Long journey home

For family reasons we decided we should cut our trip short and return home.

We left Almerimar on 3 Feb and headed to El Campello of which we had heard good things.  Unfortunately the campsite we selected was a bit shabby and disappointing.  However, it was only for one night and the onsite bar had a roaring fire and cheap wine to cheer us whilst we used the free WiFi.

Next stop was an Aire, Camping La Volta, at Peniscola for one night.  Not the best end of Peniscola but an adequate stopping place.  We started to feel the drop in temperature as we travelled North.  It was down to 8° here.

Next destination was North of Barcelona at Pineda del Mar.  The site was located right opposite a lovely beach and must be great in the Summer.  Sadly for us the weather was terrible by now and we had heavy rain and low temperatures for most of the long journey there.  We needed to make a decision on the ferry home so paid for WiFi.  Much surfing resulted in a decision to stick with DFDS and see if we could bring our booking forward from 27 Mar.  We now knew which route we would take through France and planned our stops and daily mileage target for travel.  As there were no campsites open this early in France, we settled on some likely looking Aires.

The trip through the mountains from Spain to France was interesting as there was snow dusting the landscape and the Spaniards were up there in numbers, enjoying the experience.

Snow in Spanish mountains
Just over the Spanish/French border. Snow topped mountains in the distance
Lunch stop just into France

First stop at Palavas les Flots near Montpelier.  This was a marina Aire and although somewhat cooler than that at Almerimar was also very attractive.  Mind you, it was a lot more expensive!  There were snow flurries in the evening but they had not laid when we got up in the morning.

Next day we set off for an Aire in a place called Perignat-les-Sarlieve, near Clermont-Ferrand.  There was a lot of snow on the way which was a little alarming.  As we got higher through the Massif Central, so it got snowier.

Starting to climb
View from a motorway stop
Tunnel entrance

We managed to get into the Aire through the snow and had a lovely stroll into the village.  We bought some divine cakes in the boulangerie.  The Aire was overlooking the chateau and was very peaceful.

Chateaux view

We left next day with snow falling.  The roads were becoming more challenging so we decided to break our usual rule and use the toll roads.  There were miles of stacked lorries as the poor driving conditions were managed by the gendarme.

Lorries stacked on the toll road
Hilltop town seen from the snowy toll road

Our next aire was in a village called Saran, north of Orleans.  The parking place was thick with snow but overlooked a lake and was very pretty.

Lake at Saran

We had a wander into the village again but did not find anywhere to buy milk as we had hoped.  Next day it was snowing again so we stuck with the toll roads and struck out for Dieppe.

Van parked on Aire in Saran
Saran. Cold but beautiful
Leaving Saran

After another long and challenging drive, we made it to Dieppe.  There was no snow after Rouen which was very welcome.

The aire at Dieppe was very handy for the ferry.  We stayed for 2 nights and had a relaxing day in the town on the Saturday.  It was market day and there was plenty to enjoy before the rain and gales set in!

Dieppe from the aire
Central Dieppe

Next day we caught the 0530 ferry to Newhaven.  It was an extremely rough crossing but we arrived to a lovely sunny English morning.  European adventure on hold for now.

Beautiful Newhaven harbour

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