Thursday, 6 June 2013

The Dordogne - Where Should Holidaymakers Visit ?

Where are the holiday highlights in the Dordogne ? We love to visit :
  • Sarlat,
  • Canoeing on the Dordogne
  • Jardins d'Eyrignac 
  • Gouffre de Proumeyssac 
  • La Roque-Gageac 
  • Le Bournat 
  • Lascaux Caves 
  • La Forêt des Singes 
  • Chateau de Castelnaud
Or is there somewhere else you would recommend a visit ?

The Dordogne is a big favourite with the British, both expats and holidaymakers and has cringe-ingly been nicknamed "Dordogne-shire" by some !  But it is an area steeped in history, with famous prehistoric cave paintings to see, historic chateaux and mediaeval towns to visit plus it has a great track record for hours of sunshine and it is home to some of the best campsites in France such as Les Peneyrals and Le Bugue at St Avit Loisirs.

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Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Exciting Train Rides in France !

We have been finding out about some unusual train expeditions in France.

In South West France :
The Petit Train Jaune or "The Little Yellow Train" 
Travels into the high Pyrenees from Villefranche to Latour de Carol. The station it starts from is the highest mainline station in France and it then proceeds to climb higher into the mountains !
Possibly not for the faint hearted but watch this video to find out what the journey might be like !  and this one as well with an open carriage.  The train has steep sections, which if it had been built 15 years earlier would have required a "rack and pinion" system, but instead the train has motors right along the train, spreading the driving force etc.  The starting station can be reached by train or car from Perpignan in Languedoc Roussillon, SW France.

Here is a link to a timetable and further information -

In South East France :

Nîmes is the starting point for this journey through the remote, wild country of the Cevennes. The line is 303km long, and features 106 tunnels and almost 1,300 bridges, including some of the most impressive viaducts on French railways, such as the 28-arch viaduct at Chapeauroux and the 41-arch near-semicircular Chamborigaud Viaduct.  There is also an impressive stretch of track on a ledge over the River Allier.  To find out more :

Other interesting trips include :
The Mont Blanc express :
From Chamonix (Gare de Chamonix-Mont-Blanc) to Vallorcine then from Vallorcine you change train to Martigny in Switzerland.  The trip to the Vallorcine (French/Swiss Border) is very picturesque, and you then change trains for the trip to Martigny in Switzerland,  This is a very scenic route through the mountains where you are perched on the side of the mountain !. The scenery is breathtaking and you can see for miles. You then you go through the mountain for the steep descent into Martigny. You almost feel like you are in an aeroplane as you cannot see much to the side.
If possible, try and sit on the left when going to Chamonix and on the right from Chamonix, assuming you want to get the best views.

Trains des pignes from Nice to Digne-es-Bains
A steam train runs on this route on certain days, often on Sundays -

Train Corse 
Discover Corsica along an incredible journey between earth, sea and mountains.  Nicknamed "U Trinighellu" (the trembling), the train connects Bastia to Ajaccio, with stops in Ile Rousse, Calvi or Corte.  The train travels between land, sea and mountains, on an unforgettable journey through Corsica, through plains and valleys, streams, pine and beech forests and along the rugged coastline of the Mediterranean with views of incredible beaches and coves with white sand and turquoise waters.  The journey starts in the Baroque city of Bastia in Corsica then coninues via Cardo, the town of Ile Rousse with its beautiful bay, then via Calvi.  Then, finish your trip in Ajaccio. Surrounded by mountains and with one of the most beautiful shorelines. It is a great way to see the island of Corsica and en route you will spot such things as the traditional shepherds.

Of course these are just a few of the most spectacular journeys, there are numerous other train rides available, including steam trains and also the Petit Trains Touristiques. One good example of these runs from Collioure in the SW of France :

And for steam trains here is a listing of steam trains you can visit in the different regions in France :

With thanks to French train driver @Conducteur_SNCF on Twitter for some of these suggestions !

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Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Hotels at Ferry Ports

Here are some of the hotels we have stayed at before catching an early morning cross channel ferry to France. We have listed hotels in Poole, Portsmouth and Plymouth. Can anyone send us recommendations for Dover or the other ports ?
We like the Premier Inn type hotels, lowish budget, clean hotels which are reasonably close to the ferry ports.


  • The Salterns Hotel at Poole  - We were very pleased to discover this one as its a very nice hotel and is adjacent to a marina. It involves a short drive through Poole to get to the ferry port - check with hotel for timings. They delivered the following breakfast (see photograph) to our rooms at 5am, as we were catching the 7am ferry - pretty good work for that early in the morning ! Thoroughly recommended.  They have a suite room which is ideal for a large family group, and they also allow well behaved dogs.

