France 1980
Monday 11th August 1980                                                                                                                                                           390 miles

We went to bed early, but couldn’t get to sleep. We were woken by Emma getting up at 1.20 am . We got up soon afterwards and left just after 2 o’clock. The children were very excited and stayed awake until we reached Dover, except Thomas who had a short sleep. We arrived at Dover just after 5.00 am. We boarded the ship and had breakfast (rolls, croissant, tea, coffee and orange). The crossing was very short
we left at 6 o’clock and arrived at Calais at 7.10 am. There were hold-ups getting off the boat and in Calais. It was a beautiful morning as we drove via Boulogne, Abbeyville, towards  Paris. We made several stops as we were tired and hungry.
We drove around Paris quite easily and towards Fontainebleau. About 3 o’clock we decided to find a campsite and stopped at Montargis de la Foret  a superb site set out of course in trees, with beautiful flowers everywhere fuchsias, begonias, geraniums etc. There was a lovely playground for the children, including a paddling pool and all very French! After  pitching the tent, Adrian and I with Thomas went off to find a wine shop. We took a long time, but eventually bought some. We had supper outside on a wooden table after a game of “broken bottles” we all had an early night. Rain kept threatening.
A second breakfast on the way to Paris
Tuesday, 12th  August                                                                                                                                                        260 miles

There was some heavy rain in the night, but we all slept quite well. Although we kept having several large spots of rain in the morning, it came to nothing and the skies cleared .We bought a French loaf and some milk from a van at the campsite. The children played happily and washed up for us and we left at 10.00 am French time (we had put our watches on an hour). We drove South towards Nevers, taking the ‘itinerie bis’ (scenic route?) for part of the way, but this wasn’t terribly exciting and slower, so we continued on main roads, following the River Loire and then Moulins and St Pourcain. We had stopped for lunch before Moulins and the  rather cloudy day became extremely hot. We then went cross-country via Chantelle and Bourg-Lastic. Near here we made another short stop. The country was very pretty. We then took minor roads and got lost but eventually found Borg les Orgues, an attractive town amongst the hills and with a huge dam making a reservoir. The town campsite was full and in trying to find another site in the book, we ended up at a site miles from anywhere
just a field behind a farm. The children were rather disappointed after the previous night and we had no wine, so after half pitching the tent, Adrian drove off to find the shop for some wine. After a long trek he found one, and so we all enjoyed a meal on a pleasant evening outside.  We all had showers, then the children went to bed and Adrian and I went for a short walk. It was very peaceful and beautiful with the constant sound of cowbells.
How could they put that picture on there Tom?
Happy breakfast time on the farm
Wednesday 13th August                                                                                                                                                                           92 miles

Our 14th wedding anniversary. The night was quite chilly and we woke to find a thick mist and a heavy dew. We had to rummage around to find the wellingtons.
The sun came through to give a beautiful day we left at 10.00 am and drove back into Bort, then followed the route in the Michelin book. We saw several dams the first at Bort itself then the Marenges dam. We stopped at a “viewing table”, with very good views all around, then bought some (expensive) cherries at a house.
We soon stopped for lunch near Neuvic by the reservoir very beautiful.
We passed through more picturesque scenery and reservoirs and dams.We stopped at St Projet bridge a suspension bridge. It was very hot. We continued to L’Aigle dam.
Lunch by the Neuvic Reservoir
Tom & Rosie on the St Projet bridge
Then cross-country to le Chastang dam, then Argentat dam. We stopped at a campsite at Argentat by the River. The children all paddled and swam. It was all very pretty. We had a meal in the restaurant, then talk to an English family returning home. A lovely evening.
Argentat dam
Thursday 14th August                                                                                                                                                                            70 miles

