Road Trip from Luxembourg to Belgium and into France
The trip from Luxembourg to France really was a whirlwind trip for us and being new to RV life everything takes at least twice as long as we were expecting. That has probably been the most surprising thing for me. Setting up everything once we get to a campsite or tearing everything down when we leave is more time consuming than either of us had any idea about. The rain and muddy conditions didn’t help. I’m sure once we do it a few dozen times more we’ll get into the groove and get more efficient. That being said, we were up against a hard date to be in Paris to meet up with Shani’s parents.
One of our projected timelines involved us heading south of Paris to meet up with our French agent Phill with our German RV paperwork to get the French vehicle registration side of things rolling. We had an additional complication now; our German export license plates were accidently only issued for 2 weeks, not the month we had originally planned on. This meant that any hold up on the French side gave us the very real prospect of sitting put in an RV park in our unlicensed, unregistered, uninsured RV until things could get sorted. One more complication, a lot of the French camping sites were closing for the season. The extra week in Germany waiting for the RV to be ready was starting to bite us in the ass.
Still, we had to keep going south and as we struggled to get our tiny house on wheels moving each morning (rare to leave before 11 am!) it became pretty apparent that we would have to ditch our plans with Phill and just get in to Paris instead. As we pulled out of the campground in Luxembourg our poor Hymer was caked in mud but we were perhaps a bit wiser about our limitations (but only a bit!). I have to say, driving in the countryside of Luxembourg and Belgium was really beautiful, I think we were both pleasantly surprised by that. While the small roads are a bit of a challenge, especially with oncoming big rigs, the landscapes were really amazing. I’m not sure what we really expected but we did not expect lush rolling hills and roaming cattle. One of the best surprises was the Frites stands! We pulled into the gas station and right next door was a shop specializing in French fries! Pretty damn good ones at that.
Our route led us through some quaint little villages (with very narrow roads) and had we had the time, it would have been great to stop. And that is a theme we are finding for this first leg of our trip. We just don’t have enough time to really see everything as our Schengen visa zone time is quickly running out (only 90 days) and we need to get to Croatia. Our campsite in Belgium was just outside of a small village down a very tight road, one that normal Americans would consider strictly one way, about the size of an alleyway and then across an equally narrow bridge. Having maybe learned our lesson we were very careful in picking out our pitch for the night. Shani made sure I backed the RV in carefully but with great enthusiasm. We also left the front wheels on the gravel bit of the road, not fully in the wet dirt and grass of the pitch (so that we didn’t get stuck again). It did end up raining that night as well, so glad we took the extra precautions.
Our second true night in the RV was in the books and we were starting to get the feel for things. We still had no clue about how fast we would burn through our propane, how long our fresh water would last, how quickly the grey water tank would fill and of course, the whole toilette and black water tank. Another thing we had (have) no clue about is the whole living in a campground with all these other people. There are communal toilettes and showers most places which can be a little awkward at times. It can be a bit surprising to see a family or older couple in their bath robe headed to the showers but that seems like a perfectly normal thing to do here. We aren’t sure about the proper etiquette but we are learning.
As we pushed south into France the countryside, of course, was picturesque. We plotted a route that would put us spending the night a few hours from Paris. Shani has a couple of different apps on our phone that show us the locations, ratings, and reviews of the campgrounds (Camperstop, Campercontact). There is also an app with the ACSI camping card that helps her decide on locations. The ACSI card also gives us a good discount for staying in the off season. And so around 2:30 in the afternoon we pulled up to the reception of a highly rated site. It was apparent that no one was manning the desk, not uncommon for that time of day, usually there is a sign or something but here there was nothing. We figured they had to quickly run an errand or something. We waited and waited, both getting cranky. There were camping cars in pitches so the place was definitely still open for the season. We waited. Finally we decided we needed to move on. There was another slightly more expensive site just down the road.
We ended up going down a tricky little road that eventually led to a diversion and a closed route. Ahead of us was a car making a u-turn and another RV towing a trailer with a motorcycle (insane) and the driver started walking towards us. It turned out to be a British couple that had booked 2 weeks at the campground we were also headed towards. It turns out there was another smaller road that we could take (Google confirmed the existence of the road but that was all) and the Brit wanted to take it but if the passage was too narrow he would be in a world of trouble trying to reverse the whole way back out. He proposed I go first and he follow. Keep in mind it’s been raining for days.
As we were pondering the wisdom of such an undertaking and worried about the muddiness of the road and remembering Luxembourg a lady that worked at the bar in the campground pulled up and told us to follow her. Throwing caution to the wind, we did. So she in her little BMW, us in our 7 meter RV and the Brit towing a motorcycle headed down a very narrow, winding, tree branch obstacle course of a road. It was sort of paved, sort of muddy and had quite a few very tight corners. I was surprised the Brit pulled it off, actually. After a few tense kilometers our little road popped out onto the closed road. There were barriers up to keep us off that road here as well. It turns out there was some Sunday Fun Run or something going on. The bartender had to get to work but assumed we could get in through the campground emergency exit we were now right next to.
After 10 minutes or so the Brit decided he’d had enough and decided to move the barriers and so reluctantly some of the race staff guided us onto the road in a break between runners. We did catch up to a few, and I felt a little bad but it is what it is. Sorry runner lady.
And that leads us to La Croix du Vieux Pont. We had no idea. I’ll keep this bit brief and encourage you to look at their website. It’s a massive camp resort, the kind of thing Shani and I had no idea existed. It’s not just for RV and caravan camping, this place has rows and rows of cabins in various levels of comfort. It has 2 lakes, multiple pools complete with beach and beach side bar. There were waterslides. As RV newbies this really did seem like camping Disneyland, they even organized day trips to the real Paris Disneyland. We had no idea. Check out http://www.la-croix-du-vieux-pont.com/en/ With the ACSI discount card only 19 €!
Sadly we only had one night at La Croix du Vieux Pont. We certainly would have liked to explore all of the facilities, they even had a rock climbing wall! We only made it to one lake and a fraction of the property. But Paris was calling and Shani’s folks were arriving the next day. Stay tuned for our 4 days in Paris and then the saga of Veron.