Solo in France

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ColinW
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Solo in France

Postby ColinW » Sun Mar 27, 2011 8:28 am

Hi All - anybody interested in what I did in France last year?

My late wife and I bought a typical 6m factory built camper in the UK in 2008, with the intention of alternating between northern and southern hemisheres for a few years. Sadly, she died suddenly after a couple of months. I was going to sell the van, but my sons persuaded me to keep it, so last year I went back at the start of June by myself.

First thing was to get the Tax, MOT and insurance renewed. I had friends who were touring in France and I decided to go staight there and meet-up with them. As the van had been left with friends in Sussex I had booked a ferry with Condor Ferries leaving from Southampton. When booking online I had to give them rego-number, name & address, email, two phone numbers, bath-night, etc! Luckilly I got to the ferry terminal about an hour early and was suprised to find a sign that there had been a fire on that ferry and all passengers were transferred to Britanny Ferries - no body had warned me despite all the information I'd given. As often happens to me on the Picton ferry, I was the last one up the ramp and we were away before I'd finished parking. It was a very calm crossing and not very crowded apart from two groups of school kids. The English kids were a pain in the butt - loud and noisy, running berserk, fighting, swearing and gererally objectionable. The French kids were possibly louder at times, but totally different as I observed many other times. They were full of the 'joi-de vivre' - singing and dancing and generally happy.

The passport office at the ferry terminal was on the left side, so I had to swap seats to get my entry stammped. I had planned a route on my GPS with a series of way-points that would have taken me to a rural campsite near Orleans - As I was now in Brittany I did away with the way-points and let the GPS take me by the "fastet time'. That took me through the port town to the first of hundreds of round-abouts. French round-abouts go the opposite direction, and generally are high-speed ones entering at an angle. No way could I see from the right hand side driver's seat if the was any traffic coming from behind me on the left. Cars were tooting behind me so I braved it and promptly got blasted by a speedster in the round-about! Next stop I adjusted the left mirror. The next stop was in fact a toll station, and the ticket machine was on the left side. I had to leave my seat and cross-over and try to figure out the French instructions. The machine had two stations - one up high for trucks and one down low for cars - none in the middle for vans. Again cars behind me started tooting, but an attendant came and showed me which buttton to press and handed me a my ticket. The motorway was impressive - four lanes, excellent surface, 130km speed limit and very little traffic compared to the UK. My van is a 2.9 litre Peugeot diesel (biggest engine we could find but not as good as our 4.2 Coaster here, which weighs the same), and as there was no wind I managed to wind it up to 130 and keep up with the rest of the traffic. The motorway was tending NE and the signpost all were counting down to Paris - I was very relieved about an hour later to see one saying Orleans (they say Or-lee-on). Soon the GPS then told me to exit right, which I did and landed in another toll station. This time I got out of the van and walked around and put the ticket in the obvious slot - it immediately demanded 15 Euro. Luckilly it had a note reading slot so I put a 20 Euro note in and the barrier arm went up. I grabbed the change and rushed back to the drivers seat quickly in case the arm dropped on me. I pulled over and looked at my Michellan map. I decided to re-set the GPS to 'shortest distance'. My route now took me through very pleasant country-side with farms and frequent picturesque villages. After about two hours the last stretch was a narrow track between fields of wheat.
The campsite which I'd been recommended to use was a bit cramped with a mix of about 50 mo'vans, carvans and static vans. I hadn't booked and the proprieter (who had no English) was a bit grumpy till he saw my NZ sticker - he then did a imitation of a haka and jostled me into doing Kamate. A few other frenchmen gathered and luckilly one of them was fluent in English and he showed me around. The toilet block was typical of rural campsites. The lobby was about eight feet by twenty with a bullet-proof door entrance door in the middle. On the left, unshield, were the urinals, and on the right the laundry. Through another bullett-proof door were the toilets - four each side with neck-to-knee doors. Then another bullett-proof door to the showers, again with neck-to-knee doors. It was about 7pm and everybody was crowed around a game of Petanque, which I learned was the thing they do every night.
I've been trying to add some photos - is there an easy way to re-size them?
cheers
Colin

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idex
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Re: Solo in France

Postby idex » Sun Mar 27, 2011 9:44 am

Ah Colin, your story brings back memories. Last time there we were lucky to have a LHD "camping car" which made it much easier but we still managed to get a lot of friendly waves and toots at times. What a wonderful country for motorhomers.
Bruce & Jan


1999 Brits Regent on Isuzu NPR250a

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SteveC
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Re: Solo in France

Postby SteveC » Sun Mar 27, 2011 4:48 pm

Yes please Colin. Hay as far as pictures go there are some intructions here for using imageshack to upload your pictures but for the life of me I cant find them today...

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Bill
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Re: Solo in France

Postby Bill » Sun Mar 27, 2011 5:26 pm

To resize your pictures. In the file directory, highlight the picture file and right click. One of the options will be to resize the file. This will create a new file of the smaller picture. It doesnt affect your original picture. (I have assumed you are using Microsoft such as XP.)

Interesting story of travel in France. Give us more highlights.
Bill

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Harvey
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Re: Solo in France

Postby Harvey » Mon Mar 28, 2011 11:12 am

Hi Colin

Mark has instructions on uploading images here: viewtopic.php?f=65&t=2826

Two methods that I use for resizing generally. The first one is easier.

1. I see that if you go to Media Upload page on Image shack here: http://imageshack.us/ then on their home page there is an option to resize the image. You can choose 640 X 480 if you want to resize one picture for this forum.

