10 Go Wild on L’Île de Ré


10 Go Wild on L’Île de Ré

It’s Kombi Kaper holiday time again and this year we’ve been to one of my favourite places in France,  L’Île de Ré, off the coast near La Rochelle.

Ten Brazilian Bay Campers were booked into a site near Le Bois-Plage-en-Ré, but first we had to get there.
Our journey started in Lancashire on a wet day, that got even wetter.The M6 was a (recurring) nightmare and it took us nearly 8 hours to get to Portsmouth, where we met up with the other Club members before heading to the Ferry for the 8.30pm crossing to Caen.

Herdy enjoying the rain

Still grey in Portsmouth

Queueing for the Ferry (who’s missing?)
Ah, here’s Voyager (nee Alderley), en route from a fuel stop

It’s not a long crossing to Caen, so as soon as our heads hit the pillows in our cabin, it seemed to be time to be up again. We’re definitely going back to the St Malo Ferry next year, where you can get a reasonable night’s sleep. In retrospect, maybe going to the bar when we embarked wasn’t such a good idea!

In any event it was an early start from Caen, with everyone ready to join the convoy to the Île de Ré.

The trip to the island was uneventful but long, avoiding tolls, but paying the price in the time it took. We eventually arrived at the campsite, after a few stops and having crossed the bridge, at around 6.30pm. Alison, who’d had two days of driving, was knackered very tired but we still managed to get the Glawning up and had a meal in the site restaurant before sleep.

The bridge to the island
Waiting to check in at the campsite
Camp Absinthe by day

Unfortunately the first few days brought intermittent rain – intermittent until one day when it rained for 18 hours. It didn’t stop us getting out on the bikes, although we did have to buy some stylish cycling gear one day in St Martin.

I actually got us lost coming back from St Martin in the rain, but we were so wet by then that we just laughed about it. We’ve been to the island quite a few times but this is the first time we’ve seen any rain. Not to worry – apart from a violent thunder storm one night, the rest of the two weeks were glorious – not too hot but mainly bright sunshine.

Here’s what the outside of our pitch was like on a quiet day:

Days were spent cycling to the many small villages, and nights were for chatting with friends on the beach and in Tim’s event shelter – a perfect way to relax.

Camp Brazibay

Beach Party

Beach art competitions and fantastic sunsets

Gathering at Richard & Sarah’s chalet
La Flotte

The local village had a great market every day including brilliant indoor fish stalls with a massive selection of seafood.

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Freshly barbecued sardines, bought from the market

Huge langoustines

We only left the island once, to go to La Rochelle – it cost €5 for a return ticket on the bus, a bargain at the current exchange rates. We’ve been to the town lots of times so we decided to do something different by booking a 45 minute boat trip out into the bay.

One of the highlights of any Brazilian Bay trip is a cruise with all the vans. We set off one night in convoy to visit the Phare des Baleines, the lighthouse near the top of the island.

Despite getting stuck in a massive traffic jam caused by an accident, we had a great time and attracted lots of attention as we drove along.

We’d brought loads of solar lights with us and had a pitch that meant loads of people had to pass us to get to the showers and reception, so we got quite a few comments over the week.

Here’s a video of us driving back to the site and through the Brazilian Bay camp:

You’ll see lots of bikes on the video and the island is really well geared up for cyclists, with cycle routes everywhere and not many issues with going on to the roads. Even then, most motorists are happy to give way to bikers in a way that’s the exact opposite of what happens in the UK.

Eleven of us used our bikes to go out to a local restaurant one night, which was a great laugh, especially when we cycled back in the pitch black with head torches and high viz jackets – cue much laughter and some wobbly cycling…

The two weeks passed all too quickly, particularly as we left a day early to catch the 8.30am ferry, giving us time to not only drive to Caen but also to get home on Saturday for a family picnic on Sunday.

We got to Caen by 7pm on Friday and managed to get onto the 11pm sailing that night. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a cabin available, so we had to sleep on reclining seats. Never again! I don’t think either of us got much sleep and we were still tired as we set off from Portsmouth on Saturday morning.

Reclining seats – not conducive to sleep

We had breakfast at Warwick services and then decided to stop at Norton Canes on the M6 Toll road to get half an hour’s sleep. Just as we’d nodded off a caravaner came knocking on the van wanting us to move forward to let her and her husband in to the line. We were already parked right at the front and ultimately they parked next to us, but by then I was wide awake and not a little cross. I may have made this known to the lady in fairly strident terms. Me? Surely not?

So that’s it for another year – certainly our best trip with the Kombi Krew and hopefully we’ll be joining them again next year for more fun and sunshine.

Here’s a few random photos from around the island.

THINGS WE’VE LEARNED:

It’s a long way to Tipperary (and the Île de Ré)
Apparently, I’m not the loudest snorer in the Kombi Krew
The European wine lake was last seen in boxes in a certain green van (ydw, yr wyf yn golygu eich un chi, Daz)
Beach parties with fire are the best of things
There’s not much funnier than a glass of Kwak
The French love a Konvoy of Kampers
There can be more injuries and fallers in a rounders match, than during the entire Cheltenham National Hunt Festival
Waking up during the night in the van on site and hearing a voice say, “Shall we open the bell tent and go in” makes any further sleep quite difficult
300 children on bikes on a campsite can somehow avoid coming into contact with moving cars (stationary ones are a whole different kettle of fish though)

I’d trade the M6 for a  French motorway any day, tolls or no tolls

There’s a full set of pics here: FLICKR

2 comments

  1. Tony P

    Excellent blog! It summed up those two fantastic weeks perfectly. Watching those videos just makes you want to go straight back and do it all over again.

    Reply

  2. James harper

    “CampingThings” simply aims to share the best camping equipment reviews and trekking experiences to help you get more out of getting out more… (see what we did there). Please get involved, tell us about your best adventures, secret camping spots and latest camping gadgets and equipment. Best hiking gear

    Reply

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