First trip to France - clockwise or anticlockwise? - Motorhome Forums, Motorhome Discussion, Motorhome Chat

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post #1 of 42 (permalink) Old 02-03-2015, 18:02 Thread Starter
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First trip to France - clockwise or anticlockwise?

Our first foray across the pond at the end of March, we are going for three months. After Calais we are travelling to Cambrai near Arras to visit where my grandfather died in WW1. Then we intend to spend the rest of the time exploring the western half of France, meandering down southwards no further east than Languedoc. going along the Pyrenees, the west Atlantic coast, Dordogne and Brittany. Weather wise will it be colder inland or near the coast, should we go via Brittany first, anticlockwise, or down inland to Languedoc and clockwise back up the coast?

We like prehistoric sites (intend to visit Carnac and the Chauvet caves), nature reserves and bird watching, walking and art galleries. We havn,t made any plans where to go, just want to absorb being in France, dodging along, eating drinking and gawping any recommendations of interesting places appreciated.

Sadly our lovely cocker Milo died last month, aged 15, so he won't be using his pet passport, the van will seem so empty without him

Cheers
Lesley and Roverdave

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Last edited by Roverdave; 02-03-2015 at 18:04.
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post #2 of 42 (permalink) Old 02-03-2015, 18:06
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go where your fancy takes you. there is so much to see and do in France and don't be guided by others.

you will get all sorts of weather in Spring across all parts of France. the Pyrenees will be holding on to it's winter snow well into May so if you intend to go high, check the road conditions first as it can still quite easily snow at that time of year. same for any high area you may be visiting.

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post #3 of 42 (permalink) Old 02-03-2015, 18:06
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If it was me, I'd bomb as far south as I could immediately towards the Med coast, in search of sun and warmth; then gradually meander back northwards as the warmth spreads North.
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post #4 of 42 (permalink) Old 02-03-2015, 18:07
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Lesley & Roverdave,
Sorry to hear about Milo. You'll never replace him but one day in a few months time you'll realise that you are now open to welcoming a new member to your family.

As for France, you've already taken the most important decision:

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Originally Posted by Roverdave View Post
We haven't made any plans where to go, just want to absorb being in France, dodging along, eating drinking and gawping
Just get over there, turn right and go where the mood takes you! Take a book of aires with you (suggest 'All the Aires' given that this is your first trip) and go and explore!

Have fun!
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post #5 of 42 (permalink) Old 02-03-2015, 18:11
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I would be inclined to look at the weather forecasts just before I left and decide according to what they say. My experience is that the eastern side takes a bit longer to become snow free.

Either way, enjoy yourselves.
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post #6 of 42 (permalink) Old 02-03-2015, 18:29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roverdave View Post

.........................................We like prehistoric sites (intend to visit Carnac and the Chauvet caves), nature reserves and bird watching, walking and art galleries. We havn't made any plans where to go, just want to absorb being in France, dodging along, eating drinking and gawping any recommendations of interesting places appreciated....................................... .

Cheers
Lesley and Roverdave
You're there at a good time of the year to visit the Camargue. You'll get there before the midges!
If you are interested in art perhaps Albi is worth a visit to see the museum dedicated to Toulouse Lautrec who was born there.

Just remember France is a big country compared to the UK and distances in the pages of the atlases of France can be deceptive. Plan on shortish journeys and just enjoy the "being there".

Coming back work your way up through the Dordogne.
Lots of history and the spring climate can be very pleasant. We are usually there in April/early May and often have very nice weather.

I hope you enjoy your visit which should leave you wanting more!

Gillian

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post #7 of 42 (permalink) Old 02-03-2015, 18:38
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We did something like this a couple of years ago. We hurried South to try and catch some sun in mid March. It was still pretty cold and windy. We spent some time exploring Cathar country and looked in at Carcasonne.
As we went further North the weather improved with time and there were lots of places to visit, The Carnac stones were well worth a visit .... If you like stones. At this time of year we found the aires very quiet and many of the campsites still closed. France tends to be largely shut in the closed season.
I agree with those who suggest making it up as you go along. Some days we looked at 3 or 4 aires before we found one which suited, often because things were closed. But then, that's what motor homing is like. We loved it.
I'm sorry to hear about Milo. Our Beth is 12 now and is such a major part of the van. I'm afraid we have that still to come.

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post #8 of 42 (permalink) Old 02-03-2015, 18:42
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Tough one really. The south of France can be nice in April. Pyrenees as Fats said some of the passes will still be closed but then again I remember sunbathing in 25 degrees sunshine in April at Gavarnie and just above me at 7000ft people were still skiing. The cirque de Gavarnie which is a must see in the Pyrenees will have lots of snow on it still (it has some all year round) and looks spectacular. I would probably start in the south and do the west coast, Brittany on the way home. IMO the southern belt from Provence to the Dordogne (and below to the Pyrenees) are the best parts of France (apart from the Alps). Never been keen on the med coast but inland southern France is superb.


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post #9 of 42 (permalink) Old 02-03-2015, 19:11
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If you are around Guerande at the beginning of June this http://en.ot-guerande.fr/fete-mediev...ande-2015.html is well worth a visit as is the whole of the area of the Presqu'ile de Guerande.

Lots of Aires including one in walkable distance to the town and some superb coastal ones.

The Briere is a major wetland for migratory birds but June may be a bit late for that.
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post #10 of 42 (permalink) Old 02-03-2015, 20:10 Thread Starter
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Thanks for the info, it seems the trip has been so long in the 'getting ready' stage, it's almost upon us without us deciding where to go . We've got the aires and ACSI books, and the Rough Guide to France. and a map book. other than tha twe'll follow our noses. apart from knowing where Paris and Marseilles are we are woefully ignorant of the geography of France, we've been sitting through many episodes of A Place in the Sun Homeor Away, which has given us an idea,of,the terrain, thats why we picked Languedoc and the southwest, it looked so beautiful. well, it,s as good a method as any . We don't want to cover too many miles, you don't see a country if you,re tearing through it, All the people hot footing,it,up,to,the Highlands,of,Scotland and missing out the beautiful Borders on the way.

Wonder if we should take snow chains?

Lesley
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