Tag Archives: be aware camping in france

Security Issues in France. Be warned. Be careful. Be aware.

7 Jun

We left the Museum at Le Mans motor racing circuit and made our way along delightful “D” roads, avoiding the autoroute to enjoy the beautiful, numerous towns and villages that we passed through. We did endure a short but violent thunderstorm with heavy rain at one point  and our friends, in their motorhome had a worrying moment when they hit a badly signed low height barrier on a major ring road. We now know that there was no damage caused but distressing nonetheless. We also got caught up behind an elderly gent driving an almost new micro-car. Limited to around 30 mph , he was risking a long drive on fast “D” roads and nearly got sideswiped several times by lorries coming up behind him at high speed. We caught up and passed him a few times due to the delays awaiting our friends following their incident.

We arrived in plenty of time at Ouistreham, for the Brittany Ferry leaving next day from the Caen Ferry Port terminal. That’s it above on the Avenue du Grand Large, south of town.

We planned to stay overnight on the Ferry Terminal once the last Ferry of the night had departed. That’s what it said was possible on Brittany Ferries website. So it was to be about 10.30pm at the terminal before the office closed and the gates shut for the night. I did however turn off the D515 just before Ouistreham for a quick look at Camping Hautes Coutures, to judge if that was a better option. It was shut tight. Nobody about and a very difficult turnaround with the caravan behind the Kampa.

As we went to rejoin the road to Ouistreham, my wife and I spotted a large number of migrants, playing football in a depression in the fields.

   We did not see him, but our friends spotted three or four migrants in a bus shelter. One was openly waving a large knife about!  Not knowing this I pulled onto the adjacent Carrefour parking area to discuss our camping plan. There were not many cars on the car park, yet the supermarket was open. My friend and I jumped out to discuss the itinerary and we immediately spotted two migrants on both sides of the vehicles, two behind us and two in front. He told me of the knifeman and I suggested a quick departure to a layby I had spotted on a dual carriageway section of the D515, which is where we went. A good couple of miles out of Ouistreham and protected on one side by an enormous field of wheat stretching to the horizon, and the dual carriageway itself with crash barriers on the other. We felt much safer and I armed myself with a long socket bar in case the knifeman had followed us. In the dark  the ladies were quite nervous but we enjoyed a decent supper and hot drinks ready for our return to the ferry terminal. We got there just as the last minute passengers were loading. At first they did not want us to enter or stay overnight but I politely insisted that the website stated that this was in order and we were swiftly moved to “Lane 12” and locked in for the night. Gendarmes patrolled up and down the entire night in their vehicles, the other side of the security fence in a lorry access road between us and the canal. Next day we were put on board via strict security checks which included an armed Douanier (Customs Officer) and assault rifle toting French soldiers and sniffer dogs. This was repeated in the UK and the Customs guy who searched our caravan , again, knew of the activities in Ouistreham the previous night. He whispered a private warning about staying near the Ferry terminal ! MY NEPHEW WAS NOT SO LUCKY AS WE WERE.

About a week after we left France, my nephew and his wife had driven to Valencia in Spain for a wedding. They hired a motor home something like this one. A fixed bed, two plus one berth, rented from a company close to where we live. On their return trip, they overnighted on an Aire de Repos , I believe near the A9 (?) close to the city of Perpignan (?)

It was a typical , wooded, “service” area. Not an official campsite but it was legal to sleep overnight. Something like this one above. During the night, in the dark, my nephew’s wife woke him up. The motor home was rocking and someone was actually IN THE CAB ! My nephew is a fit, young man and, shall we say capable of handling himself, but he took great risk and investigated. The intruder (s?) had left and he immediately drove off to the next service area where he reported it to some Gendarmes. His was the fourth motor home burgled that night. Two doors had their locks damaged and a forced entry saw the loss of a bag, a purse, credit card, etc etc. The Gendarmes had arrested a group of people who they described as Romanians. Freaked out, my relatives cut short their holiday and returned home to England.