To say we were excited to finally go abroad in our motorhome was an understatement! We drove down to Folkestone and stayed overnight outside a local pub. They said we could stay for free if we went in for a drink or food….we did both 😊.
The following morning we boarded Le Shuttle for the 35 minute crossing. Easy as peas 😉 (to quote Keith Lemon). Drove off the other end straight into Calais.
We’d decided to stay our first night at an Aire (cross between a car park and campsite, see photo below) quite close to Calais. The sat nav wasn’t receiving a GPS signal and my phone was on a go slow so we missed the turning for the Aire. Not to worry, we carried on to Boulogne Sur Mer. The trusty sat nav took us about 2 miles passed the Aire so we had to double back. Eventually we found out. We paid our €20.20 for 2 nights, including water, and found a sheltered spot on the cliffs overlooking the sea.
We’d heard a few horror stories of people being robbed whilst on Aires so we took no chances and made sure our van was secure.
We stayed at Parking Moulin Wibert in Boulogne Sur Mer (N50°44.645′ E001°35.842′) costing €7 per night, 55c per person tax and €4 for water. It’s based on a cliff top overlooking the marina and sea.
Together with Dieppe, in Normandy, Boulogne Sur Mer is one of the oldest resort towns dating back to the sea spas in England in the late 18th century. Close to the nautical museum on the beach are rows of beach huts, on the white sands, which are very reminiscent of days gone by on the British Coast.
We took a walk around the town, into the walled old town, with its cobbled streets and quaint tourist shops.
Notre Dame spire in the background
Before setting off to France I’d treat myself to a facial in my local salon, where we used to live. They gave me some samples of the anti-wrinkle cream they’d used on my face. It’s expensive but good. The brand is French so may look for it over here.
After walking all day and clocking up 16k steps we couldn’t wait to get back and chill in the sunshine outside the moho. Kev was suffering with his feet. He had athletes foot and was driving him crazy, itching. I told him to put some cream on, it would help. (Yes he does need to be told these things! 😂). “Where’s that cream I put on last night?” He says. “Probably in your washbag if you put it back in its correct place” I replied. “I don’t have any cream for my feet….I used that of yours” 😲. Omg because his feet were itching and I’d told him I’d been given some cream, he’d done his usual thing….listened to half of what I told him and assumed my expensive face cream was for his feet! 😂 😷
Before we left Boulogne we took a walk along the clifftops to the next town, Wimereux. The views from the top were stunning. There were numerous bunkers dotted along the top that were still intact from the war. The town itself was picturesque with its boardwalk, beach huts and different styles of houses.
We got back to the motorhome at 8pm and it was still light. It doesn’t get dark until around 10pm. Who needs electricity when we have a solar panel (that was charging on the roof) and by 10.30 we’re normally in bed, reading so don’t need lights. We have a battery operated light in the bedroom. Wild camping at its best. 😊
The following morning we showered in the motorhome (yes we actually have a proper bathroom! Haha), and Kev went to empty the waste water. A French guy spoke to him and the only thing Kev could say (even though he knows how to say “I don’t understand”) was “Eengleesh” 😂😂. They don’t call him bi-lingual Kev for nothing! 😉
We packed up and drove onto our next destination, Saint Valery Sur Somme. Just 2 hours down the road we arrived at our next Aire. $12 a night including electric. The Aire here was huge, and could take 100 motorhomes. Thankfully there was about 20. Electricity is on a first come first served basis. We have timed it right to get there about 10.30am. By this time people are just leaving or already left. We got a spot with electric. 😀
Woohoo time to charge everything up! We have power packs, for our phones when we wild camp, and these needed charging. We also charged the laptop. Before we set off we borrowed dvd’s from everyone we knew and copied the films onto a USB stick. We have a tv/dvd combo but have a dvd stuck in it so can’t watch dvd’s. When we put the USB into the TV it said the files weren’t supported, so our TV is now redundant as we don’t have a satellite aerial. To be honest we aren’t bothered for TV in the motor home but sometimes it’s just nice to kick back, switch off, and take in a movie. This now has to be done on our laptop. Are we bothered? Not in the slightest. ‘It is what it is’. We’re easily pleased nowadays.
