Tour of France-Switzerland-Germany-Belgium
In late 1978 we decided on a tour of Europe - taking in as many countries as possible in two weeks.
Most of the party of six had never been outside UK before and none of us had organised a trip overseas. A colleague in the OS office in Hailfax had been on a successful family campervan holiday the previous year - so the planning started.
Ready to go! - food stocks (some very strange stuff here!) for the holiday.
Who was on board?
We started planning the trip in late 1978 with the two of us, our brothers and my cousin David Lomas - we had been camping and walking in North Wales the previous summer - so this was the next step up. In the end David could not make it and the final team was Gerald, Stephen and Martin Crowther, Chris Murray and Keith & Helen Murray.
We drew up an itinerary and a plan of costs. We tried to split the charges appropriately between "workers" and "students" (who got a 33% discount!)
Tour plan & costings
The 1979 Itinerary
|Deal, England||21 July||for ferry|
|Reims, France||22 July||via Boulogne & Cambrai|
|Mâcon, France||23 July||via Dijon|
|Arles, France||24 July||Arena, Roman Theatre, Avignon, Pont du Gard|
|Aix Les Bains, France||27 July||via Apt, Sisteron, Grenoble|
|Interlaken, Switzerland||28 July||via Aigle, Gstaad & visit to Grindelwald by train|
|Neckargemund, Germany||30 July||via Basel, Freiberg & visit to Heidelberg|
|Köln, Germany||01 Aug||via autobahn|
|Brugges, Belgium||02 Aug||via Liege|
The Tour & Highlights
On picking up the campervan at Dick Lane in Bradford we discovered it had no fuel and a bald tyre. Fixed, we loaded our luggage, tent and food and set off from Halifax down the M1 towards London and the North Circular and then across to Canterbury and Deal. We took three days to reach Arles in Provence.
On reaching Macon the change in culture and environment became more apparent. The temperature also went up here and other changes were noticed such as the type of toilets.
The reason we took a lot of food was not just our pioneering spirit but we did not want to spend a lot of time shopping, at least until we reached Arles and keep costs down. Also most of the crew had never experimented beyond the traditional English menu. We gradually started to introduce local produce into the meals and by the time we reached Germany we had our first evening meal out (a pizza in a pub in Neckargemund).
The Arles area is rich in history with many Roman features, mostly well preserved, as well as the Popes Palace in Avignon. The move through Haute Provence and into the mountains was another highlight with cool refreshing lakes at Aix les Bains and Lac Leman as we entered Switzerland.
The neatness of the Swiss urban and rural terrain contrasted with that of the rustic French. We reached Grindelwald by train and it was a different world again overlooked by precipitous snow capped mountains such as the Eiger. Here the weather changed following an overnight thunderstorm; we then moved up into Germany by the River Neckar.
A visit to the castle and the pizza set us up for the trip up the autobahn to Koln and a short visit to the city and packing in an underground car park - where the van just fitted and the barrier spoke to us - in German of course. Across to Belgium and Brugges for our last night and another meal out and then the trip to the ferry at Ostende the following day before the long trio back to Halifax late on the Friday night.
|Receipt from Arles campsite||Receipt from Aix les Bains campsite|
This is a list of the campsite we used on the trip:
|Deal||%address tbc%||1 night|
|Reims||%address tbc%||1 night|
|Mâcon||%address tbc%||1 night|
|Arles||Camping City, 67 Route de Crau, 13200, Arles||3 night|
|Aix Les Bains||Camping International du Sierroz,Boulevard Robert Barrier, 73100, Aix les Bains||1 night|
|Interlaken||The Tent Village, Gsteigstrasse 58, 3800 Interlaken||2 night|
|Neckargemund||Camping an der Friedensbrücke,Falltorstraße 4, 69151, Neckargemund||2 night|
|Köln||Berger Campingplatz,Uferstraße 71, 50996, Köln||1 night|
|Brugges||%address tbc%||1 night|
Start: 21 July 1979
End: 04 Aug 1979
References & Links:
|20140517||Arles - Wikipedia entry|
Updated KJM 04 June 2014