A beautiful hot day. Th children played in the river. We left at 11 o’clock and drove the caves at  Padirac. We arrived at 12.30. It was very hot, but we managed to park the car in the shade,, and had lunch. We had a short wait to get into the caves.  We had to climb down a very long way, after going part of the way by lift.
The caves were very impressive there was a huge holes at the start. The caves were enormous. After a while we joined a queue for a boat . We had to wait about half an hour a bit of a struggle with Thomas. We made a journey of about half a mile in a flat bottomed boat, then a guide assisted tour (in French) before going back in the boat. The boats were very organised, with a photo taken of  each boat load. We still have our receipt for the photo taken of our boat, we didn’t bother to get it (they were very expensive).
When we returned, the queues for the boat were enormous, and we realised how lucky we had been. At the entrance there were more long queues, in the heat
we had been very lucky! We took the children to a little park befor coming back of the car. We stopped on the way back to buy petrol and visit a supermarket. Very hot!
The lift to the start of the caves
           View out from the viewpoint
Viewpoint above the Neuvic reservoir
We stopped once to view the the Cere Valley very steep sided and to give Paul his birthday present from grandma of a camera.
Long queues and the entrance to the caves
Tom, Emma, Simon and Rosie playing in the park
We arrived back at the campsite at 6 o’clock. The children went straight to the river and stayed there while we cooked supper. Afterwards we walked up to the children’s park by the restaurant. Adrian and I had drinks and the children had ice creams. We played on the swingboats and see-saw before coming back to bed. Very  warm all day
Paul getting his birthday present of a 'new' camera above the Cere Valley.
The afternoon got  slowly brighter and eventually the sun came out and about 4.30 we stopped at a site by the river at le Buisson. The children immediately went down to the river and had a swim while we put up the still soaking tent. We had another shower of rain, but after that the evening was dry, with some sun and the tent began to dry out. After supper the children went for a another swim and then we all had a shower, before putting Paul and Simon to sleep in the car as some of the bedding was still wet. Adrian, Emma and I went for a last walk to the river.
The Children paddling in the Dordogne
We stopped and bought some local grown walnuts, which proved later to be very good. We stopped for lunch by the river. The rain more or less stopped and although we ate in the car, the children went for a paddle in the river.
Saturday 16th August                                                                                                                                                                             160 miles

An exhausting day! Paul and Simon had slept in the car and we all got up about  8 o’clock. The skies were very grey and soon it began to rain. The children still had their swim in the river. We packed up slowly (another wet tent!) and not very enthusiastically, as we couldn’t decide whether to go west to Royan as planned, or south to more certain sun. The sun came out before we left and it was hotf again, so we headed westwards to continue our journey along the Dordogne. We stopped and took pictures of the viewpoint high above the river near Limiel.
viewpoint high above the Dordogne near Limiel.
We continued towards Bergerac, Leaving the pretty Dordogne  Valley. We had lunch (very hot) near Blaye, then made our way  towards Royan. All the sites south Royan were full. We got stuck in the Saturday afternoon traffic jams we finally stopped at Bonne Anse – a very large and organised site. We were directed to a “pitch”. We immediately walked to the sea – and voted it a miss! The tide was out and it was muddy. Spirits low! We pitched the tent, then went to the shop.
We came back to the tent and cooked supper – pork chops and fresh vegetables. We drove up to the lighthouse and the Côté Sauvage – huge waves, which the children loved. We looked at the site there, then came back to the tent. Emma slept in the car
Tom returning from the shop
Sunday 17th August                                                                                                                                                                           6 miles

We awoke to a grey morning, but nevertheless decided to pitch the front half of the tent and stay here for the moment. I had quite a bit of washing to do and Adrian took the children to the shop. By this time it was lunch time.
The sun did come out and then it was hot. We all had fun “jumping the waves”. Thomas went to sleep. We arrived back about 6 o’clock and bought a cooked chicken for supper. A circus had arrived and was getting ready for tonight. The children stayed and watched the animals. Simon and Thomas got lost on their way back to the tent. After supper we all had a shower.
The lighthouse at the Côté Sauvage
Monday, 18th August                                                                                                                                                                36 miles

