Valderrobres to Calaceite

This was to be our first quiet morning and a chance to catch up with our respective blogging duties, and I think we made some progress following a pretty non-stop week. We exchanged blog addresses and waved goodbye to some Autotrail neighbours, T&J, from Devon. Their’s was probably the largest Autotrail motorhome we’ve ever seen, whereas ours is way down the other end of the scale.

Actually, after a quick look at our Random Motorhome Travels blog (, that we’ve been publishing for a few years now, it was T&J’s suggestion that our regular travelling updates, including loads of photos, would go down well on Facebook. So thanks to them I was prompted to look into how I could do this – one of those jobs I’d been putting off.

So thanks T&J, our Facebook Page, Random Motorhome Travels, has had a very encouraging response in its first few days, with over 50 follows at the time of writing. To put this into context, our web-based blog currently has about 80 followers, but that’s after a few years of publishing. If you haven’t followed us on Facebook yet, please check us out there and see if it’s the sort of highly visual content that might inspire your travels.

Anyway, after a trip to the local grocery store we had a simple lunch onboard at Valderrobres lovely aire, and then headed up the beautiful mountainous valley using our essential Backroads Spain book by Dorling Kindersley. This guided us on our tour last year and it’s looking promising for this trip.

First brief stop was the small town of Belceite, which is highly recommended for a proper visit by many, but ours was a fleeting stop. We then headed through the hilltop town of Cretas, and stopped at the next town, Calaceite, which was also situated on a hill, and overlooking a vast plain. They have a simple, but well-appointed, motorhome aire there and a very generous two-tier gravel carpark that gave us incredible open views over the plain. There were a few rumbles of thunder plus a few drops of rain but this soon passed and were then treated to the sun illuminating the terrain plus a complete double rainbow.

We had the place totally to ourselves for the night and other than the odd agricultural vehicle passing along the track below, we only saw a solitary dog-walker in the whole time we were there. Chatting to the lady in the Tourist Information office we found out that the aire had only been there about 6 months, which explains why it wasn’t in our Aires book, but was on the Park4night app, which is updated constantly by users.

A highly recommended stop, even if you’re on your long slog North after the Winter, or on your way South. Definitely worth a small detour and a lovely town to visit too.


Cunit to Valderrobres

• Day 5 – In the morning, a pleasant policeman asked us, and our neighbours to move to the parking area just behind where we were, which was easy. Temperature began to rise to the high teens. We headed off with the plan to start heading for the hills at Tortosa, where we stopped at a well-appointed aire for a late lunch and to take advantage of all the services. We then found ourselves in some spectacular mountainous scenery and, also with it being the weekend, began to feel that our trip had truly begun


Peralada to Cunit

After crossing the border, we overnighted at the aire at the pleasant Spanish town of Peralada, with its roosting storks nearby, where we’d had a successful night last year.

• Day 4 – My plan was to head SE to the coast and work our way along it for a bit until we would head inland to reach roughly where we’d given up travelling South last year. We’re not great lovers of built up coastlines but thought we’d cover it as part of our journey anyway. Nothing really grabbed us on this route, but we were pleased after a bit of research (thank you “Free Camping UK and Europe” Facebook group), to find a handy park4night next to the beach with palm trees in the coastal town of Cunit


Dordogne to the Spanish Border

Stop Press – Have just created a Facebook group (Random Motorhome Travels) for our blog & photos, so please feel free to join us there if your preference is Facebook, and spread the word to others who might be interested.

• Day 2 – Realised that our decision to head this way, although a very pleasant route and geographically correct as we were heading for the Mediterranean entry point to Spain, would be slower. Overnighted at a perfectly decent aire at Salles sur l’Hers

• Day 3 – This would be the day we crossed that Spanish border. It didn’t look far on the map, but turned out to be quite a long journey. SatNav lady was directing us over the foothills of the Pyrenees, which would have been OK, but it was a route we took last year and I fancied a change, plus faster roads. We did take in some of the lovely foothill roads, but were mainly on the major roads


2018 Trip to Spain Begins

We have finally managed to get away this year, following a couple of false starts due to unexpected work commitments & sudden extreme Winter weather.

And, now on our 6th day, I have finally managed to make a start on our blog. In my defence, up until yesterday evening we have been constantly driving and/or I’ve had quite a lot of work to be getting on with.

