03 October 2018 Tours – Meaux (outskirts of Paris)
After finishing our household chores of emptying cassette and grey water and refilling with drinking water, all for free, we headed to the laundrette in Tours. On completion of the laundry we drove for four hours to Meaux on the outskirts of Paris to an Aires alongside the Marina. It is only a 20-minute stroll into the city centre where there are cafes, restaurants and a transport hub.
We walked into town, checked out the Gare (Train Station) for tomorrow as we are heading into Paris. We then had a lovely dinner at a local bistro. When we arrived back at the motorhome there were 5 other vans here, which is one more than the site actually holds. This Aire is €7 for 24 hours and includes 8 hours of electricity and the emptying and filling up of cassettes and water. The outlook is over the canal where boats are moored and behind is a huge park and playground. An excellent place to travel into Paris.
04 October 2018 Paris
Up early, we walked into Meaux, caught the train into Paris and then two metros to Musee D’Orsay where we boarded a boat for our cruise from the River Seine to Canal St Martin.
We cruised from the centre of Paris to the Parc de la Villette up the Canal Saint Martin through a series of locks and swing bridges. Some of the sights we saw along the promenade on the River Seine were Cathedral of Notre Dame, widely considered to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture started in the 13th century and finished in the 15th century;
Ile Saint Louis, one of the natural islands in the Seine River and is connected to the rest of Paris by four bridges and the Ile de la Cite and Les Tuileries Garden, a public garden located between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde.
After entering Canal Saint Martin, a 4.6-kilometre-long canal, we crossed 9 locks and several swing bridges, passed through the yacht basin of Paris Bastille which was full of vessels of varying ages and sizes and then travelled in the Bastille underground vault, with natural lighting, for 2 kilometres.
The only way you can travel through the underground vault is with cruise company, Paris Canal. This cavern-like passage makes for an interesting canal boat ride and was an amazing thing to witness.
We continued along the canal and crossed a quirky 1885 hydraulic lift bridge, the last bridge in Paris that can be raised and lowered to permit the passage of ship and barge traffic beneath it and finished in La Villette Basin, the largest artificial lake in Paris built in 1808. It was a great way to see the sites of Paris from the water.
We then caught two metros to Bastille Station and walked to Chez Paul on Rue du Charron for lunch. The food served here is very traditional French cuisine and was once again amazing.
We were at this restaurant three years ago and 2 hours before the drive-by shooting and bombings took place about 500 metres up the road at a café and bar called La Belle Equipe where 19 people were murdered. We thought we would return to pay our respects as the café owner, who lost his wife in the shooting, has courageously reopened it. At the time the events took place, Paris was a very surreal quite city and to see it today you would never know that this sad event took place.
We caught the metro back to the Gare and returned to our campsite for the second night.
05 October 2018 Meaux – Giverny
Today we headed to Ikea to buy some homewares for our motorhome and then to Giverny where we parked in the carpark across the road from Monet’s Gardens with 15 other motorhomes.
06 October 2918 Giverny – Dieppe
First thing this morning we walked into the heart of the pretty village of Giverny to the house of Claude Monet, where the artist lived with his family from 1883 to 1926 and created the spectacular gardens which was a source of inspiration for many of his paintings. The gardens are remarkable and alive with colour.
We walked through the Norman Enclosure with its splendid palette of colours, its countless climbing roses and abundant flower beds which is absolutely stunning. Then we walked to the Water Garden with its Japanese influence and saw the famous little green bridge, the pond dotted with countless water lilies, the banks planted with weeping willows, bamboo trees, poppies and lilies and two boats tied up to a tree and in an instant, you see his greatest masterpieces come to life.
On our return we toured Monet’s house with the green shutters and saw the superb collection of Japanese prints, the small blue living room, the yellow dining room and ceramic crockery, the blue tiled kitchen and its copper utensils and the upstairs bedroom furnished in the style of the time. When you look out the window you actually are seeing exactly what Monet saw and represented in his paintings. This house is definitely a garden lovers delight.
We then drove to Dieppe and camped in an Aires along the beach with around 60 other motorhomes. After wandering the village streets, we stopped for a late lunch at one of the restaurants along the harbour and had a fantastic meal. As we walked home the sky had turned grey and a few drops of rain started to fall.
07 October 2018 Dieppe – Watten
We awoke to a very windy day and drizzle. Last night was constant rain and wind with the motorhome rocking with the gusts coming off the Atlantic ocean. As the weather was not great we decided to head inland to Watten and not follow the coastal road to Boulogne-sur-Mer.
We arrived in Watten mid-afternoon to a lovely peaceful Aires on a riverside canal with the occasional barge cruising along the water. This is a great place to stop to catch the Chunnel to England and is a very popular stop.
We stayed here for two nights ready for our crossing of the English Channel via the Chunnel to England. Monday afternoon we headed into the quaint small town of Watten which is a short walk over the bridge with our friends Pam and Michael who are also catching the Chunnel to head back home.
09 October 2018 Watten (France) – Folkstone (England)
Early this morning we headed to the Chunnel for our return to the United Kingdom. This is the first time we have caught the train and after passing through two security checkpoints, France’s border and then England’s checkpoint we headed up the ramp into the train carriage. The trip across the English Channel is so amazing. It takes about 35 minutes and the next thing you know you are driving off onto the roadway in England. After bidding Pam and Michael farewell for the last time this year we headed to Canterbury to start our organising to head home on October 21.
This is the last entry for our trip of UK and Europe for 2018. It has been magic and has confirmed to us that motorhome travel is an ideal way of seeing and experiencing the sights, history and cultures of Europe and the UK. We will be back in March next year in an upgraded motorhome to continue our Macadeventures.