All things must come to an end and this is Maureen & Richard Wallis's last report from France.
We have used this site before as it is both close to Honfleur and to the autoroute if you just need an overnight stop. This time we decided to stay 3 nights before leaving after breakfast to catch an afternoon ferry to Dover.
Finding the site is easy as it is off the last exit before the Pont de Normandy bridge and the details are on the website . Driving in we were looking for the giraffe and nearly missed the turning as the trees had outgrown its long neck. As to the rest of the site - not a lot has changed over the years.
Check-in was swift and we had a pre-allocated pitch. Looking at the empty pitches available we were pleased we had booked as there were only a few left and none easy to get on.
There are more permanent holiday cabins than we could recall but there are still a reasonable number of tents and caravans corralling the cabins, some overnighting, others spending their holiday on the site.
The restaurant and bar are adjacent to the entrance. The paddling pool, swimming pool, boules court, children’s play areas, games area, and a playing field together with enclosures for a pig, chickens, plus a donkey, pony and 4 sheep and goats all provide interest and activity for those with young children.
There is a single mixed use facilities block in the centre of the site which is regularly cleaned by ladies with high pressure hoses, who clean everything and everyone in their path!
Honfleur is a few minutes down the road. We visited just before Bastille day and the town was busy. Certainly busier than we have seen before but previously we have visited earlier or later in the season. There was still parking available in the central parking area adjacent to the harbour just before lunch. (It is cheaper to park slightly further out at €4 per day and walk into town)
For those who have not visited this delightful town there is an inner yacht basin and an outer fishing harbour separated by a road and bridge. There are also commercial wharfs and moorings for visiting cruise liners.
The yacht basin is the centre of the tourist activity paved with cobbles and surrounded by permanent restaurants built into the historic buildings. From the harbour you walk up gently sloping roads into the medieval town with the church and the market square – complete with markets on Saturdays and Wednesdays. And yet more restaurants. There are also other shops, galleries and antique shops to browse.
If you want a more authentic view of the town head directly away from the inner harbour and turn into Rue Cahin, where climbing plants cover arches across the roadway made of black metal drainage pipes, and towards Eglise Saint-Leonard. Boudin was born in one of the houses at the side of the church. The church is richly decorated and well worth a visit in its own right. There are also some small restaurants frequented by the locals.
If you are interested in Boudin there is a museum in Place Erik Satie with 2500 mainly impressionist paintings, a few of which are by Boudin. There is also a marine and ethnological museum which we reserved for future wet weather visits. If the weather is fine there is an excellent botanical garden and the Naturospace with a the largest collection of Tropical Butterflies in France and its free!
You cannot but admire the Pont de Normandy bridge which carries the A28 across the Seine towards Le Havre. The photo of the bridge was taken from a view point on the way up to Cote de Grace - signposted from the town. There are 2 routes - one by foot, the other by car - needless to say we walked. If you walk on to the Cote de Grace you get a good view of the Seine estuary and can watch the ships entering and leaving harbour. You also get a good view of the oil refinery, the car plant and cement works on the Le Havre side of the river.
There are several other small ports and fishing villages just along the coast. We have never found it a problem to find something to see or to enjoy on our visits to this area.
We normally use the car to get into Honfleur as the traffic can be heavy and its not very cycle friendly. But we did look for a safer cycle route and found that you can get into Honfleur using the “old road” through the villages which goes under the major roads it’s pretty much all downhill on the way in but a steady climb on the way back.
There is a caravan/ camping site in Honfleur - Camping Le Phare. From the information on Trip Advisor it does not take bookings and from what we saw pitches are very close together. When we walked past at two o’clock there was a queue of motorhomes and a caravan looking for places.