AVIGNON in VAUCLUSE (REGION OF PROVENCE-ALPES-COTE-D'AZUR), CÔTE VERMEILLE in PYRÉNÉES-ORIENTALES (REGION OF LANGUEDOC-ROUSSILLON), VALENÇAY in INDRE (CENTRE-VAL-DE-LOIRE).
This web page is one of a series posted at this website, which reports on a tent-camping trips conducted by an American couple in France. For this trip, the tent camping in France took place between mid July to late June 2006.
As with the other trips, this couple took their tent and other camping equipment with them on the air flight from the States. While it cannot be guaranteed that all the circumstances can be repeated, the experiences continued to be as enjoyable as their earlier tent camping trips in Western Europe. Past viewers of this page might note that this 2006 trip resulted in some changes in the 'General Remarks' found on the main webpage, the link to which is at the bottom of this page.
It is suggested that you visited the main page and read the General Remarks before reading this report. Go Main Page for Tent Camping in France.
PLANNING: Much was done as for the earlier 1995 through 2004 trips. Tent, camping equipment and clothes were placed in four canvas flight bags, checked as luggaged and flown aboard our Air France flight to Charles de Gaulle, Paris. Car rental arrangements were made in the US prior to departure, along with obtaining an International Driver's License and an International Camping Carnet (ICC). The advantages of these pre-departure actions are explained under General Remarks on the main page [link at bottom of this page].
Again, we requested another diesel economy size car, manual transmission, and No Air Conditioning. The rental was with Eurocar. Car pickup and return delivery were at the airport.
Food preparation plans followed the practices of previous trips: mainly picnic style lunches and dinners. However, at three locations we favored
small restaurants that were within the campgrounds for evening dinning.
SUMMARY of ACTIVITIES: This particular trip had a primary objective to visit Port Vendres, a picturesque small port commune, on the French coast of the western Mediterranean. A secondary objective was to visit the Loire Château de Valençay that we had not yet seen.
This trip experienced some quick changes to the original plans. As we were tent camping, there were no obligations to conform to pre arranged reservations, and quickly decided diversions from planned camping sites proved most agreeable.
The first exception to the initial plan, was a rather daring decision not to camp at campground outside of Paris the first night. The weather was rainy and cold, so we opted to drive 4.5 hours to Beaune, where we knew an excellent campgrounds existed and suspected the weather would be different. We had do some quick calculating as we knew from previous trips to Beaune that our favorite campground used in previous trips, fills up by 1500 hours. We were at Charles de Gaulle airport, it was about 1030 hours. Luckily there were some others at the car rental counter who were familiar with driving from Paris [departing from the western edge and getting right on to the main roads] to Beaune. The estimate was about 4 hours. That meant a possibility of arriving before the camp ground was filled. We made the trip in 4 and a half hours and were able to pick among about 5 placements left. We had originally planned on the Beaunne as an enroute stop heading south, but this allowed for time to rest from the tension of the flight and a chance to take in some parts of Beaunne not visited earlier – the mustard museum for instance. We continued to have good weather for the whole trip.
The concept for southern most, and ultimate, destination was to camp in the vicinity of Port Vendres on the French coast of the western Mediterranean. Our initial plan was to spend a few nights at a campground in Arles sur Tech – expecting a lush, spa like mountainous environment. As we climbed the heights of the
from the Mediterranean coast Albères mountains [south eastern edge of the Pyrénées] toward le Boulou, we discovered that the conditions were not going to be what we had hoped. The preceding, long drought probably helped create a rather un-hospitable environment for comfortable tourist camping. Fortunately, the camp manager at the Arles -s- Tech grounds was perceptive and most accommodating. After we explained our preferences he smiled and steered us to a site that was all we could have hoped. Surprisingly, not well identified in the many guides. So, by luck, our first real visit to the Côte Vermeille located our tent at Cirques de Porteils -- a camp ground between Collioure and Argelès-s-Mer offering a spectacular view of the sea and cooling off shore breezes.
On most maps ‘Cirques de Porteils' is not even named, marked only with a symbol to indicate an attractive view. Out tent opened out from a cliff facing the sea. The camp has its own nice sit-down or take-out restaurant, and well stocked small store, so there was no need to walk into near by Collioure for dinner. As this formed our ‘base' for visiting the other coastal towns. We were only a 20 minutes drive by car from Port Vendres. The camp ground was about a 20 minute walk to the nearby coastal port commune of Collioure along a path that was more direct than the roads.
