camping la briquerie, normandy france

Having bought our first caravan on eBay last year we were determined to get the most out of it this summer. After a successful tow to Devon in June we wanted to travel further afield for our summer break but not too far. With that in mind we decided on campsites in Normandy, France about a 3 hour drive from the EuroTunnel.

TIP – If thinking of visiting the continent book your EuroTunnel VERY early on to assure of best crossing times

Our criteria was a campsite with a swimming pool – one with chutes and slides to keep the girls amused, a bar, shop and evening entertainment and close enough to the local beaches.

Paul searched Visit Normandy and using their camping tab he came across Camping La Briquerie. A click on the website proved to tick all our boxes so we booked for 3 weeks in August for the amazing price of circa €850.00 on a pitch with 10 amp electricity connection.

camping la briquerie normandy

Our journey was longer than Google had decided due to towing the caravan and I wish I’d printed off the last part of the journey in more detail as Google maps took us through the busy centre of Honfleur much to the annoyance of tourists, locals and a wedding party of about 10 cars bibbing their way through the bustling centre!

honfleur france vieux bassin

TIP – Print off a detailed map of the last stretch of your journey and look for the simplest route for towing a caravan

 

We arrived on a busy August day with the season in full swing, check in was simple and quick with a request of a €10 deposit for the bands allowing entrance to the swimming pool. Having paid our 30% deposit on booking we’d settle the bill at the end of our stay.

curly chute

Our pitch was fantastic, hedged on three sides giving just the right amount of privacy. Each area has it’s own fresh water tap and drain for throwing waste water away plus the electric hook up

TIP – Don’t forget to buy a continental adaptor for your electrical hook up

Shower blocks are a few pitches away and are cleaned twice a day but they do not supply toilet roll. The showers are individual units, each with a ‘dry’ area for changing before and after. Each cubicle which is fully closed off has hangers to hang clothes on and a shelf for your products. The showers were a good blast on a timer but long enough for rinsing and washing, the water was also the perfect temperature.

I understand from other Brits we got talking to that the second block on the campsite has been completely renovated and they were very impressed with them.

poolside camping la briquerie

Swimming pool

Excellent, two indoor pools which are heated, a child one and a larger one for swimming lengths. An outside pool with a fabulous curled chute leading into one end and two more bumpy slides with a separate landing pool – plus cute lifeguards as eye candy.

camping la briquerie, Normandy

There is a bar selling soft drinks, ice creams and accessories all reasonably priced too.

Shop

A tiny shop onsite which also sell drinks, ice creams, crepes made to order and has a selection of necessities but with a hypermarket within walking distance of the campsite open  7 days a week you are never far from stocking up your supplies

briquerie shop

TIP – Hypermarket closes Sunday afternoon at 12.45

Restaurant and Bar

There is a restaurant onsite which also serves take away food, we tried the pizzas and chips on our first night and were very satisfied.
The bar is also where the evening entertainment is held, the mini disco doesn’t start until 8.30pm and is followed immediately by the adult entertainment. The entertainment is mainly in French but a huge effort was made by the team to include us and other non French speaking guests. A lot of fun and very French.

take away menu - france

Mini golf

If you’re a competitive player this is not for you! An old set up where some of the pitches are broken or don’t work at all but we took the girls on a couple of occasions and they thoroughly enjoyed it. We were asked to leave a €50 deposit for the clubs which was returned but we thought was a bit steep after seeing the state of the course.

Musculation – fitness

I knew that at some point musculation would become a word and I found it here at Camping La Briquerie! A centre with a good collection of varying weight machines. The site also has a jacuzzi and a sauna.

musculation

Washing machines

A clean room with washing machines and dryers, I used machine 3 which required a €4 token bought from reception

TIP – Pack washing powder and fabric conditioner for one or two washes rather than having to buy large packs

WiFi

Camping La Briquerie has Wifi which should cover the entire site. It is free of charge, you ask for a password and login details at reception which is given for your entire stay however I was only able to use this on our pitch a few times as connection was very temperamental, I had much more luck logging in around the swimming pool, in the games room next to the reception or of course at the bar; ‘Un cafe au lait s’il vous plait madam’ ;)

Kid’s club

We didn’t use the kid’s club until our last week as more often than not we were out and about but once we started we wished we’d used it more often. The girls loved it and each day crafts were done. They came home with masks and pretty coloured salt bottles too. I’m wondering if these are the moments (plus the swimming pool) that the girls will remember most when we talk about France?

masks

What to do and see in Normandy?

