Camping near volcanos – part 2
February, 22 2018
A few weeks ago, I told you that the Auvergne is more than worth your while for a great motorhome tour or other type of camping holiday. The region that is very popular among skiers in the winter is a Valhalla for those who love the countryside in the summer. And as it is so easy with a motorhome, after Auvergne we had a quick stop over in the Ardèche and we visited a few acquaintances at a campsite in Burgundy.
Besides great places to stop and some background information about these locations, I will also share a few camping tips. Not specifically about the Auvergne or France, but general issues that are handy for any destination. And finally, it goes without saying also about the ACSI campsites where we parked with our motorhome.
Cable car to the Puy de Sancy volcano
Le Mont-Dore is a wonderful winter sports location in the green heart of the Auvergne, where it is just as lovely to spend time in the summer as when the temperature is below zero. With its many wonderful narrow streets and a central square filled with outdoor cafes and shops you have the feeling you are walking around Switzerland or Austria. The surrounding mountains are a real treat. Besides the climate, there is another difference when you visit Le Mont-Dore in the summer. We walked to the nearby Puy de Sancy volcano rather than going on skis. A cable car takes you to an altitude of over 400 metres. What you see on the way can genuinely be called a remarkable specimen of nature. Don’t forget your binoculars and enjoy yourself on top of Puy de Sancy, which at its highest point reaches 1885 metres. You can also enjoy the views from the large windows of the restaurant, while enjoying some delicious cake. It is only a short walk from the centre of Le Mont-Dore to the cable car, about four kilometres, but do keep in mind that the road slopes deceptively upwards. A nice motorhome pitch is Aire de Camping-Car des Crouzets.
Le Puy en Velay
If you want to see something really special, then do as we did and take your motorhome, tent or caravan to the Le Puy en Velay city campsite. Le Puy en Velay is a protected city that not only houses sacred heritage sites, it is also in a dream location. If I’m honest the words ‘city campsite’ don’t make me immediately jump for joy. And that is purely based on the assumption that it will be busy or dirty. But nothing is further from the truth, which is often true when you make assumptions. I can even go as far as saying it is a campsite you shouldn’t miss if Auvergne is your holiday destination, because you only have to cross the road to find yourself in the wonderful centre. Camping De Bouthezard is part of the Aquadis Loisirs campsite chain, which you may already know. What we hoped for when we left for La douce France, happened. And boy did it happen. It was hot, very hot in fact. So, our first few hours at the campsite were spent with a book and a drink under a tree. I have to say, it’s nice having camping pitches with plenty of shade. When the hottest part of the day had passed, it was high time to admire close up the impressive volcanic cones that dominate this unique city. If you would also like you see the cathedral located on top, that has earnt itself a spot on the UNESCO World Heritage List, then prepare yourself for a vigorous climb up the steps. There are many outdoor cafes in Rue des Tables making it a good place to fill up with a drink for some courage. Wandering through the many small alleyways and narrow streets there is a big chance you will encounter some pilgrims on their quest to Santiago de Compostela. It is also hard to resist a delicious daily special at one of the great places on the lovely squares.
Other cities with exciting pasts in the Auvergne are Clermont-Ferrand, Montluçon and Saint-Flour. So, if you are in the vicinity don’t miss them.
Cycling along the Canal du Nivernais
Back on the road heading north, we thought it high time to visit our old neighbours. They have been running the restaurant at Camping de l’Ardan for some time now. We made our first stop on the return journey just east of the Morvan Nature Reserve, at about 350 kilometres from the Auvergne. Actually, we shouldn’t call it our ‘return journey’ as we are still on holiday really. We drove onto the full campsite grounds in the sizzling heat that holds this region in its grasp. We were lucky, there was a wonderful pitch by the canal where every so often a lovely pleasure boat sailed by. At reception, you will find information about various cycling and hiking routes. After an energetic cycling tour, we were more than happy that a glass of wine was waiting for us at the outdoor cafe at Johan and Remco’s restaurant.
• In my opinion, it’s best to arrive at a campsite before half past four if you only want to spend one night there. It doesn’t always turn out that way and you can’t always plan it so meticulously, but if you manage then you will still have a whole evening ahead of you. In our case that means: setting up the barbecue! So, a bit of planning ahead is required. Before we drove towards the campsite we stopped at a supermarket. Alternatively, once you have parked up your motorhome, you can get on a bike to get some shopping, if you still feel like it.
• If you are planning on travelling round a lot, don’t only take (large) camping chairs with you. Small handy stools are unpacked quickly and easily for a picnic on route, for example.
• Do keep in mind that you have to pay tourist tax in France. If you are travelling with CampingCard ACSI, then this fee is on top of the camping rate and it varies from €0.70 to €1.20 per person per night.
• Visit an antique market. Go on a wander through the charming streets that are filled with lovely, but also less lovely, items. One thing is sure, here you will experience the real France. Ask at the campsite about antique markets in the vicinity. Sometimes the campsites even have a list at reception with all the markets being held nearby.
• You can pay with your debit card at many campsites, but not all. You can check if this is the case at the campsite of your choice on Eurocampings.eu or in the ACSI Campsites Europe app by ‘Amenities’ under the heading ‘at reception’.
• If you are on route to the south or heading back home there are many campsites near main roads, so that you will be at a campsite within no time at all from the motorway. We stopped off at Camping Spineuse in the south of the Ardennes. This is actually highly recommendable if you want a weekend of peace and quiet with our Southern neighbours.
Did you miss part 1 about camping near volcanos?
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