Stop one – outskirts of Paris
It is currently 10:49am and we are on the ferry waiting to depart from Dover and arrive at Calais. Our first stop in France is east Paris, camping at a peaceful site we’ve stayed at as a family before. After three nights there we are driving to the south of France for a week, and then stopping again on the other side of Paris on the way home.
We arrived in sunny France, got off the ferry, and drove until 6:30pm to our first destination – Berney-Rivière, La Croix du Vieux Pont, in the small village Vic-Sur-Aisne. Myself and my family are now staying here for the fourth time as it is a lovely campsite in a great location. It is an hour and forty five minute drive to central Paris and one hour twenty minutes to Disney land. We are staying in a pre-erected tent which includes a fridge and stove. It is really quite spacious for a tent and is luckily in the shade as the weather has been reaching thirty five degrees!
I then went on a walk to explore the campsite which is excellent for families. There are large pools with super slides (and a splash area for toddlers and young children), a kids club, teens club, playground, bowling alley, sports courts and of course a bar and restaurant for the parents. There is also a bakery, onsite shop and a snack bar so not only is there plenty to do, but it is also extremely practical. My family met me walking beside the large lake in the centre of the site and we all went for a family drink at the bar to celebrate the fact that we were on holiday and beaming with excitement.
Dad and I went for a walk around the lake after dinner as the sun was setting and pink clouds glistened in the waters reflection. We went to a man made beach area which has a beach themed bar on the side. There was sand and bright blue water as if a real beach however we were surrounded by sheltering trees and beautiful forests. After a quick game of family basket ball, we headed back to the tent for a good nights sleep.
This morning we went to the pool for a swim and to soak up the sun. There is an outdoor pool with a lazy river and fountain, inside pool, jacuzzi, two large slides, a shallow pool and small slide for babies and toddlers and a separate room of fountains and games for young children to run through. After a couple of hours at the pool, we went back to the tent for a French feast of baguette, cheese, ham and wine. What else do you indulge on when in France?
At around 3pm, we walked to the beach pool to swim and sunbathe yet again. By 5pm it was thirty six degrees! We read and played games in between dipping our toes in the refreshing water. For dinner dad cooked a lovely BBQ then we went to the bar in the evening to witness and enjoy the karaoke and dancing around the pool for entertainment.
After a trip to the bakery this morning and eating pastries for breakfast, we jumped in the car and drove ten minutes into the quaint village Vic-Sur-Aisne. The coble streets were extremely pretty with flowers elegantly displayed on the windows of the ancient little homes. It was like a scene from Beauty and the Beast.
For dinner, we went to the restaurant on the camp site which was delicious. My brother even had the traditional snails to start! My steak was beautiful; cooked perfectly and I would highly recommend. We had an early night as we have a very long drive tomorrow to stop two.
I’ve loved staying at this campsite and would recommend it to anyone who would like to go to Paris but stay on the outskirts. The reason we didn’t drive into Paris or Disneyland this stay is because we were looking for a place to stop on the way to the south of France and planned to stay on site. If you are wanting to go into Paris or Disney, you should definitely stay the week in a caravan at Berney-Rivière as we have before. There are plenty of things to do around camp when you are not travelling into the city, but still have plenty of time to explore during the week.
We personally booked with Canvas and have stayed here with Eurocamp before. There are also other options available online.
Stop two – The French Riviera
Waking up at 5:30am, we all made sure we had everything packed and left for our lengthy nine hour drive as the sun was rising over French fields. We drove through the city of Lyon on the way which looked really pretty with tall buildings reflecting against the elegant river in the middle, despite the awful weather. In Paris last night there was unexpected thunderstorms of thunder and lighting and it seemed to pass through Lyon on our drive. After driving though Lyon, it was only supposed to be another four hours. Due to heavy traffic, we didn’t get to Southern France until we had spent thirteen hours on the road. A lot of that traffic was queuing to pay tolls, which can be €5-€30, so expect to pay if you want to drive (which is still cheaper than flying) and you may expect to have to wait around on the roads.
