Having been in the lucky position of being able to have the use of a California over the past few years, we were very excited to be finally collecting our very own van at Easter time. This would give us the freedom to go where we fancied and for how long we wanted. We decided to keep our white kombi T6 looking standard from the outside, not to attract too much attention. Dave’s crew fitted out the inside to meet our requirements – a Slipper conversion with Webasto diesel hob and separate Webasto heater.
On our first major trip in the van, we decided to take the long route! Starting off with two weeks in the UK visiting family, travelling through Herefordshire, Shropshire, Derbyshire and Yorkshire. We also spent a couple of days visiting our son David and his wife Bethan, using this time to show them the delights of our van! After a lovely few days we then began travelling down through Norfolk and Suffolk to catch the Eurotunnel train to France.
Our plan was to head to the lavender fields of Provence, over 1000km away. With some research, we believed that the lavender fields could be early this year due to the warm weather over the previous weeks, knowing this we began to head south.
The area around Valensole was indeed lavender country. We spent many days photographing this lovely area from dawn till dusk with some fantastic views to wake up to camping wild.
Before long, the signs of the harvest was about to start – with large combines appearing. This saw us move on to another source for great colour – the large fields of sunflowers. We then slowly started heading north, the weather stayed warm – or should I say hot! Continuing to camp wild, we found some excellent locations for early dawn photography. As enjoyable as wild camping is, in the 36 degree heat, the call for a shower was a hard one to resist – the campsites were calling us back.
On our trip we learnt the municipal campsites around France are simple but very good value. Located on the outskirts of villages and towns they are great for walks and photography. We managed to find a different local market nearly everyday, wandering for hours admiring the wares and delicious fruits.
Next we wanted to spend some time amongst the vineyards and headed for Tain l’hermitage, which is very pretty looking back down over the River Rhone and Tournon.
At Epernay, we wandered the Champagne Avenue which is home to the prestigious houses which produce and trade in this world-famous wine. It is one of the most expensive streets in the entire world and is a great place to take a walk and a taste of the bubbles (I wish) along the way from the famous brands that have tasting bars and visits to their cellars which run for a kilometre under the road in the chalk. As we were not in a rush, if we decided that we would have a stroll and take in the French way of life we would. Especially at Merry our Yonne where the beautiful scenery is perfect for quiet relaxing walks along the canal.
We decided it was time to head further north and gave ourselves a history lesson at the Battlefields of the Somme. Visiting Albert museum which was very authentic underground trenches, recreating the way of life from WW1. After visiting the memorials at Poiziers, Thiepval and Mametz we headed over the border into Belgium to Ypres and managed to get the last available pitch at Jeugdstadion, ten minutes walk from the Menin Gate.
A fabulous time away. 48 days, 4000 miles. Here’s to the next trip!
We originally supplied Chris and Lesley Warren with a T6 150 Highline kombi. We fitted their van with a 4 Berth Slipper Conversion with addition Webasto Diesel hob and heater.