Just how you condense all of the amazing European sights we've seen into a simple 'Top 10 European Views'? It sounds like an impossible task...!! Especially when you consider that we've only just added the Ardéche to the list of areas visited. But as the Gorges de l'Ardèche is made up of a series of vertiginous gorges and is know locally as the "European Grand Canyon" perhaps it was always going to be worthy of consideration.... But more of that list of 'Top European Moments' later on as we thought we'd jump in the van, start the dash cam and give you a little taster of what you can find on your bike, in your van or even on a kayak!!
It's hard to narrow down our top five or even ten favourite watersports adventures on our European Roadtrip, but an opportunity to head out kayaking always seems to send everyone in the van into a frenzy of excitement. And as we've been fortunate to experience sea kayaking in Dubrovnik, fjord kayaking in Norway or river rafting/kayaking in Croatia.... just how would the Ardéche fare against such amazing opportunities?
France | Looking For The Best Riverside Campsite in France? Have You Tried Camping Nature Parc l'Ardechois
For couples or families searching for a quiet break, a riverside pitch normally offers peace and tranquility..... and we've not found many better pitches than this one at Camping Nature Parc l'Ardechois in the Ardeche, South of France. However, add in the ability to kayak directly from your pitch, down the Ardèche Gorge, one of France's most picturesque rivers, then you've got all your bases covered for a week in the South of France..... Plus it's dog friendly too!!
If you've got an adventurous family and are visiting France, then don't miss one of the South of France's most exciting treetop adventure, ropes and zipwire courses at 'Le Roc de Massereau' in the Languedoc Roussillon. The ultimate place for all ages to flex their adventurous spirit and test themselves mentally and physically with over 200 elevated platforms connecting over 50 zip wires to a huge variety of rope ladders, wobbly bridges, tunnels and cargo-nets.
Everyone knows France is serious about its food and wine as we discovered at the vineyard tour & degustation at Domaine de Masserau's campsite. With the region's history wedded to it's strong agricultural tradition, where better to learn about wine making than in the Languedoc Roussillon? So we're pretty sure campsite visitors will love the wine tasting vineyard that's twinned with the campsite.... It's a hidden gem and well worth the detour so here's a few reasons you should take a closer look...
With the last of the summer sunshine hitting Europe, thoughts might just be turning to summer holidays next year. So if you're looking for a luxury yet good value 'family motorhome site' in Europe? A place to unplug from daily life whilst keeping the kids fully entertained? Why not consider taking your family on a camping / motorhoming holiday to one of Europe's best 5* campsites at Domaine de Massereau in the South of France.
If you’re visiting the Aude with your family, why not visit Leucate's stronghold/castle? A fortress that served as a border between the kingdoms of Aragon and France. Worth every minute of the easy family hiking trails, everyone will enjoy the panoramic view of the lagoon (Étang de Leucate) across the Mediterranean towards the mountainous Canigou and Albères. But there's plenty more to explore at this viewpoint including the impressive fortress turned into a ruin by Louis XIV's signing of the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659
Want to know which country is the worlds 11th smallest (population) or 40th smallest (by land mass)? Well, you've probably guessed it by the title.... Andorra!! With a population of only 80,000 and a country that measures only 468 sqkm, the stunning yet tiny principality of Andorra is located high in the snowy peaks of the Pyrénées between France and Spain. So with a day to spare in our packed schedule, we thought we'd check it out from our base at Thuir, France.
If you ever doubt that Europe can truly amaze you? Try imagining pristine ribbons of sand, dramatic cliffs of sand silhouetted against the sky and dazzling blue water stroking the shore. Lying some 65km south west of Bordeaux or some 2hrs north of the fantastic Camping Sylvamar, it’s hard to exaggerate the sheer enormity of ‘Dune du Pilat’ Towering some 114m above sea level, it is Europe’s highest sand dune and it’s still growing!! Spreading over 4.5m eastwards each year.
With 2018 summer planning about to start, you might just want to bookmark this little gem in the south west tip of France at Camping Sylvamar. Situated in the unspoilt region of Landes, it's one of the best we've seen in the south of France and a great option for all the family. So here's why we reckon it'll make it's way straight into our 'Top 50 Places to Stay in Europe' for 2018.
With a disrupted summer, our plans have been very much up in the air for weeks if not months now due to the sad passing of a close family member (see below blog post on dealing with a family bereavement whilst on the road).
Many consider Brittany one of the most scenic stretches of coastline in France (perhaps only rivalled by the famous Cote d'Azur). You’ll find over 1,780 miles of amazing coast, sandy beaches, hidden coves and oodles of French myths and heritage. Because it’s one of the few areas in France without a toll motorway, Brittany is perfect for a driving holiday. So with a fair-weather forecast and our hopes high after our scenic trip through Normandy, we set off to discover the ultimate road trip in Brittany.
