Thursday, 4 July 2013

Sunny South of France

As promised here is the second part of our trip since Barcelona to date!
Chilling in Calogne

From Barcelona we then drove to Calogne which was a lovely campsite with a small but lovely beach- actually warm enough for us to get in and have a swim, the Saturday night we just chilled and Matt cooked us chicken on the Barbie, but as we were all quite tired from the day of stress, panic and then relief that The Slug was back on the road, we had an early night.
Sunday was San Juan so all the Spanish were gearing up for a party night, we chilled by the beach during the day and went for a swim, the beach was down a hill and there was a ‘train’ that took people down to the beach and back up every twenty minutes- this ‘train’ was actually a tractor with a trailer/carriage behind it. Nevertheless we young legged folk did walk it!

The Sunday night we went up to the bar and restaurant up at the top and had dinner and drinks- Steven had Paella (pronounces pie-yey-ya) which looked and tasted yummy! Bri had a bucket of Muscles and a salad- the muscles were so tasty! I had shoulder of lamb which was also very yummy and Matt had a burger. Which was very unimpressive in comparison to the rest of ours ;) !!
Steves scrummy Paella
We then went back to the vans for some wine and sangria to then be tempted back up to the bar when the karaoke started going- Steven crashed some Spanish lads’ version of The Eye of the Tiger and then volunteered to sing Kylies ‘I just can’t get you out of my head’ and practically carried a Spanish waitress who barely spoke any English to sing with him. It was hilarious. Matt then dared me to go up there in promise of a free jug of Sangria, so I helped a Spanish lad out with the YMCA which was fun and then had to go solo with Britney Spears’ One More Time. Why we do Karaoke is something I will never know but we cannot stay away even though we definitely should! After our singsong we headed down to the beach to watch the San Juan fireworks. And then stumbled into bed.

Before all the sangria and karaoke-

              Steve and Matt
Em and Bri
We left Calogne sooner than we probably would have so that we could help Matt and Bri get The Slug fixed as we found a Ford garage in Perpignan in France (we realise that we missed out quite a lot of Spain but are meeting family at Mont Blanc in July so knew we would either have to miss Spain or the coast of France so we chose to miss Spain this time round but go back in the future) so we dropped The Slug off at the Ford garage and all four of us went to the camp site- Saint Marie Plage this was not the way it had been described in the ACSI book- we were quite unlucky with the weather anyway as it was really, really windy, but the beach was horrible- it wasn’t exactly sand, more like broken up concrete so we couldn’t go there and relax, the pool was nice but very cold but we did sunbathe by the pool as that was nice, but the pitches weren’t great and even though we had Bri and Matt, in their tent on our pitch the campsite manager charged us over double to have us all on one pitch which worked out to be more expensive than if Bri and Matt had had their own pitch with just there two man tent on.
Ozzies roughing it in their tent
Which made no sense and we were only told this after our three night stay at this campsite and so couldn’t do anything about it. So we had a couple of boring and windy days in Perpignan but The Slug got fixed and we know never to go back there again! We then headed off again to Serignan! This is a five star camping site and you can see why! Both The Slug and Bert the Merc are on one pitch it’s so spacious- the awning is out too! It is a very family friendly campsite so there are a lot of children around so the pools are pretty rammed but everyone is so friendly it doesn’t matter! The beach is nice and has loads of lovely shells on it but the water is f-f-f-freezing! I got my results the day before so we all went out for celebratory drinks and a meal as I did well and got the 2:1 I was hoping for! We went to the on-site restaurant and had tapas for starter which was mouth wateringly good and so big that for a main meal we each got a burger and were stuffed! We then walked across the beach to a bar which looked nice and had some wine and beers there while a French DJ was entertaining everyone, this was a great night and a great way to celebrate! Bri and Matt headed back over to Spain after Serignan as they are going to Pamplona for the running with the bulls and then going to Portugal. So after Serignan we parted our ways but will hopefully see them and The Slug in Croatia and/or Italy in a few months and then in Australia! We are carrying on East along the coast and hope that the sea continues to warm up!
Bert the Merc and The Slug in Perpignan

We drove for two and a half hours to a campsite which was described as a four star campsite 'positioned directly on a fine sandy beach'. This campsite in Stes Maries-de-la-Mer was in the middle of nowhere and was more a barren desert with actual tumble weeds and the beach was boarded off by huge rocks preventing anyone to go swimming, there was a smaller beach in an alcove but this was not easy to get to and was more of a substitution to the promised beach and not really a proper beach. Needless to say we stayed there for one night and then headed out the next morning. This was on the Sunday and we quickly realised that we were pretty low on diesel so we were keeping our eyes peeled for a petrol station open on a Sunday morning... after two closed petrol stations and two with very low height restrictions we were getting pretty desperate when we finally found one attached to a supermarket and filled up from there, but this searching had cost us precious time so when we finally got to the campsite in Cavalaire-sur-Mer it was about 2pm. It took us so long as we were driving near the Alps and so the roads were winding and steep forcing us to keep Bert the Merc at a slower pace than usual, we then stopped for lunch at a bakery and drove past a British camper that had been staying directly opposite us in the previous campsite! Bizarre! When we finally got to the campsite at Cavalaire-sur-Mer they had closed for lunch so we parked Bert the Merc and headed down to the local beach which was down quite a steep hill but presented a beautiful, small beach. After going for a bit of a paddle we headed back to Bert and waited for this campsite to open only to find that the British camper that had camped directly opposite us the night before, and who we had seen on our way to this current campsite, was parked in front of Bert the Merc, waiting for the Cavalaire-sur-Mer campsite owners to get back from their lunch. I kid you not.
So we started chatting to them while we waited and when the owner did come out we asked how many spaces they had left for campers. He said one. Awkward... We told them to have it as we had seen a campsite just down the road so it wasn't an issue. The campsite further down was really nice and had three spaces left! highlighting the fact that France and the coast in general is about to get mega busy! We set up Bert the Merc and cycle down to a different beach which is a five minute bike ride away but is flat and leads to a much bigger beach. We really liked it here and there were loads of cafes and bars on the sea front so it really had an atmosphere. We stayed at this campsite for two nights as we were paying non-ACSI price, so 26 euros a night, and wanted to keep heading toward Nice so that we were closer to the Alps in preparation for our journey up the Alps to see the views and meet up with some of Stevens family :)

We got up early and left before 9am as we wanted to get to the next campsite at good time so that if it was full we had enough time to regroup and find an alternative without being rushed. We arrived at St. Aygulf, just North of St. Tropez, at about 10 and happily discovered that they had spaces and still offered ACSI discount offers until the rest of the week, which has become rarer as the high season begins, and we book ourselves in for six nights. We can really relax and get comfy here, the campsite offers a pool which is really nice and big, and the beach is a ten minute walk but we have cycled there the more recently which is really easy and takes five minutes tops! On our first walk to the beach we did find ourselves traipsing through the very nude and populated nudist beach. It is the first one either of us have been on and it was quite a surprise at how very very naked everyone is. All ages, all sizes and not a stitch in sight! Further up we found the regular beach which we keep to and the sea is lovely, lots of boats and jet skis in the distance and lots of small fish in the shallows. We love it here! Four more nights to go until we leave and we are heading to the beach bar tonight to see what that's like, and then we will be heading to the Alps! Very excited, and we will keep you posted.

Much Love and Happy Camping! xXx

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