CAMPING REPORT: PARIS, CHARENTE-MARITIME, DORDOGNE, PYRENEES-ATLANIQUE, ARIEGE and VIENNE.
This web page is a report on a tent-camping trip conducted by an American couple in France, June-July 2000. They took their tent and other camping equipment with them on the air flight to Paris. While it cannot be guaranteed that all the circumstances can be repeated, the experiences were very similar to the couple's earlier tent camping trips in Western Europe over a 30-year period.

It is suggested that you visited the main page and read the General Remarks before reading this report. Go Main Page for Tent Camping in France.


PLANNING:
Much was done as for the earlier 1995 and '99 trips. Tent, camping equipment and clothes were placed in four canvas flight bags, checked as luggaged and flown to France. Travel in France was by rented car.
Before departing the States, car rental reservations were made and an International Driver's License was obtained. Also acquired was an International Camping Carnet (ICC). Another useful card was the VISA credit card. The advantages of these pre-departure actions are explained under General Remarks on the main page.
For this trip we requested another diesel economy size car, but had to accept an 'upgrade' in the form of a Renault Kangoo gasoline model (stick-shift, of course). It looked like a mini SUV and proved excellent for camping and economic road travel.
Food preparation followed the practices of previous trips: mainly picnic lunches and dinners, with occasional dinning out. Groceries and snack items were purchased small stores at or near the campgrounds, with especially good buys at the supermarkets. For heating food and water, we used the Gaz 470 series system. See comments for 1998 trip.

Planning for this trip had some side research objectives. One was to seek some information on the dukes of Anjou. Another was to locate the area for the 'battle of Taillebourg' that took place between that commune and the larger town of Saintes. Third was to explore some of the southwestern 'vacation' areas along the Atlantic coast. An ambitious fourth goal was conceived in case the earlier objectives (and camping locations) were not worth the effort or time. This last objective was to visit some of the fortress ruins of the Cathars that are scattered about southern France.


ITINERARY:


MAISONS LAFFITTE (Yvelines - 78 in ILE-DE-FRANCE.
23 JULY, FRIDAY. Arived at Charles de Gaulle, picked up rented car and drove southwest toward the campsite we had used previously at Maisons Laffitte, a northwest suburb of Paris. This camp ground, on the Seine River, is discussed in the main page to this website.
This time, we lucked out and got an emplacment on the bank of Seine. However, the campgrounds showed some wear from the last visit two years back. This appeared to due to the severe 1999-2000 winter storm that hit France, and was particularly hard on the suburbs around Paris. Out initial plans were to dispell jet-lag by taking a few days to re-visit Paris The RER train station is only a 15 to 20 minute walk from the edge of the camp site. The length of our stay was influenced by buying an 'Orange' card that offered a week-long package of rides on the RER, the Metro, and buses. Made daily trips from site into Paris. The Orange Card to ride the various public transit systems paid off in this prolonged stay to visit Paris. A good place to purchase one is at the RER train station. At times there is a multilingual agent there to especially help tourist make the purchase. There are also discounts on 3-day use of these transit systems, the week-long purchase is the bigger saving. The cards are limited to 'districts' that relate to travel in an around Paris.

Camping International
1 rue Johnson
78600 MAISONS-LAFFITTE
Tel: 01 39 12 21 91; Fax: 01 34 93 02 60
Expenses: Camping site cost for seven nights was $124.68. Orange cards (for two persons) for certain zones and 5 days, cost: $39.62

SAMUR (Maine-et-Loire - 49 in PAYS DE LA LOIRE).
30 JUNE, FRIDAY. Traveled from campsite at Maisons Laffitte to Samur, and settled in at Camping Ile d'Offard. This is an excellent campground on an island in the Loire. Bridges connect the island to either banks of the river. Pitching ones tent on the southern side of the island offers a view of the magnificent medieval château of the dukes of Anjou. The château dominates the town's skyline and is lit at night. The structure has since been modified with Renaissance features, that probably give it a little more refined look since occupied by the famous duc 'roi René' and his less known, but more significant to French history, mother Yolande d'Anjou -- or as she was known in her time 'La reine de Sicilie'. A little research footnote. The 'maison' where Yolande died on the island where the campground is located. One walks by it making the 30 to 40 min walk into Samur.
The château is a must visit, though American tourists should be alerted that when the guides mention 'the king', they are referring to René de Anjou, the last duke who held only a titular title to being 'king of Sicily'. There are English tour at certain times. Samur has some other museums, notably the Musée des Blindés [armor museum] and nearby cavalry museum. Both fitting as the town is the home of the 'Cavalry and Armored Corps Academy. The town, itself, it very attractive and active, fun to walk about and visit. In addition, this campsite is excellent for excursions to many Loire historic sites.
The campground covers a third of the island, Ile d'Offard, in the Loire River. It is aside a community sports area, but not attached to it. Prefered tent sites along the southern bank of the island are 56 through 69. However, the groud rises a little, so that many of the sites away from the water have good views fo the town and the château.

