West Coast of France
Wednesday 4th September
Les Sables was beautiful and just how we remembered it when we last visited over 10 years ago.
We went out for a walk on Thursday just to see what was outside the site and ended up walking 4 miles into the centre of town. Had we known how far it was we might have taken the bikes instead as we then had the 4 miles walk back and the walk around the town making the total 9 miles. That’s the most I have ever walked in one go. Well, I did have to keep stopping every now and then (my excuse was to take in the view or for a drink). The cycle routes in France are really good and in particular in this area. The route ran from our campsite and right into and around Les Sables.
Les Sables d’Olonne is home to several nautical events every year including the prestigious Vendee Globe race. It was the first yachting harbour in the Vendee, as well as one of the most important commercial ports on the Atlantic coast.
The main beach The Grande Plage des Sables d’Olonne is a 2-mile long sandy south-facing beach. It’s well sheltered and supervised so is ideal for families to relax and swim. The Ile Penotte district is interesting with its facades decorated with seashells. If you like museums then there are several to visit.
Campsite: Le Chateau-d’Olonne ACSI ID 1242
Pays de La Loire (Vendee region)
free wifi, indoor pool
Friday 5th September
Puits de L’Auture
Ave de La Grande Cote
ACSI ID: 1326
GPS: N45˚38’59” W1˚7’3”
It was nice going back to the campsite that we last visited 10 years ago. It has a wonderfully laid-back feel. It’s not too large which makes getting around stress-free. We always found it was a great place for a holiday with the children as there are a variety of beaches (5 in total) to choose from. There are also plenty of tourist attractions and things to see and do if you want to do something other than lie on the beach.
There are plenty of restaurants and particular favourites with us are the ones with sea views so that we can watch the sun go down and watch the flashing light of the lighthouse of Cordouan in the distance.
As you come out of the campsite and cross the road to the sea there is a trail that runs along into town overlooking some of the rocky coastlines.
A favourite of ours La Palmyre Zoo is just a short distance away.
The carrelets (traditional fishing huts on stilts) are so picturesque.
That evening when Ray lifted the bed to access our storage area he noticed one of the bags felt a bit damp. On further investigation, he found that the water pump was leaking. Luckily not much water had escaped (probably because we discovered it quite early), so he depressurized the system and disconnected it.
That’s the good thing about having an engineer for a husband. I should imagine it would have been difficult and more expensive finding somewhere that could fit a new one for us whereas Ray was able to find a new one the next day and fit it.
It was a bit inconvenient that night though with no running water and no flush on the toilet but at least we had a water tap on our pitch and showers on site. Had this happened in a day or two when we were on wild camping it would have been a lot harder.
As it was a Friday night we were concerned that we might not find an accessory shop open over the weekend but next morning we went into reception and they gave us a name, address and telephone number of somewhere nearby in Royan. In case this is helpful to anyone else in the area here are the details of the accessory shop. Loisirs Accessories, Les Coquilletts, 17200 St Sulpice de Royan.
We did have a bit of a palaver though as when we tried to ring to make sure they were open the phone number was not working and when we put the address into our TomTom it, for some reason, would not accept it. We had some trouble finding it and had to ask at a garage for directions. The mechanic couldn’t speak English and I am not that great at French but when I showed him my piece of paper with the name and address he was really good and drew a map on the back which got us straight there. Luckily we arrived 15 minutes before the place was closing for the day. There were 4 water pumps on the shelf so we left with one feeling very relieved although 110 euros own. When we got back Ray fitted it and it is working fine again.
We would have liked to have spent more time in St Palais Sur-Mer but we had arranged to meet up with our youngest son Andrew who also has a motorhome (although it is the same age as him – 25 years) and Holly. They are further down the coast at Le Porge. Holly’s sister and boyfriend Jason are flying out to Biarritz on Tuesday and spending 4 days with them in the van so we wanted to meet up with them beforehand.
Avenue de L’Ocean
GPS N44,89437 W1,2131
In the Camperstop book
We arrived at the camper-stop in Le Porge (well it is 10km outside Le Porge) just as Andrew and Holly were returning from the beach with their surfboards. Oh, it was so good to see them both. They have been away so much over the last year and what with our trip earlier this year as well we haven’t seen very much of them. The camper-stop is in a pine forest beside the sand dunes. There are several beach bars and it’s free to stay. We spent the rest of the afternoon and evening sitting under the pine trees catching up over a barbeque.
We were disappointed to find it really overcast the next morning so not knowing what else to do we went for a walk in the sand dunes and along the beach then had a coffee in one of the beach bars before deciding that we might as well be travelling as by this time it had started to rain.
Andrew and Holly needed to be down in Biarritz the next day and our next stop was near Bayonne in Ondres as we wanted to go back to the restaurant at a camper-stop we stopped at earlier in the year. We had the most amazing steak – the best we have ever tasted. Andrew and Holly fancied giving it a try too.
Camper-stop Europe ID 28A4
Avenue de la Plage
GPS N43,57611 W1,48611
By the time we arrived at Ondres, the sun had come out and we were able to sit outside with drinks until we went into the restaurant. The meal didn’t disappoint although I couldn’t really taste mine as I had developed a cough and cold a few days earlier which had completely taken my sense of smell and taste away. It took all my energy for a few days too.
The next morning we spent on the beach watching Andrew and Holly surfing before we both went our separate ways. We were now heading to San Sebastian in Spain, just over 2 hour’s drive and Andrew and Holly around 45 minutes to Biarritz. It was really sad saying goodbye and probably won’t see them now until the end of November.
Next stop San Sebastian, Spain.