Brittany 2018 Camper Van Trip
At the last minute thanks to impending snow in April we decided to drive south instead of north to the Lake District & the Isle of Skye as planned. Being based in Brighton for us this usually means a ferry crossing from Newhaven to Dieppe as this is the quickest and easiest way to find the next road due south from there! Although I checked the Portsmouth to Brittany crossing times and prices it’s just too easy to do the 30 minute drive to Newhaven for our provincial little crossing. However the return journey had to be different as we’d be travelling back along with the whole of the rest of the holidaying UK, on the Sunday and already many crossings were either booked or prohibitively expensive. We opted to return by P&O Calais to Dover ferry crossing which would encourage us to return to jolly old Le Touquet, a staple favourite of ours.
On the long range forecast the weather did indeed look better in terms of both warmth and precipitation but alas we couldn’t avoid the head on southerly and south-easterly wind that was to plague us until we started on our return home. Despite slight swell on the Channel our 10:30 sailing was thankfully good and at 4 hours a relatively good balance between distance south vs time at sea.
Newhaven to Dieppe ferry star rating
What we liked: near home, rarely busy, simple & cost effective
What we didn’t like: basic facilities, sometimes feels over-busy
Docking at 15:30 local time we blasted straight on south from the centre of pretty little Dieppe, hitting peages on the motorways & on the Pont de Normandie over the Seine at Le Havre/Honfleur. The plan was to try and at least get into Morbihan the district of southern Brittany that we were heading towards. However due to the head wind and me perhaps driving slightly more cautiously due to the fact that this was the van’s first trip out after having a new head fitted to the engine, we decided not to stress it and stopped to have dinner at an aide on the motorway before deciding where to settle for the night. Dinner was of course absolutely delicious with Lola thankfully enjoying steak hache for the first time. We refilled with fuel (which was not cheap on this trip, let alone from a motorway service station… €1,52 here) and reached the coast at Mont St Michel at dusk before settling down in a very peaceful side road car park with a fantastic view of the mount.
Mont St Michel aire rating
What we liked: great view, rural, peaceful, no light pollution, free
What we didn’t like: no way to refill our fresh water tank!
First nights are always a bit stressful and it turned out this time that I hadn’t rechecked the water levels after my trip to Volksworld the previous weekend where I was convinced that I had enough water for a night away. However, panic abated, we had a lovely breakfast with our own little private view, knocked around a ball with a bat and flew the drone before plunging on again to the south.
Jossselin, Morbihan, Brittany
First stop was Josselin, a hill top town (although more a big village) with a lovely perched old centre and a fantastic castle on the river. Here we had a late lunch in a family run restaurant who were doing their best to get their lunchtime trade over. They also had a run in with a Brit couple who had complained about the service and the food – much to the owners annoyance. It was cold, wet and the roads & pavements in the centre were being rebuilt so we didn’t spend too long strolling but instead plunged onward to the next recommended destination on out itinerary – Rochefort-en-Terre.
Rochefort-en-Terre, Morbihan, Brittany
After a brief diversion on our mission to refill the fresh water tank from a hose at the side of a cadre shop (yes I did buy some cider) we pulled up in the car park allocated to camping-cars in the shadow of the pretty little hill top village of Rochefort-en-Terre. Here we had a late afternoon stroll, finally in some sunshine, and then a beer in a local bar, but it was deadly quiet with hardly anyone about, and feeling very celtic as does a lot of Morbihan it reminded me a lot of the 70s TV series the Prisoner as it has a kind of preserved-in-time/out-of-the-ordinary feel to it. However we had all we needed to enjoy a very comfortable and peaceful night here after my favourite camper van dinner – Pasta Marinara.