Camping Ile d'Offard
Rue de Verden
49400 SAMUR
Tel: 02.41.40.30.00; Fax: 02.41.67.37.81
Expenses: campsite: $25 per night [1 car and 2 pesrons per night = 85 FF; tax per night = 2 FF per adult]. Total bill was 431.00 FF; 65.71 Euros; $63.52.

SAINTES (Charente - 16 in POITOU-CHARENTES)
4 JULY, TUESDAY. Traveled from Samur to Saintes. Very nice campgrounds. Saintes is an interesting town with many ancient Roman ruins and an active cultural community. It is also excellent for visiting many points of interest in western Loire and along the Atlantic coast. From here we took excursions to Rochefort (where they are rebuilding one of the ships that brought Lafayette to America). We visited the resort town of Royen, and a small historic commune of Bayle. We alos revisited La Rochelle, where we camped in 1998.
Saintes offers a quite summer camping with casual activity. The 'Charente-Maritime' region's climate is influenced by the Atlantic Ocean. Many of the more resort-oriented costal port towns are all easy drives from Saintes. Saintes is an option to camping at the many crowded summer vaction campsites that are along the coast.
A little research footnote. The monument to the 'battle of Taillebourg' was located just south of the town, which is a short distance from Saintes. The 'battle' was actually a small 'campaign' that took place between the fortress at Taillebourg (some parts remain) and the (then) walled city of Saintes, between the 20 and 24 of July 1242. Saintes may not have been much of a battle as a short siege.
The municipal campgound of Au Fil de l'Eau borders the Charente river that flows through the center of Saintes. It is adjacent to very large community pool, and it has small restaurant and shoppette for breakfasts, buying bread and late evening drinks.
Au Fil de l'Eau
6, rue de Courbiac
17100 SAINTES
Tel: 05 46 93 61 88 or 05 46 93 08 00
Expenses: lost record.

SAINT EMILION (Gironde - 33 in AQUITAINE)
9 JULY, SUNDAY. Traveled to St. Emilion. Did not plan camp there, but found town so attractive, that we did so. We were fortunate to get a tent site in mid afternoon at the crowded Domaine de la Barbanne campground, about a five minute drive from St. Emilion. RV and small caravans were being turned away.

Domaine de la Barbanne
Route de Montagne
33330 SAINT-EMILION
Tel: 05.57.24.75.80; Fax: 05.57.24.69.68
Expenses: one night was 104 FF [1 emplacement (42 FF) + 2 adults (2x30=60 FF) + tax (2X1.10=2.20 FF) = 104.20 FF.

SAINT-JEAN de LUZ (Pyrénées-Atlantiques - 64 in AQUITAINE) [Pays Basque]
10 JULY, MONDAY. Long drive to southwest. Scenery enroute not attractive but interesting Finally rached Saint-Jean de Luz and found the dramatic, ocean-side scenery promised in the promotions on les Pays Basque. Most ot the promotion relates to the more famous resort town of Biarritz (to the north of St-Jean de Luz). However, many find St-Jean to be more casual, the shopping center more charming and the sandy beach area more relaxing than found in northern town.
Camp Elgar site is the first one that you come to as you enter the town, on the main road, comming from the north. Take an immediate hairpin turn right (to the west), up a short road. The grass grounds have hedges and some trees. This makes this campground popular with the experienced tenters, who appreciate the protection the vegetation offers when those very high winds come in off the ocean. Elgar is an easy walk (500 meters) to the sandy beach; and a 40 minute walk to the main shopping center of St-Jean de Luz. If one took just a 90 degree turn off the main road from the north, and continued doe the road a short distance, they would find some very crowded (with vehicle-type campers) campgrounds that are 'just across the road' from the sandy beaches on the ocean.

Elgar
Plage d'Erromardie
64500 SAINT-JEAN-de-LUZ
Tel: 05 59 26 85 85
Expenses: 22.50 FF per adult per day, 13.50 FF for auto, 22.50 FF for emplacement. We stayed for 4 days. 8.80 FF tax to bill. Total was 332.80 FF for 4 nights.

