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 France 2008

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PostSubject: France 2008   Sun Dec 04, 2011 8:34 am

Our first use of the French, Aires De Service.
Well we did it and it was brilliant, Jan was concerned that we were
doing it on our own. She was apprehensive about using them and also
security. She is now an Aires addict and can not wait for our next trip.
It was an adventure and a nightmare, but the bad side had nothing to
do with Aires or indeed France.
Day One
We set off heading for the C and CC site at Folkestone; we had booked
two nights so we could relax before our trip over the other side.
We followed the postcode and found ourselves looking down at
Folkestone town from the hillside above. The satnav was saying for us to
go down this c class road at the side of the hill, no way was we going
down that. A quick call to the site had us altering the instructions in
the satnav.
We got to the road above the campsite and was directed down to the
site, it had a lot of passing places but was not kind to the sides of
the van due to the overgrown bushes and brambles. We got to the parking
place and then started the problems we were going to have. “Sorry sir
you can not stay on the overflow area as we do not have one and the gate
will be locked”. (Major problem we had to leave earlier than we could.
We had to be up early on day two but there was no way we could.
Well we enjoyed the rest of the day and early evening in glorious
sunshine. What were we going to do about the next night? We could stop
on Dover sea front or we could go to C and CC site at Canterbury. We
decided on the latter (Jan was not a lover of wild camping) as we were
alone it was decided to be safe. (Now she would stay, no problem)
Day Two
We got up to a dull day and after breakfast headed over to
Canterbury. Arrived at the site and booked in, we were shown the
overnight stop place and then travelled to the supermarket. (The large
fridge in our new van is brilliant) With the fridge and cupboards full,
we set off back to the site.
The rest of the day was dull with slight rain. The start of our next
problem……the satellite dish would not auto find anything. (I had to
manually do it for the rest of the holiday) Jan, missing her soaps was a
no, no.
Day Three
We set off for the Channel Tunnel, arrived with time for a coffee and
a browse around…..nope all shops closed. Opened as we where leaving.
Got on the train and 35mins latter got off the other side. Out through
customs and onto the French Motorway system.
Our travel plans were not set in stone and we expected to take 2 to 3
days to get to our destination area La Rochelle. (We never actually got
to La Rochelle itself, which will become clear as we get further in)
Well what a nightmare of a journey, the heavens opened and all of the
whole day was torrential rain. From arriving and setting off in France
till arrival at 8pm, it was non-stop torrential RAIN.
Now remember this is our first experience of Aires, at that time of
night I was expecting to be booking into a campsite. .Jan kept saying it
is not far, as did the satnav, Jan had given me the Longitude/Latitudes
at one of our rest breaks on the way. Well as we found out later we had
looked at that many and had entered that many we were thinking we was
going to this one, when in fact we where actually going to another one.
(We had decided if we had any chance of getting on it would have to be
an Aire with a high occupancy.)
Well the rain stopped for the last 30mins of the journey, I was now
getting tired and was hoping to have an easy time of finding a place. We
kept an eye out for sites as we got close to our destination.
Well we had no need to be worried, arrived at the Aires and found a
spot. Got out of the van and went to find out how to pay. The French
were having problems, it was an automatic Aires and you could use your
debit card (well they could it did not like ours) No signage as to how
one could obtain a token to pay for a parking ticket.
I scoured the numerous vans and we spotted an Irish van, a quick tap
on the door and we were put at ease on the possible non payment. I have
been on here for 4 days and paid once they said. We got directions to
the Information centre from whom we could purchase the qty of tokens
needed. (We tried to find the place the next day and no way was it as we
thought they had said, had to travel to the next main road and across
it we found out the next day.) So first night on an Aires was free.
Day Four
It was comical watching the French arrive at the Aires post and every
one of them had problems. A couple of the local police dept arrived and
serviced the Aires post due to complaints from the French. We purchased
some tokens from them and were now relaxed. He had shown me how to work
it, it was still not easy though. Well whenever I was passing the post
and a Frenchman was having problems I was able to show them how to work
it.
We set of in search of the beach, was it going to be a nice place? It