On our circumnavigation of France last October (see here), we'd heard that 'Normandy is often described as the Devon of northern France, with Brittany as the corresponding Cornwall' Fortunate to have a few days to spare before we head south towards the Charente Maritime... we thought why not explore more of Normandy and where better to start than 'Vieux Port' near Honfleur.
They say travelling with extended families can be the stuff of dreams — or a living nightmare. For us, we've loved every minute of our shared roadtrip just like last year's 'A Taste of France' joint roadtrip together. So knowing the girl's grandparents loved their visits to Alsace, we've returned to it's capital Strasbourg to share one of our families favourites cities (find our tips for over 50 other European Cities here)
With our adventures in Pembrokeshire now almost a distant memory (it's amazing what difference a week makes...). We've headed back into Europe taking the girl's grandparents with us! Our 'Taste of France' adventure last year with them was so much fun... they've decided to throw their hats back in the ring.... but this time it won't be kayaking on the Dordogne or visiting Ile de Re.... this time we're heading much further south to Croatia, Italy, Austria, Slovenia & Switzerland. So where better to start this adventure than the beautiful Alsatian town of Kaysersberg.
It's been an eye opening view into another side of European culture for our girls. Full of new adventures with plenty of new friends met along the way. It's been full of 'wide eyed' stares at the poverty witnessed in Poland or Hungary, yet these are often the places with the warmest of local people... We've seen the impressive canals of Venice, climbed the steep cliffs of Split and been staggered by the beauty in Budapest, Vienna or Prague.
Having loved seeing Angers by night, as we explored it's superb Christmas Market. A bright clear morning brough a great opportunity to get out and see what else we could explore in a morning before heading north towards a ferry back to the UK... and a family Christmas with the grandparents! Having loved exploring France this year, we've been amazed by the variety across their Chateaus & Castles - including Carcassonne, Azay Le Rideau, Chateau des Enigmes & Villandry... In fact articles like these were almost certainly the reason why we were so luck to get awarded 'Complete France' Magazine's Award for a place in the 'Top 6 Most Inspiring Travel Blogs about France'...
As we've hit the month of December, daily life in our motorhome has been taken over by non-stop Christmas Carols, daily opening of Advent Calendars and regular discussions on where best to buy Christmas presents when on a European Roadtrip (421 days today and counting!!!). Having loved seeing the Portuguese prepare for Christmas and 'Pai Natal's' arrival at Obidos.... where better to buy your Christmas presents than at a French Christmas Market!!
For those that may have followed our adventures in France, you'll know we always try to fit in as much as possible into every visit.. so with both girls full of energy to explore new places, we simply couldn't wait to add Bordeaux to our 'Taste of France' page... Ever since we were unbelievably lucky enough to get a place in Complete France's 'Top 6 Inspiring Blogs about France' we've tried hard to do this beautful country justice.... so if you're interested in seeing details of our 28 day circumnavigation of France , then read more here. But for those who want to find out what we learnt in Bordeaux, then let's go!!
If you've missed yesterday's article 'Learn 5 Things You Didn't Know about Bordeaux across the day' then you might want to read it first. Discover our first experience of this stunning city in the South West of France. Famed as much for its wine as it's architectureal beauty, it also houses one of the best public transport systems across Europe... perfect for searching the city for fun facts and experiences...
Trying to locate the best route for a motorhome over the Pyrenees proved to be a harder task than we first thought... should we try to head across towards La Mongie and the scene of last October's adventures at Pic du Midi or should we try the infamous D953 and it's truly scenic, if narrow roads... or should we try a tunnel through the Pyrenees much like the one we tried last month under the Alpes and Mont Blanc.
Always on the hunt for new potential routes to make our journeys through France that little more interesting... we decided to opt for a more central route rather than following the tried and tested 'French Atlantic Route' towards Spain... Leaving last night's base in Pont de l'Ache we headed towards the D154 / N154 on the basis that this is the most obvious route South.
On our previous journeys towards the south of France, we've spent many an hour trying to find a great family friendly motorhome stop enroute /leaving Calais... the type of stop that is easy to get to within a few hours but feels like you've arrived in France.. For those reading this with a motorhome, you'll probably have your family favourite.. perhaps Gravelines (30mins up coast towards Dunkirk) or maybe somewhere a little different like a France Passion stay on the fantastic snail farm near Comines. But we've tried a different tack this time and headed for Pont de l'Arche.
So we've started again.... the next 7 weeks should be jam packed full of new family adventures and experiences in Spain and Portugal. We've decided that as we loved Spain so much during our last visit, we're keen to find a way to share more that Spain offers... not just what we wrote about Andalusia in the MMM Magazine in October, but now across the Northern Coastline. Not to mention taking a little time to really explore the Algarve and then up into the North of Portugal..
How do you broach the topic of War with your children? What do you include or omit to try and help them engage more? What age do you start learning about this?
Well, we've decided to pull in the experts from The Battlefield Experience to help... taking a full day tour of the Somme with Jackie Bedford to try and add to our previous learning in Ypres (WW1) and Juno Beach (WW2)
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