Santander to UK: Up to Ille d orleon

On Day 6 we crossed the border into France it was a very hot day we had a massive climb to get to San Sabastian and we were feeling really good on the bikes. The road was really quiet and shady so we got to the top in no time at all. From San Sabastian there was another big climb and the day was hotter and there was no shade. I was drenched in sweat and my hands were slipping all over the bars it was really uncomfortable. When we got to the top my head was about to explode with the heat. A couple came to our rescue and gave us some ice cold water. It was much needed. We ended up in a campsite called Ametza it was lovely and the receptionist was very helpful, but it was not quiet at night, even though they said they had strict quiet times. It was probably the worst I have been on for teenages talking by our tent the whole night.

Day 7 we rode to a campsite called le Pavilion Royal in Bidart. This campsite was really nice and we had a cool pitch under some trees everyone respected the silent times at night it was very peaceful. For food that night we made tea on the beach and saw an amazing sunset. It was a stunning view as we had the mountains as a back drop it was unforgettable. Eva was happing playing in the surf and we were happy chilling with a bottle of wine watching natures wonder unfold before us and what makes it ultra special is knowing that you got yourself there under your own steam and effort.

Day 8 we stopped at some apartments because it was an overcast day we felt we needed to recharge everything easily. We would make up the shortage in mileage the next day. I tried to book them through Booking.com, but we got ripped off as they were shockingly horrible. None the less the bed was comfy and we had a nice sleep. The ride that day was lovely through pine forests all day long. This is when the route turned to what Rachael and myself imagined in our heads when we were reading about it.

Day 9 we made up the shortage in mileage from the day before and stopped at at a site that had been pre-booked. We got there real early too. Every site as had a pool but Eva was even more happy as this had water slides. The day was again spectacular, it was pine forests all day long and the weather was beautiful, the pine trees providing the shelter we needed. The route is so well organised, sign posted and cycle paths away from traffic I encourage anyone to do the route or parts of the route and have an adventure.

Day 10 we rode with no plan and just thought we will get a campsite on the road. We saw more pine trees and this route took us through woodland as well. We had a bit of a down pour in the morning but the rest of the day was fine. Eva had some more time in the pool and we tried to replicate our other night on the beech by taking our stuff to cook tea. We did make pasta and had wine but it was really windy. It was still nice though. A bit cloudy so we did not see a sun set that night.

The days are starting to blur at this point so I will describe what I remember over the last few days since day 10.

The route has continued to be well away from the noise of any traffic, it is just beautiful tarmac cycle paths weaving through forests, this Velodessy route is just unbelievable, the veiws you have of the coast and forest are truly life enhancing. We are passing family after family with loaded bikes, kids younger than Eva that are riding the route on their own bikes with panniers, there have been many tandems with kids this is a real family friendly route and I know a few of my friends at work will be aching to come and do it with their kids. The only thing I would say is don’t pre book your campsites that is a mistake I made, the sites in most cases have enough space for one pitch for one night. We have decided to go off the plan and play each day as it comes.

We got speaking to a cycle touring family on a site where we popped in for breakfast and he told us to go see Europes largest sand dune by going around the back and avoid the tourist, we took his advice and we near enough had the dune to ourselves. We rode further and realised just how lucky we were to avoid the tourists chomping up this single path like sheep in a traffic jam.

The other night we went to a site I had pre-booked for the previous night. On this instance they were full but the manager let us put up the tent in his garden. He had a beautiful house on the site and a beautiful grey Border Collie called Laya. He let us use the pool and all the facilities it was a truly lovely gesture.

From then we got up early and cycled to a site that had a waterpark!

We cycled 75km that day and we still arrived in the early afternoon so Eva could make best use of the park. We knew the next day we needed to cover 100km to get to our site that had been pre booked because we are spending 4 days chill time on the island of Ille d Orleon.I have been here before and knew it would be the perfect place to have a bit of non bike time. The 100km was a very hard ride. We had the strongest headwind I have ridden in. EVER! As we were in the coast it was right down our chuffing faces all day long. In the morning we had to contend we the occasional down pour. I gave up putting my coat on and off as after you got soak you were dry about 10 mins later. We got the ferry across the inlet to Royan and that was the halfway point. After the ferry it was blue skies but the wind had got stronger. To get across to the island of Ille d Orleon you need to go on a 2km bridge the wind was still coming straight on and with the trailer and all the baggage it must of been the slowest and hardest 2km of my time on a bike,it went on forever! After the bridge there was still no shelter from the wind but we only had 5km left. We made the site and it has a little lagoon that Eva got straight in after we had made our way via the pool bar for a well earned White Russian. After Eva had finished the the lagoon we set up camp and made our way to the bar for food as we were too tired to cook, the food was smashing and the red wine kept on coming whilst the evening entertainment was on.