was even better than we expected, it was a lovely place. The beach was
spotless and the sea came in close enough for a paddle or a swim. The
town was also very clean and well looked after. In the town we spotted a
large bicycle hire with the 8 seated bikes. It also had the tree
climbing that you can partake in.
Day Five
We enjoyed the place so much we decided to stay for another night. We
had got up in the morning and you would not believe it, the first
English we spoke to was colian off MHF. Colene and Ian even have the
same Swift Bolero FB Motorhome as us. Now that is spooky.
After another lovely day at the beach we went into town to get a
token. Well we eventually found the Information centre, purchased the
tokens and headed back to the Aires. We had another trouble free night
and both said to each other how easy it all was.
Ok, ok I know ……………the name of the place was ………………….
Day Six
A trip to St Hubert Campsite on ……………. Our first trip to a campsite,
on this trip. This was also to be our last trip to a Campsite. It was a
lovely Campsite albeit a tad expensive. 48euros for a night!!!!!! We had
a lovely swim in the pool and visited the local beach. It was heaving
at 6.30pm. We had a pleasant night and awoke to more beautiful sunshine.
Day Seven
Time to set off for our next destination; well to be honest it was
not!!!!! The van would not start, a quick check of the Positive
connection and a negative earth showed nil. Not one volt………
A call to Fiat Camper Assist was the next step, the time was 9.15am
gave them the symptoms and told to expect someone within the hour. Well
we waited and waited and waited some more, time for another call as it
was now 2.30pm. They will be with you soon was the response, after all
you are in France. ****** was my thoughts.
The breakdown truck arrived eventually at 4.15pm…..yep 7hrs later. He
got a spare battery from the van and jumped the Motorhome. “What was
the cause I asked? Take to Fiat service was the reply” Now it was 4.30
on a Friday with the Fiat garage at least an hour away. No way could we
make it, so I called Fiat uk and explained the situation, no problem
they said we will book you into the garage on Saturday morning as they
will be open.
So we set off to the next Aires, this was in ……….. still on ………….
We arrived and found a nice parking spot, the phone rang, it was Fiat
UK. “Sorry we have some bad news said the operator; The garage is not
open in the morning and will not be open till Tuesday”. ******* was the
thought yet again.
No needs to worry sir, as you have said you are on your holiday and
it should’ve been sorted out on the Friday. (If they had arrived at the
correct time that is!) You can call us out as many times as you want and
we will jump start you. If that means every day then so be it.
Day Eight
Time to move on, a call to Fiat Camper Assist was needed. “We will
have someone to you within the hour” was the reply.
Receives a call from Fiat France and to be honest I had to pass phone
to a Frenchman so he can give directions to our location. Ok we will
have someone with you within the hour. Now the rest of the day was a
total farce, 2.30pm I received a call from Fiat UK. Just a call to see
if all is Ok and could you confirm your vans registration date. Well no,
everything is not all right I said, no one has turned up and yet
another day was being ruined (you would not believe the things that
happened and what was said over the next few hours, so I will not bore
you with all the details. Except to say I was called a liar by a member
of the Fiat UK team.)
The breakdown truck arrived at 6pm, jump started the van and left.
Yet again, no investigation into the possible cause. I spoke to Fiat UK
for the umpteenth time and said forget it till Tuesday. I had already
been the victim of atrocious service, we had waited around for two full
days for someone to do a task that took 5 mins (By the way, I had tried
my Leisure battery and it would not fire the Motorhome up)
I now had another problem, on an Aires with no way of moving, no
electric and Leisure batteries below their best. Now a Generator on an
Aires is a No, No. I had sussed that out. I had to use a very long lead
and charged them up with me sitting next to the rubbish bins, sunbathing
in the SHADE. I was able to explain the situation to some of the
Frenchmen but the looks I got off others was………..
Well after an hour all was well and back to holiday mode.
The whole time the lack of not being able to move freely was getting
me down. We wanted to explore the area and were unable to do so. We
would not have minded if we had, had time to get the scooter on the back
of the van.
Day Nine
The dead battery was bugging me and I kept looking at the leisure
battery condition when I noticed the cab battery dial had gone up from 0
to 9volt……..now that then had me thinking “oh no, it is going to be an
intermittent fault was my thoughts, I kept an eye on it and it went up
to 12.7volts. This is weird I thought and tried to start the van. Zilch
