From la Med to la Manche

We left Plan-de-la-Tour with a small tear in our eye, having had a wonderful time with the Nundys and Adams families. The drive to Narbonne was one of the longest we have done and was really boring, as it was all motorways, so we dug out the Cabin Pressure boxset to keep us going.

When we arrived at Camping La Nautique the helpful staff gave us our pitch number and then our key for our very own private bathroom! So exciting…no hoiking from Germans in the shower beside me, no sinister poo stains from the previous occupant and, best of all, it was just five steps from the door! We asked if the pitch would be large enough to fit our length of caravan and the girl looked worried but assured us if there were any problems we could swap. We needn’t have worried, it was enormous and could have fitted 5 caravans – almost too much space.

We went for a little explore and came across the very picturesque town of Gruissan set in the marshland around Narbonne. Along the coast Narbonne Plage was buzzing with sunbathers and watersports enthusiasts alike. A huge expanse of the flattest sand I have ever seen. Only the front metre all the way along this immense sand was taken by bathers. Al was happy as he finally got some moules frites! The campsite itself was ok…just ok. The pool was small and very busy, the entertainment was unnecessary and the site was our most expensive yet, but we had our own bathroom so all was forgiven!!

Our next trek was heading towards Ile de Noirmoutier, just south of Nantes, to meet up with Katrina and Ade Russell, our friends from London. We had booked a campsite for a one night stopover to break the long drive, but in our enthusiasm decided to just keep going!!!!! 10 hours later the temperature had dropped 18 degrees and rain was pouring from the sky. Brrrrr, but it still looked gorgeous so that was ok. I could immediately smell the sea, and the campsite (Domaine de Midi) was so beautifully laid out with lodges, tents and teepees, and we couldn’t help but relax.

With Katrina on baby duty, Ade didn’t need much persuasion to stay up late drinking wine, while Dot finally had friends to play with!! Bliss.

Barbatre, the village we were staying in, turned out to be a wee gem. The next day we woke to gorgeous sunshine. We headed to the local market which was huge and sold everything. I managed to buy Al his 10 year wedding anniversary presents there…olives, saucisson and a dozen oysters… don’t get any ideas, I hate them!! Later that evening we celebrated the lovely Stanley’s 8th birthday with meringue cake and then dinner at a proper restaurant... Fab fab fab.

The beaches around the island proved a great tour for us the next day. They had all the lovely soft sand we have been craving. It was like Ireland but with the lovely sunshine. We found a village to retire to and toured the salt plains outside the main town of Noirmoutier. Back at base we had a quick dip in the warmer than expected sea and cracked open the fizz with the Russells, to celebrate our 10 years together – 9 and a half in a house, and 6 months in the caravan!

Shell-on Prawns, salmon and more oysters helped along by the sunshine finished our jaunt round mainland Europe off very nicely.

There are two ways to leave Noirmoutier, by bridge, and by causeway – which is only open for an hour either side of low tide. As luck would have it, I was driving and the tide was out, so we joined the convoy of French shellfish seekers over the cobbles and off the island. My heart was in my mouth once more as I drove us over the scarily high bridge at St Nazaire over the Loire.

Another 5 hours driving brought us to Roscoff for the ferry to Cork. Now bring on the RAIN!!!


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