I am currently at the side of the lagoon. We are here until the 14th then we get back on bikes for a night in Rochefort.

Beautiful, Gorgeous, Amazing France

Having cycled round France a couple of years ago I thought I had seen the best it had to offer, I was so wrong.  In my head I imagined the south of France to be flat but there are mountains all over the shop.

On Sat 15th of August we drove down to Dover to get the ferry over to Calais.  We did this is a Ford Ka full of camping gear and bicycles hanging off the back.  If you think you need a big flash car think again, you just need good packing skills. Although a big flash car would be lovely 🙂

We set off at midnight and drove solid though the night and all through the next day.  We stopped at a Comfort Suite hotel on the outskirts of Grenoble, it was only £30 for the night and the room was amazing.  A 10 minute tram journey at €1.50 got you in to the centre of the city where we had a quick look around and a meal before heading of back to the room for an early night as we still had a lot of driving the next day.

The evening was a bit over cast but we could still see the mountains from our room.


The next day we drove on through the Alps we took Stella (my car) up Alp d Huez, I had to show her the mountain that I have now cycled about five times 🙂 It was a bit dull but the views were still amazing, the clouds were hiding some peaks, but it made you appreciate how high you were. We had our breakfast at the top of Alp d Huez then it was time to hit the road again.  


The Tom Tom GO! app on my Android phone, which is really cool by the way as the maps are on the device directed us over another mountain I cycled a couple of years ago which brought back many painful memories, fully loaded with panniers up a mountain with racing gears, how the hell I did it I dont know!

As we drove on South the mountains never left us and the weather started to change, it started to get blue and hot, which is why we were driving to the south.


We got to out campsite at about 1900 on the 16th of August and we were stopping until the the 23rd of August.  The campsite was in a little village called Roquebrune – sur – Argens and it was at the base of a mountain.  This is the campsite we stopped at.  

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This is what surprised me the most.  In 2013 I cycled from the Alps to Montpellier and I do not recall after the Alps seeing that many mountains but where we were camping this year they were every where.  The campsite was in-between Cannes and St Tropez, so a lovely location.

On the first full day there we had a day on the beach at Saint Aygilf, although a nice beach it was a bit busy for me but it was a good day dipping in and out of the sea to keep cool.

On the second day we decided to look for another beach that might be a bit more peaceful, we drove around the coast and found the beach we were looking for at Saint Maxime.  

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It is a very bust port town, but before you get to the town there is a very quiet beach.  We made base and had some fun in the sand turning me into a mermaid.



The next day is when we drove to the Gorges of Verdon, also called the Grand Canyon Des Verdon.  I was gob smacked. I have seen lots of beautiful scene and this place is in my top five.  The gorges are massive at 700 metres deep, the mountains before you get there are huge and the shapes they make are spectacular.  The route from the campsite takes you by surprise.  You get a sense that you are driving up some very big mountains and you start to take pictures these are good, but you have better to come.  


But an hour into the drive you go over the highest bridge in Europe at 182 metres.  The bungee jump from the bridge and when we got there the jumping had stopped but there was an encouraging message in the sand below, if you enlarge the image you will be able to make it out.


On the route there are many cyclist, touring fully loaded, racing bikes, mountain bikes and I had a strong desire to jump on one and test myself up the immense gradients and lengths I have not seen before, even in the Alps I did not recall roads like these, these looked steep, long and straight!

So you turn a corner and you are knocked of your feet!! The gorges are incredible, the images do not give you any sense at all of the size!  It was just beautiful


The river that is running at the bottom of the gorge is blue, very blue.  You continue on the road Aiguines, the mountains never get smaller, but you get a sight of the most gorgeous lake called Sainte – Croix – See, again just blue fresh mountain water that tasted of Evian!

