Monday, July 6, 2009
As a mini-holiday, we just drove across France, mainly to see CC near Poitiers but also to look briefly at bits of France we had not seen yet.
Equipped with Michelin maps & Michelin Green Guide books, as usual.
Plus, unfortunately, a Campsite guide, as no campsites are shown on road maps.
This time, we also had a new-to-us Michelin guide "Les 100 Plus Beaux Détours de France" which we were given free in a local Tourist Office.
Covering picturesque & interesting smallish towns, we have so far found the places in this guide particularly well worth looking at.
We took our trusty Vango tent & camped several nights, but chickened out whenever the forecast heavy storms & floods started to look too imminent.
In Britain, I suppose the obvious alternative to camping would be Bed & Breakfast, but in France the more available alternative is the wide range of Motels.
Generally found in unattractive, non-touristy, Commercial Zones of big towns, frequently next to Hypermarkets & MacDonalds, you are not going to choose them for their charming situations.
But they are cheap & effective overnight stops.
Best-known & cheapest is "Formule 1" which usually provides rooms with a double bed plus bunk bed, TV & wash basin.
Showers & toilets are communal, which I find perfectly acceptable in a campsite, but irritating in a motel.
Breakfast is a basic but adequate buffet, as much as you want for about 5€ each.
Next up the scale would be "Première Classe" which includes private toilet & shower for each room, with all rooms accessed from external stairways rather than internal corridors.
Typical customers at this level are white-van market-stall operators rather than tourists.
We have not tried "B&B" but they sound about like "Première Classe".
Significantly better again, but still inexpensive, are "Etap" with air conditioning & all rooms off internal corridors.
Here can be found regular business men & tidy-looking tourists of all ages & nationalities.
Moving upscale brings you to Ibis & Campanile which are hotels rather than motels.
This trip, we used one Première Classe & two Etaps.
The Première Classe was a bit scruffy, but better than a tiny ridge tent in a storm.
Both Etaps were impeccable.
Spotlessly clean & everything worked as intended.
The air conditioning was very welcome with outside temperatures touching 40°C.
Back home, I found an Etap e-mail inviting me to complete a customer satisfaction survey, including unlimited space for comments & suggestions.
Almost a guarantee of a good product, in my opinion.
Parting thot: "The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread." - Anatole France