Decided to go over to France this year for the first time could anybody give us advice is it better to arrange it yourself or let caravan/camping do it for you.
Would be glad to hear from anyone who can recommend any good sites
Channel crossing (ferry or eurotunnel)
Insurance to include health and breakdown.
As members of the CC and the C&CC we usually book our ferries through them but there other organisations such as Camping Cheque. Shop around. To some extent it will depend where you wish to sail from and when.
For insurance we have used the Caravan Club ever since we started going abroad in 1978. We have the Annual/multi trip Red Pennant service and from personal experience it works.
As for as campsites are concerned we have never pre-booked a site and that includes when we could only travel in school holiday periods.
France is a big country and unless you are forced to holiday in July or August my advice would be not to book. Even in July/August unless you want to go to one of the main holiday areas such as the west coast or the Med you will always find a site. Just start looking a little earlier in the afternoon. If you pre book you are immediately killing one of the joys of France. That is the ability to treat the journey as part of the holiday. France has campsites of every size and description from the big luxury 4 star type to the small rural sites and the municipal 2 star which almost every town and city has.
If you don't book you can travel as great or small a distance as the mood takes you.
I've lost count of the number of times we have been aiming generally for an area and stopped off for the night en route where we have ended up seeing out the rest of the holiday. France is like that.
East or west, north or south and also the centre each has its own characteristics. Food, architecture, terrain, scenery......etc...
I've got to agree with Gillian about how easy it all is, the only bad / expensive bit is getting over there, and the hardest bit is coming back
if you want to break yourself in gently, you could always stick to the areas nearest the Channel ports, from Calais round to Roscoff. Brittany is particularly easy way to get into it.
It helps a lot if you speak a little bit of French, it breaks the ice, and, anyway it is polite.
We tend to aim for the municipal sites they are usually very good, cheap, and handy for the towns [eating and drinking establishments abound!]
There are several web sites with details of sites.
or you could try Camping Cheque, which is a sort of half way house between going it alone and being organised.
Whereabouts did you fancy going to? or at least aiming for? how many of you and what ages? what do you like to do?
We're a bit like Gillian, and never seem to get too far easily distracted, and enjoy just mooching along on the back roads. 8)
So, if you want to post some more details I'm sure we can all provide lots of suggestions.
We always book ferry via Camping Cheques at same time as getting our cheques and they have been cheaper than both clubs or the MTC. Uptil this year we have always used their travel insurance but we found out by accident we get free travel insurance via our bank (A&L) so are giving that a try this year.
On the point of Red Pennant, dont know if you can remember (2002) Gill but that old couple that was on your favourite site, the guy got sick, and whilst the lady did drive the van in the UK she was reluctant to drive in France and Red Pennant (they were in late 70s early 80s)wouldnt get them home. Even the Dutch site owner saw the problem and took them to either the quacks or hospital on more than one occassion.
Go along with twooks and suggest staying in the north, Normandy/Britanny until you are more confident. France unlike this country want motorhomes in the country, which makes you holiday easier,less hassle
Our own experience with Red Pennant last year was ok.
We had a major breakdown and the van was in the Peugeot dealer in Perigueux for 13 days.
Peugeot paid for a hire car for os for 3 days and wouldn't hear of more. We rang Red pennant who then took over the payment for the hire car. As we only had a Renault Clio they wanted to know if we wanted something bigger. They also asked if we wanted to go into an hotel.
They said that if we didn't want to wait around we could have a big car to Calais and they would pay for rehire in England.
In the event we waited for the van and got home ok.
Rang the Club on return and a claim form was sent to us which we filled in and returned. We had a cheque for the hire within a fortnight.
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