Another disastrous day! We had rain in the night and a grey morning which soon turned to rain. Heavy rain all morning! We left about 12 o’clock and a few miles down the road ran out of petrol!Pouring with rain and miles from anywhere. We had lunch in the car, then Adrian walked the 2 miles back to the petrol station to get a can of petrol. He got a lift back to the car with some English people. We returned to the garage to fill up with petrol. We drove into Royan and eventually found a Maxi Co-op
it opened at 3.30 it was now nearly 2.30. We drove around and eventually stopped by the beach with the children. Had a quick run around it had nearly stopped raining! We went back to the Maxi Co-op, then drove back to the campsite. We stopped at an “Artisan” craft people - and looked around. We cooked supper.   It had now stopped raining.  We walked up to the bar drinks were expensive a small beer and cider 80p! (8 francs. Later found out this was not much than other places).
Tuesday 19th August                                                                                                                                                                                  29 miles

A sunny morning and blue sky when we got up, but as we are under trees, the sun took a long time coming .
Late morning  we stopped at the book shop on  site. Adrian  had bought a newspaper earlier (yesterdays  express), and we discovered about the French  fisherman’s blocking of the  ports (we had vaguely  heard about  it).  We realized that thousands  of English  holidaymakers were stuck  over here, and  more waiting  in England , unable to  get  across the channel.  This made us feel better and realise that we were lucky to get away at  all.  We bought the children an ice cream and bought the rest of the stamps for our postcards.  We drove to the beach.  It started to  get cloudy.  We had a swim in the big waves.  We had lunch on the beach.  The afternoon was  cloudy,  but the  children enjoyed themselves building  sandcastles  etc. and making a bowls court.  We came back to the  campsite and had showers, then cooked supper.  We drove up  the coast to see if there were any more  campsites  on the beach.  This was unfruitful, so returned to the tent.  The children had a short play on the beach before bed.
Wednesday 20th August                                                                                                                                                                        5 miles

Our first really hot day at the beach! After breakfast we all went to the beach here.  It was very hot, and the children  all made ball runs on the beach.  It was too  muddy to go in the water. 
After lunch we drove up to the Côté Sauvage where we spent the afternoon on the beach.
Lunch at Bonne Anse
After lunch we went to the Côté Sauvage beach.  We  swam in the big waves and when the  tide went out, Thomas had great fun in the ‘paddling pool’  which the receding tide left on the beach.  The sun was very hot - it was still hot at 6 o'clock when we returned to the tent  for showers and supper.  Mild panic when I  thought I had left my watch in the showers, but I found it in the tent.  We walked to the beach and Adrian took a photograph an old boat at sunset. 
The children playing on the beach at Bonne Anse
Too many English people! Very  warm evening.  Began  clearing up in readiness for moving on tomorrow.
Thursday 21st August                                                                                                                                                                               176 miles

We  got up about 8 o'clock. Adrian and I  had a shower.  We left about 11 o'clock.  Another hot day.  The children were very good in the car.  Through Rochefort, La Rochelle ( bypassed) and Lucon.  Stopped for  petrol. Thomas  had had a sleep and soon after he woke we stopped for lunch.  We  couldn’t find a shady  parking space and eventually  pulled off the road ( typically French-straight and with trees either side) and sat on the side of  a field  full of wild  flowers.  Very enjoyable stop, (west of Lucon). 
Continued to Les Sable d'Olonne.  On  the outskirts, we saw a minor accident at traffic lights, when the car in front  of us( French) ran into the car in front of  that( GB). Adrian got out and found the GB’s very angry, with a crooked towbar. They had apparently lost their friends in another car two days ago in Bordeaux and hadn’t found them.  After les Sable, we started looking at campsites on the coast. The first one was quite nice but the beach wasn’t good for swimming. Continued north and looked at another site near Bretignolles, again quite pleasant, but no shade and quite a trek over the sand dunes to the beach. We passed lots more sites, not many of them actually on the beach , which we wanted for the children. We looked at lots near St. Jeans de Monts. Thomas was amused at the holiday cycles for two, four, six people etc. We decided to head for the Island of Noirmoutier which we half had in mind anyway. Crossing the toll bridge (8 francs), we looked down and saw a site right on the beach but afterwards decided that was probably rather dangerous (currents etc). We eventually found a site on the island at  Les Onchères and were shown somewhere to pitch our tent, which we didn’t much like so returned to the reception desk and said it was too noisy the children (it was near the restaurant, bar, etc.) so they showed us another “belle place”, which seemed just right – nearer the beach, just a little shade, level, perhaps a bit windy. We accepted this and occupied ourselves with an icecream and beer while we waited for the previous occupants to leave. Still warm but late we put up the tent and cooked supper (8 o’clock), but much enjoyed. We explored the shop, which was smaller than the previous site’s, but contained enough and the children were delighted to find that we had moved nearer Brittany and there were Breton pancakes etc. for us to buy. After supper we ‘bathed’ Thomas in the special shower sinks for children. Loo blocks good. We are much happier with this site and less than half the price of the previous one. Adrian and I walked to the beach and then to the bar, where an open air cinema was just finishing. Nearly all French here, very few English.
A lovely wild flower meadow
Sunset at Bonne Anse
Friday 22nd  August                                                                                                                                                                                 5 miles