Cirques de Porteils also offers a good base from which to explore many places from central to southern Langueduc - Roussillon province. We were able to take in some Cathar castles [Château de Peyrepertuse and Château de Quérbus] that we have missed on earlier trips.One excursion included a visit to Rennes Le Château, associated in the book The Da Vinci Code with the ‘Prieure du Sion'.
A particular advantage of the Cirques de Porteils campgrounds was its separation from the usual very crowded and busy 'playground' campgrounds along most of the French Mediterranean coast. It provided a great base from which to visit the nearby communes of Collioure, Port Vendres, and Banyuls-sur-Mer offer picturesque views of small working ports no longer found along the French Mediterranean.
This is one of very few sites in this part of France where it is possible to pitch your tent, caravan or motorhome actually in sight of the sea. The site is set on the clifftop, within a shallow cove, in between the busy resort of Argeles-sur-Mer and the picture-postcard fishing village of Collioure.
Many of the most popular pitches (those nearest the clifftop) are actually inaccessible to Caravans and Motorhomes, and so are perfect for tent campers. More are only accessible to motorhomes but not caravans (due to narrow and/or steep entrances). All pitches, regardless, are on terraces and are reasonably level, although there is quite a variation in size. Equally, some have very little shade and some are in shadow all day. Even the pitches away from the sea usually have a pleasant view of the mountains behind. The best advice is to arrive early if you can, and have a really good look around, as there are pitches tucked into all sorts of nice corners as well as on the mainstream terraces. Steel tent/awning pegs needed.
BEAUNE (Cote-d'Or - 21 BOURGOGNE [BURGUNDY]).
27 JUNE, TUESDAY (day 1). Arrived at Charles de Gaulle Airport mid morning. While waiting to pcik up our car at the airport EUROCAR desk, we were concerned about the low clouds and continuing rain and made the decision described earlier. We used the stay much as we would have for the camping near Paris, and took 2 full days torest. For more detailed infromation on this campground is at:
CAMPING MUNICIPAL ‘LES CENT VIGNES'|
10 rue Auguste Dubois
AVIGNON (Vaucluse - 84 PROVENCE-CÔTE D'AZUR).
30 JUNE, FRIDAY (day 4). Arrived at Camping Municipal du Pont d'Avigon on the Ile de la Barthelasse. The island lies in the Rhône, across from the western edge of the historic city and across from the ruins of the St Benezet bridge. The camp is about a 50 minute walk across the main bridge, or more easilly by a shorter walk around the northern edge of the grounds to a free, nearby ferry, to the city. The Campsite of the Pont d'Avignon provides a unique and beautiful view on the medieval town -- lit up at night. The campground provides an exceptionally shady setting and offers excellent facilities.
LES CRIQUES de PORTEILS (Pyrénées-Orientales - 66 LANGUEDOC-ROUSSILLON).
3 JULY, FRIDAY (day 7). Arrived
Camping Les Criques de Porteils [another between Sea and Mountains experience] this time at the western end of the Med on the French and Spanish coast.
Between Argelès and Collioure
Swimming, basketball, volleyball, table tennis, French bowls, deep-sea diving (bring your own equipment), play area and duck pond for the children.
BRANTÔME (Dordogne-24, in AQUITAINE).
7 JULY, FRIDAY (day 11). Arrived
Brantôme (Brantòsme in Occitan) is a commune in the Dordogne - 24 department in southwestern France [AQUITAINE].
VALENÇAY (Indre - 36 CENTRE).
9 JULY, FRIDAY (day 13). Arrived Camping des Chênes, Valençay from 9 to 11 July [Camping des Chenes: 3 star campsite with 50 places, within a shaded park, lake and swimming-pool. Mairie de Valencay, Route de Loches, 36600 Valencay, Indre.
"The Loire Valley" traverses two French regions: Centre and Pays-de-la Loire [Western Loire, Region.
The Region of Centre [Centre-Val-de-Loire] is so named for its central location in France. It is comprised of 6]departements: Cher, Eure-et-Loir, Indre, Indre-et-Loire, Loir-et-Cher and Loiret.
CHAMPIGNY-SUR-MARNE (Val-de-Marne - 94, ILE-DE-FRANCE).
9 JULY, FRIDAY (day 13). Arrived
Le Tremblay park is part of the Paris suburb commune of Champigny sur Marne
Camping Paris Est [Camping du Trembley] (Champigny) from 11 to14 July
Boulevard Des Allies
Champigny Sur Marne Cedex
14 JULY, FRIDAY (day 18). Departed campground at du Trembley and drove to Charles de Gaulle airport, arrived back at Dulles in the evening.
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