Rochefort-en-Terre, camping car aire rating
What we liked: convenient for our itinerary, cheap (€5), quiet, horse in next field for Lola
What we didn’t like: nothing really
Vannes, Morbihan, Brittany
We rose slowly and packed up after a good breakfast in the van. Lola said goodbye to her horse friend (Maisie) and we plunged on the 45 minutes or so to the south coast and Vannes. Here we parked centrally and strolled through the last half hour of the morning market buying the odd goodie. The town itself was very pretty with lots of fairly upmarket shops (including a fantastic kiddies shop which is quintessentially French) and quaint streets around the church at the heart of the old town. the sun finally came out and we braved having lunch outside at a very keenly priced brasserie down at the dock at the south end of the town. Although it showered again on and off we had a lovely lunch here before returning to the van.
Camping Le Conleau, Vannes, Morbihan, Brittany
After just a 10 minute drive we easily found our campsite down on the waters edge near the Presqu’Ile de Conleau. Check in was straight forward and we easily pulled up on our pitch before quickly strolling round to discover one of the best heated indoor swimming pools any of us have experienced on a campsite! Not only that but there was no one in it! It was literally like a sauna, and at 20 metres long thankfully nothing like those crappy little plunge pools you get one some sites! We bathed in splendour for some time! We ate poulet roti this evening and I had a little stroll along the Ile before turning in for another great night.
Camping Le Conleau rating
What we liked: amazing heated indoor swimming pool! heated shower blocks & loos! location, convenience, cleanliness,
What we didn’t like: basic facilities
We picked up our croissants and baguette from the reception and had a leisurely breakfast before our packed itinerary for the day today. We drove east around the Gulf du Morbihan to the Chateau Suspinio where we had a very pleasant stroll around following the children’ itinerary as given to Lola for the trip. She is exactly the right age for following instructions like these so it was a big success! the castle exactly is amazing. Stunning exterior being refurbished to a high level and with lots of history in the various exhibits to appreciate as you tour round. Only downside – no coffee for daddy!
Next up was Auray which involved a complete circumnavigation of theGulf du Morbihan which was easy once on the dual carriageway. Auray is beautiful and we just had time to walk down the pretty high street to the Port of Gustan for a gauffre, crepe & glace before heading back to the campsite and that wonderful pool.
Camping Stoneham, Le Touquet, Pas-de-Calais
We rose early and got straight on the road picking up pastries from the first boulangerie we passed. We drove on to the same aire de service on the motorway north and had a break and a picnic. We plunged on again stopping only for tea before finally reaching Le Touquet and our final stop for the night Camping Stoneham. It was a late arrival so we didn’t even drive through town and simply parked up, set up, made a simple dinner and hit the sack.
Although part of the reason we’d headed back north for our two last nights was the promise of good weather trained at night and was cold and dank again for most of our last day. However we do love Le Touquet in any weather so we headed for town, the beach and shops. One small snag was that I found out I had forgotten to pick up the bike lock key from the house after locking the bikes on to the back of the van the night before, so the bikes actually never got used this trip! Instead we timed it to catch the free ‘navette’ shuttle bus that stops right outside the campsite gates.
In the evening we returned to the Cafe du Sport, our usual Le Touq highlight. We had a fantastic meal as usual and drank too much! We decided to walk dinner off (although this didn’t seem to help as the need to sleep sitting up in bed was required!)
Camping Stoneham rating
What we liked: like coming home we’ve been here so often, secure & safe for kids, convenient for a great town & beach
What we didn’t like: no off-season boulangere, no shop, basic facilities
It was Sunday morning and we had our usual dilemma when returning home on a Sunday – which supermarket to stock up the van with goodies at! None of the big ones open Sunday and all the others close at 12.30, so we decided to find one on the RN road near Boulogne. After this we drove to Wimreux and stopped on the front for a picnic and a stroll – another nice excursion.
We were on time for check in at Calais but due to the weight of return traffic we cued for ages at passport control and so were put on a slightly later P&O ferry home. The crossing went without a hitch and the drive back was straightforward. All in all a lovely week away.