We awoke to a cloudy morning, it cleared slowly to give a very hot afternoon. We spent the morning organising the tent, washing etc
. The children went to the beach and we followed. They took the lilo. We came back to the tent for lunch, then went back to the beach, and all had a swim. The waves were quite big and the children got knocked off the lilo. Thomas was very happy jumping into a hole in the sand. We came back for showers etc and Thomas went to sleep. We put him in the car when we drove to the supermarket about 3.30. Afterwards we drove to the “low tide road”, but it was still under water. We came back to the campsite and the children had a go on the games machines. We had supper, then the children went to bed after stories etc. Adrian and I walked to the beach and round the site. It was quite chilly. I enjoyed getting all the costumes and washing dry on the line today (and it didn’t cost 2 francs!).
Rosie getting organised
Saturday 23rd August                                                                                                                                                                      26 miles

A cold night, followed by a sunny day with blue sky, but a chilly wind – warm out the wind. The children went on the lilo in the morning and Adrian took some cine. We sat on the beach. Thomas went to sleep at lunchtime. The children went back to the beach. We went out late afternoon. We drove up to the town of Noirmoutier, after buying a map of the island. Lots of one-way systems. Quite crowded (late Saturday afternoon). Saw other campsites on the beach – looked quite nice, but windy. We came back to the town and stopped by the Castle and St. Philbert’s church. We went inside and into the crypt.
We saw the “Petit train” and sat and watched it by the Castle. Thomas looked at all the boats and was very interested. The children had bought him a boat earlier as a birthday present.
Later Thomas played with his boat in the “bath”. We got back to the campsite about 6.30 pm and got supper, including very nice pork chops from the camp shop (Fr.13 for three large chops). Emma and Simon had another swim, then showers and bed.
St Philberts Church
'Le petit train'
Boats in the harbour in Noirmoutier-en-l'Île
There's a circus here too!
Sunday 24th August                                                                                                                                                                    22 miles

Another warm, sunny day, with a cold  wind.  The children went to the beach to sail Tom’s boat, then we left and drove to “Passage du Gois” the low tide road. We were surprised at the length of the road (about 2 miles) and also by the number of people who had parked their cars and were collecting mussles (we assumed). There were several little towers with ladders up them and we stopped by one of these and the others climb it, while I stayed at the bottom and chatted to an English couple who happened to be there.
We continued on our drive across to Beauvoir sur Mer – now no longer on the sea, with all the reclaimed land. We drove back along the low tide road and stopped at the island end for a few minutes, then came back to the tent for an early lunch, including tuna fish, which Thomas loved. After lunch we went to the beach and spent the afternoon there. The tide was coming much higher up the beach, presumably as it’s nearly full moon. The children played on the lilo and Thomas with his boat.
The towers and the Passage du Gois - the 'Low tide road'
View to the toll bridge from a tower on the Passage du Gois
Monday 25th August                                                                                                                                                                           26 miles