Here is a link to things to do if staying in Poole :
We can also recommend the South Lychett Manor campsite if you are looking for somewhere to stop over with your caravan near Poole : We also enjoyed eating at the Baker's Arms pub.


  • Travelodge in Portsmouth. This is in the city centre so can be a little noisy and the surroundings are not all that inspiring but the advantage is it is directly across the roundabout from the Cross Channel Ferry port for Brittany Ferries :
  • If you want to stay a little out from the centre of Portsmouth then the hotel which we stayed at when it was an Innkeepers Lodge but is now a Travelodge is called Portsmouth Hilsea This was a nice hotel when we stayed at it. It had a Toby Carvery which was excellent and may allow dogs.


Does anyone have any other recommendations ? Does anyone have recommendations near Dover/Calais ?

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Saturday, 20 April 2013

France Motorhome Hire

France Motorhome Hire provides reliable and carefully maintained motorhomes and campervans for English speaking visitors wishing to explore France & Europe.

If you’re looking for an English-speaking motorhome company who’s centrally located in France, look no further!

Who is France Motorhome Hire?

Launched in 2009, France Motorhome Hire is run by English owners Phill and Hannah Spurge, who have lived and worked in France for over eleven years providing holidays in France for English speaking clients.

France Motorhome Hire offers great customer service from a team with unrivalled experience of France and motorhome trips. Long-term campervan hire solutions are also available.

Why book with France Motorhome Hire?

Aside from being renowned for delivering exceptional customer service, France Motorhome Hire operate their own fleet so you deal directly with the team who hand over your vehicle on arrival. 

Booking with France Motorhome Hire is easy and there’s absolutely no hidden costs. All this is included, free of charge:
  • Unlimited mileage
  • Fully comprehensive insurance (plus breakdown insurance)
  • Bedding & bed linen
  • Towels
  • Outdoor table and chairs
  • Cooking equipment
  • And much more!

For more information, trip planning advice or to get a quote today, visit

The France Motorhome Hire vehicle range

Whether you are hiring a motorhome for the first time or have lots of experience, France Motorhome Hire aim to provide you with the cleanest, best equipped and most reliable motorhome you will ever hire.

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Friday, 1 March 2013

Learning French

If you hated learning a foreign language at school, don't despair !  There are some fabulous online resources which make learning fun and you can find something to suit you, whatever level your language learning is at. And, these resources are all free ! 

We have picked out a few of our favourites here but if you find any others to recommend please let us know - you can comment here.

There are some great websites and in some you can even listen to how the phrase should sound ! RFI from French TV channel TV5monde is a great site aimed at presenting the French news for those learning French - there are exercises to try. It would be ideal for school learners as well as those trying to learn French for holidays or business :

The BBC Language resources are also very extensive and offer something for every standard of learner !
If you really only want to get away with the absolute minimum of French then here are the 10 essential phrases to make life go just a little more smoothly while abroad ! You can even listen to how they should sound.

Ski phrases -

Beach phrases -

Rugby phrases even from RFi !

And then there are online dictionaries too which offer all sorts of help and you can listen to the words and phrases here too !

Larousse -
Collins French English dictionary -

For Children and Primary School learners (or those who want to keep things fairly simple !) the BBC Primary languages resources are fun - with games included ! You just dont realise you are learning !

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Thursday, 14 February 2013

Top 10 Camping Gadgets

Here are our Top Ten Camping Gadgets that we have seen so far in 2013 !

All new to us !

We spotted most of them at the Scottish Caravan, Motorhome and Holiday Home Show at the SECC in Glasgow. These camping shows are great places to spot new gadgets and buy accessories. If you enjoy camping then they are "must visit" retail therapy destinations !!

Our Top Ten (in no particular order !)

At Number 1
If you dont already have this installed in your caravan or motorhome then this is a great idea ! - a rear view camera so you can find out what is behind you while maneouvring.

These ones are supplied by DRW Electronics ( :

At Number 2 in our Top 10 !

A Nestaway sailing boat.

It folds up in two sections which are bolted together or can be unbolted and nested together for storage.

These can then be carried flat on the back of your motorhome, or if you are using this as a yacht tender then you can place it on the deck and it doesnt take up too much space. They also do kayak versions too ! (

We love the "Swallows and Amazons" style designs - very nice.

