Since our trip to Edinburgh the rest of June has been spent doing things we have done before. This was our 23rd trip to Le Mans and the 15th year we have been to Treboul including the 7 when we had a house there.
We got home from Scotland on the Sunday night after the Rolling Stone concert – 450 miles and 10 hours of hot boring motorway. It took a couple of days to clean the van inside and out, do all of our washing and the prep and pack for heading to France.
The 08:30 ferry from Newhaven to Dieppe was packed with petrol heads in all manner of cars and campers en route to Le Mans. The 200 mile drive down through Rouen was pleasant and uneventful save for the fact we could see the effects of the previous few days deluges – burst rivers, flooded fields and washed away soils. We were slightly nervous that the camping fields would be more than a little wet. Once we got to the outskirts of Le Mans city the public roads that become the race track were closed for the evenings qualifying sessions and the signage for our camping area had us driving all over the place. We found it eventually and made a bee line for a piece of ground that was higher than the rest around it – just as well when we saw others, including the location organisers, have need of a tractor to get pulled out of boggy ground.
Looking after Fred in a less than doggy friendly environment was a priority but in reality he was fine and his usual over enthusiastic self. We walked him into the pit village on Thursday and Friday and to watch a few minutes of night qualifying at the nearby Porsche curves on Thursday evening. All of which he coped with well apart from objecting to having his Halti around his face to keep him in check. The noise of the racing cars did not bother him one bit, the loud music and and loud voices into the small hours didn’t bother him either but he did not like the fireworks that some campers need to make their weekend complete.
We found a convenient quieter spot to watch the start of the race from on the roof of the go kart pits just before the main start area. From there we could see all the cars come past together behind the pace car just before they are let loose and then watch a few laps as the race got under way. Perhaps I should explain here that there is no need to watch the whole race, we get pleasure from watching small snippets but we listen to Radio Le Mans for much of the 24 hours for race reports and news. Indeed it would be impossible to work out what was happening without RLM. So for the next 24 hours we had a constant din of racing engines with only let up being when the safety cars came which has the effect of slowing the cars and grouping them together which creates gaps in the extremes of noise. None of which bothers us, or Fred, and we all got a good night’s sleep. There were threats of rain on the Sunday which didn’t materialise – sad to say if it had then it might have livened up a slightly predicable race at the head of the field. We watched the end of the race again from the go kart pits and as often happens the the race is a forgone conclusion on the last lap and the cars form up in parade. The outright win predictably went to Toyota and the car with Fernando Alonso in its driver line up. It was theirs to loose and something they have spent some 40 years trying to achieve so well done them. In the lower classes it was a battle to the finish with at least one win or position being decided on the last lap – quite something after 24 hours.
We let the masses leave on Sunday evening before our morning drive west to our regular haunt at Treboul. In the couple of times we have been back there since we sold our house we have taken a shine to Camping Trezulien. It is a pleasant and spacious site on a hillside on the edge of the town and just a short walk to the port de plaisance, shops, supermarket, bars and restaurants or over the barrage into the main town of Douarnenz.
In view of our impending trip to Norway we had decided that this week was going to be a lot of R&R and to be honest it was too hot for us to do much else. We celebrated Sue’s birthday a couple of times at our favourite restaurant, La Griella overlooking the port and Isle Tristan. On the Friday evening we had an interesting chat with a couple of Dutch guys who were taking part in the Mini Fastnet the next week. This is an annual race for Mini 6.50 class sailing boats, 70+ of them predominantly French with a few other nationalities, that set out on Sunday evening to sail around the Scillies to the Fastnet Rock and back. This year it took the winners 3 days and 14 hours.
We did venture out to Camaret sur Mar for the day, somewhere we haven’t been for 20 years. Camaret is a place for artists so the streets and alleyways by the quayside are full of galleries selling their work. We found a space on the quayside and managed a pleasant bread and cheese picnic lunch with a view. Followed by a trip up to Menez Hom for a spectacular view of the bay right out to the Point du Raz.
On the way back to Treboul we spotted something we haven’t seen before – a baguette vending machine!
The weekend was spent either soaking up or hiding from the sun before we had to head home. A swift pack up on Monday morning and round to the vet with Fred to get his passport worm and while he is a favourite there he still doesn’t like vets! It seemed to take a long time to go not very far stopping at the Aire north of Avranche for lunch before we got to our destination for the night – Arromanch. We have been to the “beaches” before but there is always something about them. What struck me this time was the way that the events of June 1944 have created a tourist resort of the area. On one hand it seems a little incongruous but on the other you realise that people want to visit and the locals have to make a living.
After a very pleasant Moules et Frits for dinner the following morning we drove along the coast to Pegasus Bridge and from there along the coast to Honfleur. Having not tried an Aire before we were determined use the one by the town centre in Honfleur. The major drawback we discovered was that the toilets listed in our guide did not exists – something that is a bit restricting in a camper van, but what heck we managed. The town was heaving by day but when we went in for dinner it had died and to our surprised quite a number of restaurants had shut for the evening. Never mind we found one to sit out on the quayside for a Crepe dinner and very nice it was too. Back at the van that was parked next to a stretch of water we watched a fabulous sunset, a family off otters playing on the opposite bank, an owl hunting over the reads and bats in and out of trees by the van.
A nice way to end our holiday before a trip to the Supermarket in Dieppe and stock up for Norway and then the ferry home.