So, 900 miles later we have finally picked up at the point last year where we stopped heading South and turned Westward due to the heat. If all goes well you should be able to see our route in the photos below.

We are currently in the “largely undiscovered area of Matarraña, an area of abundant wildlife, medieval villages, waterfalls, rivers, and constant views of an ancient mountain range.” What’s not to love about that lot? We’re about to find out for ourselves.

But I’m getting ahead of myself, what of the last 5 days. My summary begins as follows, but please bear with us as we play catch-up:

• Evening boat to St Malo. Drove just South of Rennes to a pleasant aire at Messac overlooking a small marina on the Nantes Brest canal

• Day 1 – Made good progress South, then took a sudden executive decision to head across the Dordogne for a change of scenery. Completely coincidentally found ourselves outside the chateau in Charras which was where we stayed on our first ever French holiday as a family of 4. How strange was that? Kept on driving and overnighted at the beautiful town of Bourdeilles, right next to the river

More to follow shortly…


Dinan, then Home

En route to Dinan, we saw the Buffalo Grill and thought it might be somewhat quieter than earlier. It was 4ish, but we’d yet to have lunch. Despite trying to avoid going by inadvertently taking the wrong turning, Sophie was insistent, even though to get there now would involve driving to Saint Jouan des Guérets before we could turn off the main road. This time the place was completely devoid of customers, and to be fair, the food and service were good

Next stop was Dinan, where we looked forward to walking around the town enjoying the Christmas lights. Dinan always looks a treat at this time of year, and we were not disappointed. As we approached the town centre, it was jam-packed with traffic from all directions. Being it was 6pm it was clear that Dinan must also be having a Christmas market, but this also meant that parking would be very unlikely, so I was having to prepare Sophie for a walk up the steep road from Dinan Port, where the motorhome aire is situated.

As it worked out, the event had already reached its peak, and most of the families were beginning to dissipate, and parking was available. The central barriered car park in Dinan is ideal for motorhomes and we’ve never had problems parking there in any seasons, and we’re very regular visitors to this town. We’ve pretty much travelled the length and breadth of France, and have yet to come across a town to match it. If you’ve never been, then you must.

We had a lovely stroll around the beautifully illuminated Dinan streets, and Christmas market. We also took in the panoramic views from the gardens behind the Basilique Saint Sauveur. From here we were disappointed to see that our intended night stop was empty, being due to the access road down to the port being closed. Fortunately, Sophie reminded me that there was still the aire in Lehon, which was only 5 minutes down some backroads in the other direction. This is where we ended up for the night and enjoyed this peaceful place to ourselves, with the illuminated castle ruins watching over us.

We had a relaxed morning on our final day, keeping an eye on the weather, boat updates, and sailing conditions. We then took a leisurely drive back to St Malo hopeful that the normal ferry service might be resumed by now.

On arrival we were warned that the sea conditions were so poor that we would likely be sat on the boat in port until the captain deemed the storm had passed sufficiently to ensure a bearable ride. Anyway, we hunkered down on board, and were pleasantly surprised to actually leave on time, but not without dire warnings from the captain that it would not be a pleasant crossing.

Actually, he managed our expectations well, letting us know when it was about to get particularly “lumpy”, and so despite our worst concerns about maybe feeling ill, it wasn’t too bad after all, and we’ve definitely had much worse crossings.

So, a successful Winter trip that exceeded our expectations on a number of fronts. Thanks for sharing the journey with us, and watch this space for our next random motorhome adventure.

Michael & Sophie


Saint Malo

It was a particularly windy and rainy night, with the van rocking at times as our sheltered spot was discovered by the wind as it had changed direction. We woke to much improved sunny weather and double-digit temperatures. After the obligatory croissant and coffee, plus blogging, we thought we’d spend some time in St Malo, a lovely place to visit, but one we do often overlook as we’re either in a hurry to drive South when we arrive there on the ferry, or we’re in a hurry to catch the ferry home.

As we left our riverside haven, the weather had reverted back to heavy rain. Sophie had an urge to visit the local Buffalo Grill, just to check out their reasonably priced steak and chips. The establishment in St Malo is a modern one, backing on to an Ibis hotel and bang next to a very busy roundabout, so not ideally placed for the best views. Being a Sunday lunchtime it was predictably rammed full of families and as we opened the front door we were blasted out by “Happy Birthday to you!” over the speakers. I’d turned round before even stepping over the threshold. It would not have been much fun in there.