Image

Uploaded with ImageShack.us

What you do in this instance is click on the Browse Button and navigate to the folder on your computer that you have you image in, click on it, and ImageShack will upload it and resize it for you and open a new page. Click in the Forum Code box on this new page and copy the code in there.

Go to the post you are making on this forum and paste the code you have copied into your post.


2. One easy way of resizing more than one picture at a time is to use Google's Picasa which manages all the images on your computer. Good program. Download here: http://picasa.google.com/index.html##

Then what I do is email them to myself using Picasa. Use this if you want to resize 6 or 7 pictures at once to email to a friend. this way you do not send your Auntie an email of about 800 MB that will take forever to download on her dial-up account.
Open Picasa, Go to Tools > Options > E-mail and you can set the size of any pictures that you e-mail. Set the size of the pictures you want to send to 800 pixels wide (as in the image below ) or 640 X 480.

Image

Uploaded with ImageShack.us

In Picasa select the pictures you want to resize (Ctrl + Left Click to select more than one picture), and send them to your self using the built in email button at the bottom of the page.

Image

Uploaded with ImageShack.us

Picasa will resize them all automatically. A couple of seconds later you will have an email with the resized images. Save them all to a folder and then follow Marks instructions here for each picture:

viewtopic.php?f=65&t=2826


Cheers

Harvey
The difference between theory and practice is that, in theory, there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice, there is.

ColinW
Posts: 41
Joined: Sun Dec 12, 2010 11:19 am
NZMCA No: 30117

Solo in France - Part two

Postby ColinW » Tue Mar 29, 2011 10:45 am

Hi Again

After my night in the camp-ground with the uni-sex toilets I decided to find some diesel - I used to work for Shell so I knew the international name for it is Gas-oil, so I asked "ou est le gas-oil" - they thankfully understood but all shook their heads - one said "but not on Sundays". It was a Sunday and the French service stations would all be closed. I was given instructions to a self-service pump at a supermarket about 20 miles away. I eventually found it and thankfully I had a chip-and-pin Visa debit card that would work it, that is, if I could understand the instructions that flashed very weakly in French on a LCD screen in full sunlight. After three attempts an alarm bell sounded and the pump locked-out. Eventually an attendant materialised from somewhere, but she didn't speak English and it took a while for me to understand how to use the pump - insert card - enter pin-no - select gas-oil - 0 or 1 for a receipt - remove card - then pump. The good thing was that I found these self-serve pumps at supermarkets were a lot cheaper than the fuel-stops on the motorways.

The map showed me that Chartres wasn't too far off my route so I decided to put that in the GPS as a waypoint and visit the cathederal which is of architectural significance. It certainly was an impressive sight towering high above the corn fields as I drove nearer, but as it was medieval it was built well before the days of motor-homes. I entered the narrow streets of the old town and drove round and around for ages looking for a park. I now know why so many French drive these little Renaults and Citroens - they are easy to park! I finished up about three miles away from the cathederal before I found a park so decided to flag it and continue on my way. A scorching hot calm day and the cab aircon finally died completely. I finished up on another motorway so enjoyed the high-speed driving for much of the day. In the late afternoon the sky suddenly clouded over and there was an almighty downpour with thunder and lightning. The motorway came to a crawl, except fo a few hoons. I followed a truck in to the first of the motorway 'Aires' I visited. These are generally large and pleasant places in the country to pull over and have a break - there are separate areas for trucks, caravans and cars. The Caravan Club advise against ovenighting in them, but I did later and had no problems apart from distant road noise. The other Aires are the 'Aires de camping' provided free or cheaply by many municipalities as a way of attracting trade.
When I stopped I got a text from my English friends to say they had arrived at the rendezvous, which was only 200 miles away. I had intended staying a night en-route, but after a nap and cuppa I decided to drive on as the weather was now clear again. This motorway, the A21 was three lanes each way, and again an excellent surface so it didn't take long to get to the exit point and toll machine - this time it was 21 euro for the privilege! The route to the campsite was through bare grazing paddocks with scattered woodlots - firewood is a main fuel and there are wood-cutters still working. Camping Château de Lacomté, near Carlucet in the Lot Region is owned by an English couple and all the seasonal staff were English. It was nice and quiet, adults only, had a nice swimming pool and restarant with regular BBQs. It seems to be the English habbit to go to a site like this for a couple of weeks. My friends had a car and caravan so we did a few excursions around the Lot region, including a boat trip on the River Lot, and a visit to a vineyard near Carhors - I don't know why the French make such a fuss about Carhors wine - it is put in a fresh oak cask each year and all you can taste is the wood! We also visited Roccamador - medieval cliff-side village, but much of the time was spent in, or around the pool as temperatures were averaging 38 degC. One day a couple of shapely French girls got up and walked topless to the pool - my friend's wife said " your not going to see me like that - I suffer from wardrobe disease - my chest has fallen into my drawers".
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ColinW
Posts: 41
Joined: Sun Dec 12, 2010 11:19 am
NZMCA No: 30117

Re: Solo in France

Postby ColinW » Tue Mar 29, 2011 12:12 pm

Thanks for the tips on photos.
Is there any way I can post a few at a time?
cheers

ColinW
Posts: 41
Joined: Sun Dec 12, 2010 11:19 am
NZMCA No: 30117

Re: Solo in France

Postby ColinW » Thu Mar 31, 2011 1:41 pm

Roccamador
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