A Road Trip Adventure: Driving Through France with a Caravan, kids and Dogs

What an amazing feeling to realise after months of prep, planning, stressing and spending copious amounts of money that we had made it to France!
Standing on the beach side walking the dogs in the sunshine was just pure bliss. We had taken the challenge, took the leap and done it!

Now for the next step of driving..... and a lot of it..... On the right....With a caravan.....

As it happens my husband is a confident driver and this type of thing doesn't phase him at all, he also enjoys driving, so the actual driving parts of our journey were really quite pleasant.

Our longest stints were around 4 hours and, having learned from our stop offs in England, we managed to arrive in the daylight with the exception of our first night in France which couldn't be helped due to the ferry arrival time.

 Our first stop  - Les Acacias in La Ville-aux-Dames

View from our window at Les Acacias
Not an easy site to manoeuvre in the dark but we got there eventually, helped by a lovely couple with bright flashlights. The showers were nice but basic and there was no shop on site but we managed with our stocks. The play park for the kids was again basic but it looks like in high season things pick up there a bit, and the surrounding area seems a beautiful place. As a stop off for us it was perfect.

An early start and we made for Bordeaux and the Village Du Lac.
Village Du Lac is certainly set up for big summer holidaymakers with a huge water park area and swimming pool that looked great, sadly the same could not be said for the disappointing play park. The pitches were quite tight and fairly churned up, certainly not great for winter weather but we managed to not get stuck so everyone was happy. We were relived to find a reasonable grocery shop on site but even happier to sample the on site restaurant which offered some delicious food. Perhaps it was having only eaten basics in the caravan but we had a lovely meal. I'd consider re-visiting this in the summer months to be able to use all the facilities, however it did seem heavily geared towards the chalets and lodges rather than caravans so how that would affect the vibe I'm not sure.

Enjoying the misty morning at Du Lac
It really was a whistle stop tour in France looking back, as the next day was dedicated to crossing the Pyrenees and arriving in Spain.

Some things we learnt driving through France though:

  1. You need to use Eurolites if driving a right hand drive car. I'd seriously recommend getting some advice prior to travel as the instructions are no where near as easy as they first look and we spent the first night in the dark getting flashed hysterically by oncoming French truck drivers. (Interesting the Spanish ones have never bothered so whether the French are just more particular or whether it was just the fact our LEDs are brighter than they are used to I don't quite know but they look right according to the instructions...)
  2. The French Aires that we stopped off at were surprisingly high tech, the loos locked and flushed themselves and some had showers. They seem like a great place if you need a picnic stop, loo stop or are travelling in a motorhome.
  3. If you have children prone to travel sickness then audio CDs are seriously a life saver! We have listened our way through all the Roald Dhal collection (the good and the bad..... don't get me started on the accents in the Matilda one or the sheer ridiculousness of Danny the champion of the world or the dullness of Charlie and the great glass elevator). Bring lots though unless you like listening to the same ones over and over and over and over (gaah no more Fantastic Mr Fox please).
  4. Check out the pine trees if you have dogs as driving though we realised just how many house nests of the Processionary Caterpillar. If you haven't heard of these they are nasty little caterpillars that have toxic spores on their bodies and can cause anaphylactic shock to both humans and animals. Dogs have been known to have needed partial tongue amputations due to picking them up in their mouths, these creatures are no joke so be vigilant especially around March, April time when they venture down from their nests in a long line (hence the name).
  5. When pulling up at the toll booths on the motorways remember if you have a caravan to go for the lanes without height restrictions on them! :D


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