The little town was a short 15 minute walk from the Aire. Walking through the streets admiring the gardens and the narrow roads, that led us to the sea.
The seafront had a boardwalk that led to either the medieval town or the harbour. Day one we went along the front to harbour and the following day to the town.
It was a lovely day and we quite fancied going back to the moho, getting the sun chairs out and reading and book in the sun. The only problem with that is you’re not allowed to do this on aire’s as it’s classed as camping. Instead we found a bench by the water and sat there soaking up the rays and watching the world go by.
When we got back to the campsite Kev went to empty our grey waste (washing up water) and a French guy told him (in French) he shouldn’t be emptying where he was doing so. Kev was emptying it in the correct place, the man must have thought he was emptying the black waste (toilet). He didn’t have a clue what to say so he does his best broken French/English accent and tells him “eets not sheet” 😂.
You’re only allowed to stay 2 nights in an Aire so we moved on to Dieppe in Normandy. We filled up with diesel en route. Worked out at £1.26 a litre! Not cheap any longer to fill up here.
The Aire was on the seafront but was like a Tesco car park! We got told the one at the other aide of the harbour was quieter but that was just as full. People were even parking behind the aire in the “car” park!
It’s saving grace was it was right opposite the beach, and the sea was different shades of green.
We were the only British people on the aire. This didn’t bother us but we didn’t know the protocol with the electricity. There were only a few service points and all were in use. We then noticed people plugging their leads into other people vans, extension cables being used and everyone plugging in without asking. Very strange.
We noticed the guy next to us had an extension lead so we just plugged in. I told Kev to go as if it was OK for us to do so, but his French isn’t up to scratch. I asked him what he would say and he said “hee haw, hee haw, hee haw” 🤔. Guess I’m going to be doing the speaking here then…again! 😂.
8.30am and and we heard a horn beeping outside. Kev said “It’ll be the baker”. Low and behold it was! We bought a fresh baguette and had it with cheese, jam and sliced french cured meat. Perfect start to the day. Think we’re gonna love France.
Dieppe has a huge market on a Saturday so we ventured out to view the local produce. We bought some local cheese, and I treat myself to some new clothes and Kev got a new flat cap. The market was amazing. I’m a huge foodie and there was stall selling all kinds of cooked meats, hot spit roasted chickens, provencale potatoes along with various fruit and veg stalls and top end cloth stalls. Nothing like markets in the UK.
The cafes were busy with people enjoying a glass of wine, or a coffee whilst soaking up the sun.
The Centre Ville (town centre) had a couple of beautifully architectured churches. I’m not religious but do appreciate good architecture.
We’d only come out to go to the market but in our normal style we veered off route and ended up on top of the cliffs! There was a chateaux on the top, which was closed, but looking out to the water, we could have been in some exotic location like Mauritius.
Kev finished our 2 nights here with a football game which he got to see for free and also got 2 free programmes (one for his mate Phil). I stayed in our aire, sat outside and drank local cider, listened to my French lesson app and caught some rays 😎. As it was a hot sunny day I also washed my socks and put them on the bike rack to dry! 😂. I wanted to see the Royal wedding but couldn’t find anywhere showing it. Instead I cleaned the van! Haha
On our way over here we’d managed to collect quite a few dead green flies and other insects on the front of “B”. I’d been told about a cleaning product that a lot of motorhomers and caravanners use….Elbow Grease (no its not a joke). I sprayed it on and wiped the van clean. Brilliant stuff and for £1 and bottle it’s a right bargain. It’s also good for UPVC window frames.
People have told us you can’t put chairs out on an aire but the locals were doing it, they were having tailgate parties at the back of their moho’s, some had washing hung out and others were just sunbathing. We did as the locals did 😀.
The night was finished off with and lovely meal cooked by yours truly (spicy chicken and chorizo rice), washed down with more cider, then we lit the candles for a cozy night in. (table cover made by me 😊)
As we sat looking out you could just see the red in the sky. At 9.50pm the sun was just setting. Perfect end to our first few days in France. Tomorrow we move on to Saint Valery en Caux.
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