Honfleur – beautiful coastal town with fabulous market 10 minutes
Trouville/ Deauville – Very popular beach towns 20 minutes
Arromanches/ D-Day beaches – 90 minutes
Giverny – Visit Claude Monet’s home and gardens 100 minutes
Bayeaux tapestry
Caen
Rouen
Mont St Michel –  3 hours

I will add links as I write the posts up for more information

Last weekend we invited my brother and his children down to the coast to spend a weekend with us camping in Thanet. We took our caravan and they brought their tent and we booked two pitches next to each other, ours with electric hook up. I was delighted to try out my gorgeous OLPRO windbreak for the first time – it looks really cool doesn’t it?

OLPRO windbreak

One note to make is Manston Caravan park only has a 5 amp hook up which means the kettle will blow your connection every time. Annoying but can easily be worked around with a trusty camping kettle.

This beautifully kept park is very spacious with ten acres of perfectly kept fields lined with hedges to provide shelter from any strong coastal winds. It’s a well established park with well maintained gardens, one thing you most definitely won’t be here is cramped, there’s plenty of room for everyone.

Onsite facilities include washrooms, showers and a laundrette.

There is also a great adventure playground for the kids that’s also not on top of the pitches but within sight of all.

bbq food accompaniments

My OLPRO melamine set came in real handy too as you can see above, nothing broken and very easy to clean too.

family camping Manston caravan park

Manston Caravan Park is all about tranquillity, there is no entertainment onsite and no club house, you will also be asked to turn any music off by 10pm which is fine by us as we spent a really peaceful evening chatting, laughing and catching up on family news with nobody overhearing our conversations as we were all so spread out.

olpro windbreak

If you don’t want to cook your own meal The Jolly Farmer is within walking distance and has an excellent menu catering for all types, in busy periods it might be worth reserving a table, especially for large numbers.

thanet map

The caravan park is ideally situated for visiting Thanet, including Margate, Ramsgate, Broadstairs and other Kentish seaside towns. The Turner Contemporary Arts Centre in Margate is well worth a visit, they are celebrating their millionth customer this summer so you could be ‘One in a Million’ too.

one in a million turner contemporary

A view of the downstairs at Turner Contemporary with the current Curiosity exhibition

turner contemporary

Margate Old Town which is enjoying a fabulous revival and a joy to walk around is also full of pubs and eateries where you can sit and catch up on Facebook like this guy is maybe is?

the hoy margate

Our verdict: Excellent site for a peaceful stay with plenty to do in the surrounding area to let off a bit of steam. It has to be mentioned that Manston airport is close-by and we could hear the odd aeroplane taking off but not so many as to disturb our stay.

what to take on a caravan holiday free list to download

Our caravan holiday to France is now coming fast and my mind is constantly going over all the things I need to think about and pack to make sure our holiday is as thought free as possible. What to take on a caravan holiday?

Jump to the bottom of post for a free downloadable list to print

So I have prepared a What to Take list that I can use over and over again. I guess there maybe many more out there going on caravan holidays or self catering holidays where you have to think of EVERYTHING so hopefully this will  be an easy downloadable that you can print off and tick as you pack.

Self catering and caravan holiday checklist

I start my packing from the initial car journey as often with a caravan or self catering holiday the journey to get there can be long and tiring so it’s important that the children are kept amused and the driver watered and fed. You do not want to disembark the Eurochannel train or ferry on the continent to discover your map and route directions are packed in the suitcase under all the bags – right?