FOIX (Ariège - 09 in MIDI-PYRÉNÉES)
14 JULY, FRIDAY. Drove to Foix. Enroute stopped at St-Jean-Pied-de-Port.
Château at Foix is impressive and contains a very interesting museum. The campground was adequate. Might have been better to have tried one passed earlier coming in from the west. Had to drive back into town of Foix; it is not a suitable walk.
At this point, we realized that remote Cathar ruins could not be taken in on this trip. However, we did manage to take in some of the famouse towns: one day spent going to Alibi, and another to Toulouse. We even made a quick pass of Carcassonne, which we had visited many years back.

Camping du Lac
RN 20
09000 FOIX
Tel: 05 61 65 11 58
Expenses: not recorded

SARLAT (Dordogne - 24 in AQUITAINE)
17 JULY, MONDAY. Drove to Sarlat. Les Périères is an outstanding campground right next to Sarlat, with its most pleasant medieval town center. Excellent for visiting nearby châteaux. A real gem. Very restful, quiet and well furnished campground. Wooded and situated in a ring of hills, a 10 minute walk form the historic and active town center. Les Périères contains a small, quick-order restaurant, a reading room (with casual bar), swimming pools (indoor and two out doors), tennis courts, and children play grounds. The busy area is in the center of the grounds. Campers up on the surrounding tiers are not bothered by the noise.

Les Périères
S.A.R.L. Laffilay-Obert
24203 SARLAT
CEDEX B.P. 98
Tel: 05.53.59.05.84; Fax: 05.53.28.57.51
Expenses: as one would expect with all the amenities, it is one of the more expensive sites. 114 FF without electricity. With tax it was 447 FF for 3 nights.

BRANTÔME (Dordogne - 24 in AQUITAINE)
20 JULY, THURSDAY. Had visited Brantôme in earlier trips. Mainly to visit friends who live in the area. Site borders a small river and remains pleasent with very fine facilities. The campground is only a 10 minute walk into the small, well maintained commune, which has shops and restaurants.

Camp Municipal
Avenue André Maurois
24310 BRANTÔME
Tel: 05 53 05 75 24
Expenses: not recorded

LIMOGES (Haute-Vienne - 87 in LIMOUSIN)
22 JULY, SATURDAY. Traveled to Limoges, visited Aixe, to make some purchases at outlet stores. However, we did not camp there, as in the past, but sought a campground closer to the center of the city. The sinage was poor, and we would have found the site more easily if we had taken the A 20 autoroute. The municipal center of D'Uzurt is north of the center of Limoges, and just north of a lake Uzurt. Best to use Exit 30 to the west off A 20, on the north side of the center of the city. Good facilities.

Camp Municipal D'Uzurat
87000 LIMOGES
Tel: 05 55 38 49 43
Expenses: not recorded

MORET-sur-LOING [near Fontainbleau] (Seine-et-Marne - 77 in ILE-DE-FRANCE)
22 JULY, SATURDAY. Traveled to Fontanbleau, and were disappointed in the town, but discovered a jewel in the nearby commune of Moret-sur-Loing. We settled at Camp Caroline, which is in woods, off to the southeast of Fontainbleau and next to the small hamlet of Thomery. The location permited an easy drive back to visit Fontanbleau. However, the most enjoyable part was visiting the picturesque, small commune of Moret-sur-Loing, which was within a 30 min walking distance from the campground.

Camp Caroline
77810 THOMERY
Tel: 01 60 70 00 71
Expenses: not recorded

AUMONT en HALATTE (Oise - 60, in PICARDIE) 25 JULY, TUESDAY. This site was used in 1998 trip. The objective was to be at a campground within a short drive of the Charles de Gaulle airport.
Aumont en Halatte is in the very small town which is a short 5-minute drive from the attractive and ancient town of Senlis. Senlis is immediately off the Autoroute to Roissy Charles-de-Gaulle, about a 20 minute drive south of the airport.

Camp A.T.C. d'Aumont
Place de l'Eglise
Aumont en Halatte
Tel: 03 44 60 00 42

DEPARTURE.
27 JULY, THURSDAY. Departed to Charles de Gaulle.


To review contents: Return to top. / Planning for trip. / Itinerary. / Camping at Maisons Laffitte. / Camping at Samur. / Camping at Saintes / Camping at St-Emilion. Camping at St-Jean de Luz. / Camping at Foix. / Camping at Sarlat. / Camping at Brantôme. / Camping at Limoges. / Camping near Moret-s-Loing. / Camping at Aumont en Halatte. /

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Page created 22 May 2001; revised 28 May 2001.