Sunny, but even blowier in the morning. We left late morning and tried to get some money from a bank but they were only open in Noirmoutier in itself. We decided to go to the beach first. We stopped in L'Herbaudière midday and found the market just about to close.
We came back for showers etc, then had to wait for supper until we got a new gas bottle. We were still fairly early and drove up to Fosse Point – under the bridge and facing the mainland and had fun walking in the splodgy sand.
An afternoon on the beach at Les Onchères
We drove on down to the beach at la Fosse and ended up walking along the beach to our campsite, collecting shells while Adrian drove back with Thomas. After the children were in bed, Adrian and I walked up and watched the end of a boule match – very serious stuff – which left us rather puzzled with the rules.
Tom under the toll bridge
Splodgy sand in the evening light at Fosse Point
We looked around and bought one or two things, then went and had lunch near the beach, in the sand dunes. Then went to the beach at L'Herbaudière . The water was very clear. A pretty bay with boats. We all had a swim with the snorkel and mask. The water was cold and there wasn’t much to see. The sky became darker and we heard lots of thunder and a storm in the distance – lightning over the sea. The storm got nearer, so we went back to the car – just in time, as it began to rain heavily. We drove into Noirmoutier and got some money, then went to a nearby “hypermarket”. Came back for supper, then later all walked to the beach. Lovely evening an almost full moon.
The harbour at L'Herbaudière
The market at L'Herbaudière
Tuesday 26th August                                                                                                                                                                              17 miles

Thomas woke us at about 7.45, saying in his sleep “please may I get down”! Soon afterwards it began to rain, so I read the children a story and read this diary to them before we got up. The rain  soon stopped. and later on we all went to the beach. The tide had gone out further than usual and the others spent a long time collecting shells. The clouds came and after lunch it began to rain again and we drove off through La Guérinière. We stopped and looked at the beach at the far end. It was very seaweedy and smelly.
We drove to several different beaches, all sandy and stopped at one at L'Épine. The sun came out and it was warm again and we all went for a swim. Lots of flies at all these beaches. We drove to the supermarket (Unico) and got one or two things for Paul’s birthday. We got back to the campsite, and found that takeaway meals had stopped on Sunday – we had intended getting chicken and chips for Paul’s birthday. Everything seemed to be coming to a close, as the “high season” ends on Sunday. The site is slowly emptying of people. Simon didn’t seem quite himself this evening and the others took a long time going to sleep. We walked around the site, waiting to see the full moon, which eventually appeared amidst the clouds. Thomas had befriended the girls in the next tent, “my friends” and plays and chats to them.
Windmill at La Guérinière.
Wednesday 27th August                                                                                                                                                                   23 miles

Paul’s 9th birthday. Not a good night sleep for me – very hot and people talking. We had a drink and biscuits and Paul opened his presents before breakfast. After breakfast we played with some of his games and later in the morning we gave him another of his presents – electronic mastermind – which occupied them for the rest of the morning. After a short play on the beach with Thomas, I got lunch – mostly to Paul’s specification, with a few extras! After lunch we went out looking for “location  de cycles” – cycle hire – as Paul had asked specially to do that. We tried several places and were unsuccessful and ended up at the north of the island, where we found a delightful little beach near “Plage des Souzeaux”. It was a tiny little Sandy Cove, with large rocks and lots of boats anchored offshore (Plage de l'Anse Rouge). The boys found lizards on the rocks and we all had a swim in the sea, until the sun went behind the trees and we went back to the car, and drove back to the “location”, where this time we were lucky. After some deliberation on the rights size etc. hired a six seater cycle for half an hour. It was expensive, but well worth it as it was very much enjoyed by everyone and one of the highlights of the holiday.
We stopped on the way back to the tent at the “hypermarket” and bought chicken and ice cream gateau etc. for Paul’s birthday meal. Back at the tent we began to prepare the meal, including what we had bought as “Dauphine potatoes”, but were very much enjoyed – rather like tiny Yorkshire pudding balls. We had bought a tiny cake, which I had iced and put candles on.
On a bicycle made for six
We ate the cake later, after playing games and running races on the beach until it got dark. Thomas thoroughly enjoyed running round as “bionic man”. Hopefully a birthday to be remembered by Paul.
Paul's 9th birthday cake
Thursday 28th August                                                                                                                                                                           35 miles