From the lake you can hire kayaks, electric boats and pedal boats and if you have the time you can take them right up the lake and into the gorges you have just driven above.  There is a waiting list for the boats and you need to het there and make sure you book your slot.  We could not get a booking and just swam in the lake, the spot where we were went very deep very quick, so if you had kids that could not swim you need to take care.

On the drive back the sun was setting so we took a few more pictures of the lake and gorges.  We stopped at a bar near Trigance for food and I had the best Creme Brûlée I have ever had in my life, it is now my go to pudding!



The next day we went horse riding, I had word with the reception at the campsite and they booked us a place that was only 4km from the site.  It was a red hot day and they took us on a little tour of the woods and vineyards.  It was a beautiful activity and only cost €20 per person for a 1.5 hour trek.  I did feel like John Wayne 🙂


After the horse riding we looked in the booklet that they gave us at the site and we saw that there was an observatory that mentioned you would see the hundreds of Flamingos in one place and a host of other birds, we thought this would be a good place to have lunch.  When we walked to the observatory there was a poster showing the variety of birds we could watch and which months they migrate to this location.  We were one month too early to see Flamingos!  It was a nice circular forest walk though and a nice place to have our packed lunch.

In the afternoon I took out a kayak that were freely available from the campsite and went down the river.  It is a beautiful river and when the light hit the surface you could see fish swimming below.


They also encouraged you to pull up on the side and have a swim if you got too hot.
In the evening we had decided to splash out and go to St Tropez for our evening meal.  We thought that it might be hard to park in St Tropez so we took the ferry from St Maxime.  It cost €12 to park and €15 for adults and €7 for kids on the 15 minute journey on the ferry.  As we left St Maxime I thought I had seen the biggest boats you could buy, I was wrong, so wrong.  When we got into St Tropez all there was were luxury liners that had helipads and numerous staff working on them.  It was crazy, people were partying and having there meals right in front of everyone on the port, it was a bit like a circus and made me feel a bit weird.  When we were eating I did a bit of rsearch on my phone and typed in the names of a couple of the boats.  £82 million pound was the result of one of them owned my a Mexican TV chap.  If you are intersted you can read about the boat here.  http://www.superyachttimes.com/editorial/3/article/id/5759  But trust me there were loads of them.  We had a nice meal and it was time to get the boat back to St Maxime.  A lovely evening in St Tropez and was an eye opener to another world, one that is a bit seedy and tacky to tell the truth.

The normal sized boats docked at St Maxime as we left

On our final day we chilled around the site, made up are own version of tennis using a volley ball net and took the kayaks out again.  That evening as we had packed most of our camping gear away that day we had a beautiful meal at the lakeside bar just over the road from the campsite.
Then it was one long drive all the way back home and I was amazed that the mountains never seemed to leave us all the way except maybe for the last two hours.  We broke the journey back with a stop at an F1 £40 for the night and had everything you require for a good nights sleep.  The toilets and showers are on the corridors, shared but very clean. The only problem is that the hand towels they supply are too short for a trek to the shower so I had to do that with my bum out and my back against the wall.

France is just beautiful and I will be back again, with a bigger car or alternative rack so we can carry all the bikes and get in them mountains again!



Snowdon – Two Days Camping

Thought we would get away and do two days camping and walk Snowdon whilst we were at it.

The weather was poor at times and there was no view what so ever at the top.  

This is a breakdown of the images.

The view of Snowdon from base camp the day before we walked.

The campsite was in a beautiful location right beside the lake and had all the facilities you would ever need.  They provided picnic tables and fire pits for all the tents.  If you want to visit the site go to this link.  

This was the view of the lake, about 30 metres from our tent.  You could camp right beside the waters edge if you wanted, but there was a few tents around there by the time we got to the site.

Our little two man tent.

Starting to walk up to the pub for our tea on the first night.

Walking up Snowdon after a night of non stop rain.

A sun angel that was projected down in the valley with the sun behind me, was very surprised my phone captured it.

Had to take the images on the way down as the summit was in the clouds all day.

On the way back to the campsite in the evening we saw a beautiful sunset.

The sun still setting back at camp over the lake.

The sun almost gone for the night.