Number 3
Collapsible Camping High Chairs.
Ideal if you are camping with toddlers and as they are foldable this makes it easier to find a space for them in those gaps when packing your tent into the car. These are produced by Fem and sold via various distributors.

Actually I must also add here that if you are camping with toddlers then the Potette Portable travel potty which comes with disposable liners is ideal for toddlers when travelling or when camping and they are still at the toilet training stage. It can be purchased from numerous sources.

The next five gadgets were all on display from Borders Leisure (

Number 4
Security Door Locks and Door Frame Locks. Ideal to prevent theft etc. One of these door frame locks can be used on a door which doesnt otherwise have locks on it. A section goes on each side of a door and the whole thing is then locked in place. This would not only be useful in camping but could be used on garden sheds etc.

Number 5
A thermal window shield for your motorhome - this will keep you warm in winter and cold in summer ! Ideal if travelling to the South of France etc. where the midday heat can be very strong.
Number 6
OK this one is not very exciting, but could prove to be very useful ! A whole range of tent pages - extra large ones, ones for groundsheets etc. and also tent peg removers ! All of these can be useful if camping on different types of soils such as sandy soils etc and especially if you are close to the sea or in the mountains where you might expect more winds to be hitting your tent.

Number 7
There were all sorts of lovely designs of sets of melamine dishes - non breakable and stackable for easy storage.

Number 8
Gorgeous colourful whistling camping kettles in numerous colours !

At Number 9, PVC decking and fencing ! This is not exactly a gadget and is probably something more suited to caravans that are left permanently on their sites, however you could perhaps also use this to create an enclosure around your motorhome or caravan or have a PVC gate. There were a few manufacturers offering this and I would imagine they will appear at the various camping shows. There was also a version made from recycled materials if you want to be environmentally friendly ! Some suppliers we spotted included and .
Number 10
This is a fantastic idea. A simple tracker system from @Sail and Trail called Back2You.

There is an app for your phone so you can find out where the device is. And the tracker that you can place somewhere in your caravan is the size of the palm of your hand. It can be either hard wired in or else can be powered by batteries. It can be set to alert you if it moves out of a certain area or even if it detects that the caravan is being moved at a speed greater than you select.

Again we could think of numerous alternative uses but certainly it is aimed at helping you to keep an eye on your caravan or I guess boat as well since it comes from Sail and Trail ! (

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Saturday, 9 February 2013

Scottish Caravan & Motorhome Show

We went along to the 2013 Scottish Caravan, Motorhome & Holiday Home Show at the SECC in Glasgow. It is an excellent show which takes place annually in February.

The large halls of the SECC exhibition space are filled with 100s of caravans, motorhomes, tents, holiday homes, trailer tents & accessories as well as all sorts of other exhibitors who would be of interest to campers and caravanners !  If you are thinking of buying a motorhome or caravan, for example, then these shows are a great chance to speak to some of the best companies from all over the UK.  
We had a look in a new model of caravan for this year, the Bailey Pegasus GT65, which is being launched as part of a year of celebrations for the Bailey company’s 65th anniversary.

These caravans are lighter, with an Alu-Tech construction. Here are two interior photographs from one of the Pegasus models being sold by Duncans.

You can see the stylish curved locker doors and the skylight.

We particularly liked the soft furnishings design in the model shown !

They have six sockets and a nice kitchen area.
There are a variety of models of the Pegasus GT65, including the single axle models 2-berth Genoa with end washroom, two 4-berth versions and the Ancona 6-berth version.

There is a also a twin axle Bologna 4-berth fixed double bed with end washroom.

If you are thinking of buying a caravan there is lots to consider !  Caravans appear to be a slightly more economic option than a motorhome and they also have the flexibility that you can leave them at a campsite and use your car to travel around during the day.

However, we then had a look around some motorhomes including this Eldiss 6 Berth motorhome. This 6 berth style has a double bed above the driver's cab in order to find room for everyone !  You will also see models such as this converted Peugeot motorhome shown to the left, which has a sliding door to allow for more use of space.

In various caravans and motorhomes, we spotted some innovative design features which make great use of space, such as a "wet room" style bathroom with a flexible door which allows the same room to be either used as a shower or small cloakroom style toilet with w.c. and wash hand basin (see photograph to the right).

There was also another one where a door could be used as the door for the bedroom or the bathroom. And we liked the idea of an opening skylight in the shower rooms so there would be no condensation build up.