Awoke quite early – about 7.30. A  mediocre sort of day, which tried to be sunny, then drizzled most of the day! Nevertheless Emma and Simon had a swim after breakfast and I did some washing  (that always makes it rain!) We left late morning to go to the market at La Guérinière. This proved to be an expensive exercise, as after buying some bananas and beans etc., we were stopped by a “Nougat man”, who after giving us all free samples, tried to get us to buy some nougat for £8! as we had thought it cost 80p and handed over a Fr.10 (£1) note, which he wasn’t giving back and ended up by paying Fr.15 (£1.50) for a small bag of nougat! We drove down to the front at La Guérinière for Paul to take his photo of windmills. Like many places it smelt of seaweed!
We drove up to la Bosse and stopped by the sea to have lunch. In our hurry to get out, we had forgotten the drink and the cutlery, but managed with a small plastic knife, and ate lunch in the car. The road didn’t continue up the coast, and so we drove back and then up the north coast, then back to Noirmoutier to get some more money. We stopped, and walked through the no traffic shopping street and bought ice creams, then drove back to the “low tide road”, which was covered but full of people.
The windmills at La Guérinière
After supper we went to the beach.  The sun had come out, giving a lovely evening – a bit chilly, but the children didn’t seem to notice this and played in the sea. We came back to the tent and chatted (!) to the French family in the next  tent (Thomas’s friends) who are leaving to go back to Nancy tomorrow.
No go on the 'low tide road'
Tom with an expensive balloon from the 'nougat man'
Three children in the sunset
Friday 29th August                                                                                                                                                    20 miles

An extremely windy day! Rain threatened once or twice, and so did the sun. Thomas’s “friends” next door were packing up to go, so both lots took photos. Thomas couldn’t understand that they were really going
“but I want to play with them”.
We still had no hot water in our loo block, so I took the washing to do at the other loo block including two large towels, which were dry in a couple of hours. Thomas went to sleep, so after lunch the others all went to the beach and we had to wake up Tom and give him his lunch to eat in the car, as we drove up to the north of the island, to the little cove we found on Paul’s birthday, which we hoped (rightly) would be less windy. The children all had a marvellous time on the rocks and in the sand and all, plus Adrian, who had a swim. Thomas called all the rocks his “boats” and scrambled from one to another. Simon made Tom a sand car just before we left.We all came back for supper and showers hot water! Could it be that Adrian complained at the reception desk on our way out? An evening spent in the tent playing games.
Thomas and his 'friends'
The children playing on 'our beach' - (Plage de l'Anse Rouge)
Saturday 30th August                                                                                                                                                                      20 miles

Our last day at Les Onchères and a very windy one! The children spent most of the morning playing games in the tent I walked down to the beach and back round the long way and through the campsite and got caught in a sudden shower of rain. After lunch we decided to return to “our Cove” and as if by magic, when we got there, the sun came out and it was very hot! The children spent the whole afternoon playing in a rock pool with the starfish and crabs etc. that they had found. We saw the small rats or mice that Simon had seen yesterday.
The children had a last swim before we returned to the “hypermarket” to do our last shopping. Unfortunately there were no small things for   the children to spend their pocket money on, but we made up for this by letting them choose an ice lolly back at the campsite. We found it still very windy by our tent, but cooked supper – watercress soup, frankfurters, potatoes, mushrooms and courgettes, then yoghurt for the children and caramel desert for us. After having showers and Tom his last bath, we began clearing up in readiness for our return journey tomorrow.
Sunday 31st August                                                                                                                                                                             205 miles