So we headed to the walled town of St Malo, but via the motorhome service point to dispose of our waste and top up with free water. After this we found the motorhome parking which is located in the principal road that heads due South-East from St Malo’s main entrance (Avenue Louis Martin). I’d always been a little concerned about access to this parking as it appears to involve driving between a row of parallel parked cars and a hedge, with minimal room for error. One poorly parked car would make access impossible, and we’re pretty narrow for a motorhome.

On closer inspection I realised that it could be accessed from the exit end and this wouldn’t involve ignoring any no entry signs or attempting any impossible angles. There’s designated motorhome parking for around half a dozen vehicles to park in a single row. It is paid parking, but 12-2pm is free and even the max of 8 hours is a modest €3.60. Outside of the 9am to 7pm charging period, there is no obvious time limit. Good for us was that it was a Sunday, and so free.

By this time the rain had stopped, which was handy and so we visited the St Malo Christmas market, which involved more vin chaud, as we looked around the usual stalls. We then took a stroll around many of the back streets, returning to the always buzzing main street, then back to the main gate. After another vin chaud and quick look at the outside ice rink, we were on our way again.


More Cancale, then back to the banks of the Rance

Sophie also had the idea that after our late lunch we could head over to one of those large clothes & shoe shops that serves both genders, and not the sort that would break the bank. I wasn’t that fussed but tried on some jeans and had some success. Sophie, on the other hand didn’t have the success she’d hoped for.

A couple of hours later we escaped, and after a very fleeting visit to Lidl, we nipped down the road to check out the St Suliac Christmas market. It was dark, raining, mobbed, no obvious parking, so we didn’t bother.

SatNav lady was determined to take us a dodgy route home, but with a bit of patience and initiative we got her on track. This was just as well because in poor driving conditions, reduced visibility, narrow unfamiliar roads, and everyone out tonight for some reason, Sophie was just beginning to lose her sense of humour. Fortunately, we’d just purchased Lidl’s excellently-priced gin, plus some tonic waters, so will be having a tasting shortly.

News from Condor is that our 19:30 boat tomorrow is still not yet confirmed as they continue to negotiate with the militant dockers, so our 2 day delay might even extend further, and so will provide more time for exploring.

Meanwhile we are enjoying another great overnight at our riverside Park4night at Saint Jouan des Guérets



What a lovely night’s stop. The wind and rain outside, nice and toasty indoors, all with the constant lapping of the waves outside the bedroom window. One neighbour last night, a white van.

Our usual late start was followed by coffee and croissants, plus a little blogging. Sophie thought it might be an idea to visit Cancale today. We’ve never had any success stopping there in a motorhome and have always found ourselves there on a weekend, when it tends to be mobbed. Admittedly, today is a Saturday, but it’s early December, so we thought it was worth a try.

Within 25 minutes we were there. If you’re a motorhomer and familiar with Cancale, then you’ll know that at the port area, ie the seaside part with all the restaurants, you are greeted with a clear sign saying no parking at all for motorhomes. There is an aire further out, but we don’t want to stay for the night, we just want to visit the town.

As we headed up the hill out of the port, pursuing a possible Park4night, we saw the sign saying that the motorhome parking ban ended there. Interesting. Immediately in the road which turned to the left, there was a roadside space at the end which was made for us. So we managed to park for free, at the closest point a motorhome can legitimately park. Result.

After a short stroll down the hill, we were at the front. Brilliant. My objective was lunch, with my criteria being a set menu that offered oysters as a starter, followed by moules and frites for main, and if we were lucky, a dessert too. Fortunately, Sophie also had another stipulation, which was that we had to eat in the enclosed outside section of the restaurant, so that we could tell we were actually in Cancale.

It was gone 1pm, but I’d noticed one packed restaurant offering all day service, a rarity in France, so this gave Sophie the time she needed for more photos, and a walk along the front, plus a mooch up the back roads.

We found our ideal restaurant, L’Aviron, which met all our requirements. However, there was still no space at 1:30pm. They said they stopped service at 2:30, and we could see that some were definitely getting to the end of their meals. So rather than just standing outside with our noses pressed against the restaurant window, we headed across the road to the sea wall, whilst watching the restaurant door like hawks. It opened and out came a couple, I shot over to check there was a free table, then signalled to Sophie to get over here pronto.

We had a great table, with us both looking out to the sea, and had an enjoyable meal with great service from a very cheerful couple.