Travel Review: Camping fun in French land of castles
At last. It was so good to be back. For many years we have enjoyed our annual trip to France but hit by Covid rules we just had to wait. And how l missed those wide open roads and lovely flower- strewn villages and towns, writes Sue Attwater.
As before we stayed at a Les Castels site, this time Le Chateau de Lez-Eaux, not far from the historic town of Granville.
The site is in Normandy at Saint Pair Sur Mer, a lovely coastside village, and very convenient for St Malo and Le Mont-Saint-Michel. So much to see and do on and around the beautifully-kept site, but first l must go back to our journey there.
For the first time we travelled with the ferry company DFDS and we were very impressed with the value and the service. It is cheaper than other ferry companies, particularly important in the current financial climate, and we had no problem finding a comfortable spot to relax during the four-hour journey.
And, much to the relief of my husband, the cars are well spaced, no more having to squeeze out of your car doors worried about catching the car door across from you.
We opted for the Newhaven crossing and from Dieppe it was a lovely scenic drive to our site. We avoided the toll roads and instead meandered through the lovely villages along the way, perfect for a picnic stop-off.
Arriving at Chateau de Lez-Eaux we were greeted with a tree-lined entrance, lovely grounds and chateau. We were made to feel welcome and escorted to our chalet – no getting lost trying to find your spot.
Called a chalet, but not how you would think of a chalet, this was a wooden-style large lodge with full cooking facilities, outside terrace with both a sunny and shady spot, gas barbecue and sun loungers. There is a wide choice of accommodation, even including treehouses and some lodges with their own hot tub.
The site is well-equipped with lots for families, indoor pool with flumes and an outside pool, bouncy castles, play parks, games room for the older ones, a small animal park and various games areas, volleyball, table tennis, boules, fishing pool – the list is endless.
The outside bar sits nicely in front of the chateau close to the restaurant which serves to your table. We spent a few nights at the bar listening to music groups while children played nearby, still in sight so their parents could relax with a drink. There is also a grocery store on site for bits you may need and large supermarkets just down the road, some with very familiar names!
If you want to venture off site there are bikes for hire – and lots of cycle lanes nearby – but for further afield we opted for the car.
Just a few miles away is the centre of Saint Pair Sur Mer with a lovely beach and promenade. A bit further on is Granville which has a lively town centre full of shops and restaurants. I love the French markets and we were spoiled with one most days – even in the small villages.
But we left the best to last with what is said to be the second most popular tourist attraction in France after the Eiffel Tower – Le Mont-Saint-Michel.
You can drive to the car park at a cost of 15 euros but our site reception woman advised to park in the free car park at Beauvoir and walk the short distance along the river (about 20 minutes) to get to the free shuttle bus which takes you across the causeway to the tidal island. They run every 10 minutes and for a quick turnaround – and to save awkward three-point turns – there are driver’s seats at each end of the bus. Great idea. Or if you prefer, you can opt for a horse-drawn carriage but that does take a lot longer.
Once there we ventured through the narrow streets full of shops and restaurants and up the never-ending stone steps – very good for keeping fit – on the way up to the abbey. The view, even from the lower ramparts, is stunning whether you are looking up or down. What a great experience.
Then back to the site for a barbecue and a large glass of red wine to wind down. Who could ask for anything more? Sadly the next day it was time to pack up for home. Just one thought as we headed back – l hope we’ll be back soon.