A little forward planning and you’ll be happily on your way and prepared for any traffic jams should there be any.

Car journey

  • Picnic – Breakfast snacks, lunch and afternoon snacks. How long is your journey
  • DVD/CD, Games for consoles for the younger people
  • Toys and books for the kids
  • Water
  • Map and ferry/tunnel tickets if going abroad
  • Car insurance details, breakdown info, driving license and green card if travelling abroad
  • Passports

Bedroom

My thoughts turn to sleeping arrangements next, many self catering homes allow you to book online their bed linen if they don’t you need sheets for each bed and pillow cases. If camping or caravanning you’ll need sleeping bags and pillows too.

Bathroom

  • Hand towel
  • Toiletries
  • Towels
  • Again sometimes towels are provided with the bed linen but should you wish to save on this expense they need packing too

You might also want to think about toilet roll, self catering holidays will usually provide one and frequently onsite shops are more expensive.

Kitchen

Again, these few products will save you money on your first shop onsite and are products often picked up at supermarkets as BOGOF or on special offer

  • Washing up liquid, sponges, scourer
  • Tea towels. If you buy one onsite it won’t dry properly as hasn’t been washed.
  • Aluminium foil, cling film – foil is great if you use the grill adn don’t want to wash it and cling film if you’re in the habit of keeping leftovers for another day.
  • Kitchen roll – not essential
  • Multi use cleaning product. Choose one that covers everything
  • Mugs – because so often when I go away they have little cups or tiny mugs that just aren’t good enough for my morning tea, I now take my own

Welcome Pack

Another great package that can be brought online but for happy campers who may have a bad journey, arrive when the shop has shut and have nothing, it might be worth thinking of the following essentials that will get you through first night and first breakfast until you can get to the shops

  • Milk, butter
  • Tea, sugar, coffee, wine, beer, juice
  • salt and pepper, brown sauce, tomato sauce, oil
  • bread, cereal

Laundry

One way of reducing the amount of cases you take is to wash clothes during the holiday, for one or two washes it’s often not worth buying large amounts so a couple of washing tabs, a small bottle of fabric conditioner and pegs can be a great money saver. You’d be amazed that you can never find pegs in self catering flats. I always take a large bag for collecting the dirty washing which doubles up on transporting it to the laundry when I’m ready to wash, if you take a strong one it will also do for bringing the heavier wet washing back once washed.

First Aid

There will normally be an onsite doctor for anything that needs seeing to but essentials you might want to think about are: Plasters, disinfectant, pain killers, insect bite repellent and antiseptic cream in case of bites, Calpol for the children

Activities

Swimming bags and separate towels, will the children need trainers to join in the onsite football game or play tennis? do you want to take a couple of outdoor games to keep them amused or even indoor games should the weather be bed? A pack of cards?

Extras

Chargers for phones, cameras, iPods and consoles. A docking station for music. Torch. BBQ. Heater depending on the time of year and waterproof jackets and possibly boots too

My list can be added to and you can download it by clicking on this link here and printing it off for yourself – tick as you go and save it to your computer for the next time and

Happy holidays!

Click on the image to download your list

what to take on a caravan holiday - free list to download

We are really looking forward to this year’s holiday in our caravan, we’re towing her over to France and setting up home for 3 weeks in Normandy, sun, sea, sand and family fun. After our week in Woolacombe earlier in the year we haven’t had a chance to use her since, first there was the bad weather and then an amazingly busy calendar that only now has started to slow down a bit.

We were all booked up to go this weekend and then torrential rains were predicted overnight so we had to cancel which is a real shame as OLPRO has sent through some gorgeous products to try out including this beautiful windbreaker which breaks away from the normal stripes and gives a bit of glamp to the camp don’t you think?

Windbreakers for camping and caravans

olpro windbreak

Gorgeous isn’t it? I can’t wait to put it up. OLPRO WITLEY 7 POLE WINDBREAK currently selling at the reduced price of £44.99

What we usually do is attach the awning to the caravan and leave some outside space for bbq’s in the evening and sunbathing/reading/relaxing; it’s nice to cut off the curious passers by with a screen and this will do the job perfectly! It’s very tall too. I mustn’t forget to add the mallet to my list to bang it into the ground.