it would not turn even once and the cab battery reading had gone down to
0volts again.
That was it I wanted to check further, I knew it could be a faulty
connection at some point but where? Did I have any faulty earth
connections? The mechanic had been able to fire up the battery with a
jump start with no effort at all. So my thoughts then had been “The
battery connections must be ok as he was able to jump it” Why oh why did
the voltage rise?
Enough was enough; I got the cover off the Negative point under the
bonnet only to find the fuses and no battery underneath as I had thought
it was. (Having only had the van for such a short time and having only
had 1 outing, I was not as knowledgeable as I would have been.)
I found out the battery was in the passengers foot well, I removed
the plastic cover only to find the metal cover underneath was loose I
removed the plate and then it dawned on me. The negative terminal
connection was loose!!!!!!!!
What had been happening was every time someone stood on the loose
metal plate under the plastic cover, it worked the connection loose.
A friend we had met on our travels arrived and before long we had it
up and running like a good-un. The van was working correctly again;
yippee we would not have to waste another day at the garage. We decided
to stay on this Aires till Tuesday anyway. The thought of having hassle
with no places left due to the bank holiday and the lovely location and
friends we had met made it an easy decision to make.
Day Eleven
After being able to relax properly and having met some nice people we
arose to the thought of moving on. We had decided not to go to our next
destination as we wanted to be able to spend more time at that
location. As we were deciding where to go a man came over and asked were
we leaving that morning? Well we know we had spent 4 days free but it
was not our fault, no one had come to collect any money as they had
before we arrived. (So one of the French men said anyway)
It was nothing to do with payment; they were kicking everyone of as
they were going to re-tarmac the carpark. There was some annoyed
Frenchmen, believe me.
Day Twelve
We headed up the West coast to our next destination, the Tom Tom and
also the Lucas satnav supplied with the van were both trying to send me
down a no, no road. I tried to get it to do another way and go around by
driving up and down both ways. What to do? Well I went for it, what a
beautiful beach parking we found, some vans where parked up around
corner but this was not the Aires we wanted! A few more turns and we
found it. Yet another lovely Aires, only 6euros for parking and 2euros
for services. We walked into the town after a few hours on the beach and
1 street was just like Blackpool (some of you may know the name of the
town) it was amazing and yet weird. None of the side streets were used;
it was just that one street.
We had another lovely night and arose to yet another sunny day. This
meant that so far the only day without sun was the first day.
Day Thirteen
We travelled further up the coast and found a lovely Aires right on
the side of the road overlooking the Atlantic. It was a free of charge
Aires with no services which did not bother us as we had enough of what
we needed. We spent a lovely afternoon and the following morning on
beaches either side of the Aires both within easy reach and also others
that could be used.
We left at 2pm and headed inland and upward for our next night. The
idea being to get some of the travel out of the way and not leave too
much for the final day. We arrived at another lovely town and after a
little trouble we found the Aires and had another lovely evening.
Day Fourteen
The final stage was a last night in France and the Channel Tunnel in
the morning. We headed for another Aires and whilst travelling decided
to go all the way to the Calais docks Aires. Well you would not believe
it, the first English we met was from MHF and the final people we were
going to speak to was English as well. We met Gary and Angela also
members of MHF.
Well that is that, we enjoyed our troublesome stay in the French
Aires and Jan is converted. She will openly admit that she was not
expecting them to be as good as they where.
I have left out the names of the Aires for a reason, if you would
like to know them then get in touch and I will let you know.
So I hope this has now put all of you new French Aires visitors at
ease, get out there it is brilliant.
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PostSubject: Re: France 2008   Sun Dec 04, 2011 11:36 am

I take it you stayed in today Laughing Red ball
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PostSubject: Re: France 2008   Sun Dec 04, 2011 7:31 pm

orange wrote:
I take it you stayed in today Laughing Red ball
bounce I just copied and pasted from my other Blog, just trying to get the sections started. It is still red by the way, did you not spot the Orange one someone found for you? scratch scratch

lol! lol!

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