Tag Archives: Cotentin

1975: France – Aug 17, Hornchurch to Lez-Eaux, Cotentin

Awakened at a dreadful hour 5.45am (I think!) and dressed, packed ice-box and picnic bag, got into the car and drove off more asleep than awake except for Sarah who was revoltingly lively.

Drove to Southampton along quite peaceful roads and breakfasted at the service station on the M3 which was very nice, lots of choice of cereals, hot food etc. Filled petrol tank at Southampton and drove to docks where we then sat for hours – our line was the last one on, and we got very cross watching everyone else sail on and get places to sit.

Our boat was the Vikint Venturer, a large ship with terrific capacity for cars etc. and we had to go ‘upstairs’. Then got seats in the restaurant part and ate our bacon sandwiches and drank our orange juice, and looked around. Weather misty and drizzling, sea calm.

Boat sailed at 10.30am and for at least 1 1/2 hours we were sailing past the Isle of Wight. Good view of Alum Bay and the Needles, lots of sailing boats out and some very fast power boats zipping around. Went to the duty free shops and stocked up with gin, Martini, sherry, and cigarettes and tobacco for Grandad’s birthday – it was a little supermarket in fact, not a shop, and very well stocked. Price far too high really, but they have one over a barrel in these situations. Large numbers of people on board, lots of whom were sitting on the floor which seemed a scandalous state of affairs.

Arrived at Cherbourg at 3.30pm-ish and were promptly off the boat, driving through the back streets of picturesque Cherbourg… Followed some amazing straight roads to Valognes, Coutances and finally Granville. Streets of Granville seething with traffic, crowds everywhere. To add to the fun, we had no idea where the site was, and there were remarkably few sites about anyway. Drove desperately round narrow, jammed streets, time was getting on and we were getting worried. Finally stopped at the Syndicat d’Initiatif and got directions (and the impression that it was not the first time they’d been asked that question!).

Found the site, drove in, went to the office and discovered the site was full…! What a gruesome moment, after all that searching. Said hopefully that we were hoping to stay 6-7 nights. Mme said dubiously that peut-ĂȘtre… they had been let down by people who said they were staying and then went after a day or two… we assured her we weren’t intending going;.. so she decided we could stay, thank heaven, despite the fact that they were really ‘complet’. Heaved a great sigh of relief and followed young Nicolas on his bicycle to a very nice spacious pitch where we thankfully pitched our tent and the little tent, opened some tins and had a tasty supper of Cup-a-Soup, Chunky Chicken and rice, and fresh fruit, and the remains of Gareth’s birthday cake.

The site is very pleasant, not a bit crowded, and surrounded by peaceful fields and woods. There is a lake with water lilies in which one can fish, a games room, television room, showers, hot water and English loos as well as French (relief! relief!) and a farm selling fresh milk and eggs.

After the washing, retired to bed for a fairly early night, feeling very relieved to be here and encamped.