29 May 2008

From the Hungarian ashes... A gîte is born

From the ashes of the Hungary trip, embers still glowing in the dark, we have decided to go away still. After all leave has been booked at work and by August we’ll need another holiday!

Part One - Accommodation

To keep the costs down we had a look on a few sites for gîtes, firstly the Gîtes de France site, but hardly anything leaped off the page and said “book me”, or rather to rephrase, nothing leaped of the page and said “book me”, at a price I could afford or wanted to think about paying.

Then someone pointed us at another site, Holiday Lets and this led to Holiday Lettings (links at foot of page) and then I spent a few hours over a couple of evenings searching and searching.

A small apartment in Collioure on the Mediterranean coast took our fancy, but it was a bit on the expensive side and we “shortlisted” it for later.

More searching and even in Spain eventually brought us to a gîte in the Limousin. Good price for a week and available.

Like most of the owners on the two websites, the owners are English and so it is quite easy to get extra info and also sort out any deposits that have to be paid. An exchange of emails and a deposit went off this morning.

Part Two – Ferry

As we are taking the car I was expecting horrendous rates. With the price of diesel I was doubly worried the arm and leg I have in hock to buy the bike might be even longer before I won them again! And so it could have been!

My first port of call (sic) was Eurotunnel. Living nearby I do like to use the service and expect as a local that they will let me have a cheapish fare as a reward for putting up with the blight on the landscape the rail link and tunnel have become. “I remember when it was all fields round here”…

Sadly, this lot wanted £241 for a car to go early afternoon on a Friday and come back mid-afternoon on a Sunday a week and a bit later.

I then went to P&O. The same times by boat revealed a fare of £125, and with a bit if tinkering this came down to £95 return by going one boat later.

Norfolk Line was more expensive at £135. I didn’t bother with Speed Ferries!

I went back and booked P&O.

Part Three – Overnight Stop on the way out


Although Via Michelin shows the Calais to gîte distance of 451 miles and a driving time of 6h 54m and although we are in the car, I still think in terms of being on the bike with a pillion that doesn’t like ridiculous mileages each day!
So an overnight stop in both directions is essential.

We both like Campaniles. I’d not want to stay in one for more than a couple of days, and they are ideal for an overnight stop. Plus there are loads of them in France.

Looking at the ETA Frogside I thought maybe 2 hours on the road and this is at a point to the north of Paris on the “Michelin Suggested Route” of A26 and A1.

Checking the Campanile website and then as I was curious clicking on “Special Offers” reveals some hotels with a 30% discount between now and the end of December.

After a bit of working out and testing routes I hit on the idea of one on the outskirts of Paris we had stayed in back in 2004 the Campanile Gennevilliers Barbanners. At €39 for a night it is almost a steal.

So I booked that one online as well.

Part Four – The Route

I’ll let Mapsource and the Quest work that out for me to some extent. I like to check the route against a Michelin map to ensure that where possible, when not knocking off huge distances on the autoroutes we get some scenic routes under our belts.

Links

Holiday Lets - www.holidaylets.net/
Holiday Lettings - www.holidaylettings.co.uk/
Campanile Hotels - www.campanile.com/en/hotels/index.aspx
Via Michelin - www.viamichelin.co.uk
P&O Ferries - www.poferries.com

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