Melamine sets for camping and caravans

They also sent along a practical but beautiful melamine set of plates, bowls and mugs.

olpro melamine dining set

 

OLPRO 16 PIECE BERROW HILL MELAMINE SET currently selling at the reduced price of £33.99

As we had to cancel our camping this weekend but still had a good day Saturday we decided to try out the service and it works wonderfully, I love the fun design and the bright colours, please excuse the scarred burger that dad may have left on a little too long. It’s also appealing to the children which makes mealtimes so much easier.

olpro melamine sets

In fact OLRPO have pages of great camping and caravanning accessories that can help your experience go that one step higher and making sure you get the most out of your adventure.

Worcestershire-based OLPRO spotted a gap in the market and has developed a coordinated glamping range for families who want stylish products coupled with a high technical spec.
Included within the range are three different-sized tents that sleep 3, 6 or 8 people respectively. Easy-to-erect, the tents are so waterproof, you could put them up in 5 metres of water (heaven knows why you’d want to) and they’d still not leak.
OLPRO have created mix-and-match melamine table wear, sleeping bags in two funky designs to co-ordinate with their tents and windbreaks.

For more information head over to Olpro and check out their great sleeping bags, dining services and much more

Disclosure: I was sent the above products to review and I’m very happy with them, all thoughts are my own and look out for photos post holiday to see them in proper action, in fact I liked OLPRO so much I’m ordering a new breathable groundsheet from them ;)

sandy balls - new forest

This is one of the Sandy Balls giving the site it’s name

It was only a month ago that we last took our caravan out for a weekend break and now it’s all been ‘wintered’ and sits outside our home with her winter jacket on.

One month ago we were in Sandy Balls *snigger* I know we all chuckle at that name and I discovered there is a reason for the name too, look at the photo here –>

Sandy Balls is to the west of the New Forest and it really is easy to get to, even towing a caravan. In fact as you come off the motorway, you’re already in the midst of nature but don’t be surprised to get caught in a traffic jam because some cows have stopped in the middle of the road and don’t particularly feel like moving.

Our journey across the forest was one through chocolate box villages with wild horses nibbling on the flowers over the garden walls, I so wish I’d had my camera handy.

Sandy Balls is the most expensive place we’ve camped in our 6 week stint coming in at £35.00 a night (as opposed to £20 – 25 previously) but it was worth it for the position and the convenience of having your own personal drain for grey water and a tap for fresh water on your pitch.

I used the Panasonic V700 camcorder to take a few shots whilst I was there and discovered it has this amazing feature that connects all your shots taken and adds music underneath – take a look it’s amazing and saves a whole lot of editing.

The site is set by the River Avon and is quite hilly so perfect for nature trails and walks in the fresh air. See our ‘boats game in the photo below? There is also a fabulous centre with a shop, a pizzeria and a pub which also serves food.

sandy balls new forest

The two swimming pools are very well looked after, one indoors the other outdoors and there is a soft play area plus two excellent parks for children to play in.

The beauty of Sandy Balls is you can choose from various types of accommodation if you don’t want to camp. The most superior being a Vista lodge which are currently being sold off in 8 week periods for around £35.000 for a 15 year contract. *sigh* The view is simply breathtaking and they’ve been furnished to a very high standard, I smiled on seeing Other Half had brought home a brochure with him.

sandy balls new forest

Of course you can choose a mobile home, a cabin lodge or a tent, whichever takes your fancy but trust me you will have a wonderful time and I can’t wait to return

We spent two nights in September and although it wasn’t cold it wasn’t hot either, jackets, cardigans and welly boots were the perfect attire to enjoy this fabulous resort to the hilt.

sandy balls new forest

I’d love to go back one day and try a log cabin. Actually I’d love to go back one day and try a Vista lodge but I imagine they’ll all be sold by then