We got to our campsite, Esterel caravaning, on the outskirts of Cannes, at around 7:30pm. It is in the middle of the Esterel mountains and our caravan decking overlooks hills and more hills: slides of green. The constant breeze and sound of birds chirping is beautifully al fresco.
This campsite is five stars which I suppose is due to the location and very modern style of camping. Some of the tent pitches have their own jacuzzis and private bathrooms and some of the caravans have the most incredible views. The bar and restaurant has very modern interior which has a terrace option for dining, over looking the romantically lit pools.
After a morning trip to the supermarket and quick breakfast, we went on a short drive to Agay which is only five minutes away from camp. Fortunately the weather is really warm again and there is certainly not one rain cloud in the sky. Agay has a dainty beach and harbour. We found a alluring stretch of blue waves and bobbing boats; we will go back to explore properly tomorrow.
Then, we had a restful afternoon staying around camp. My brother explored the tennis and basketball courts while I read and sunbathed on our decking. The evening was spent playing cards and listening to music.
30/07/18 – Agay
We drove back into Agay this morning to spend the day at the beach. It was boiling with no shade but the sea breeze felt refreshing. The sand was very gritty and difficult to walk on, especially as it was so hot so I had to keep going in the water to cool down. Miles of hills and mountains lay behind us with blankets of waves infront of us. Dad and I went in the sea with a new lilo and played bat and ball in the shallow edge of the sea. After ice cream, we went back to the caravan and realised how much sun we had caught. Everyone was slightly pink despite wearing sun cream so it was a brief reminder to constantly top up and wear factor 50!
In the afternoon, I went for a walk around the campsite to find stunning views of the mountains and it’s ruby red rocks. There is a spa, takeaway snacks, bike hire, shop and kids club on site as well as sports facilities and more.
We had a table booked at the restaurant at 8pm so we headed there dressed up fairly smart. All the food was amazing and worth the pretty costly prices. I had the salmon and shrimp linguine which was so tasty. A show was performed around the pool which unfortunately, we couldn’t really see from where we were sat but we could see fire and music going on giving me the impression that evening entertainment is always exciting.
31/07/18 – St Raphaël
Today we went to Saint-Raphaël, a ten to fifteen minute drive away. It is very similar to Agay but much bigger as it is the main town with designer stores an market stalls along the sea front. We first went to the harbour to book a boat trip for Thursday then couldn’t resist a McDonald’s.
Then we walked along the coast to observe the blue and green landscape. Dad and I walked along some rocks and listened to the waves crash against the large stones – one of my favourite sounds.
01/08/18 – Cannes
Today we drove into Cannes along winding coastal roads (about forty five minutes from Esterel). Passing many small towns, sunbathers, and the exquisite sun bouncing off of the miles of Mediterranean Sea, it was one of the most incredible drives. Once we found a parking spot, we walked beside the beach front twenty minutes into the town centre. The harbour caused a great stir of jealousy as locals sat on their grand yachts and boats, watching the tourists go by.
The hundreds of boats, mountain top mansions and carefully carved statutes give the area a sense of coastal luxury. Homes with their own helicopter pads and swimming pools; a list of designer stores along the sea front; views of glorious green mountains and red rock – Cannes is a tourist paradise and anyone who visits risks being flooded with envy for the local people.
After walking back to the car to get our beach bag, we sat on the sand for an hour or so. The water was an astounding shade of pale blue nearer the sand and darkens the further you look out to sea. Sand as white as paper and as soft as feathers seeped between toes as I splashed in and out and over the waves. You wouldn’t imagine the scene to be French as the waves and sand could easily be mistaken for being part of a Caribbean beach.
Taking the coastal route back home, we stopped along the way to take photographs. At one photo opportunity, there were some rocks reaching out to sea with people stood on. Despite looking dangerous and not for the faint hearted, dad and I ventured across to acknowledge the views. With sites of beach and green land to the right and red-rocked, small canyons to the left, it was breathtaking.
