signposted from the road which by-passes the old town. Pitches are rather small, the sanitaires are reasonable 5/10. Overpriced at euro 9.20 in comparison with many other ‘Municipal’ sites but it has the advantage of being 5 minutes from the A75 Junction 42 and convenient for the extraordinary old town with its narrow winding streets and castle atop the outcrop of rock. A wonderful location. [2002]

Amenities: Old mediaeval town – Cafés – Restaurants – Supermarket with fuel at J.35 of the A75.

Recommended: I consider the better eateries are located at the ‘Gare’ which is below the old town on the opposite side from the campsite: ‘Café du Midi’ ave. Aristide Bruant 4 is cheap, cheerful and friendly, a slice of French life which could have come straight out of the film 'Zazie Dans Le Métro' ---

‘Hotel des Causses’ further along the same street has a much more interesting menu at higher prices, but was closed on our visit.

TOURNUS  (71 Saone-et-Loire): Camping

Camp Municipal 'En Bagatelle' with access to the river bank. Very good night halt or for a day exploring Tournus. SP on N6 opposite the station at the north end of the town and only a few minutes from the A6 Tournus exit 27. No obviously-marked pitches, electricity available on some areas. Good sanitaires 7/10. Tournus is a serious eating and food town, plenty of restaurants with menus from euro 15 up to euro 100! Excellent food shops and a very interesting Abbey Church, dating in part from C11, which is very popular for weddings on Saturdays. From the campsite the town is a pleasant 15 minute walk along the tow path. [2004]

Amenities: quality food shops and restaurants, walking and cycling from the site

UZERCHE (19 Corrèze): Camping

'La Minoterie', a municipal campsite beside the river Vezère below the town. Follow SP 'camping'. Mostly flat grassy, little shade. 'Sanitaires' good 6/10. The site is very long and narrow with pitches mostly adjacent to the river. A good night halt close to the A20 with pleasant walks in the woods on the other side of the river. There is also an informal 'aire' which is situated on the car park of the former railway station on the opposite side of the river. There are public toilets here and it appears some campervans overnight at this spot. To access it go over the river bridge and fork right up the hill, then right again into the car park. I'm not sure that this is an authorised 'aire'. [2002]

Amenities:  in the town, shops -- restaurants etc. There is a Logis 'Teyssier' rue du pont Turgot, across the road from the entrance to the campsite, which will provide a good meal although we did not find it especially memorable. There may be better eateries in the upper town but that involves a stiff climb.

WIMEREUX (62 Pas-de-Calais): Parking

A large tarmac parking where MH are tolerated overnight, at least out of high season, and midway along Avenue du Marechal Foch. Park near the roadside as the parking backs onto an apartment block, we visited in March and there were two other camping-cars there. This street is between the rue Carnot one-way main shopping street and the promenade of this seaside town. Effectively Wimereux operates a one-way system which uses the main street for South to North and another road for North to South. Ave.du Marechal Foch can be accessed from either but watch for the 'No Entry' signs. If approaching on D940 from the North follow SP 'Centre Ville' and turn right alongside the stream immediately after crossing the bridge (ahead is No Entry) -- the Tourist Office is just here on the right. Follow this road for about 250m and turn left along the One-Way system where ahead is no entry for buses and camping-cars. Then after about 300m turn left again where you can and then right, which should be Ave. Marechal Foch. If approaching from the south follow signs for 'Centre de Planche à Voile': this sailing and windsurfing centre is at the south end of Ave.Marechal Foch. The one-way streets are very narrow and manoeuvring can be difficult, but Wimereux is a small town and locals should be able to direct you if necessary. [2005]

We ate at restaurant 'L'Epicure' 1 rue de la Gare 62930 Wimereux -- which was recommended on a French website and is at the south end of the main shopping street. Closed Wednesday evening and Sunday. The food was excellent with fairly high prices (expect euro 28-35 for a 'menu'). It's a small restaurant and quite formal, the 'ambiance' was not as warm as hoped for since the place was less than half full. Undeniably good food in the best French tradition. It has been listed in the Michelin Red Guide.

WISSANT (62 Pas-de-Calais): Parking

Between Wissant and Escalles on the D940 near Cap Blanc-Nez is a small tarmac parking area [ photo ] where MH may 'bivouac'. Arriving from Wissant it is before the road climbs up the hill in open countryside, arriving from Escalles it is easier to spot and at the foot of the descent from the top of the cliffs. The footpath beside the parking leads to the beach, and the GR 'Côte des Caps' runs along the coast. This parking appears reasonably safe but as always discretion should be applied at informal aires. [2005]