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For our second camping trip abroad we used Carefree Camping from the Camping and Caravanning Club to book our stay as they offer good discounts on both ferry travel and pitch prices and it takes the hassle out of contacting the sites yourself if you're not a seasoned traveller. Having said that, every e-mail query I sent to Patrice (the site owner) was answered within a few hours in perfect English so it wouldn’t be a problem to organise your own ferry and book direct. We stayed at this site briefly last summer on our way further south, but liked it so much we took our main holiday there this year.
Driving in France is great, 600 miles, (also drove to Brittany) no road works, no traffic and only two bumps in the road, for which there were apologetic ‘chaussee deformee’ warning signs!
Only 40 minutes easy drive from Cherbourg and about 10 miles from the fantastic Normandy coastline where all the car parks are free (unbelievable after Cornwall), the site is owned and run by Patrice Laurent, friendly Frenchman, who speaks very good English as do his staff.
The site is incredibly clean, the maintenance staff are hard at work trimming bushes, emptying bins, cleaning toilets and showers and helping people decide which bits of rubbish go in which recycling bins long before anyone has climbed out of bed, and are still there smiling and wishing everyone ‘Bonsoir’ as they clean their teeth and hit the sack!
There are lots of clean toilets/showers/basins and the only gripe is that the toilet paper is kept on rolls outside the actual cubicles and you need to remember to take some in with you, better still take your own. The French toilets weren’t as bad as I had heard, only difference being the lack of doors on the men’s urinals and women walking by. Horror stories about French plumbing and sanitation are unfounded on this site.
There's an excellent swimming pool with waterslides for the kids (if they can beat the big kids to the stairs!) and a nice jacuzzi. The water chemicals are checked regularly throughout the day for any nasties. You can’t wear swimming shorts however, French hygiene rules are strictly enforced, and I had the trauma of buying my first pair of trunks for many years. There are kids play areas, bouncy castle, ping-pong tables and the like, set up in a barn, a bar which also sells ice-cream and even a small library of books to borrow. There are ‘animations’ most days, organised games for adults and kids alike if you like that sort of thing, barbeques in the evening and occasionally, karaoke, which I avoid like the plague but the kids love it...unfortunately.
There is no shop, but bread, croissants and pastries for breakfast can be ordered the day before for morning collection so they are nice and fresh first thing.
A large terrace overlooks the pool and lake so adults can sit and have a beer whilst the kids play in the pool although the exceptional heat this year meant we had to take regular dips in between beers!
Fishing in the lake is free and there are some huge carp made fat by freebies from campers, according to Patrice his fish like cheese best. We caught loads this year.
The pitches are large and separated by hedges, so no danger of leaving your tent and returning to find someone pitched in your car space or up tight against you. Electricity is included with every pitch and water points are so close it wasn’t necessary to have a water carrier, just took the kettle over to the nearest tap.
The village of La Haye du Puits is about 1km away and a nice walk in the evening but also has free parking everywhere if you need to drive to lug the beers back. Shops for absolutely everything including telescopes? (in case you forgot to pack it). Very pretty and friendly. The Champion supermarket has everything, including camping gear and food is about the same price as the UK but tastes better. Must be the fresh air. They also sell camping gas and other useful things, live lobsters and crabs from a tank on the fish counter. Plastic garden chairs are a couple of quid, 35 litre coolboxes for 7 euros (£4.40) and a 2m gazebo for the same money.
In the bars, prices are about the same as the UK, but in the supermarket beer, wine and ‘cidre’ are cheap. 12 stubby bottles of Kronenbourg 1664 will set you back a staggering 5 euros (£3) and a good bottle of white Bordeaux about 90p. I was forced to buy a few 30 bottle packs of beers for 6.99 (euros) in case they ran out as a result of the staggerig heat.
Pitch prices vary according to season but the worst you can expect to pay is around £25 for a family of four including electric hook-up.
All in all an excellent site and surroundings. Can’t recommend it highly enough. I only wish we were going again this year, ah well there's always next!
Camping L'Etang des Haizes Sy Symphorien Le Valoir Le Haye du Puits Normandy
Telephone: Tel : + 33 (0)2 33 46 01 16 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: http://www.etang-des-haizes.com/ Open: 30 march till 15 october No of Pitches: 100