We got up about 7.30 to find that the wind had dropped, and it was a lovely morning. We cleared up and left about 10.30 – the children had a last ice lolly while Adrian paid – cheaper for 10 nights than the last site for 5! We drove northwards after leaving the island by the toll bridge – through Beauvoir, then towards Nantes and Angers. We stopped at a layby for lunch – hot in the sun. We enjoyed seeing trees and undulating land after the flat island of the past 10 days. We drove through Le Mans, then north to Alençon and stopped at Sées, a small town with a huge Cathedral. The site was a typical small French site – a field beside a football field, with a few swings etc. and  simple loo block, but full of character. It was still warm in the sun, as we pitched the tent and cooked supper. Afterwards we walked down into the town and into the Cathedral, which was very high and had some lovely stained glass windows.
They held a “Son et Lumiere” later in the evening. We walked back to the campsite and noticed that it was quite chilly and damp.
Sées Cathedral and the square by it
Monday 1st September                                                                                                                                                             105 miles

A cold night and we awoke to find a thick mist and everywhere very cold and damp. We left the site about 9.30, and went to “Suma” supermarket opposite, which we found very clean and organised. We continued on our journey, after stopping in the town by the Cathedral. The countryside was unexpectedly pretty – wooded and valleys. There were also very pretty half timbered houses. The mist had cleared to give a warm sunny day, but fog returned once aor twice. We had to cross the River Seine by toll bridge (Fr.11.50) at Pont de Tankerville, unfortunately in the mist. We followed the road into le Havre. White cliffs to the right and flat fields to the left. Sunny again. Huge port and industry etc. We drove to Townsend Thoresen information, but it was closed from 12.0 – 2.00 and it was now 12.30, so drove on to the beach and had our lunch on there. It was warm and sunny and the children played in the sand and paddling.
We left about 3.00 pm and went back to Townsend Thorensen information – apparently no problem with ferries now. We drove through the town to the campsite (through the tunnel). The site is on the edge of the Forest of Montgon. Very beautiful. The campsite was clean and organised.
About 3.30 we pitched the tent (it was still very wet from dew this morning). It was sunny for the rest of the afternoon and evening.. There was a nice playpark for the children.
Children and Rosie on the beach at Le Havre
We had our meal quite early, then showers etc., then drove to another part of the park where there was a tremendous children’s park – bumpy slides, helter-skelter slides, roundabouts and climbing frames. The children tried them all! Unfortunately Adrian came off a little roundabout and fell over knocking Simon over with him. Adrian was cut and scratched, and Simon very shaken up, but recovered later
Simon and Tom in the playpark at the campsite
. We went back to the tent for our last night. Adrian and I walked around the site. It was damp again.
Tom on the climbing frame
Paul, Emma & Simon on the 'fatal roundabout'
Tuesday 2nd September                                                                                                                                                                     72 miles

The night wasn’t as cold as we’d expected. Everyone was coming and going and alarms going off, so it was quite easy to be up by 7 o’clock. We packed up the tent and left by 7.40. A lovely morning as we drove into Le Havre. We managed to stop and spend our last French money on bread and buns and then the petrol.
We drove straight on to the boat – we ate muesli in the car before getting out. We left at 8.50 (for 9.00). We put clocks back one hour. A calm voyage which went very quickly. We met Mike Tanner and family and chatted quite a bit. The boys played in the games room. Had lunch, then watched arrival into Portsmouth – very hot then. Arrived soon after 1 o’clock (English time – crossing just over five hours) and were soon off the boat and heading for home, after a very lovely holiday.

Total 1900 miles
Holiday to France   11th August   2nd September 1980
Friday 15th August                                                                                                                                                                                    96 miles

Disaster day! The beautiful day yesterday ended in lightning as we went to bed, then thunder overhead, then rain. There was more rain in the night, and we awoke to rain and Emma saying “Daddy, the tent’s sagging down this side”. Our tent had let us down, and the huge amount of water was resting on top. Adrian tried to pull the tent down to ease it off but inevitably some  got inside and then the tent began to collect water on the inner roof, then poured down (into a bowl). We got the children out and into the car and cleared up  what we could. It was pouring down outside, so we got breakfast in the tent and then managed to take down the sopping wet tent. We too were sopping wet but at least it wasn’t cold. We left what had been our beautiful campsite and continued down the Dordogne in the rain this time. We passed through lots of pretty little villages and saw lots of châteaux on top of hills.