02/08/18 – St Tropez
This morning we drove to Saint Raphaël to get a boat trip to Saint Tropez. The boat was like a small ferry and everyone rushed on to try and get a seat upstairs. Fortunately, the four of us got a seat on the top deck so we could enjoy the luxurious sea breeze and amazing sights of the French Riviera. We saw jet-skis and parasailers bouncing on the waves beside our boat. It was a lovely, relaxing way to see the views from the seas prospective.
An hour later, we arrived at Saint Tropez port and had three hours to explore before the boat would take us back to Saint Raphaël. Upon arrival, we were greeted by many vintage looking French buildings – all different shades of beige and salmon pink with sash windows. The colours looked immaculate against the blue summer sky, but not necessarily expensive as you’d expect from the rich area.
We walked past artists trying to sell their paintings, and pristinely dressed women hopping on and off the kurbs. On the other side of the harbour, there were many restaurants all lined up and we peered at each costly menu before deciding which place to stop at for lunch.
Eventually we chose to eat at ‘La Sardine’ last in the queue of restaurants, on the corner of the harbour. Fish, pasta, steak and salad were all on offer on the menu. The plates were extremely well portioned for lunch, but expensive as the cheapest main was €17. The cost also came with an exquisite view though, looking out at all the boats, the sea and tree topped mountains.
After lunch, we meandered back past the boats and into the streets a bit but didn’t have lots of time to venture too far. The coble streets and old buildings are extremely picturesque. Before queuing to get back on our boat, we had an ice cream and hunted for shade.
Our last day in the French Riviera before we drive tomorrow to the south of Paris for a few nights. The morning was spent in the pool for a few hours which had water slides, a children’s water playground and five different pools all of which were different depths. The water was even slightly warm, but still cool enough to splash about in and escape the heat for a moment. Also, the water slides are great for any age as you can sit up or lie down to go faster. There are even five small slides in the water playground for younger children to feel the same freedom and fun.
Lazing around is how we spent the afternoon but we planned to go out for the evening into Agay to see the sun set and harbour at night. Dad went to find out about taxis at reception but unfortunately not many taxis run as they come from St Raphaël which means they are also costly at €25 each way for what would be a ten minute maximum drive. A thunderstorm was also due so we didn’t want to risk going out and getting rained on anyway. I ended up cooking a lovely pasta and decided it was nice to stay in despite the idea of going into Agay being a good one.
My time at the French Riviera has been a great adventure. It is a beautiful place with scenic views and plenty to see and do for all the family. If flying, ten days or even two weeks would give you the opportunity to really see and do everything. For example, we didn’t get to go to Nice or a stunning gorge called Gorge Vernon (about two hours away) which was recommended to visit by a friend. This simply means we will have to come back again in the future. The camp site Esterel Caravanning was perfect for driving out, great for any age with quiet areas contrasting to the lively entertainment.
Stop three – South Paris
04/08/18 – 07/08/18
For the last few days we stayed in a small town called Saint Cheron on the outskirts of Paris again. The drive was around ten hours including stops at services for lunch and toilet breaks. We arrived in the evening and the town is very pretty with plenty of locals and very few tourists giving us the opportunity to live like a local. The houses are fairly large with artistic open fields all around. The campsite, Le Parc des Roches, was extremely hard to find on GPS, but we followed sign posts until we eventually found our way.
First impressions weren’t great as our caravan had no cooker and BBQs are not allowed so all food had to be fried which isn’t ideal. The restaurant is also pretty small and the village is shut throughout August. You can also only pay with cash on site. Other than the few hiccups, this campsite will be perfectly practical for a few nights before we go back to England.
We spent the last days going for woodland walks and playing lots of competitive cards while making the most of experiencing authentic French culture.
We went home on the Tuesday, driving past central Paris to get to Calais. Getting the ferry back to England, we were all excited to go home but also already missing our holiday. My favourite part of the whole trip was our drive to Cannes and feeling overwhelmed by some of the views. I also loved St Tropez and how beautifully photogenic the beige buildings looked against the Mediterranean sky.
It’s been yet another amazing adventure and I feel so privileged to have these experiences.
The trip was booked via Canvas holidays