We then spotted a hi-tech Hymer motorhome which appeared to have a cockpit computer ! No doubt this is satellite navigation on a large scale ! Or is this just where they store the television ?!

I know the Hymer motorhomes are very popular and certainly on campsites they always stand out to us as looking well designed.

The one shown here is an example, we think, of a 30 foot motorhome, i.e. fabulously spacious but you might find them quite large to drive, particularly if you are thinking of driving down any small French country lanes !  But perhaps if you plan your route carefully then these would be a great option to give you loads of space when camping.

And then there are the smaller van conversions, often with raised roofs, which probably would appeal more to couples rather than families, although no doubt you could have tented awnings coming out from them to add some more space. These VW vans shown here are from the Lakeland Motorhome Centre. These are a slightly more economic option than the larger motorhomes and may also prove to be more flexible to drive.
And we also spotted this excellent Opus trailer tent, also from Lakeland Motorhome Centre. These can be slightly easier to pull than a caravan apparently, and this model had a small kitchen area and room for two people to sleep at either end. You will also spot on the photograph that you can double your space by adding an awning out the side. 

So again, this is an idea to consider. The material this  trailer tent is built with is stronger than normal tent fabric and draught proof as well.

So, if you are thinking of buying or even hiring a motorhome etc., then try to get along to one of these excellent shows. Shows take place throughout the summer all over the UK. And you can also talk to specialist caravan insurers and accessory manufacturers etc. Camping can become a whole new world of retail therapy!! (see our other blog post coming up very soon about some of the innovative and unusual accessories we spotted at the show !)

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Friday, 25 January 2013

Great Budget Camping Holiday Idea for Low Season Camping - use Camping Card ACSI

If you are planning to go camping with your own tent, caravan or motorhome in May, June, September or October then you should think about joining the CampingCard ACSI scheme.

This scheme lists over 2000 campsites in 20 European countries which offer pitches in these low season months for between 12Euros - 16Euros a night (at time of writing this was about £11-£14). When you join up you receive a guide book listing the sites and a mini atlas.

They have a website at :
Although I must admit there are extensive site listings for French campsites but there are not terribly many listed for UK sites.

Campsites are rated as either lively or relaxing etc. and average pitch sizes are given as well.

So this could potentially be a great idea if you are planning to tour or are hoping to have a holiday on a tight or limited budget.

You can also read reviews from other users on their website and add your own once you have stayed at a campsite.

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Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Win Tickets to The Spring Caravan & Camping Show at the NEC

We at Best French Campsites offered a great new competition to help you start the New Year with a resolution to try something new and get into Camping !  Or if you are already a fan, you are sure to find something of interest at this fantastic show.

We had three winners of our competition, including Mr Brooks, Mr Doran and Mr Y. who each won a pair of tickets to The Spring Caravan & Camping Show at the NEC, National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham in February. Well done to them and we hope you enjoy the show !  Let us know how you get on !
The Spring Caravan & Camping Show will welcome newcomers to camping, caravanning and motorhoming as well as existing enthusiasts looking to buy or browse all the latest 2013 models, leisure accessories, camping gear and to research new holiday destinations, attractions and service providers.

The show will feature the latest in new season tents, caravans and motorhomes, which are ideal if you are planning to camp in France, Europe or the UK this year.

The Show is supported by the industry's main manufacturers, brands and dealers, including ABI, Bailey, Coachman, Elddis, Lunar, Swift, Trigano, Auto-Trail, Chausson, Autosleepers, Willerby, Omar, Wessex Homes Group, Eterniti, Fifth Wheel, Carthago & Globecar, Frankia & Bavaria, Hobby, Rapido, Pilote, Vantage, Lowdhams, Chichester Caravans, Brownhills, Glossop Caravans, Raymond James and Wandahome South Cave to name but a few – full exhibitor list available on the Show website.

Both The Camping and Caravanning Club and The Caravan Club will be attending the Show and entertaining visitors with new initiative launches, expert towing and motorhome manoeuvring tuition and celebrity guests.

Newcomers to camping as well as families over the half term break will enjoy the four interactive feature areas which include a 'drop zone' climbing wall, campfire cookery, the UK's largest indoor kayaking pool, 'one to one with wildlife’ and 'rod and reel' angling pool. Each feature will benefit from a visit from a special celebrity guest throughout the Show week.

Advance tickets are now on sale and start at £7.00 for seniors (60 + years) and £8.00 for adults. Children under 16 years are admitted free of charge when accompanied by a paying adult. To book tickets visit the show website

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