Finally…A European road trip!
Without going into the vagaries of the different country’s COVID requirements, planning this journey was lots of fun. Even though we had to leave our dog behind for this trip, we were meeting our friends in Gaschurn, Austria. All three families had a different journey planned. In this blog we will describe our trip and discuss how much to hire a camper van like ours would be to go to Europe.
- Take the Ferry to Calais
- Drive all the way down the east of France to around Mulhouse, near the border with Switzerland,
- Stay overnight in the Campervan
- Continue on through Switzerland to Austria.
A Great Journey Through France
Flying down the Autoroutes and stopping off for breaks in the Aires on the motorway. Sticking the kettle on the gas stove and having a bit of a leg stretch.
We decided to stay at a small mountain market town called Thann, not too far from Basel.
I am a big fan of a website called ‘Search For Sites’ (£5.99 p/a). This App is an amazing tool for Campervan travellers. It lists all stopovers near you. The stopovers include everything from Motorway service areas, parking places at local businesses, municipal stopovers in towns to full-on campsites. The information usually provides photos, prices and reviews.
Thann For A Stopover
Thann had two municipal ‘Zone Camping-Cars’. So we thought that if one was full, we could try the other one. After a few spins the wrong way round a market place, we found the Campervan car park, a small area next to the main market place in the town. No facilities are provided, it is literally a free car park. There was a public toilet across the car park, but unfortunately, it was locked. The Porta-Potti came into it’s own! When it is so cold outside and you are in total luxury it really doesn’t matter how much it is to hire camper van as good as this. Nevertheless we keep the cost down, it’s only fair.
We set up for the night with the boys sleeping in the pop-top, snuggled up in sleeping bags, base layers and woolly hats. And the diesel heater keeping us all warm for the night.
We were gently awoken in the morning to the sounds of a full-on market being set up around us! A few curious looks and a couple of questioning ‘Bonjours?’ made us not loiter over breakfast. But it did allow us to stock up on fresh baguettes and croissants for the journey. (mmmm French pastries).
Switzerland and Basel
No problems at the border, and we had to buy a Motorway ‘Vignette’ which in effect is an annual pass, and the equivalent of paying multiple French motorway tolls.
We decided to have a second breakfast in Basel (…what?!), and explore this city on the Rhine for the morning. It’s beautiful! We spent a few hours exploring the old town, and enjoying more pastries and some coffee.
Back in the van and headed to Austria,
Driving towards and round Lake Constance. Now this is a place I would like to spend some time. I had no idea it was so vast, with stunning views surrounded by pretty villages. Lake Constance took us to Austria. We slipped into the country with no one asking for any documentation, or wanting to look at our passports. I remember those days when we were all part of a Union without borders……
The weather was a few degrees above zero and was getting colder as we rose into the Austrian Alps. Despite there not being much snow on the lower ground, as we started to climb, it was getting thicker. We had snow chains in the van (as they are a legal requirement in some Alpine departments). Despite never having used them, we were relieved they were there as the roads were getting snowier.
The van was an absolute dream, and didn’t miss a beat with getting us into the mountains. We felt very secure that we were in a capable and flexible vehicle that can handle these conditions.
The views were breathtaking, and as we were winding up the mountain roads through Alpine villages, we were all getting very excited that we had almost arrived at our destination. We did not win the race across Europe, but we were close, (I blame the second breakfast in Basel!).
The Holiday Continues.
I always see the journey as part of the holiday, it’s rarely a chore unless you treat it that way. We saw some amazing places on our trip to Austria, and despite the miles we had covered, we were comfortable, had loads of room and the fabulous VW California Ocean whizzed us through Europe in true style. And lest we forget the economics…the option of sleeping in the van, preparing snacks and meals as we went, and the huge amount of storage available, compared to staying in hotels and eating out.
We spent an utterly amazing week in Gaschurn, had a blast with our friends and the kids skiing improved no end (they terrify me!). Such fabulous memories in the snow, and all provided by our splendid Campervan.
Our Journey Home
We broke the return leg with a stopover in Arras, only an hour from Calais. We were all looking forward to getting home. As is the VanGlorious way, we like to make the journey as much fun as the holiday. Arras is well worth a visit, and we will definitely stay again. It’s a beautiful town, with a stunning square, all lit up like Christmas. They have a fabulous viewfinder system in the main square which takes you back in time when you look through it. The boys loved it. After a wander round with the kids, I went in search of my last real baguette in France. I look forward to completing my first entry in my new adVANture diary.
How Much To Hire Camper Van
The VW California Ocean has proved itself as an all-year all-rounder. To find out how much it would cost you to do this journey simply check out the van page. You can even book online! And be assured that even during these uncertain times the adventure won’t cost you the earth!
You can also check out our other posts, blogs and adVANtures on our Blog page