From the Ardennes to the Alps | August 2019
Ed and I have just got back from a camping holiday in France. This year we decided to visit the Alps, and because it’s a long drive we broke up our journey down by staying in the French Ardennes. We stayed in Monthermé which is quite close to the border with Belgium, in a campsite on the river Meuse.
We spent two nights in Monthermé which gave us one full day to explore the town. I only have a handful of photos from our stay in the Ardennes and most of them are on film, so I will update this post once I get my negatives back from the lab.
In the Alps, we decided to stay on Lake Annecy and found a campsite with direct lake access on the west shore of the lake in Saint-Jorioz. It’s the best campsite we’ve ever stayed in, and one we both agree we’d go back to if we holiday in the area again. We’ve done a fair bit of camping in France over the past few years and I think that the smaller, French campsites are actually best for us and our style of holiday. We don’t need or use a swimming pool if there’s a lake or beach nearby, so there’s no point in paying for one. Furthermore, camping holidays are popular with families, and the sort of family who chooses a campsite that doesn’t have on-site entertainment and swimming facilities for children is the sort of family I don’t mind being pitched next to. They’re outdoors types who don’t have energy left at the end of the day to run around screaming.
The emplacements were generous in size with natural shade, and the facilities were clean and spacious. The best thing about the campsite though is proximity to the lake and to the cycle path. As far as I understand, there’s only one sandy beach on Lake Annecy and it is in Saint-Jorioz, a five minute walk from the campsite. When there’s just two of you it’s so good being able to leave your valuables in the car, hide the car key in the tent and go for a swim together.
There were two really hot days where it was over 30C in the valley, and so we decided to go up into the mountains to cool down and explore some of the Tour de France climbs. Semnoz is quite close to Lake Annecy, so we drove up to the summit to take in the views. I still find it hard to believe that you can drive up mountains in France that are higher than Britain’s tallest mountains. That’s the Mont Blanc massif behind clouds in the centre of the photo above.
A big thunderstorm broke the hot spell, which gave us a chance to explore Annecy as it was a bit cooler. It’s a really pretty town with lots of canals and pastel coloured buildings. It was very busy as we were there in the middle of the day so I don’t have many photos, but I enjoyed seeing the street art and outdoor art exhibition in the park down by the harbour.
On the way home we stopped over in Calais at Le Cap Blanc Nez before an early crossing home to the UK. After we’d pitched our tent Ed went for a run and I took myself over the fields and down to the beach for a walk at golden hour.